In this article, we will explore how much water a guinea pig drinks daily. We will also explore the common questions around guinea pigs and water consumption. If you’d like to skip around take a look at the table of contents provided.
How much water does a guinea pig drink daily?
Our little piggies do not need much water, the average being 80-100 ml.
It is essential to provide fresh, room temperature, clean water to your animal daily.
Guinea pig’s diet consists of pellets, Timothy hay, and fresh food.
The guinea pig pellets and the hay provide minimal water leaving the fresh food and a water bottle keeping our pets hydrated.
- How much water does a guinea pig drink daily?
- What if my guinea pig drinks less than the average amount?
- What does dehydration look like in Guinea Pigs? What signs do I need to look for?
- How is dehydration treated in guinea pigs?
- What if my guinea pig drinks more than the average amount?
- How do you supply water to the guinea pig, and is there anything special about the water?
- How to make your adult guinea pig drink from a water bottle?
- Does water temperature matter?
- How long can guinea pigs survive without water?
- What have we learned?
- Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs? Check out these articles!
What if my guinea pig drinks less than the average amount?
There are several reasons to explore here:
- Size-Dependent- Of course, there is variability in the sizes of cavies, and larger males (boars) will drink more than the smaller females. The range of water needs accounts for the variability, but remember, it is only a guide and only part of the equation.
- Water in food- Fresh fruit and vegetables provided to your cavy contain a high water content. When you increase fresh foods in your guinea pig’s diet, you tell the pig that they are getting enough water and will decrease the amount they drink. An important reminder is not to overfeed fresh food, leading to diarrhea.
- Health problems- As your guinea pig begins to feel ill, they will start to drink less water. The reason they are sick could be, but not limited to, kidney problems, urinary tract infections, scurvy, pneumonia, open wound, infection, etc. If a sharp decline in water drank is noticed, an urgent trip to the vet is indicated.
- Diet change- A sudden change in diet can lead to a decrease in water drank. Cavies develop their diet very early in life and will often not recognize new food appropriately. It takes a very long time for guineas to adapt to change if they adapt at all. They will protest by not eating and drinking if sudden changes occur. Particular time and planning must be taken if changing any aspect of their diet to avoid illness and weight loss.
- Water additive – Adding vitamin supplements such as vitamin c to the drinking water may cause your cavy to stop drinking altogether. Sample the additive in a small cup first and gradually work up to the guinea pigs’ water bottle outside the enclosure once they are used to the taste. Remember, the slower, the better when it comes to cavies; they need their time to adjust. Please note adding a product to prevent vitamin c deficiency is not avised unless directed by a vet. Vitamin c will degrade within a short time in the water, leaving it useless if not drank quickly.
- Dental problems- Guineas will begin to drink and eat less if their mouth hurts. Notice your guinea begin to stop drinking. It will be important to look in their mouth for potential teeth overgrowth or teeth not growing correctly and creating sores in the mouth. Your guinea is most likely not getting enough fibrous food to keep their teeth filed down.
- Impacted water nozzle- Guinea pigs do not clear their mouth before drinking, often leaving hay and pellet residue at the end of the sipper. When you fill-up their water bottle, make it a point to check the nozzle at the end for any blockage that may be limiting their water intake. Make sure the water is easily accessible.
What does dehydration look like in Guinea Pigs? What signs do I need to look for?
Dehydration happens when the piggies are not consuming enough water from their diet and the sipper bottle. The body needs fluid to move the blood and nutrients around.
Did you know a guinea pig can only live around 24 hours without water? It’s crucial to their existence.
A Guinea will become dehydrated rather quickly. Some things to pay attention to include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Not drinking water despite having fresh clean water available
- Dark-colored urine and the amount of urine is much less than usual
- The guinea is less active in their cage, or they don’t interact at all
- Dry mouth and gums, gums are pale pink
- Tear shaped to very dry hard poop
- Dry, sunken eyes
How is dehydration treated in guinea pigs?
First, you should always make sure fresh, clean water is available at all times.
If your guinea is still not drinking water, offer food with a high water level. Such food includes celery, romaine lettuce, or other edible leafy greens you may have on hand.
Suppose your guinea pig can eat the vegetables. In that case, they will be provided with some water but will still need close monitoring.
Look for the signs of dehydration mentioned above. If signs of dehydration occur and your piggy is not eating or drinking, an urgent vet visit is needed.
Some treatments your vet may use:
Suggest you use a syringe to give them water at home.
This is easy, they can provide you with one or you can purchase a small syringe.
You are essentially bottle feeding them but with a syringe to ensure they are getting the water that they need.
Your vet can walk you through how to do this.
Provide subcutaneous fluids
Provide subcutaneous fluids. A needle is inserted just under the skin, and a volume of body temperature fluid is injected. The body will absorb the fluid into the bloodstream and treat the dehydration.
Your guinea pig may need more than one injection as only about 30 MLS are injected at one time.
Remember, guineas drink between 80-100 MLS of water daily. A couple of injections is perfectly reasonable to restore their hydration.
Provide fluid through the vein or the bone–
Provide fluid through the vein or the bone– There are two other ways fluid can be given to your piggy. It will be your vet’s preference what is best for your pet and the emergent nature of the situation.
What if my guinea pig drinks more than the average amount?
Much less common than drinking too little water but has relevant topics to explore:
- Climate– Your little friends will drink more water to cool down on hot days.
Keeping the climate temperature between 65-75 F is essential to keep the water consumption down and your piggies happy.
Cavies are very prone to heat exhaustion if outside of their comfort range.
Please remember your piggies during extreme weather change, as they will require additional resources to stay in their comfort zone.
- Disease process– Diabetes is the most common reason for drinking a lot of water. Polydipsia is a symptom of diabetes that creates the need to consume excess water due to excessive thirst.
The guinea pig is trying to flush out the high amount of sugar in the body and cannot use the sugar as energy.
The pig’s body is taking in more water to increase the total amount in the blood to regulate the blood sugar.
A diet evaluation needs to happen if you notice a dramatic change in the amount of water your guinea is drinking.
Remember the keys to a successful diet: 70-80% dry hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and fruit sparingly.
- Decrease in fresh food- Have you reduced how much fresh food your guineas are eating? Have you changed to a lower water content vegetable?
We have all been there, do not want to go to the store, get busy, or the vegetables go bad before you make it to the store.
Your guinea will drink more water if given less to no vegetables—a significant amount of water is stored in them.
Think about how much vegetable content you are providing your piggies if concerned about their water intake.
- Increase in salt– Some varieties of pellets and treats contain too much salt for guinea pigs.
Make sure you are buying a reputable brand, and it is specifically formulated for guinea pigs.
Using pellets formulated for bunnies or other small animals will provide differing nutrition than the cavy needs.
- Water bowl– Does your bowl have a secure base, and will it not tip over?
Answering no to either one may indicate your guinea is spilling from the water bowl.
Our guineas love to sit, walk and tip over any water or food bowls.
Ensure that they are not just causing the water to disappear in ways other than through their mouth.
How do you supply water to the guinea pig, and is there anything special about the water?
Guinea pigs can drink from a bowl or a sipper bottle, which is the preferred method. A sipper bottle will help prevent large water spills, and you can better manage how much your piggies drink.
A bowl is often less sanitary than the sipper bottle, as the cavy can step in it, tip it over, or pee and poop in it. A sipper will require additional training if your guinea has not learned how to use it, but it will be worth it in the long run.
It is crucial for guinea pig owners that not all sipper bottles are created equal, and many will drip into the cage.
Searching for a chinchilla water bottle may provide better results as they cannot get their fur wet—ideally, a leak-proof water bottle.
Finally, a glass bottle is ideal. It will prevent algae formation and possible plastic taste but is not a need but a recommendation.
The water itself does not need to be “special” but needs to be room temp and contain little to no calcium.
Did you know it’s important to pay attention to your guinea pigs’ water temperature when filling up their water container? Read more about it below.
The best way to get the proper fresh water for your piggies is by using a filter, such as a Brita. Pour water into the filter, let it pass through, then pour directly into the sipper bottle.
Not only will the filter remove any calcium, but it will also filter out chlorine.
The chlorine removed provides a better taste of water to the cavies.
The filter may seem ridiculous for rodents, but it can help prevent health issues such as bladder stones from too much calcium.
Here are two examples of water bottles from Amazon with significant reviews. One is glass, and one is plastic.
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A glass bottle with 4K+ reviews, mostly positive.
The negatives include water leaking from the nozzle from a few people to no water coming out of the end at all. Please check the end of the nozzle before placing your guinea pigs’ water bottle in the cage.
One lady was not paying attention to the water level in the bottle and almost killed her bunny from dehydration as no water was flowing from the nozzle.
Here is a leak-proof water bottle that has 6K+ reviews.
Unfortunately, the water bottle uses plastic water bottles. You can use most plastic bottles made for soda pop if needed.
A reviewer found a wine bottle with a twist-off lid to fit perfectly in the slot. It does come with a plastic bottle, but the soda pop bottles can be used if something happens to the one included.
The reviews are, again, mostly positive.
The negative reviews are that the bottle works too well or doesn’t dispense water. Again, always check on how much your cavy is drinking and whether the dispenser works at the nozzle.
Other reviews indicate that they had leaking out of the nozzle to all-out flooding of the cage.
How to make your adult guinea pig drink from a water bottle?
A water bottle or sipper will make life easier for you as the owner. The cavies cannot tip it over. It is more sanitary—less water spilling in the bed, creating an overall more pleasant environment.
Treats are a good idea to lure your pig over to the water nozzle and to begin making them feel comfortable with its presence.
Use a special treat to them, possibly a tiny bit of fruit.
Once comfortable around the new water feature, try placing treats on the nozzle itself. They need to learn to hit either the ball or the flap on the end to get water.
As with anything guinea pig-related in training, it will take time, and you must exercise patience. Getting your adult guinea pigs used to new things is a testament of will sometimes, but very much achievable with persistence.
Does water temperature matter?
Our piggies are extremely sensitive to changes outside their natural climate (65-75 F).
Except for certain circumstances, changing their water temperature will have unintended consequences.
The best water temperature is room temperature, similar to 65-75 F.
- Cold water- It is best to avoid cold water except in particular circumstances. These circumstances are generally related to your guinea pig being too hot due to a high-temperature change and even direct sunlight. Giving them colder water will help them reach their average temperature faster. When they do not need it, providing cold water may lower their immunity and open their exposure to respiratory illness.
- Hot water- Again, it is best not to use really warm water unless it is a unique circumstance. You will take the guineas out of their ideal comfort zone and open them up for heatstroke. Of course, if your cavy is exposed to cold, then providing some warm water to warm them up would be acceptable. Make sure to test the water on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your animal if they are cold. You will want to avoid any potential burns in the mouth.
How long can guinea pigs survive without water?
Guinea pigs can generally survive right around 24 hours without water.
In contrast, a human can last about three days without water. Of course, survivability depends on many factors such as activity level, age of the guinea, health, and size of the animal.
These factors provide differing hydration needs, allowing some to survive for more extended periods than others.
If left without water or unable to get it for a day will leave them in severe dehydration that can lead to kidney failure and death.
If you are going to be gone for over 10 hours, make sure there is enough water available at all times.
What have we learned?
- Cavies require daily water maintenance of 80-100 MLS. There are special considerations if they drink no to little water or too much water.
- These considerations include illness, disease process, climate, dental issues, fresh food, diabetes diet changes.
- Dehydration is best prevented by closely monitoring your guinea’s water and intervening early. A water bottle is the most sanitary instead of a water bowl.
- A guinea will learn to drink from a water bottle with treats and patience.
- Cold and hot water should only be considered when your piggy is exposed to climate extremes.
- Finally, a guinea will only survive for approximately 24 hours without water.
Please make sure water is always available in their cage.
Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs? Check out these articles!
Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs’ health?
Check out these other articles
Johnson, J. (2019, May 14). How long can you live without water? facts and effects. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 5, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325174
National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals: Fourth Revised Edition, 1995. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1995. 4, Nutrient Requirements of the Guinea Pig. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK231932/
Pbeakley. (2013, August 22). Administering fluids to guinea pigs. Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://azeah.com/guinea-pigs/administering-fluids-guinea-pigs
Podell, B. K., Ackart, D. F., Richardson, M. A., DiLisio, J. E., Pulford, B., & Basaraba, R. J. (2017). A model of type 2 diabetes in the guinea pig using sequential diet-induced glucose intolerance and streptozotocin treatment. Disease models & mechanisms, 10(2), 151–162. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.025593
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Shomer, N. H., Holcombe, H., & Harkness, J. E. (2015). Biology and Diseases of Guinea Pigs. Laboratory Animal Medicine, 247–283. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-409527-4.00006-7