Every once in a while, you may need to be away from your furry piggy for a few days or a few hours. Like other living beings, you must ensure your guinea pig has enough food and water.
However, what happens if your travel is extended and your pig runs out of food and water? How long do you have before they die of starvation? Let’s find out.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs go Without Food?
Guinea pigs can go roughly 6 to 8 hours without food. Anything more than this can lead to intestinal blockage, which will eventually lead to death.
Research has shown that guinea pigs must consistently keep eating in order to keep their digestive system healthy.
There hasn’t been any studies done showing exactly how long guinea pigs can go without food. I mean, who wants to conduct such an experiment on such a cute being?
But, it’s almost obvious that these little pigs can’t stay long without food. If you observe your furry pig, you will notice it’s constantly munching on something, either hay or veggies or pellets.
Having said that, indirect research done on their digestive system has shown that guinea pigs can only go around six to eight hours without food as anything more than this can lead to intestinal blockage.
Also, hay is their staple food so if you run out of supplies, you need to refill on hay as soon as possible. Hay and water are crucial to their health, so don’t go more than a maximum of 8 hours without feeding your piggy some hay.
As for pellets and vegetables, you can skip between 24 to 48 hours, as long as they have enough hay available.
How Long Can Your Guinea Pig go Without Water?
Research shows no pet should go for more than 12 to 24 hours without drinking water. But, to be on the safe side, make sure your guinea pig has enough water at all times. Unfortunately, no research has answered exactly for how long guinea pigs can go without water.
Fresh water is as vital to your guinea pig’s health as food. Remember, guinea pigs eat a lot of dry food, most of which is fibrous. Their favorite is timothy hay. Because of how dry their food is, these little piggy’s need a lot of water to keep their digestive system working properly.
To find out more about guinea pig drinking habits and how you can help, see this article we wrote about it.
So, if you need to travel for a day or two, make sure your pig has enough water and food to last them several days. After all, plans do change, and you don’t want to risk your pig running out of food. But, how much food is this exactly?
How Much Hay do Guinea Pigs Need?
As mentioned, guinea pig’s staple food is hay. In fact, 80% of their food should be hay. On average, your little piggy will eat at least 90 to 100 grams of this delicacy per day. Hay helps keep their digestion system in check since it’s rich in fiber.
Also, it keeps their teeth in good shape.
As you already know, their teeth are always growing, so chewing hay helps grind their teeth down. This keeps it in shape. When picking hay, watch out to make sure your pig isn’t allergic to that type.
The worst type is hay that’s rich in calcium and protein because it forms stones. Most guinea pigs, however, do well with timothy hay. If alfalfa is readily available, you can serve it with other hay types.
If you have a young or pregnant pig, make sure you serve it enough hay and that it has enough calcium. Now, if you need to travel, how long can you stay away?
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Vegetables?
Guinea pigs rely on fresh vegetables to receive their daily dose of vitamins. They cannot produce vitamins in their own bodies. Many caregivers of cavies give their guinea pigs vitamin C supplements in liquid form.
Some of us believe that with enough supply of fresh greens and other vegetables, guinea pigs will receive their vitamin intake without supplementation.
The important aspect of this question is that guinea pigs can still survive without major health problems if they go without vegetables and pellets for a day or two.
24-48 hours of vegetable and pellet abstinence could be done when you notice that there are issues with their sensitive guts.
You should never skip the endless supply of hay as their staple food. Depriving them of food for over 6-8 hours is risky or dangerous. Vegetables can be skipped once in a while or every other day if necessary.
Tips to Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy When You Are Away
1. Let a friend help
This is the most logical thing for most people to do. However, guinea pigs’ care is slightly different from that of other common household pets like dogs and cats.
Luckily, it isn’t complicated either. In fact, they all need to know which foods to give your pet, how to clean the cage, and how long the pet needs to be out of the cage playing. If you have someone helping care for your pet, you can travel as long as you wish without worrying.
2. Consider boarding your guinea pig
Boarding your guinea pig at a kennel isn’t such a bad idea. Most kennels already know what these piggy’s need to be healthy, so that won’t be an issue. Also, they will gladly take care of your pet for several days, and the charge isn’t anything to break your bank.
If your local kennel doesn’t allow it, talk to your local pet shop or vet. One of them is likely to help.
3. Install multiple water bottles
Sometimes, you only need to be away for a day or two. In this case, have multiple water bottles installed in your pet’s cage, so they have access to clean water at all times. Also, leave them enough food, and you are good to go.
As a rule, though, have a friend or neighbor check on your pet, especially if you know you extend your trip. This way, you are still on top of things and know if something goes wrong.
4. Set up a camera
This is especially helpful if you don’t have anyone to pop in and check on your pet. Set up a camera that transmits directly to your smartphone so you can check how your pet is doing any time of day.
If your pet runs out of food and water, you will tell easily and make plans, so someone replenishes their stock. Most importantly, you can tell if your pet isn’t acting normally, so you can raise the alarm and get someone to take them to the vet.
Because we live in a digital world, pet cameras are readily available in the market, and they aren’t that expensive to acquire.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Stay Alone?
Guinea pigs can stay alone for as long as their food lasts and their habitat is clean enough. Realistically, you should be able to leave your guinea pigs alone for about 3 to 4 days.
Any longer than this and bacteria and germs, as well as ammonia from their urin will build up and negatively affect their health.
As they get to know you, your guinea pig will become attached to you and even have fun with you. However, they don’t need you to survive as long as they have their basic needs met.
So, if your furry friends has water and hay, and their environment is clean, they can live without you. Even forever. Ouch, right?
While this is true theoretically, practically, it’s difficult for any pet to survive without its owner’s help. Think about being away for a month, for instance. Do you have enough space in your guinea pigs’ habitat such that you can leave them food for that long?
Also, how will you ensure their habitat is clean and that bacteria and other germs don’t build up?
Remember, the ammonia fumes from their urine can cause respiratory infection when left to build up over long periods. Mostly, it’s necessary to clean your furry friend’s cage at least once a week, but it’s always best to do it twice or thrice if you can.
Combine this with your pet’s need for a constant supply of fresh water and food, including veggies, and you know you can’t be away for long.
So, realistically, you can always be away for a few days at a time, and if possible, nothing more than three days, which frankly, is pushing it.
Because guinea pigs are sensitive pets, how can you care for yours when you need to go on a business trip or that long-awaited holiday? Here are a few tips.
Traveling can’t be entirely avoided in the world we live in today. However, when you have a guinea pig, you still need to ensure they have enough food and water and are well cared for when you are away. By now, you already know how to make sure your pet is well attended to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do guinea pigs refuse to eat?
Guinea pigs may refuse to eat for several reasons. It could be because of a change in weather, especially when it’s too hot, inability to chew properly, a change in diet, among other things. First, always check if you have changed anything lately. If conditions are still the same and the problem extends to several days, you should be worried.
Lack of food causes irreversible changes to your guinea pigs’ liver and digestive system. So, if you notice they haven’t eaten in six hours, take them to the doctor as soon as possible.
How do I tell if my guinea pig is hungry?
Guinea pigs have one of the fastest metabolic rates, which is why they keep eating all the time. To tell if they are hungry, check if your guinea pig is wheeking more than usual. Also, when you walk into the room, check if your pig stands on its hind legs. This is an indication they may be hungry. Also, they become lethargic and observe to see if you will notice they need food.
How long can guinea pigs go without pellets?
Pellets are mostly supplements and only constitute around 5% of guinea pig’s food. This means pallets aren’t exactly crucial for these cute pigs. In fact, they can go a lifetime without eating pallets, and they will be fine. However, if your guinea pig doesn’t like veggies, pallets come in handy as they supplement nutrients.