Can Guinea Pigs Drink Tap Water?

Guinea pig drinking water

Our pets become a part of the family, so we want to know that we’re doing all the right things to keep them happy and healthy. We know how refreshing a cool glass of water can be on a hot summer’s day but is the same true for our cavies?

In general, if you consume tap water in your home, your guinea pig can likely drink from that same source. However, you should try to avoid soft water, water containing calcium, or water with any chemicals added to it. If in doubt, opt for bottled or filtered water. 

Continue reading to find out which water is best for guinea pigs, what other beverages they can (or cannot) consume, and how to keep your furry friend healthy and hydrated.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Need Water?

Water is vital to all forms of life, so it’s no surprise that the same applies to your furry friend. Water comprises a large percentage of your guinea pig’s body, which constantly needs replenishing as they excrete moisture through normal bodily functions.

The main functions of water for a guinea pig include temperature regulation, protecting the spinal cord, and lubricating joints. 

How Much Water Do Guinea Pigs Need Each Day?

The average guinea pig needs around 100ml per kilo of body weight each day, depending on its age, health status, and diet, among other factors. The average guinea pig weighs between 0.7 and 1.2 kg meaning the amount of water they require should be somewhere in the region of 70 to 120ml per day.

Guinea pigs cannot survive without water; in contrast, drinking too much can also indicate ill-health signs.

Can Guinea Pigs Drink Tap Water?

Tap water is different in every area, but as a general rule, if the tap water is safe for you to drink, then it’s safe for your guinea pig too. Tap water may only provide a cause for concern when it’s softened or alkaline water.

The quality of your tap water depends on local authorities who treat the water and the pipe supply. In some areas, tap water contains high levels of calcium which can damage your cavies kidneys, while in other regions, the chemicals and additives used to treat the water can be harmful to your furry friend.

In terms of health, purified or distilled water is the best option for your cavy, particularly if they have any current health concerns. But for the majority of guinea pigs, tap water is absolutely fine.

Are There Cheaper Alternatives To Bottled Water?

If you can’t stretch your budget to bottled water for your guinea pig on a daily basis, there are a couple of other solutions to help purify your tap water.

Firstly, you can purchase a water filter system that fits onto your tap and treats the water before you drink it. Or, you can boil the water, helping to rid it of any harmful chemicals. If you opt for the latter, be sure you allow sufficient cooling time to avoid any burns or scalds to your guinea pig.

What Type Of Water Do Guinea Pigs Like Best?

You may think that water is just water, but if that was the only beverage you could consume, you might notice the subtle differences between tap, bottled, or distilled water.

In general, water served at room temperature will keep your cavy happy, but you can experiment to find out what they like best. Try tap vs. bottled water, or add an ice cube during the summer for additional refreshment.

What Would Guinea Pigs Drink In The Wild?

The guinea pig originates from the South American Andes, where the average temperature sits at 30 degrees Celsius and the climate is warm. For this reason, they are used to temperate food and drinking sources, so they may prefer to drink water at room temperature rather than ice cold.

Should I Use A Water Bottle Or A Water Bowl For My Guinea Pig?

Both water bottles and bowls have their own range of benefits and drawbacks. A water bottle is a great way to prevent mess and avoid water contamination, but it’s relatively easy for your guinea pig to clog the end with bits of food, preventing access to this vital source of hydration.

On the other hand, your furry friend may prefer to drink from a bowl as it’s easier and closer to the water sources they would find in the wild. But the major drawback is that cavies have a reputation for being messy.

They often knock things over and trail everything everywhere, including feces. Opting for a water bowl could be high maintenance on your part – you’ll need to clean up every time they knock it over, and you’ll need to keep a constant check that the water is not contaminated.

If you’re undecided, offer both sources to your cavy and see which one they prefer.

How Can I Prevent Water Contamination In My Guinea Pigs Water Bottle?

You wouldn’t want to use one cup to drink all of your beverages for days and even weeks at a time without washing it in between, would you? Well, the same is true for your guinea pig. Every day, you should wash their water bottle with warm soapy water, ensuring that you thoroughly rinse off all the soap suds after washing.

Each time you wash the bottle, check for any signs of wear and tear and replace the bottle as needed. Just as you don’t want to drink from a dirty vessel, neither does your furry friend. So keeping their bottles fresh and clean will encourage them to drink more.

Are There Any Other Drinks That My Guinea Pig Can Have?

Ingesting high sugar, salt, or fat levels is bad for your guinea pig’s health. This pretty much rules out juice, dairy products (such as milk or cream), soda, and sports drinks. In addition, caffeine and alcohol are big no-nos, so you can rule out tea, coffee, hot chocolate, beer, and wine. 

Even water can present a hazard to your guinea pig if it is contaminated or contains sweeteners. Substances such as xylitol which are used to sweeten drinks, can cause health issues in your guinea pig, so you should avoid them at all costs.

When it comes down to it, plain water is the safest and healthiest option for your guinea pig, so it’s best to stick to H2O as the source of your guinea pig’s hydration. Bear in mind that sufficient water intake is crucial for their survival; not drinking enough water can lead to health problems and even death.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Drinking More Than Usual?

There are several reasons why you may notice that your guinea pig is drinking more than usual. To begin with, a change in temperature and an increasingly humid environment can increase the thirst drive of your cavy.

Any time they engage in increased exercise throughout the day, they’ll also need more water, thanks to what they have lost through bodily functions such as sweating.

Most of the time, drinking more water is a good thing, but if your cavy seems to have an excessive thirst level, it may be worth visiting your vet for a health check-up.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Drinking Less Than Usual?

Conversely, there are times when you may notice that your guinea pig is drinking less than it usually does. This could be due to a reverse in the circumstances, i.e., the summer days end and cooler, less humid temperatures set in. Or, they exercise less than usual and thus do not need to replace so much of their body water percentage.

Another reason your cavy may begin to drink less is if they receive an increased water intake through their diet. Foods with a high water percentage, such as Romaine lettuce, will provide extra water to your cavy, decreasing the amount they drink from their water bottle.

If your guinea pig ceases drinking altogether, you’ll need to seek medical advice immediately, as small pets are at risk of severe dehydration after 24 hours without water.

How Can I Tell If My Guinea Pig Is Dehydrated?

If you suspect that your guinea pig is dehydrated, keep a lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Dark urine
  • Hard Feces
  • Thick or sticky saliva
  • Crusty eyes

When you notice these symptoms, try offering your guinea pig a source of filtered or purified water (if you aren’t already) and if this doesn’t work, use a syringe to place a couple of droplets on their tongue.

Don’t try to force your cavy to consume large amounts of water in one go; a couple of drops are okay. But if the problem persists, you must take them to your vet as soon as possible to prevent any lasting health issues.

Final Thoughts

In most places, it’s absolutely fine to let your guinea pig drink tap water. What’s important is that you provide them with the right drinking vessel and keep their water source fresh and clean on a daily basis.

Guinea pigs need their daily dose of H2O just as much as we do, so if you notice they aren’t drinking enough, experiment with different types of water and drinking vessels. And if you want the best for your cavy, opt for purified water which you can guarantee has any chemicals and contaminants removed from it.

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