How to Care for Your Guinea Pig
If you’ve recently adopted a guinea pig, the folks at PetMD by Chewy have put together a great article for you! Below is some of the most important information, but you can read the full article here.
Guinea pigs, commonly referred to as cavies, can make excellent, fun, and loving pets if given appropriate care and veterinary treatment. The average lifespan of a domesticated guinea pig is 4-5 years.
Guinea pigs are herd animals and not typically happy as solitary creatures. They enjoy living in groups of two or more. Humans are not replacement companions for cavies. While it is best to raise guinea pigs together when they are young, many adults can be successfully introduced. Males and females should not be housed together to prevent unwanted litters.
Guinea Pig Housing
Cages should be well ventilated to help prevent respiratory disease, as they have sensitive respiratory tracts. Flooring should be sturdy and solid (not a grate or wire) to avoid damage to their feet. Height is not as big of a factor, but some may enjoy small, safe ramps and multiple levels.
CLEANING – avoid using cleaners with chemicals or antibacterial wipes. Simply using water and a mild dish soap works well.
Guinea Pig Bedding
*Puppy pads are not safe for guinea pigs.
Guinea Pig Temperature
Guinea Pigs & Other Pets
Guinea Pig Toy Enrichment
Guinea pigs love a regular rotation of toys to prevent boredom! Exercise and toys will keep your guinea pig healthy and happy. Cavies have a particular need for chewing, exploring, and hiding. Some common favorite items include:
- Paper bags
- Cardboard boxes with holes cut out
- Hay stuffed in toys
- Paper towel rolls
- Other commercially available guinea pig toys
Exercise wheels and balls should be avoided, as they can hurt your guinea pig.
15 Things you should never buy for your guinea pig: https://preciselypets.com/things-never-buy-for-guinea-pig/
Guinea Pig Food
- HAY should be offered in unlimited amounts, accounting for approximately 75% of their intake. Grass is their natural diet so hay is the next best alternative. Timothy is one of the most common. Avoid alfalfa. Oxbow is a preferred brand, as it is high quality and veterinarian recommended. Guinea pigs can suffer from many ailments, dental and gastrointestinal, if they aren’t fed hay in unlimited quantities.
- VEGETABLES should be fed daily, 1 cup per piggy. Introduce new food items slowly to prevent diarrhea. Once your guinea pig is adjusted to multiple types of vegetables, you may offer different varieties – shoot for 2-3 different types each day. This helps ensure they get important vitamins and minerals. Some common favorites include parsley, romaine, leaf lettuce, carrots, clover, kale, and dandelion greens. Green bell pepper is the only veggie safe to give daily.
- PELLETS is recommended in small quantities as a supplement to their diet and not a main staple. Use high quality Timothy hay pellets and avoid pellets with dried fruits, vegetables, or seeds, as they can lead to obesity and gastrointestinal issues. The most veterinarian recommended brand of high quality pellets is Oxbow.
- FRUITS AND TREATS should be avoided or offered in very limited quantities. Guinea pigs do enjoy the occasional cantaloupe, apple, carrot tops, or alfalfa cubes as treats, but treats should always be less than 5% of their diet.
- WATER should always be provided. Most guinea pigs do best with a sipper bottle attached to the side of the cage but inspect it frequently.
Guinea Pig Handling
Guinea Pig Medical Needs
Guinea pigs tend to freeze when they are scared and hide their symptoms. When they finally show signs of illness, it may be advanced. Healthy cavies are vocal, inquisitive, active, and hungry! They should almost never refuse a treat or greens when offered, although they may be wary of new foods. Be sure to offer a familiar item when assessing appetite and energy levels and do so in a stress-free environment free of loud noises or unfamiliar animals. Like all pets, guinea pigs should visit a veterinarian for wellness exams. Once over 3 years, they are considered seniors and should have bloodwork done.
Common signs of illness include:
- Decreased appetite
- Eye or nose discharge
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing, coughing, or sneezing
- Fecal or urinary staining
- Skin masses, lesions, or hair loss (ringworm)
- Change in fecal output or consistency (diarrhea)
- Bloody urine
- Difficulty walking
- Overgrown teeth
The most common illnesses of guinea pigs include signs of low vitamin C (such as bone and teeth issues, bruising and abnormal bleeding), respiratory infection, dental issues, diarrhea, skin rashes and infection, and arthritis. If you think your guinea pig is showing signs of illness or isn’t acting normal, contact an exotic veterinarian immediately.