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Is My Guinea Pig Overweight? Do They Need To Go On a Diet? 

Obesity is a very dangerous condition, for humans, cats, dogs and guinea pigs alike. While packing a couple of extra pounds won’t do you much harm, adding even as little as 100 grams to a guinea pig’s small frame can start to significantly impact their health. 

The dangers of being overweight are manifold for a guinea pig. They can develop heart conditions and high blood pressure, have difficulty moving and experience joint pain, among other adversities. Their quality of life will suffer, and they will most likely not live as long as they could have. 

How can you tell if your guinea pig is overweight, and what should you do if you start to notice they are getting a bit heavier than they should be? 

Is My Guinea Pig Overweight?

Overweight guinea pigs will have fat deposits around their shoulders, legs and groin. You won’t be able to feel their ribs, spine or hips, and they will have a lot of belly fat when standing up, so it will be hard to see their feet. 

The best way to determine whether your guinea pig is fat is to weigh them on a gram scale. Male piggies typically weigh between 900 and 1200 grams, while females weigh between 700 and 900 grams. However, just because your pet may be a bit heavier than that does not automatically mean they are overweight. 

Ideally, you want to do weekly weigh-ins. They will help you quickly spot if your guinea is starting to pack on the grams. 

If you don’t know your pet’s usual weight, you can do a physical. Feel for their ribs and hips. Use light pressure around their midsection. If all you encounter is fat, your piggy is likely overweight. 

When a guinea pig stands up, you should be able to see their hind feet. If you don’t, and there is a lot of belly spilling out, they will need to go on a diet. 

How To Tell If Your Guinea Pig is Overweight 

The best way to tell if a guinea pig is overweight is to weigh them regularly. You will also be able to see the extra weight bulging out of their sides and covering their back feet when they stand up. Overweight piggies are also often slow and lethargic.

Since guinea pigs are already quite round, it can be difficult to determine whether they are overweight. Some piggies are naturally just heftier than others, so weighting them once will not tell you all that much. 

Average guinea pig weights range from 900 to 1200 grams for males and 700 to 900 grams for females. Ideally, you want to weigh them once a week on a gram scale and keep track of their regular weight. If you notice any major fluctuations, it’s time to consider their diet and exercise regime. 

Choose one day a week for weigh-ins and use a digital kitchen scale. Get a bowl or basket for the weighing that will be comfortable for your pet. Tare the weight of the bowl or subtract its weight from the final result. 

If you write your guinea pig’s weight down every week, it will be quite easy to spot they have started to gain or lose some. This is also a great time to give them a general health check and to get some cuddles in. 

Overweight piggies will often also be lethargic and slow. You may notice they are waddling and not really walking. They may stop grooming themselves as much, as they can’t reach all of their fur due to the weight. 

Their sides will be bulging out and you won’t be able to see their back feet when they stand up. While their tummies are supposed to be round, they are not supposed to cover their feet and spill out to the side. 

You can feel the fat pads on your piggie when you pick them up too. Use this guinea pig size chart by PFMA to help you determine if your pet is overweight or obese. If you find they are heavier than they should be, it’s time to take action. 

What Do Overweight Guinea Pigs Look Like?

Overweight guinea pigs will have fat pads around their hips and shoulders. Their belly will spill out to the side and you won’t be able to see their feet when they stand up. 

Guinea pigs that are carrying too much weight will also be slow and lethargic. They won’t be able to groom themselves completely, so you may also notice matted patches of fur. They will spend a lot of time eating and not doing too much else. 

Is It Normal for Guinea Pigs To Be Fat?

It’s not normal for guinea pigs to be fat. Overweight guinea pigs aren’t healthy guinea pigs, and can develop different medical conditions. While piggies are somewhat rounded in nature, they are not supposed to be fat. 

Given their natural shape, it can be hard to determine whether a guinea is fat or not. However, by regularly weighing them and feeling for their ribs and hips, you will be able to tell if they have more fat on their bodies than they should. 

How Much Should a Guinea Pig Weigh?

Male guinea pigs should weigh between 900 and 1200 grams. Females should weigh between 700 and 900 grams. Breed can impact weight, and some guineas can also be a bit lighter or heavier than the average figures. 

While these numbers are a great general guideline to go buy, the best way to make sure your guinea pig is at a healthy weight is to regularly weigh them. 

Considering their tiny size, weight gain of as little as 50 grams should be considered as a sign that you need to change their diet. Anything above 80 grams is considered alarming and will also warrant a trip to the vet. 

Slight fluctuations are normal and to be expected. If your pet has just had a meal, they will be heavier. Their weight will also be different in the winter and the summer, as you are likely feeding them different kinds of veggies. 

If you are unsure about your pet’s weight, take them to the vet for a checkup. They will be able to tell you what range you are aiming for and how to stick to it. 

At What Weight is a Guinea Pig Overweight?

Male guinea pigs are considered overweight when they weigh more than 1200 grams, while females are overweight at over 900 grams. However, some guinea pigs are not overweight above these limits, and are simply larger than other piggies. 

The best way to tell if a guinea pig is overweight is to regularly weigh them, so that you can better understand if they are just on the larger side, or if they have actually started packing on some extra grams. 

What Causes Guinea Pigs to Gain Weight?

Guinea pigs will become overweight when they eat more than they should and don’t get enough exercise. Even though their plant-based diet isn’t high in fat, too much food or unhealthy treats can make them fat. 

Weight gain and loss are actually quite straightforward processes. If you eat more energy than you spend, you will start to put weight on. 

Given that guinea pigs eat plants, they usually have a harder time becoming overweight than other pets, including cats and dogs. However, if you overfeed them or give them unhealthy foods, they will quickly start to show it. 

Piggies need to be eating hay, veggies and fruits. If you start giving them human foods, like sugar and dairy which their digestive system was not built to handle, they will both have an upset stomach, and most likely gain weight. 

Guinea pigs also need exercise. If you provide a large enough habitat for them, let them out to play and let them forage for food, they will spend enough energy to stay at a healthy weight. Guineas are sociable and friendly by nature, so you won’t have much trouble getting them interested in playtime. 

Weight gain can also be caused by medical issues, including bloating and tumors. Both require medical attention, so if you notice your pet’s tummy if extended and sore, take them to the vet. 

Note that female guinea pigs gain around 80% of their body weight in pregnancy, so if your female piggy has a mate and is starting to get chunky, there may be baby guineas on the way.

What Should I Do If My Guinea Pig is Overweight?

If your guinea pig is overweight, consult your vet on the best way to slim them down. Their age and overall health will impact how you should treat their excess weight.

You are looking at dietary changes and exercise as a solution, most likely a combination of both. 

You can up your pet’s exercise levels by letting them roam around a safe space more often. Playing with them and providing toys that they can play with together in their habitat will also help them move their bodies more. 

Dietary changes will need to be introduced slowly. You will likely need to cut down on the fresh food, perhaps change pellets, but your vet will help you there. Any changes to your guinea pig’s diet can cause an upset stomach. 

Guinea pigs form eating habits very quickly at an early age, so you must take it gradually and one step at a time. 

Guinea pigs can eat tomatoes and they can eat apples too. They can eat grapes and they can eat carrots, but you have to be careful when adding a new food, especially when you are trying to get them to lose weight. 

Don’t forget that guinea pigs can’t go long without food, and that they also can’t go without water for an extended period of time either, so always make sure foods you know they like are readily available to them, even if they need to go on a diet.

How to Prevent Guinea Pig Gaining Weight 

In order to prevent guinea pigs gaining weight, you need to be mindful of their diet and exercise levels.

The only food you can free-feed your piggie is hay. They need it to keep their teeth in check and to keep their digestive tract working as it should. Don’t worry about giving too much hay to your pet, as long as it is grass and not alfalfa. You can literally let them eat as much as they want. Alfalfa hay is more caloric, so only give it to piggies who need the extra nutrition. 

You also need to feed your guineas pelleted guinea pig food, as it provides them with vitamin C. You can use vegetables and fruits to make up their daily requirements, just make sure they’re safe for your piggy, and that you don’t overfeed them. 

When it comes to treats, aim to give them in vegetable and fruit form. Try to avoid comercial treats. Don’t give your pet any junk food, especially nothing that is high in fat or sugar. 

Let your guinea pig roam areas that are safe for them, give them toys to play with, like cardboard rolls filled with hay. This will help them stay in better shape.

If you are unsure about the proper amount of food and exercise for your pet guinea pig, consult your vet. They will be able to offer some sage advice on keeping your cavy healthy and happy. 

Wrapping It Up 

If you suspect your guinea pig is overweight, take them to the vet for a checkup. Given their small frames, even a small increase in weight can cause serious issues in the long run, and make them quite uncomfortable. 

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