Let’s picture a common scenario: you diligently ensure your guinea pig’s water bottle has fresh water. But the water level never seems to go down.
Even more strangely, you’ve never seen your piggy using the bottle.
It’s important to ensure that your guinea pig has constant access to fresh water, but what if they won’t use their bottle? How can you make sure they’re getting enough water and staying hydrated?
Keep reading to find out what your pig can use instead of a water bottle, and find out what you can do to ensure they stay hydrated.
Why your pig might not want to use a bottle?
There are several reasons why a guinea pig doesn’t drink water from a bottle. It might be that they just don’t know how.
Using a water bottle is something pigs learn from watching other pigs: if they haven’t seen other guinea pigs drink from bottles, they may not understand how the bottle works.
Or maybe they find using the bottle uncomfortable. Guinea pig necks aren’t meant to bend too far.
If you have an older pig, stiffening joints can make reaching the water bottle’s spout more difficult than it’s worth. Chewing on a metal spout is also not great for piggy teeth.
You might not be able to set up a water bottle in the first place. Some pig cages are built too solid, which limits how you can attach things to the sides without drilling holes.
So, how can you give your guinea pig water without a bottle?
Maybe your guinea pig prefers to use a bowl
A simple method for giving water without a water bottle is to use a bowl instead. It is a more natural way for your pig to stay hydrated.
But as any guinea pig parent can testify, guinea pigs can be very messy when it comes to bowls: not just any will do.
What kind of bowl to use?
If you are using a bowl, pick a shallower one.
A deep bowl of water might seem like a great idea, but guinea pigs can have just as much trouble bending their necks too far down as they do with bending them too far up.
You also want to prevent your pig from easily tipping the bowl over: choosing something heavier will help prevent spills.
Where can you get a bowl?
A small Pyrex dish can be a good choice if you’re rummaging in your kitchen for bowl options. A small ceramic bowl can also work.
Otherwise, you should probably stop by your local pet shop and see what kind of bowls they have available. A dog bowl sized for a small dog might be the perfect fit for your pig!
Keeping the bowl clean and filled
The most important part of using a water bowl is ensuring it stays full and the water is as clean as possible.
You should try to refresh and refill the water at least twice a day, especially if you have multiple pigs. Filtered water is an excellent choice.
If your pigs aren’t draining the bowl, you should still replace the water regularly: nobody wants to drink stale, stagnant water, and you can get nasty stuff like algae growing in it if you aren’t paying attention.
Downsides of using the bowl
Sadly, the most challenging part of using the bowl may be keeping it clean for your pigs.
It’s common for guinea pigs to track pieces of their bedding and other nasty things inside their enclosures, including into their food and water dishes.
They may also shove the bowl around, or succeed in tipping it over entirely: that empties the bowl even faster and also means you’ll be replacing some soggy bedding.
Guinea pigs can be very stubborn: if they don’t want to drink from the bowl, they will ignore it completely – or worse, they might decide it makes for a good potty location or a fun splashing toy instead.
If the bowl isn’t working out, other options exist to keep your pig hydrated. Your pig might find them to be much more delicious.
Using juicy foods to keep guinea pigs hydrated
Another easy method for giving your guinea pig water without using a bottle is to give them more ‘juicy’ foods in their diet – that is, food with higher water content.
Many animals around the world get most, if not all, of their water just from their food. Your guinea pig may prefer this method due to all the tasty treats!
Juicy foods that are very good for your pig
Many leafy green vegetables are perfect choices. Some of the best options to add to your pig’s diet include:
Fresh veggies are reliably very popular with guinea pigs. If you want to increase the water content of the vegetables just a little bit more, you can serve pigs their wet veggies. That means to rinse them with clean water but serve them while they’re still damp.
Juicy foods that aren’t as good for your pig
There are other ‘juicy’ foods that you might pick as seemingly good options.
While you can give them occasionally as special treats, and they do have a high water content that makes them seem like great choices, there are many reasons why you should only give them rarely to your pig, if at all.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit and mandarins can lead to your pig getting sores on the inside of its mouth.
Many other kinds of fruit, such as watermelon or strawberries, have too much sugar in them to be a regular staple of your pig’s diet.
And lastly, some fruits and vegetables aren’t safe for pigs to eat! Make sure to consult with an expert when adding new food to your pig’s diet.
You will still need to give your pig their regular food
Just because your guinea pig is eating healthy veggies does not mean you can stop feeding them their hay and pellets.
Pigs need those dry foods in their diet for many reasons: that fiber and those nutrients are essential to their health.
In addition, piggy teeth are always growing and need to be worn down by the roughage in their diet.
Why not just give ice cubes?
You might be thinking of giving your pig some ice cubes. Those are not a good choice for keeping your pig hydrated.
For most animals, ice is just a novelty. It isn’t thirst-quenching the same way water is; ice will melt and cause a mess.
There is one exception: if your pig’s water is getting too warm in the summer heat, an ice cube is a great choice to add to their bottle or bowl to help keep it cool.
How to make sure your guinea pig has enough water?
Make sure your pig stays hydrated
The most important thing is to ensure your guinea pig stays hydrated. If your pig is showing the following symptoms, they are likely getting too dehydrated:
- Thin, misshapen droppings
- Crusty eyes
- Unusually dark urine
- Lack of energy (lethargy)
Using an eyedropper or medicine syringe
If drinking from the bowl isn’t working for your pig and you don’t think they’re getting enough water from their food, another option to give them water without a bottle is to use an eyedropper or medicine syringe.
Using one of these will let you give your guinea pig water directly.
Some pigs prefer getting their water this way; it lets them stay snuggled and comfy with their humans for that much longer, and it’s certainly less work for a pig than getting the water themselves!
Of course, if your guinea pig still isn’t getting enough water, you should check in with your guinea pig’s veterinarian to rule out any other issues.
Addressing piggy preferences
What you should keep in mind is that each pig is a unique individual with specific tastes and preferences.
Some pigs enjoy having both options available and will alternate what they use; some don’t care about either bottles or bowls and are happy with getting their water solely from their food.
Another thing to remember is that a pig’s taste in foods can be very specific. Pigs also won’t hesitate to make sure you know what they dislike!
I remember a few times when one of my piggies got very upset with me for giving him the wrong kind of parsley: he only wanted the kind with the flat leaves.
It may take some time, but you’ll be able to eventually narrow the options down to what’s best for your pig.
Although even after finding what your pig prefers, don’t be surprised if they change their minds about it later in life. One of your piggy’s best talents is definitely for keeping life interesting!
You can give your guinea pig water without using a bottle by using several different methods. You can use a bowl, but keep it topped off with fresh and clean water.
Another option you can try is to give your pig more fresh food with high water content. Fresh veggies are excellent for hydration and are sure to be a popular piggy choice.
Most importantly, you have to make sure your guinea pig stays hydrated. A happy and healthy pig needs plenty of fresh water in their lives to stay that way.