You might notice the pellets you bought for your furry little pet, might cause him to turn his nose and move away from them. Which might make you ask yourself “Why is my Guinea pig not eating pellets?”
Guinea pigs are very picky and fussy eaters. If they turn their nose to the food, then it means something might be wrong. Not necessarily health wise, but a lot of other conditions too, let’s find out what those reasons could be.
Change in diet
A change in the routine brand of pellets, a change in diet from the pellets to fruits, vegetables or even a hay diet can cause your little pet pig to avoid eating them altogether.
If your pig suddenly refuses their daily diet, there could be a cause for concern, and that might involve a health issue.
Much like humans, guinea pigs can like or dislike a particular type of food. So, what you can do is, notice the behavior of your pet when you give them food. It could be as simple as them not liking the taste of the pellets, not the pellets in general.
They might even get bored from eating the same thing day in and day out. You need to control yourself in these cases, as it can become very tempting to feed your guinea pig treats. It’s important to not lose your focus when trying to give your guinea pig a decent diet.
Guinea pigs’ teeth grow throughout their lifespan. With both front and back teeth growing. These overgrown teeth, especially the front ones can cause pain and difficulty in chewing.
Their teeth need to be even and meet in the middle, especially the front ones, and it is very important to include substances in their diet to prevent overgrowth, and to wear down teeth, which will be discussed further down in detail.
Quality of the pellets
There might be a problem in the quality of the pellets too. They might not be good enough, or might not suit the taste buds of your guinea pig.
They will not eat pellets which they might pee on. Yes, they pee to mark their territory. So, it’s always a good idea to change the foul smelling food bowl after a while.
If they are in the feeding tray for a while and accumulate dust, this might prevent them from eating it.
As they are allergic to dust, and can have nasal irritation, and might even start sneezing. They might even be too hard to chew, let’s not forget, they have little teeth!
A hot summer day won’t be an ideal time to chow down on food. Your pet pig might not be eating simply because it feels too hot. Maybe moving the cage to a slightly cooler, or windy location ought to do the trick.
It is also a very possible reason that there might not be any clean, fresh drinking water available. Like we said, they’re very fussy and picky eaters. Try getting a mini cooler and fit it into the cage, that might solve the problem.
The cleanliness of the feeding tray, spot and even the cage itself matter too. If you notice these places are dirty, it’s best to remove your furry friend and clean them before putting him back in there. They don’t like unclean environments at all! Talk about clean freaks.
Yes, you read it right. Guinea pigs are prone to get too stressed out too. This might cause them to stop eating in frustration. The best course of action here would be, to let them play or run on the wheel for a while. It helps de-stress them, and can build up an appetite too.
You have to keep in mind, that recent surgeries or any diagnosed health condition has a direct effect on appetite and feeding patterns too.
It might also be a possibility that your furry friend has an ongoing gastrointestinal blockage. Which causes blockage in the digestive tract because of ingestion of fur. Even undigested food can cause blockage.
This might refrain them from eating, as it might worsen their condition. The best cause of action would be a visit to the vet, if you notice abdominal swelling or bloating.
Or even if your pig is hiding in the corner of the cage, and shows little movement. Notice poop patterns too, constipation is also a sign.
The vet will properly diagnose and start the correct treatment.
Guinea pigs tend to stop eating because of dental pain as well. As their teeth grow all their life. It could cause them severe pain. They would then rather prefer a semi-solid or liquid food.
These growing teeth can be trimmed by chewing. So, it’s essential for solid food to be given to the pig, such as hay. You should check your guinea pig’s teeth on a regular basis, and they should overlap and be evenly placed out.
Look out for bites though!
You might wonder, whether there really is a need to feed your guinea pig pellets? To answer this question, let’s explore the importance, and the necessity of pellets below.
Does my guinea pig need to eat pellets?
Guinea pigs require pellets from a young age. These should be provided in large quantities at an early age. The baby guinea pigs will eat these as much as they can, until they are healthy.
These pellets are rich in nutrition, contain calcium and protein, and a lot of calories. Ingesting these essential nutrients are key to the growth of any baby.
Pellets will also help increase both the guinea pigs body weight and mass. These are protein packed too, providing all essential nutrients for healthy development and growth.
Unlimited hay and veggies are more critical than pellets, diet wise. But these pellets are a new change, and it is very welcomed and liked by the guinea pigs.
However, after the young age passes, and the Guinea pig matures, it is important to note that intake of pellets should be reduced. As further mass gain is no longer required, and can have an adverse, harmful effect.
This weight gain will cause problems to them in their mature age, just like obesity does to humans in the later stages of life.
Consequentially, the mature guinea pig’s diet should consist of more hay, and vegetables instead of pellets, as they would require more and more fiber than any other nutrient.
If you’ve recently gotten a new pet guinea pig, or haven’t incorporated pellets into their diet yet. Let’s look at ways to do so!
How to get my guinea pig to eat pellets?
If they’re a new addition to the family, or their problems are more behavioral related than health related. Training can be given to make the pellets look more appealing to the pig, so they start chomping down on them, rather than ignoring them.
Making a schedule
If you’re in the habit of leaving food in their cage all day, and making it readily available all day. Try making a feeding time schedule. Offer food at a fixed time in the day.
A routine based feeding might change the perception of the pellets, and might make them start eating it more and more. The fresh smell of the pellets can entice them more, rather than the ones you put in last night!
Placing pellets near their hiding spots
Guinea pigs have a safe place, where they tuck themselves in and shut the world out. Putting the feeding bowl near their hiding spot, or even stashing a few pellets in their spot, would make them more relaxed and eager to eat.
A timid pig won’t feel confident enough to eat, if it’s bowl is far from it’s safe spot.
This technique can help too, and the way to go about it is by holding them in your hand, and feeding them 5 to 6 pellets as a treat. Try incorporating a daily portion of their pellet feed, by hand.
If the pig responds encouragingly or likes it, they will think of them as treats, and would look forward to eating them. Rather than a useless feed, which they can ignore.
Using your voice
Our pets wouldn’t understand what we say. The only way they can sense what we’re trying to say, is through body language or actions.
Just like people talk to their dogs or cats in a loving way and tone, the same tone and technique can be used for guinea pigs. Using a specific type of tone can be used to feed them pellets effectively. What this will do is, it will make them associate it with a reward, and the reward being pellets. Talk about mind games!
Mammals are highly intelligent creatures, and so are all household pets, especially the guinea pig. You would have noticed this while opening a packet of crisps and seeing your pig go berserk!
Tune up their pellets
Here are a few ways to make the same old and boring pellets look like royalty:
What this will do is, it will bring out the hay’s scent entrapped in the pellets, and not only would it taste different, but it would taste better and smell better too!
If you’re wondering what kind, or what type of pellets are best for your guinea pig? Look no further, we’ve talked about all kinds below. Let’s give it a look!
What pellets should guinea pigs eat?
The pellets you feed your pigs should be healthy, nutritious and safe for them. Some are better than the others.
Mixing pellets with nuts and dried fruits should be avoided. As guinea pigs choose to eat the tastier foods, and would eat the nuts and dry fruits, and leave behind the pellets.
While buying pellets, here are a few things you should keep an eye out for:
The pellets should be made with timothy based hay. It helps with digestion as it has a high content of fiber. Besides these pellets, there are a few more things you can feed your piggy.
An alternate to pellets?
By choosing a different brand that does not have dry fruits or seeds, and feeding that to a portion of 1/8 cups per day, will be sufficient.
Guinea pigs lack vitamin C, and this deficiency needs to be fulfilled by their diet. Which means that if they don’t get that dose of vitamins, they are prone to getting scurvy, or even immune system problems.
The pellets are enriched with vitamins, but the point to be noted, is that this shouldn’t be their only source of it!
Fruits and Veggies
Feeding them greens can tend to get boring, so why not add up fruits in the mix, and make it interesting! About 120-150 grams per day should suffice.
This can contain big quantities of leafy greens, such as parsley, kale, cilantro, and lettuce too. Giving them broccoli and green and red peppers ensures their Vitamin C requirement is met, every day.
Why make it recurring and boring? Add different vegetables and make it interesting for your pal, you may add carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and even sweet potatoes.
Naturally, fruits are rich in sugar, which is bad for your guinea pig. Which means that it should not be given on a regular basis.
Ideally, not more than once a day. Fruits such as kiwis, apples, blueberries are nutritious and tasty as well.
Likewise, for vegetables, the drawback might be the high levels of calcium, like spinach and kale, which means they should only be fed a few times a week.
On the other hand, veggies like cucumber, cilantro, and lettuce are lower in calcium, and can form a daily staple diet.
The usage of this is a green signal. This can be used in bulk and large quantities. The importance of hay is that it aids in the digestion of the food, and grinds down their growing teeth.
Add wood into the mix, and it’ll do your guinea pig a world of good!
They only require 100 grams of hay a day, that too to maintain their normal gut functioning. Without this, they can grow weak and become prone to being sick more often.
The pick of this has to be Alfalfa, which should be fed to young guinea pigs, even pregnant ones! Alfalfa contains protein and calcium, which is very important for growth and development.
How long can a guinea pig survive without eating?
Guinea pigs should not be kept hungry. Especially not more than 6 to 8 hours, and on extreme cases, 24 hours. Otherwise, they might face intestinal blockage and other complications.
So, if you plan on travelling, make sure to supply your pet with adequate amounts of water and plenty of fruits and vegetables, and food items.
If your guinea pig does not eat his pellets, it does not mean that it’s an issue. Even nibbling on hay and vegetables, with normal behavior, and accepting treats is fine. It could simply mean they are not interested in the pellets you are offering them.
Training them like mentioned above can help with that problem.
Like any other thing an animal or a pet does out of the ordinary, it raises an eye brow, and a cause for concern. If your guinea pig stops eating pellets all of a sudden, there could be an underlying health condition.
If you notice that your guinea pig hasn’t eaten in more than two days, then the best course of action would be to take them to the vet. Better safe, than sorry!