Guinea pigs can have weight-related health problems just as any other pet (or human) can. An overweight guinea pig is more prone to cardiac, musculo-skeletal or other health problems. Fat deposits around the heart put increased strain on heart and lungs, and carrying that extra weight around on those tiny little legs can put an extreme strain on their joints and lead to or exacerbate painful arthritis.
What kind of treats are you giving?
All your pig really needs is the proper basic diet of hay, limited pellets, and some vitamin C-rich produce every day, however, most pig owners can’t resist giving treats, especially with the charming ‘wheeking’ sounds the guinea pigs make when they know there are treats in the offing.
Do you read the labels on commercial guinea pig treats? Artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and lots and lots of sugar are usually routine. Why not give your pig tiny bits of dried fruit instead? The Spice Rack at 2nd Street Market has dried papaya and pineapple chopped into tiny, pig-sized bits (and both these fruits contain Vitamin C – papaya is high in vitamin C). Dried prunes, cherries and other fruits are also available for much less than you will pay in the larger grocery stores.
Trader Joe’s in Town and Country Shopping Center on East Stroop Road in Kettering has dried banana slices, also a healthy treat in moderation. These are also good to have on hand in the winter when hazardous weather usually arrives just as you use up your last bit of fresh fruit.
If you have a food dehydrator, you can snag the slightly bruised fruit from the grocery and dehydrate them yourself for your piggy or other small pet.
Of course, fresh fruit is also a healthy treat, and a bit of apple adds fiber and moisture to your piggie’s diet.
How much exercise are they getting?
Encourage your piggy to move around more with new toys and new places to explore. If you use a NIC cube cage, you can expand it and change its shape with extra panels.
Small cardboard boxes in various shapes (with doors cut out) will pique your pet’s curiosity and get them moving.
Placing new toys in corners of the cage will encourage your pet to move around and check them out. Toilet paper rolls, balls, almost anything can be a fun toy for a small pet.
Got more than one pig?
That’s a little trickier. The alpha pig is likely to snarfle down all the food s/he wants before the others get their turn. Probably your best bet is to separate them during feeding time.
Be patient. Your piggy didn’t get chubby overnight. She may be a little slow to change her eating habits. Keep offering the healthier choices and encouraging her to exercise and you will be rewarded with a healthier, happier pig in the long run.
Coco and Luna (pictured) are adoptable guinea pigs in Amelia, Ohio, just about an hour south of Dayton. You may contact Friends of Noah for more information about Coco and Luna.
Obesity in the pet guinea pig
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