How To Help Your Guinea Pig Gain Weight Safely

One of the most important things you can do for your guinea pig is to help it maintain a stable weight. If your furry friend has lost a bit of weight, then you’ll have to put in some effort to help him or her gain it back, and that can feel like a challenge.

The good news is that you don’t need to go and stuff your guinea pig with fatty treats — there are actually quite a few ways you can do this without ruining your pet’s diet or health.

You can help your piggie safely gain weight if you:

  • consult a vet
  • offer a balanced diet
  • feed Critical Care
  • serve oats
  • weigh your pet weekly
  • provide alfalfa hay
  • handfeed separately
  • supply pea flakes
  • give your pet Benebac
  • feed extra Vitamin C

Before we dive into the ins and outs of helping your guinea pig safely gain weight, it’s important to go over…

How Much Should A Guinea Pig Weigh?

how to help a guinea pig gain weight

On average, adult male guinea pigs weigh 2 to 2.6 pounds (or 900g to 1200g). But females are usually around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds (or 700g to 900g). But, these aren’t hard and fast guidelines.

DISCLAIMER: Cavies come in many different shapes and sizes. Some won’t fit in those ranges, even if they’re perfectly healthy.

Pigs can seem be either too thin or too fat. What you need to find out is:

  • What’s a normal size for YOUR guinea pigs? It is best to weigh them yourself (weekly) and make a note of their weight. This will help you know what is normal for them.
  • Have they rapidly lost weight? (mega thin, bone showing) If so, that’s definitely not normal. If your furry friends’ weight changes by 2 ounces over a week, see a vet – stat.

So, let’s say that you’ve been weighing your fur ball and you’ve noticed that he’s lost a little bit of weight recently. Could you even pinpoint the reason? (I know I wasn’t able to with my fur babies).

Cuz, there’s lots of reasons why that a guinea pig might be underweight. Here’s a few:

  • Mites, or other parasites. Pain from mites or other skin issues can make your piggie stop eating (wouldn’t you stop eating if you had uncontrollable itchies?), or lead to them not being able to eat properly.
  • Bullying. When introducing guinea pigs to each other, you need to be sure that they’re properly matched. If not, then this can lead to one of the piggie being bullied away from their food.
  • Dental issues. Good dental health can help your cavy eat properly (can’t chew if a tooth is broken or overgrown, right?). If your little friend has teeth problems that could be what’s causing weight loss.
  • Stress. Maybe something spooked your guinea pig and made them lose their appetite, which caused them to lose weight. Maybe your cavy’s just stressed out in general (can happen when you bring home a new piggie or get a new family member).

And this isn’t it. There’s other things that can cause a piggie to lose weight. That’s why if you’re going to help your piggie to safely regain (and maintain) weight, you need to…

Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!

how to help a guinea pig gain weight

1. Consult A Vet

This is by far one of the most important things you can do. Find out if your cavy is otherwise healthy (fingers crossed), or if there’s something going on that you can’t see that’s causing weight loss.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of tweaking the diet , but sometimes there are other problems involved.

Bottom line?

You’re not going to know how to approach the situation until you’ve spoken to a professional.

2. Offer A Balanced Diet

To help your pigs gain weight (and maintain), you need to make sure they’re eating right.

It doesn’t have to be like studying for a doctorate in animal nutrition (although some forums and websites can make it seem like that, sheesh!), but you should know what’s a good diet for cavies. A good place to start is with the basics:

  • a healthy mix of produce (veggies and sometimes fruit)
  • unlimited amounts of high quality hay
  • Vitamin C-enriched pellets
  • unlimited fresh, clean water

Guinea pigs need a diet with 80% hay, 15% vegetables, 5% pellets, and some special treats to stay fit and healthy.

It’s important not to overfeed your piggie (soooo important). Hay is one of the few things they should be eating EVERY day.

Otherwise, you’ll just volley back and forth between weight loss, and weight gain (and Lord knows neither one is healthy for them)- overfeeding is the number one reason why guinea pigs get obese.

3. Feed Critical Care

There’s different things you can feed to your piggie to help them gain weight and critical care is one of the most popular – go-tos.

I’d never heard of it until I started looking after guinea pigs and maybe you haven’t either.

Critical Care is a powder (you have to mix it with water first) that can be given to guinea pigs who are not eating because they are sick or after surgery. It has everything the animal needs, like nutrients and fiber.

Remember to offer Critical Care IN ADDITION to a well-balanced diet of hay, pellets, and produce whenever possible.

Sometimes pet parents have to syringe-freed the critical care to their piggies. Here’s a video that shows you how you can do it.

4. Offer Oats

Oats have been proven to help pigs put on weight. Make sure that it’s NOT quick oats. Only use plain, steel cut oats (uncooked). Just like with humans, if they eat too much of it then they can gain weight from that too.

Remember that you’re not just blindingly doling out gigantic amounts of extra food, you’re just tweaking the diet so that you can gain weight.

So you’ll want to offer a smaller amount of oats daily. And don’t go overboard (it shouldn’t be more than a teaspoon’s worth, given once or twice a day, sprinkled over their pellets).

5. Provide Alfalfa Hay

Alfalfa hay is high in calories and calcium. This is only an option if you want to help a guinea pig gain weight who’s pregnant (or even nursing) or a baby guinea pig (about six months or less).

Guinea pigs in the first stages of life thrive on alfalfa hay. It helps them gain weight properly and makes sure they have strong bones (hooray for milk teeth and physical growth, right?).

Pregnant cavies or ones that are nursing need the extra calories to help their babies grow and to keep their milk flowing.

But too much alfalfa hay will cause an average adult guinea pig to gain weight (like scary, super fast), so I wouldn’t use this method on cavies who aren’t pregnant or a baby.

6. Handfeed Separately

If you have a big herd of guinea pigs (heck, if you even have two sometimes) it can be hard to keep up with how much everyone is eating.

Especially if some pigs are more needy than others, or you have a pig that’s constantly pestering the one who eats slowly (why do they always pick on the poor souls?).

So hand-feeding can be really helpful to make sure that your thinner piggie is getting a fair share of the food.

You can easily pluck your slender picky out of the cage (or separate the page with a board or partition) to make sure that she’s eaten her fill. Then put her back to enjoy socializing with her cage buddies.

7. Supply Pea Flakes

Pea flakes are a fun treat and are great to help your piggie gain weight.

But, what are they?

Pea flakes are a snack made from dried split green peas. They are rolled and baked to make a tasty, crunchy snack. Sugar and preservatives are a non issue (pea flakes don’t have either).

Plus, a bag of them will last FAH-EVER.

It’s one of the healthiest snacks you can give them. But, like all snacks, only give them in moderation.

If you want to help your guinea pig gain weight, add a few pea flakes to their daily diet. Then eat back into just feeding 1 or 2 a day, which is the recommended amount.

You may also make your own pea flakes at home, but it’s can be a serious time suck. If you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.

Here’s the basic steps:

  • Get a bag of split peas.
  • Boil them for 10 – 15 minutes in a pot
  • Flatten them a bit with a rolling pin, the bottom of a glass
  • Bake low and slow on parchment paper for about 8 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius. (Watch them, so they don’t burn)

They actually end up looking like little green Fruity Pebbles (which I find adorable). But if you don’t have the time or energy, just buy a bag.

8.Give Your Pet Benebac

If your piggie has just gone on antibiotics (or just come off of them), then there’s a chance that her gut bacteria is kind of messed up. The good bacteria in your piggie’s gut helps them absorb nutrients from their food and promotes good digestion.

Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t discriminate. They kill off both good and bad bacteria in your piggie’s body.

Sometimes antibiotics are so harsh on your piggie’s tummy that they can’t recover from it right away, so they stop eating completely – which causes weight loss.

This is where Benebac comes into play.

To give them a helping hand and replace any valuable gut bacteria, you can give them Benebac. It’s simple-to-use gel and is one of the best probiotics out there for guinea pigs.

Usually a combination of Benebac and syringe-fed Critical Care works a pixie-dust type of magic with piggies who’ve lost weight from antibiotics. This helps them regain their appetites and to gain weight.

9. Feed Extra Vitamin C

Little fur babies who’ve been sick or that’ve just had surgery often need a little jumpstart to their immune system. This helps spark their appetite. And will help you little piggie gain weight.

Vitamin C is a natural energy booster and immune system fortifier. Plus, it can help your cavy recover from being sick or coming off of antibiotics.

There’s really no way to give them extra Vitamin C other than to feed them foods that have high levels of the vitamin naturally. Try feeding your little friend some extra:

You can also try feeding Oxbow Vitamin C biscuits to give your cavy an extra boost of Vitamin C to help them fully heal from their illness and regain their appetite.

Things To Remember About How To Help Your Guinea Pig Gain Weight Safely

We’ve provided some helpful methods on how to help your guinea pig gain weight.

Though it’s important not to overfeed them or make any unhealthy food choices, there are plenty of healthy foods you can give them and methods that you can try that will fill their tummies and provide the nutrients they need for a healthy life (and to gain weight), such as:

  • consult a vet
  • offer a balanced diet
  • feed Critical Care
  • serve oats
  • weigh your pet weekly
  • provide alfalfa hay
  • handfeed separately
  • supply pea flakes
  • give your pet Benebac
  • feed extra Vitamin C

Of course, how your pet looks is not the only factor in whether or not they are healthy.

You should also take into account their weight and behavior to determine if something might be wrong.

And if you want to help your guinea pig gain weight (and keep them happy), try out some of these methods explained in this article.

Which tips do you think would be most effective in helping your cavy regain its appetite?

Have you tried other techniques to help a too-thin guinea pig gain weight. Let me know in the comments below.

4 nutrient requirements of the Guinea pig | Nutrient requirements of laboratory animals,: Fourth revised edition, 1995 | The National Academies Press. (n.d.). The National Academies Press. https://www.nap.edu/read/4758/chapter/6

Guinea Pig Size-O-Meter. (n.d.). UNC Research. https://research.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/61/2012/11/Body-Condition-Scoring-Guinea-Pig.pdf

Is my Guinea pig fat? (2019, February 26). Lafeber Co. – Small Mammals. https://lafeber.com/mammals/is-my-guinea-pig-fat/

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