When it comes to Guinea pigs, it’s natural to have lots of questions regarding their care. More specifically, you may want to know how to keep them optimally hydrated. They require access to water at all times, but can this be in the form of tap water? Is this safe to Is is safe provide and can you look to top up their water bottles or bowls with it? I have spent a lot of time researching the topic to find out for good. Here is what I found.
So, can Guinea pigs drink tap water? Guinea pigs can drink tap water, so long as you have an appropriate piped water supply. If the tap water is safe for humans to drink, then generally it is okay for Guinea Pigs too. Alkaline water and softened water is not always safe however; and is especially not suitable for cavies with pre-existing health conditions. For the most part, distilled and purified water; that has been put through a water filter or conditioner first, is best. Otherwise bottled water is another safe option.
Guinea Pigs come from the Andes in South America; a wet and warm climate with an average temperature of 64° Fahrenheit. Naturally, they are used to the food and temperatures of that region.
As a responsible and loving pet owner, you want to do all you can to ensure that you recreate your Guinea pig’s natural environment.
It is essential that your cavy is comfortable and happy in your home. Aside from food and temperature, you will need to know about their water requirements, and what kind is not only suitable and preferable for them.
Its incredibly important too; water should be the only beverage that your Guinea pig drinks. Keep in mind that water must be continuously replenished, as dehydration in Guinea pigs can lead to poor health and death.
Water cushions and lubricates joints regulates temperature and protects the spinal cord; it helps to get rid of waste – water is critical for your pet’s life.
So, be sure to keep on reading to ensure you get all the information you need to keep your Guinea Pig appropriately hydrated and healthy.
Is Tap Water Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Whether or not tap water is bad; depends largely on where you are and your local water supply.
Not all water from the tap is the same; it depends on the piped supply and local authorities whom treat and provide the water.
In some locations, the water is unsafe to drink for humans and animals alike. For example, some tap water is known to contain high levels of calcium, which for guinea pigs, can build up in the kidneys, and in turn, damage their urinary tract.
In other locations, water can be heavily treated and may contain harmful additives and chemicals. Fluoride and chlorine are perhaps the most familiar ones, although heavy metals are sometimes present too.
Generally speaking, we are not able to tell exactly what is included in our tap water and in what amounts.
This makes it relatively tricky.
For the most part, if you are familiar with the tap, and you know that you (and other humans can drink from it), it should be safe for your Guinea Pig.
But there leads us to the next question, just because it is safe is it ideal?
In fact, its probably best to either provide your Guinea Pig bottled water, or tap water that can been filtered first. This will help to reduce/remove any potentially dangerous chemical and additives, that can build up in your Guinea Pig’s system over time.
One of the most cost effective and things to do, is to actually purchase a filter system that you put the tap water through first. This Brita Pitcher on Amazon is ideal and is easy to use.
You can of course, also consider purchasing filtered bottled mineral water, like an Evian, Nestle or Fiji. But this can become expensive over time.
Some owners even decide to boil tap water first; before letting it cool. This also helps to displace any potentially dangerous chemicals and minerals – but this approach still carries an element of risk.
Irregardless of which way you go, its important to be sure on the water you are offering your Guinea Pig. If its not safe for human consumption its definitely not for a rodent.
Better still, reduce the risks entirely and purchase a filter system or bottled water.
How Much Water Does A Guinea Pig Require A Day?
Guinea pigs can drink a lot of water per day. However, you must take their weight into account as that will determine how much water they need.
On average, Guinea pigs usually drink about 100 ml per day.
The average Guinea pig weighs between 0.7 kg to 1.2 kg.
So, taking this all into account, the maximum amount of water a day is 120 ml.
Naturally, changes in your Guinea Pigs environment can result in them either drinking more or less water.
Your pet is likely to need more water if their environment is humid.
Differing activity levels can alter the amount of water that they also need to drink.
If your Guinea pig is active in the day, they are likely to be more thirsty than usual, and will drink more water as a result.
Additionally, if your cavy is feeling unwell, they may also require more water.
Ultimately, if your Guinea pig is not drinking any water at all, this is not a good sign. In this instance, you should talk to your vet immediately, as dehydration can result in death.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Water?
There is no definitive recommendation on the length of time that a Guinea pig go without water. However, no pet should go without water for more than 24 hours.
Or at least, has frequent access to it. Taking it one step further, it is best to ensure your Guinea Pig has a fresh water changed daily.
Times may come when you will have to be away from home and away from your pet.
It’s only right to be concerned about the well-being of your Guinea pig, and you may wonder how long can my cavy go without food and water.
You must do everything to ensure your pet is healthy and comfortable while you are absent.
As long as they are provided with everything they need, and can access it when required, you do not always need to be physically present to ensure their needs are met.
However, if you are planning to spend a few nights away, its best to arrange for somebody to come and check on your pet while you are away. They will be able to ensure they continue to have access to everything they need and also, that they get some much needed socialization.
How To Provide Water To A Guinea Pig?
There are many different systems that you can use to provide water to your Guinea Pig. Either way, they need to ensure they are getting at least 100ml of fresh water per day.
Test which system is best and go with what they have preference for and use:
Drink bottles are the more commonly used method to provide water to a Guinea Pig.
They are clipped from the outside of the enclosure, and it has a small pipe, which is shortened at the end. There is a small ball inside the pipe to prevent leakage.
A Guinea pig must keep hitting against the ball to drink, and each click only supplies tiny drops of water.
The sippy bottle is more user friendly for cavies than the drink bottle.
This bottle has a closed opening with a small gib – cavies must lift this slightly to keep the water flowing.
There isn’t so much work on the tongue for a Guinea pig. Most cavies prefer the sippy bottle.
While the bowl is the most natural drinking style for cavies, for some reason, they seem to dislike drinking from it.
Bowls are not the cleanest method as dirt and debris can fall into the water, which is not safe for your pet.
Equally, they can be spilled or knocked over which can be a concern while you are away.
Most Guinea Pigs will need to be trained to drink from their bowl, but many get used to them in time.
Signs Your Guinea Pig Is Dehydrated
Dehydration is dangerous for any animal. Further yet, they will be weakened preventing them from getting the water they need by themselves.
Should any of the following symptoms arise, your Guinea pig is likely dehydrated:
- Crusty eyes,
- Thick, sticky saliva,
- Dark colored urine,
- Hard fecal pellets,
To rectify dehydration, you must ensure your Guinea Pig is consuming water soon thereafter. This can be a challenge and your Guinea Pig may even turn their nose up at their water supplies, even though they are in desperate need of it.
How To Re-hydrate A Guinea Pig
Re-hydrating a Guinea Pig does not require as much water as you initially might have thought.
While it is generally advised to consult a vet, there are some things that either you or they can do to get more water into your Guinea Pigs system:
Water Dispensing Syringe
The syringe should be placed in the corner of your Guinea Pigs mouth. Offer the water slowly, allowing your Guinea pig regular pauses so that they can swallow the water and rest.
If they dribble the water, stop what you’re doing and try again in half an hour. If your Guinea Pig still will not drink, or is not drinking enough, your vet will prescribe subcutaneous fluid.
These fluids must be injected under the skin and can be used while your Guinea pig is still awake.
Subcutaneous Fluids (SQ) are usually given at home.
To begin, you should wrap your Guinea Pig in a towel. Make sure the towel isn’t restricting your Guinea pig’s breathing.
To inject the fluids, reveal the skin over your cavy’s shoulders, pinch the skin together using your forefingers until the skin is raised like a tent.
Insert the needle working from the back to the front below the skin tent. Push the needle in about half of its length and give the fluids, open the valve that’s on the fluid line proceed to squeeze the bag. If you are successful, the fluids should flow smoothly.
If the fluids are not easy to give or if your cavy seems uncomfortable, you might not have the needle in the correct spot; you can remove it and try again.
Once you have given the fluids, remove the needle, and gently pinch the hole where the needle was to stop fluids trickling onto the skin. Throw out the bag of fluids after 30 days of its first use, or if the fluid is cloudy.
Intravenous and Intraosseous Fluids
Some Guinea pigs need a constant and direct supply of fluids into their circulatory system because they are in a critical condition and would not recover on SQ fluids alone.
IV fluids are given via a catheter, and the catheter is then inserted into a vein on the Guinea pig’s leg or forearm.
IO fluids are inserted through a catheter into the bone marrow of the arm or leg.
You must carefully monitor how much fluid is going into your Guinea Pig to ensure they are getting the right amount.
Guinea pigs usually stay at the vets to get either IV or IO fluids so that if any sudden changes occur, a response is more imminent.
Guinea Pigs may or may not be able to drink tap water. It depends on where you live and your local water supply.
Generally, tap water is safe for Guinea Pigs if it is too, safe for humans.
However, filtered, distilled or bottled water is always going to be best so if you can it is advised to go with one of these opitons.
Either way, your Guinea Pig must remain well hydrated – and have access to it throughout the day.
If you must spend time away from your Guinea Pig , for whatever reason, you must ensure that they have sufficient food and water to last them until your return. Or line up somebody who can offer this support.
Getting a trusted friend or neighbor to check in on your Guinea Pig is a good idea and they can monitor their intake, check the temperature and provide some socialization.
Guinea pigs need quite a bit of water, relative to their size, to keep dehydration at bay.
Guinea Pigs can drink from some bowls of water that have been designed for Guinea Pigs. Some Guinea pigs will naturally take to bowls over bottles and prefer them, whereas others will need to be trained to do so.
Guinea Pigs can drink cold water, but it should never have been chilled purposely beforehand. Room temperature cold, or slightly colder, is usually the appropriate temperature to provide.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.