Like other animals, guinea pigs need to drink a certain amount of water every day to stay healthy and hydrated.
They usually drink around 100 to 200 ml of water every day. This amounts to 20 percent of their body weight.
On average, a guinea pig drinks less water than other small animals. However, you still need to make sure that they have a source of fresh and clean drinking water.
The amount of water a guinea pig consumes also depends on how cold or hot it is.
Their diet plays a significant role in determining their water intake as well.
Read on as we discuss how you can make sure your guinea pig drinks a sufficient amount of water and what happens if your guinea pig drinks too much or too little water.
How Can You Provide Guinea Pigs with Water
There are several options available for making sure your guinea pigs are able to drink water on a regular basis.
- Water bottles: This is a popular way of providing a source of water to guinea pigs. You can use a glass bottle as well as a plastic bottle for this. However, we suggest you opt for glass bottles. They are more environment-friendly and are easier to clean as well. You can clip these bottles on the exteriors of their cage and attach a nozzle that extends into the cage. The guinea pig can use this nozzle for drinking water.
- Sippy Bottles: If you are looking for something besides traditional water bottles, then we suggest you opt for sippy bottles.These bottles are easier to use than conventional water bottles. The guinea pig can grab onto the gib at the nozzle. This releases a steady stream of water. Using sippy bottles can also increase the amount of water consumed by your guinea pig.
- Bowls: You can also provide your pet with a bowl of fresh water. Drinking from a bowl is very easy for these animals. However, you will also have to change the water every few hours. This is because the chances of water contamination are much higher when using a bowl. Your guinea pig may drop their feces or food particles inside the bowl, making the water undrinkable.
What Happens When a Guinea Pig Gets Dehydrated?
Dehydration can prove to be extremely dangerous in guinea pigs.
For instance, if a guinea pig suffers from diarrhea then the resulting dehydration from this condition can cause gastrointestinal complications.
This can lead to their death.
You need to monitor the amount of water your guinea pig drinks every day.
This can be done by observing the water levels in the bottle you are using.
Besides this, there are several signs and symptoms as well that can indicate whether your guinea pig is on the verge of dehydration.
- The color and smell of their stool. Foul-smelling and dark orange or dark brown stool is usually an indicator of dehydration in guinea pigs. You can also check the shape and size of their droppings. If their fecal pellets appear to be dry and smaller than usual, then your guinea pig could be suffering from dehydration.
- Dry, sunken and crusty eyes
- Dry gums
- Lack of activity/increasingly lethargic behavior
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Poor appetite
- Infrequent urination. The urine will typically be dark in color, as well.
Caring for a Dehydrated Guinea Pig
If your guinea pig is suffering from dehydration, then the most important thing to do is provide them with extra water.
However, a dehydrated guinea pig will not be able to drink enough water and recover on its own.
The following methods can help them improve their water intake:
Providing Water Through a Syringe
You can use a syringe to provide your guinea pig with water.
This is done by placing the edge of the syringe against the corner of the guinea pig’s mouth.
Do not offer too much water at once. Instead, you must proceed to help them drink water slowly and intermittently.
This can make it easier for them to swallow the water.
Monitor the water intake of your guinea pig via this method.
If your guinea pig is unable to drink a sufficient amount of water, you can consult with your vet for other options.
Giving Subcutaneous Fluids
As the name suggests, subcutaneous fluids are solutions that are introduced into a guinea pig’s body by injecting beneath the skin.
There are different types of subcutaneous fluids available, but normal saline solution and lactated ringer’s solution are the most popular.
Administering subcutaneous fluids can be tricky if you have never done it before.
The first thing you need to do here is to gently wrap the guinea pig in a soft cloth, such as a towel.
Make sure your guinea pig does not suffocate in the towel. To administer the subcutaneous fluid, you need to pinch the skin over your pet’s shoulders.
This will elevate the skin above the guinea pig’s shoulders. Next, you need to insert a fluid-filled syringe into the elevated portion.
Do not insert the syringe fully into this area. Simply inserting the needle halfway through should be sufficient.
Once the syringe is in place, you can press down on the plunger to release the fluid. Observe the flow of the fluid when you do this.
If the fluid is not flowing freely and your guinea pig appears to be in pain, then you have probably inserted the needle in the wrong spot.
Pull the syringe out slowly and try again.
Once you have successfully administered the solution, you can pinch the hole where the syringe was inserted. This will prevent any fluid from flowing out.
Make sure you do not keep your bag of subcutaneous fluids for longer than thirty days after it was first opened.
If you notice that the solution is turning cloudy, then you need to stop using the bag immediately.
Giving Intravenous and Intraosseous Fluids
In some cases, a guinea pig will require direct administration of fluids into their circulatory system.
If this happens, supplying them with subcutaneous fluids or administering water orally through a syringe will not be enough.
You will have to opt for intravenous fluids instead. A catheter will have to be introduced into the forearm or leg of your guinea pig.
Intravenous fluids are then administered through this catheter.
The administration of intraosseous fluids follows the same principle.
There is one small difference, though. Instead of inserting the catheter in your pet’s arm or leg, it is inserted into the marrow of a guinea pig’s bone.
This is a complicated process and only a certified veterinarian can carry it out.
If your guinea pig is receiving fluids in an intravenous or intraosseous manner, then make sure you monitor their fluid intake.
It is likely that the guinea pig will also have to stay in a hospital. This can help monitor any changes in their condition.
Make sure your guinea keeps receiving an adequate amount of water and other nutrients until their condition improves.
You can consult with a vet if you observe any symptoms persisting post their recovery.
What Happens If Your Guinea Pig is Drinking Too Much Water?
If dehydration is a sign of trouble in guinea pigs, then so is drinking too much water.
In many cases, if a guinea pig appears to be drinking an excessive amount of water, then it may have diabetes.
Some signs and symptoms of diabetes in guinea pigs include:
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Increase in appetite
Guinea pigs can also suffer from kidney failure.
One of the biggest signs of this condition is drinking excessive water. This is followed by weight loss and fatigue.
In other cases, a guinea pig may increase their water intake because of a rise in the temperature.
For instance, guinea pigs drink more water in the summer as opposed to winter.
Tips and Tricks to Ensure Your Guinea Pigs Drink Enough Water
If your guinea pig appears to be perfectly healthy but is maintaining a low water intake, then the following tips can help improve their drinking habits:
- Cleaning their water bottles frequently (at least two times a week)
- Changing water bottles when the old one gets too worn out
- Checking the nozzle of the water bottle for signs of blockage. This can be cleaned using a piece of cotton.
- Providing filtered water to your guinea pigs. In some cases, guinea pigs stop drinking water because it is laced with chemicals or additives that alter its taste
- Providing your guinea pigs with vegetables such as cucumber or celery. These are high in water content and can be a healthy addition to their diet.
Wrapping It Up
A guinea pig needs to drink at least 100 ml of water every day. If the temperatures rise, their water intake can increase, as well.
You can use a water bottle or a sippy cup to provide your guinea pig with water. Make sure your guinea pig doesn’t get dehydrated.
This can prove to be fatal. If your guinea pig shows signs and symptoms of dehydration, then you must take them to a vet immediately.
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