Is Your Guinea Pig Too Skinny? (Find Out Now)

When it comes to the health of a guinea pig, there’s one thing you should keep your eye on-weight. If you notice that your piggies are looking skinny or not eating as much, it might be time to take them into the vet!

Typically, a guinea pig is considered too skinny if you’re able to easily see and feel the rib cage, spine or hip bones. It’s a great way to see if he’s the right weight. Guinea pigs that are underweight risk illness and even death.

is your guinea pig skinny

This article was meant to make you aware of ways that can tell if your guinea pig is underweight.

It’s important to know the signs and take action quickly if you feel that your furry friend is not at a healthy weight or needs help gaining weight.

How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig Is Underweight?

is your guinea pig skinny

Don’t get caught off guard. Guinea pigs are prey animals by nature and they often hide signs of illness to avoid attracting attention from predators (i.e. you).

They’re not gonna tell you if their stomach hurts or if they’ve lost their appetite. Some guinea pig owners don’t realize this.

Weight loss is usually the only sign that something’s wrong. But, unless you’re doing two things weekly, you may never know (and that could be very dangerous).

The two things are weighing your piggies and monitoring what they eat.

There are two main things you need to do (weekly without fail) to be able to catch a severe drop of weight in your fur baby before it’s too late:

  1. Weigh your cavies. Because if she’s losing weight, you can catch it early.  Weight loss in guinea pigs doesn’t have to be fatal if it’s noticed quickly enough and they can get treatment BEFORE they get too sick. 
  2. Monitor their body condition.   If you see her ribs (or any other bones) through her skin, take action immediately.  Get her some extra pellets and then get her an appointment at the vets.

Weigh Your Cavies

Give your cavies a weekly health check to keep tabs on their weight. What’s a healthy weight for each cavy? You’ll find out if you weigh them regularly (I guarantee it).

If your cavy gains weight quickly, or even loses weight quickly, then it means that something is wrong. And it’s time for a vet visit.

Here is what you need to know about weighing your little friends:

  • Weigh your pig weekly. Choose a day, slap a post-it reminder on your fridge, or set a reminder in your cell phone, so that you won’t forget. (All guinea pig owners should have a weekly nose to bottom health check anyway.)
  • Find a kitchen scale to weigh your cavy. Readings should be in decimals (or in grams). If you can’t find one in your local stores, try ordering one online.
  • Put a bowl on the scale when you weigh your cavies. That way they won’t slip off the scale or escape while you’re weighing them. Make sure it’s the right size to fit your piggies.

If you’re concerned (and if they’ve lost weight you should be), I’d say you need to weigh them at least once a week (or every other day). Keep track of their weight until they reach a healthy body condition.

Monitor Their Body Condition

The body condition of your fur babies can tell you a lot about how healthy he or she is.  In other words, if they have a good body condition, they’re probably okay.

If not…they might be unhealthy and have some sort of condition that you need to take care of.

Pick your fur baby up and feel around the stomach area. Here are some important descriptions of body conditions in your cavies:

  • Too Skinny: When you feel a very underweight guinea pig, they might have ribs that you can clearly see and feel. They might even have a hips and spine that stick out. This isn’t good. Get a vet to rule out medical issues and illnesses quickly.
  • Average Size: This is the right weight – the perfect size for each individual cavy. Your guinea pig should be round on the bottom and have a flat chest. You can see its feet and stomach. You can feel their hips, ribs, and spines if you give their sides a little press – but they’re not obviously sticking out.
  • Too Fat: If you touch an overweight guinea pig, you’re going to have a hard tie finding their hips, spine, or ribs. Their belly and thighs are fat and it’s next to impossible to see their feet. If your little friend is this huge, then it’s time to call a vet.

Combining weekly weight checks and body checks can provide insight into your guinea pig’s health.

How Much Should A Guinea Pig Weigh?

Okay, so I’m going to give you some general guidelines about how much guinea pigs “should” weigh.

Then I’m going to explain why you shouldn’t panic if all of your furry friends don’t fit within the body weight ranges below:

  • A male guinea pig weighs around 2lbs to 2.6lb (900g – 1200g)
  • A female guinea pig weighs around 1.5 lbs – 2lbs (700g – 900g) – 

Since cavies come in so many different sizes and shapes that they’re not going to fit into those ranges – even if they’re perfectly healthy.

Is your piggie eating well and pooping normally (and behaving like usual)?

If the answer is “yes”, then don’t freak out.

Even healthy piggies can fall a little under or a little over the ranges mentioned above. What you need to find out is:

  • What’s a “normal” size for each individual fur baby that you have. And that’s accomplished by simply weighing them yourself (weekly, please) and making a note of their weight. This’ll help you to get an accurate idea of what’s normal for your piggies so that if anything weight does happen to come up you’ll know what’s going on.
  • Dips and spikes in weight. Any type of major change or weight loss in guinea pigs means that something is up. If 2 or more ounces of weight is gained or lost over the period of a week, you’ll need to look out for other signs of illness and need to see a vet.

Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Be Skinny?

It’s not normal for a male adult guinea pig’s weight to be several ounces below the 2lbs (900g) or for a female adult cavy to be several ounces below 1.5 lbs (700g).  

Usually there’s a medical reason for this.  Especially if the weight loss is sudden and drastic.

A vet needs to see your furry friend to help figure out the reason for the crazy weight loss.  And if a vet can’t be seen right away, then critical care (a sort of mush given to piggies who can’t -or won’t-eat on their own) should be fed.

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!

What Causes Weight Loss in Guinea Pigs?

There are a few possible causes of weight loss. And to make matters worse, some of these issues can be difficult to diagnose.

That’s why it’s important for all guinea pig owners to seek the help of a vet when you notice your pet is losing weight…

Why?

Because these issues can be serious. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to reverse the potential damage. The sooner you address them, the better your guinea pig’s prognosis.

Here are three common health conditions that cause weight loss:

  • Scurvy: This diseases can be fatal. It’s caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. It’s common in guinea pigs, because they don’t produce Vitamin C. So, they need to get it some other way. Symptoms of scurvy are weakness, lack of energy, limping, a rough coat, diarrhea and weight loss.
  • Malocclusion: This happens when your piggie’s teeth become overgrown and no longer teeth fit together. This is very painful and might even stop her from eating. This problem is serious. Cavies are more likely to have malocclusion because their teeth keep growing. They need to wear down their teeth by chewing on things, or else they will get sore and uncomfortable.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes mellitus is the inability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels due to lack of insulin in the bloodstream. It’s one of the most common causes for weight loss in guinea pigs, especially among senior
  • Pneumonia: It’s a bacterial disease that can kill your cavy (actually, it’s the leading cause of death in guinea pigs, no joke!) Some of the symptoms are wheezing, trouble breathing, crusty nose and mouth, weight loss, reddish eyes, and depression. Your vet might give your pet medicine like antibiotics if they catch pneumonia early enough.

So those are just a few reasons why your piggie might be losing weight.

But, honestly, there’s lots of illnesses that might make your little friends lose their appetites from cancer in guinea pigs to bloat.

So do take your fur babies to the vet if you notice they’re not as hungry or not acting themselves, okay?

A thorough examination should be performed by a veterinarian to determine what is causing the weight loss and why your little friends aren’t eating as they should.

How Can I Help My Cavy Put On Some Weight?

is your guinea pig too skinny

It’s best that you see a vet if you think that your piggie has gotten too skinny. If the cause is medical, your little friend will receive treatment.

Then you have to focus on getting your guinea pig to regain its lost weight.

Here are a few tips that can help you: 

1. Help Them Gain Weight Slowly

The way to make sure your guinea pig does not get too heavy is to feed it slowly. That way your fur babies’ body can adjust and their weight will be more stable.

If they’re getting enough nutrients and their body is getting used to putting on weight, they’ll eventually start eating more.

But if you force them to eat a lot of food at once, it could cause stomach problems and bowel complications that’ll make your little friend say, “Um, no thanks.”

2. Feed Them Foods That Will Help Them Put On Weight

There’s a few different foods that you can add to your fur babies regular diet.  They’ll help your little friends put on weight if they’re too skinny. Here are some weight gain foods that you might want to try giving to your furry friends: 

  • fresh corn on the cob (the silk and husks are good for your piggies, too!)
  • raw, plain, rolled oats (not the quick cook kind) – just sprinkle a tablespoon or two over their pellets
  • critical care (a type of high-fiber, Vitamin C infused gruel fed to piggies that are having trouble eating on their own)
  • offer oat hay
  • add small amounts of freeze-dried readigrass to their diet; the important thing to keep in mind about readigrass is that it shouldn’t replace hay or become a staple food. 
  • keep offering them a balanced diet of unlimited hay and appropriate amounts of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and pellets (you can always add more pellets to their diet if you think they need it), too; don’t overdo any sugar foods or you’ll have an obese guinea pig on your hands

3. Make Sure They’re Actually Eating

If you have a huge herd of cavies, it’s probably a good idea to separate the skinny one from the rest during this time. Otherwise you won’t have any idea who is eating the bulk of the food.

Don’t completely remove your fur baby from her friends. A separate cage put in the same room will do okay – so they can still see, hear, smell, and talk to each other.

That way you can monitor how much your little friend is eating. Plus, you can also watch for any changes in its health.

If you don’t want to separate your underweight piggie from the rest, take time out to snuggle her individually. While you’re doing this, feed her a small amount of food. That way you know for sure that she’s eating.

In some ways dealing with weight loss in guinea pigs makes me more nervous than dealing with a overweight one.  A piggie’s gut has to keep moving for the piggie to stay healthy.  Not eating causes lots of issues in guinea pigs.  So, a fur baby that isn’t eating properly is seriously nerve-wracking.

Let’s Remember A Few Things

I hope that you now know how important it is to regularly monitor your guinea pig’s weight.

It can be hard to find the time, but just think about all of the benefits associated with knowing if your pet needs more food or not!

The information we covered in this article should help you keep an eye on their diet and maintain a healthy weight for them.

It’s important to keep the following points in mind:

  • A health guinea pig can seem a little skinny, but that might just be her normal weight.  Weight loss in guinea pigs isn’t always bad as long as it’s no more than an ounce.
  • Guinea pig owners should take their piggies to the vet if they notice that they’ve lost 2 or more ounces in a week.
  • There are lot of different foods that can be fed to cavies to help them gain weight like: rolled oats, a few extra pellets, and oat hay. Avoid lots of junk food.  Don’t give them an unbalanced diet.  An improper diet plan is just as bad as underfeeding your cavies. A variety of vegetables should be given, too.
  • Your vet can help you come up with a guinea pig diet plan to help your cavy pick up weight.

And of course now you have some tricks and tips on how to help your fur babies gain weight if necessary.

Remember always consult with your vet when making any changes to their diets, as they will have the final say in what foods are best for them.

Good luck and happy feeding!

Common illnesses in Guinea pigs. (n.d.). Vet Clinic Rapid City & Black Hills, SD | Dakota Hills Veterinary Clinic. https://www.dakotahillsveterinary.com/black-hills-vet-common-illnesses-guinea-pigs

Disorders and diseases of Guinea pigs – All other pets – Merck veterinary manual. (n.d.). Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/all-other-pets/guinea-pigs/disorders-and-diseases-of-guinea-pigs

DVM, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

Guinea pigs as pets. (n.d.). Veterinary Partner – VIN. https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951552

How To Nurse Your Guinea Pig At Home. (n.d.). Vets for Rabbits, Birds & Other Exotic Pets – The Unusual Pet Vets. https://www.unusualpetvets.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/How-to-Nurse-your-Guinea-Pig-at-Home.pdf

Similar Posts