5 Top Diet Tips For Diabetic Guinea Pigs (Explained Here)

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A healthy guinea pig can eat a long list of foods, but for a diabetic piggie the menu is a bit more complicated. You need to be careful about what you feed them so their blood sugar level doesn’t go up. So what’s the best diet for a guinea pig with diabetes?

The best diet for guinea pigs with diabetes is a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat. This will help to keep blood sugar levels regulated. You should also avoid giving diabetic guinea pigs any sugary foods or treats, as these can be very dangerous to their health.

a guinea pig wondering if how he should eat if he's diabetic

In other words, if your guinea pig has just been diagnosed as diabetic or you’re getting a diabetic guinea pig, you have to be a little more careful about what you feed them.

There’s other foods that can trigger a blood sugar spike in diabetic guinea pigs, besides just sugar. Keep reading to get the whole thing on what works best for guinea pigs with blood sugar complications.

1. Low Fat, High Fiber Foods

tip for diabetic guinea pigs

Your piggies need a certain amount of fat. Fat is undoubtedly essential for many bodily functions. For one, it helps keep your guinea pig’s digestive system healthy. It also provides energy, supports coat health, and helps your piggies stay at a healthy weight.

However, when it comes to diabetes, too much fat is something you’ll want to avoid.

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Firstly, too much fat can lead to obesity in guinea pigs. And when a guinea pig becomes obese, that marks the beginning of all sorts of health issues, one of which is diabetes. 

When a diabetic guinea pig eats something high in fat, the pancreas produces more insulin to move the excess amount into the cells. But if a guinea pig is overweight, the cells become less sensitive to insulin, meaning that even when more insulin is produced, it’s not as effective. This can lead to spikes in blood sugar.

To avoid this, you’ll want to feed your guinea pig low-fat foods high in fiber. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids in digestion, and keeps your guinea pig feeling full, the first step to shedding off the excess amount of weight.

Some great high-fiber, low-fat foods for guinea pigs include:

  • Timothy hay
  • Oat hay
  • Wheatgrass
  • Bermuda hay
  • Orchard hay

In other words, just “fluff up” the amount of hay your pig takes. Hay needs to make up at least 80% of any guinea pig’s food, but it’s especially important for guinea pigs with blood sugar problems.

5 tips for how people should feed guinea pigs who are diabetic

2. Avoid Sugary, Starchy Vegetables

Like I mentioned before, it’s important to avoid foods high in sugar when you have a diabetic guinea pig. But did you know that some vegetables contain high sugar and starch levels?

While these vegetables may not be as sweet as candy, they can still cause blood sugar levels to spike. So, it’s best to avoid feeding your guinea pig these veggies.

As you may be aware, sugar causes blood sugar levels to spike. But what you may not know is that when blood sugar levels spike, the pancreas produces more insulin to try and bring them down.

But if blood sugar levels continue to spike, eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up, and insulin levels drop. This can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body and the blood sugar levels become too high.

So, to avoid this, you’ll want to avoid giving your guinea pig sugary and starchy vegetables (and yes, fruits). A few of these foods include:

So yes, the list of foods to avoid is long. But don’t worry; your little, diabetic piggie will still be able to get the nutrients they need without them.

3. No Treats With Added Sugar

As a responsible guinea pig parent, it is important to resist the urge to share your candy – or other human treats – with your guinea pig friend.

Plus, added sugar in treats is bad for your guinea pig’s teeth and can also cause blood sugar levels to spike. This can lead to the pancreas working overtime to produce insulin, which might eventually lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.

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Ketoacidosis is when the bodies’ blood sugar levels are too high – and it’s pretty serious. The body starts to break down fat for energy. This makes ketones – a compound that can be found in their bodies.

If there’s too many ketones, the blood pH becomes too acidic. This can cause lots of health problems for your fuzz spuds.

In addition, too much sugar can also lead to your little friends to become dangerously overweight, another condition you want to avoid at all costs. Long story short? Sugar is one of the worst things you can give a diabetic guinea pig.

That said, keep sugary treats far from your pig. Some of the treats falling in this category include:

4. No Seeds Or Corn

You might have heard that seeds and corn are bad for guinea pigs. And while that’s true for all guinea pigs, it’s especially important to avoid giving these foods to diabetic guinea pigs.

Seeds and corn are high in sugar and starch. As we mentioned before, these can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

Plus, seeds and corn are also high in fat. So, they can make your little friends gain a bunch of weight. And remember, obesity can lead to insulin resistance, causing or making diabetes worse. So, it’s best to avoid giving your guinea pig these foods.

Plus, seeds are a renowned choking hazard for guinea pigs. So, it’s really not worth the risk to give your guinea pig these foods.

You shouldn’t ever give a diabetic guinea pig seeds or corn. This will help keep your pet healthy and avoid problems.

5. Limit Veggies

You can give your guinea pig vegetables that are low in sugar and starch to eat. But the best way to manage diabetes in guinea pigs is to give them unlimited hay. This is what your vet will tell you.

While all guinea pigs should have hay as a mainstay of their diet, it’s especially important for diabetic guinea pigs. Hay is high in fiber and has almost no starch, fat, and sugar, so it has everything that piggies suffering from diabetes need to lead a healthy life.

But as we all know, guinea pigs have small tummies. That means if they eat more of something, it can only come at the expense of losing (or having less) something else – and that’s where the idea of reducing green foods comes in handy.

You see, what you need to do is create more room for hay in your cavies’ tummies. And the best way to do that is by reducing the intake of other foods you feed your guinea pig. You don’t want your pig to get filled with green foods and have no more space for hay.

You should still give your little friends leafy greens and other low-starch veggies. But don’t give them too much, because then they won’t have enough room for hay. This way, they’ll still get the nutritional benefits of the green foods.

Some vegetables you can feed your guinea pig include:

What Foods Are Healthiest For Guinea Pigs?

The healthiest foods for guinea pigs are low in sugar, fat, and starch but at the same time high in fiber. That means hay, vegetables, and water should be the main staples of their diet.

Sugar, fat, and starch are the greatest enemy to your pig’s health, so avoid or offer little of them to your guinea pig.

As a rule of thumb, some of the best foods for guinea pigs include:

  • Hay: Here, consider feeding your guinea pig Timothy hay, oat hay, meadow hay, orchard grass. These are all excellent sources of fiber that help regulate digestion while keeping blood sugar levels in check.
  • Vegetables: The best vegetables for guinea pigs are leafy greens like kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, parsley, turnip greens, zucchini, watercress, and collard greens. These are all low in sugar but high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Fruits: Fruits contain a lot of sugar and should only be given to guinea pigs in moderation. However, some safe fruits for guinea pigs include strawberries, apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, and bananas.
  • Water: Guinea pigs need to drink a lot of water every day to stay hydrated. Make sure to offer them fresh, clean water at all times.

How Do I Know That My Guinea Pig Has Diabetes?

a fact that explains that the only way you know if your guinea pig is diabetic is if you get a diagnosis from a vet

The best way to know that your guinea pig has diabetes is through diagnosis. Frequently take your pocket pet to the vet for check-ups. That will help your piggie’s vet diagnose diabetes and any other condition that might come up in the early stages.

During these visits, your vet will want to run some tests. These include a urinalysis and a physical examination.

The urinalysis will help your vet check your guinea pig’s urine for glucose. Glucose is a sugar molecule that’s found in high levels in the urine of diabetic animals.

On the other hand, the physical examination will help your vet check for any physical signs of diabetes.

These include:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Cataracts
  • Decreased activity
  • Increased appetite
  • Change in behavior

If your vet suspects that your guinea pig has diabetes, they might also want to run a blood test. This will help them confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible conditions.

How Common Is Diabetes With Guinea Pigs?

Diabetes is a rare condition in guinea pigs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact, it can be just as bad for them as it is for their human friends.

Certain factors can increase your guinea pig’s risk of developing diabetes. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Steroid use
  • Genetic disposition

If your guinea pig has any of these risk factors, it’s essential to take extra care of them. That means feeding them a healthy diet, ensuring they get plenty of exercise, and taking them for regular vet check-ups.

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Final Thoughts

While guinea pigs with diabetes need an extra bit of tender love and care, they’re easy to care for when you know what works for them and what doesn’t. Generally, avoid foods rich in fat and sugar and offer lots of hay.

However, if you aren’t sure whether or not your pig has diabetes, the best thing to do is take your pet to the vet for a check-up. That way, you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to help your furry friend feel better soon.

Cummings School. (2013, April 3). A Very Thirsty Guinea Pig. Cummings School News Center. https://news.vet.tufts.edu/2013/04/a-very-thirsty-guinea-pig/

Guinea Lynx (n.d.). Guinea Pigs with Diabetes – General Information. https://www.guinealynx.info/patriciasimon_diabetes.html

Kingdom Vets. (n.d.). Health and welfare information about your guinea pig. Kingdom Veterinary Clinic.

Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue. (n.d.). Guinea Pig Diet. http://mgpr.org/newsite/GP_Info/Guinea%20Pig%20Diet.htm

PDSA. Your Guinea Pigs’ Diet. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-guinea-pig-s-diet

RSPCA. What should I feed my guinea pigs? RSPCA Knowledgebase. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-guinea-pigs/

The Humane Society of The United States. (n.d.). Guinea pig feeding – How much to feed. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding

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