guinea pig drinking from water bowl
Offer your guinea pigs plenty of fresh, clean water. iStock.com/AndyGaylor

Aah. Nothing beats a cool lemonade on a hot day or a warm cocoa on a cold day. Drinks like these are among the simple pleasures of life. But are such drinks good for your guinea pig friends? Absolutely not. Guinea pigs are one-drink wonders, and they truly adore their drink of choice: water.

Why Guinea Pigs Need Water

Water is critical for life, so it’s no surprise that water is the best drink for your furry pals. Guinea pigs and other mammals are made up mostly of water. This water constantly needs to be replenished because water is used by the body to function and also lost due to elimination, breathing, and other life processes. According to the CDC, some of the main functions of water include regulating temperature, lubricating and cushioning joints, protecting the spinal cord, and ridding the body of waste. Would you want your guinea pig missing out on any of these vital functions?

Guinea pigs normally drink about 100 mL/kg (3.3 ounces/2.2 pounds) of water daily, as cited in the book “Ferrets, Rabbits, And Rodents Clinical Medicine And Surgery.” This amount might increase or decrease slightly because of ambient temperature or humidity, activity level, or illness. Any guinea pig who suddenly drinks a lot more or a lot less for no obvious reason needs veterinary care. Guinea pigs won’t survive long without water, and drinking too much could be a sign of a health problem. Your guinea pig-savvy veterinarian can determine the cause of a sudden change in drinking habits.

What Water Do Guinea Pigs Like?

Water is water, right? Well, yes and no. A good rule is to offer your guinea pigs the same type of plain water that you drink. If you drink tap water, that’s fine for your guinea pigs. Bottled water? That’s fine, too. Well water? Go for it! The same holds true for reverse osmosis and filtered water. Alkaline water or softened water might also be OK. For such water, double-check with your veterinarian before offering to a small pet like your guinea pigs, especially if your guinea pigs already have a chronic health condition.

Room temperature water is usually all that’s needed. Different guinea pigs have different tastes, though. You could experiment with adding an ice cube or two during warm weather and note whether your guinea pigs seem to enjoy that. Whenever you make a change, always be more alert to your guinea pigs’ habits. If they don’t like something, you definitely want to stop doing it.

Bad Drinks For Guinea Pigs

Fresh, clean water with nothing added is the best drink for guinea pigs. But why can’t guinea pigs have other drinks? It’s unhealthy for guinea pigs to ingest high sugar, high salt, or high fat drinks. That eliminates soda, juice, dairy, sport drinks, and others. Caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol are also no-nos for guinea pigs, so say goodbye to coffee, tea, cocoa, wine, beer, and other drinks. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol can cause health problems in some pets, as noted in the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center list of human foods that pets should avoid.

Some water is even bad for guinea pigs. This mainly applies to puddle water or other contaminated water. If you wouldn’t drink the water yourself, don’t let your guinea pig drink it.

Guinea Pigs, Water Bottles, And Water Bowls

Guinea pigs are known for being a bit messy with food and water. In fact, they seem to enjoy mixing the two. And, let’s just say it, guinea pig’ feces can end up anywhere guinea pigs walk, including food and water bowls. That is one drawback to bowls. However, guinea pigs might drink more from a water bowl because it’s less work than a bottle. If you opt for water bowls, choose a style that won’t tip, because some guinea pigs like to lean against bowls or walk over them. If you decide to offer water bottles, be aware that guinea pigs are famous for clogging the tips with bits of food. Check that that the tips are clog-free daily.

Whether you choose to offer water in bottles or bowls is up to you and your guinea pigs. Try both to see what your guinea pig herd prefers. One guinea pig might prefer a water bowl and another might only drink from a bottle. Some might like both. With simple observation, you can learn what your pals like.

Keeping Water Bowls And Bottles Clean

Would you eat from the same, unwashed plate or glass for weeks? Of course not. Besides the “ick factor,” unwashed food containers breed bacteria. Guinea pigs need continual access to fresh, clean water. That means your furry friends’ water bowls and bottles need daily washing with warm, soapy water. Those that are dishwasher-safe can be cleaned that way. Watch for wear-and-tear on any bowl or bottle, and replace those that aren’t in tip-top condition.

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