How Long Can Guinea Pigs Survive Without Food and Water?

guinea pig eating basil

No one wants to leave their guinea pigs alone for a long time, but sometimes it’s unavoidable due to work or travel commitments. As a responsible piggy parent, you may worry about how long your pet can go without eating and drinking, and how to ensure its well-being during your absence. In general, guinea pigs should not go more than 12-24 hours without food and water.

Preparing for Your Guinea Pig’s Alone Time

To make your piggy’s time alone as stress-free as possible, there are a few steps you can take. Here’s everything you need to know.


How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Water?

Your guinea pig needs to stay hydrated even when you’re not around. Water is especially crucial because a guinea pig’s diet consists mainly of dry and fibrous foods, and it needs fluids to keep its digestive system functioning properly. While the duration can vary for each piggy, it’s recommended not to let them go without water for more than 12-24 hours. Although some guinea pigs may survive beyond 48 hours without water, it’s not fair to subject them to such conditions. Make sure your pet has access to an adequate supply of clean water based on its age, developmental stage, and the prevailing weather conditions.

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How Much Water Does a Guinea Pig Need in a Day?

On average, guinea pigs require at least 80-100 ml of water per day. The amount may vary depending on the piggy’s stage of development. Pregnant or lactating guinea pigs will need increased water intake. Providing water through a non-drip water bottle attached to their cage is the best method to ensure they don’t chew on or contaminate the water. Additionally, you can supplement their water intake by offering plenty of fruits and vegetables with high water content.

How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Food?

Intentionally starving a guinea pig to determine how long it can survive without food is not recommended. These small pets depend on regular feeding to maintain the health of their digestive system and liver. As a general rule, do not deprive your piggy of food for more than 24 hours, as it can lead to intestinal issues. If you plan on being away for an extended period, ensure your guinea pig has an ample supply of food available throughout the day and night.

How Long Can a Guinea Pig Stay Alone?

While guinea pigs can develop a bond with their owners over time, they don’t require constant human presence as long as their basic needs are met. In theory, a guinea pig can live alone indefinitely as long as it has access to food, water, and a clean environment. However, it’s not practical to leave them unattended for too long. You need to replenish their food and water and maintain a clean living space to prevent health issues. Ideally, don’t leave your guinea pig alone and unattended for more than 24 hours, with a maximum of 12 hours being preferable. Guinea pigs rely on your care, attention, and affection, just like any other household pet. It’s necessary to clean their habitat at least once a week, and provide fresh food and water daily. Therefore, leaving them unattended for weeks is unrealistic.

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Guinea Pig Foods and Vegetables with High Water Content

Apart from water, you can provide guinea pigs with high-fluid foods and vegetables to supplement their water intake while you’re away. However, remember that these foods should only be occasional treats and not a substitute for their regular diet. Here are some guinea pig-friendly food options that contain over 90% water:


Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Guinea Pig Alone for Long

  1. Guinea Pigs Don’t Thrive in Isolation: Guinea pigs naturally seek social interaction and don’t do well in isolation or loneliness. They need human contact, interaction, and affection to thrive.

  2. Require Plenty of Hay and Food: Guinea pigs’ teeth are constantly growing, so they need an abundant supply of hay and food for constant chewing. Fibers and nutrients in their diet also support their overall health, digestion, and bodily functions.

  3. Continuous Supply of Water is Difficult: Leaving a guinea pig alone means they won’t have access to water whenever they need it. Even with multiple water bottles, they may face difficulties in drinking from them, and the bottles can clog or leak. There’s also a risk of accidental spillage.

  4. Possible Unfavorable Climate: Guinea pigs require protection from temperature fluctuations, which are common in home environments. You need to be available to control conditions and keep them safe.

  5. Guinea Pigs are Prone to Sickness: Guinea pigs can become sick without warning, and it’s essential to identify any health issues promptly. Observing their behavior and symptoms is crucial, and if necessary, take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Tips for Keeping Your Guinea Pig Healthy When You’re Away

While it’s not ideal to leave your guinea pig alone for long periods, there are steps you can take to ensure their safety and well-being when you’re away.

  1. Invest in Multiple Water Bottles: If you’re going away for more than a day, install multiple water bottles in their habitat to keep them hydrated.

  2. Ensure an Ample Supply of Hay: Guinea pigs need access to Timothy hay, their favorite diet. Make sure to keep them surrounded by hay throughout your absence. You can use a hay rack to keep the hay off the ground and store more at once. Remember to provide continuous water supply as well.

  3. Provide Sufficient Space: Being confined to a small cage for an extended period can be stressful for guinea pigs. Ensure their enclosure is spacious, allowing them to play, hide, and sleep comfortably. Keep their environment clean, fresh, and free from any potential harm or injury.

  4. Set Up a Surveillance Camera: Installing a camera linked to your smartphone allows you to monitor your guinea pig remotely. You can check if they’re running low on supplies and if their behavior is normal. Pet-monitoring cameras are readily available and affordable at most pet stores.

  5. Ask for Help: If possible, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to take care of your guinea pig while you’re away. Train them in advance and introduce them to your pet so that they can provide the necessary care. If someone can keep an eye on your guinea pig, you can travel with peace of mind.

  6. Hire a Pet Sitter: Alternatively, you can hire a professional pet sitter to visit your guinea pig regularly throughout the day. This prevents the need for full-time care and ensures someone is responsible for monitoring your pet.

  7. Consider Boarding Your Pet: If you plan on going on a long trip for several days, consider checking your guinea pig into a boarding facility. These facilities offer care and attention for your pet at an affordable price. If boarding options are limited, consult your local pet stores or your family veterinarian, as some offer boarding services.

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In conclusion, eating and drinking are vital for the health and survival of guinea pigs. When leaving your pet unattended for a day or two, it’s crucial to provide enough food and water to sustain them. Remember to consider their social needs, hay consumption, hydration, and potential health issues. By taking the necessary precautions and making appropriate arrangements, you can ensure your guinea pig remains healthy and happy in your absence.

Please visit 5 WS for more information on guinea pigs and other related topics.

See also:

  • Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mandarins?
  • Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bok Choy?

Featured Image: TJ Images, Shutterstock

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