From time to time, guinea pig owners may need to be away from their pet for an extended period of time. This can cause a lot of worry, as owners often wonder how long their pet can go without food and water, and what they should do to ensure their pet remains healthy during such separations.
We’ll explain how long can you leave guinea pig alone below, and we’ll also explain some of the things you may want to do when you must travel and leave your pet behind.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Water?
Like all other animals, guinea pigs require fresh, clean water to live. In fact, because guinea pigs eat so much dry, fibrous food (especially timothy hay), they require a lot of water to keep their digestive tract functioning properly.
Vets don’t make any clear recommendations on the length of time a guinea pig can survive without water, but no pet should be deprived of water for more than 12 to 24 hours. Simply put, it’s best to ensure your pet always has access to water.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Food?
It isn’t exactly clear how long guinea pigs can go without food, as nobody wants to create an experiment designed to “starve” guinea pigs to find out. However, it is clear that guinea pigs cannot go very long without food. Guinea pigs eat on a nearly constant basis, and they need to do so to keep their intestines and liver functioning properly. In fact, if deprived of food for 24 hours or more, most guinea pigs will experience intestinal problems.
Accordingly, as a rule of thumb, most guinea pig owners avoid making their pet go more than 12 hours without food. Ideally, you’d never allow your pet to go without food at all – instead, you’d make sure that your pet has access to food at all hours of the day and night.
This means you’ll have to leave several days’ worth of food available if you need to travel for a day or two.
How Long Can You Leave a Guinea Pig Alone?
Although your guinea pig may become attached to you over time, he doesn’t need you to survive if his basic needs are met. So, theoretically, if you made sure that your pet was fed, watered and provided with a clean environment, he could live without you forever.
However, in practice, this isn’t possible. You’ll eventually have to replenish his food and water. You’ll also have to clean his enclosure regularly to prevent bacteria and other germs from building up in the habitat. In fact, the ammonia fumes from your pet’s urine can build up and lead to respiratory infections in some cases.
Accordingly, you’ll usually find it necessary to clean your pet’s habitat once a week, and it would be better to do so two or three times each week. When combined with your pet’s need for fresh water and plenty of nutritious food (including fresh vegetables), it is simply unrealistic to leave your pet unattended for longer than a few days.
Keeping Your Guinea Pig Healthy When You’re Away: Tips for Travelers
Unfortunately, in the modern world, business and school often require guinea pig owners to travel from time to time. This can cause unique challenges for guinea pig owners, as they won’t survive for very long without fresh food and water. However, we’ll present a few helpful tips and tricks below to help keep your pet healthy while you’re away.
1. Consider boarding your pet
If your travel plans are going to keep you away from your pet for more than a day, you may want to consider boarding him at a kennel. Many facilities will gladly care for your pet for several days, and it shouldn’t cost you very much to do so. If your local kennel won’t accept your guinea pig, you may want to inquire with local pet shops or your vet.
2. Train a friend or neighbor how to take care of your pet
It’s always a good idea to have a local friend that can help care for your pet when you’re away. It isn’t difficult to show someone how to take care of your cavy, so make sure you do so now before you find yourself needing to travel and without someone to help out. In fact, if you have someone that can help take care of your pet, you can travel for long periods of time without worry.
3. Invest in multiple water bottles
If you are only going to be away for a day or so, you may be able to keep your pet hydrated by simply installing multiple water bottles in his habitat.
4. Use a hay rack
Hay can help keep your guinea pig fed while you’re away, but guinea pigs can eat a lot of timothy hay, so you’ll want to use a hay rack to keep it off the floor and tidy. Additionally, a hay rack will allow you to store more hay for your pet at a time than you could by simply throwing some hay on the floor of the enclosure.
5. Set up a camera so you can monitor your pet from afar
One of the best ways to keep an eye on your pet while you’re away is to set up a camera that will transmit directly to your smartphone. This way, you can tell if your pet is running low on food or water and ensure that he is still looking and acting normally. Pet-monitoring cameras are widely available, and many are quite affordable too.
It isn’t easy to keep a guinea pig fed and watered when you are forced to travel, but it is something you’ll simply have to do for your pet’s well-being. Just remember that your pet depends on you for his very survival, so always err on the side of caution and make sure you leave plenty of food and water while you’ll be gone.