Weigh Your Healthy Guinea Pig Weekly!
By weighing weekly, you are using one of the best tools available for monitoring your guinea pig's health. What you are watching for is dramatic changes in weight. A good rule of thumb for an adult guinea pig is:
- One ounce weight fluctuation is OK.
- Two ounces - Go on alert.
- Three ounces - Extreme red alert.
- Four ounces - Get the pig to a vet.
Guinea pigs weights will fluctuate slightly from one time of day to another. If you see a pattern of weight loss, see a vet! Always be mindful of the signs of illness and read over the signs of malocclusion before you see your vet.
Checking over your guinea pig when you do weighings is highly recommended.
Crazy4me writes: "What I also do along with weighing my pig weekly is to check eyes, ears, skin, teeth and nails. I also gently feel for any lumps, and bumps starting from the head all the way down to the butt, this includes the stomach area, "underarm" area, neck area, jaw area, and the sides.
"If I notice anything that is abnormal, I will call the vet. If it is something that I can take care of myself, for instance, nail clipping, cleaning of the ears or grooming, I fix it right away."
WEIGH YOUR ILL GUINEA PIG DAILY!
Any time you suspect a health problem, be sure to weigh daily!
Salana's Einstein (pictured above) is getting his weekly weighing.
How much should my guinea pig weigh?
Every guinea pig is different. Veterinary reference books frequently cite adult weights of:
- 900-1200 grams for males
- 700-900 grams for females
These weights do not seem typical nor representative of pet guinea pigs. Just like people, guinea pigs have different bone structures so what is a good weight for one guinea pig could be too little for another. Male and female weights are often similar and overall weight is generally higher for many pet guinea pigs.
Rather than rely on weight charts, an evaluation of each guinea pig can help you determine if your guinea pig is a healthy weight. Read the short article below, contributed by veterinarian Sandra Mitchell for guidelines to help you determine if each of your guinea pigs are at a proper weight.
Determining The Correct Weight For Your Guinea Pig
It is very important to maintain the correct weight for your pet pig – too heavy and they are prone to problems such as bumblefoot, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes; too light and they can develop weakness and muscle atrophy.
Fortunately, when fed properly and given ample exercise, most pigs will “self-regulate” to a healthy weight. Obesity is a significant and common problem in guinea pigs, and in almost all instances, is seen in pigs that are over fed pellets and/or not housed in a large cage with plenty of “out time”. If you are feeding your pig unlimited hay, healthy portions of produce, and less than 2 tablespoons of pellets per 24 hours and feel your pig is still overweight, it is time to consult your veterinarian.
How do you know if your pig is too chubby? Thanks to the already rectangular shape of the guinea pig body and natural lack of a waist, combined with their thick hair coat, it can be a little bit of a challenge to tell what is lurking under the surface. The easiest way to tell the status of your pigs’ fat stores is to regularly run your hands down the entire length of the body, starting right behind the ears. In a well proportioned pig, you will be able to feel both the ribs and the backbone going “bump-bump-bump” under your fingers. These bumps should not be sharp or obvious, but palpable. If you are unable to feel those bumps – the fat stores are too thick and your pig is too chubby. If the bumps are very noticeable, then your pig may be too skinny. Both underweight and overweight pigs may have underlying medical conditions resulting in their abnormal fat stores, and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.
Most importantly, be sure to monitor the trend of your pigs’ weight. Any change – upwards or downwards – should have a *reason* behind it. If you have not changed the feeding or exercise schedule of the pig and the weight is changing – it is critically important to find out why. For this reason, weekly weighing with a scale that measures down to the gram level will help us to pinpoint subtle weight trends while they are in the early stages – and we can more readily diagnose and treat them.
With guinea pigs – as much as, or even more than with other species – they are what they eat. It is impossible to over emphasize the importance of a healthy diet in the proper proportions. This is the simplest thing an owner can do to prevent the development of disease and help the veterinarian to find problems early!
Contributed by Sandra Mitchell, DVM, DABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal and Feline Specialties)
Weights do vary widely. All three of the author's sows weigh(ed) more than the average cited in many medical books, ranging from +1000 grams to 1600 grams. While charts will not tell you what your individual guinea pig will weigh, they demonstrate the range of weights and progression as a guinea pig matures. Paulo contributed charts of the weights of several of his males and females (shown in ounces and grams) and Mel contributed a one year chart of 3 female guinea pigs. Mel's guinea pigs average about 1200 grams at one year. Paulo's males average slightly more than his females after one year.
Paulo writes that of his 5 males and 5 females, all but 3 came to him at about 4 weeks of age. The first weight in the chart corresponds to week 0. One male arrived at about 11 weeks of age so his weight starts at week 11. One male and one female were born at his home, so age is precise.
The blank weeks for some guinea pigs (Elza, Alice, Aracy, Itamar, and Hermeto) reflect a time when he was unable to record their weights and they were under poor care, not under his control. All lost weight except the pups who gained weight, perhaps at a normal rate.
The sudden weight loss for Alice occurred at delivery. She is also the heaviest of the baby females as she gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy.
- See: Paulo's CHART -- females over one year in grams
- See: Paulo's CHART -- females over one year in ounces
- See: Paulo's CHART -- males over one year in grams
- See: Paulo's CHART -- males over one year in ounces
- See: Mel'sCHART
Many guinea pigs over the age of 1 year are now fed timothy pellets rather than more fattening alfalfa pellets. A sound diet and adequate exercise will help your guinea pig maintain a healthy weight.
How fast should my pups be putting on weight?
Susan follows the weight changes of 5 pups with graph showing day to day average changes.
- See: Ryan's Pup Weight page.
Caruba recorded a few weeks of weight gain for 4 pups. JHand recorded weight changes for her unexpected litter of pups to get some idea of normal growth rates.
- See their weight charts and records here: Sample Pup Weights
What kind of scale should I get?
Any scale that reliably weighs objects of at least 5 pounds should work fine. Just make sure that it is stable and that the tray is large enough to fit your guinea pig or that you can safely place a bowl or container on it to weigh.
Mel's guinea pig (at right) loafs around on the scale.
Many scales have tare features, meaning you can put a container on the scale and zero it out so the weight you read will only be your guinea pig's weight and not include that of the container.
Make sure you weigh on a safe surface so if your guinea pig jumps out, it will not fall to the floor. The floor is a safe place to do your weighing.
Generally speaking, you are not so much interested in completely accurate weights as you are in uniformity of weighing so you can observe and record weight changes. To determine if your scale is accurate over time, look around the house and choose an object of 2-3 pounds in weight and weigh it. Write the weight on a piece of tape and stick it underneath your chosen object. You can re-weigh this object at any time to see if the scale has changed.
More accurate scales that also weigh in grams can be very handy if you are trying to calculate the nutritional value of the foods you give your guinea pig.