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Our nurse Clare provides information on caring for guinea pigs in the run up to Guinea Pig Awareness Week

September 14, 2023

Guinea Pig Awareness Week runs from the 25th-29th September this year, if you are looking for a family pet, perhaps to help your child learn about responsibility and pet care, then here is some helpful advice on how guinea pigs could be right for you!

Our nursing team at Denny have listed their top tips for keeping guinea pigs happy and healthy below.

Why not share our Nurses’ advice with your friends on Facebook?

Guinea pigs can make rewarding family pets and can be the easiest of small furries for children to handle; they are usually gentle and enjoy human interaction, and don’t typically dart about too much.

According to our experienced Vet Nurses, here are the most important things to consider when caring for a new (or more established) guinea pig:

If you have any concerns, or just want to check your pet is thriving, book a check-up with us at Apex Vets’.

A happy guinea pig guide

Socialisation and enrichment

  • Strongly recommended to get two guinea pigs to avoid loneliness. The best pairings are two females or a female with a neutered male. If you want more than two, avoid having more than one male as they can fight over resources.
  • Guinea pigs are social creatures, so place their cage in a busy part of your house, like a hallway or lounge – but make sure they’re not vulnerable to nosey larger pets.
  • Handle them frequently so they’re confident about human contact.
  • Don’t worry about spending lots on entertainment – guinea pigs love homemade toys, especially tubes and cardboard boxes. Homemade foraging trays are also a firm favourite.

Guinea pig housing

  • Guinea pigs can live indoors or outdoors – providing if they are outdoors, they have appropriate housing, insulation and weather protection.
  • A big cage means happier pets as they’ll have plenty of room to explore and exercise.
  • Keep the cage clean, clearing up droppings every day.
  • Bed the cage with plenty of fleece, dust-free shavings, or natural paper bedding.

Nutrition

  • Guinea pigs need a special diet supplemented with vitamin C. Muesli-style food and rabbit food are not suitable. Talk to our team at Denny about the best diet for your pets.
  • Green leafy veg (such as kale and spinach) and cucumber are great for them.
  • Supply fresh water every day in a bottle feeder or bowl.
  • In summer, it’s fine for your guinea pigs to eat lawn grass (not cuttings) but make sure it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
  • Now and again, treat them to dandelion leaves and herbs, carrots, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Always hay available.

Health and wellbeing

  • Use small animal nail clippers to trim their claws.
  • Ensure your guinea pigs are clean and dry each day to help avoid flystrike. If their bottoms get very soiled and they are not cleaning themselves, you can give them a warm ‘butt bath’ to help – don’t submerge all their body in the water and make sure they are dry after.
  • Keep an eye on your pet’s weight, teeth, behaviour, and general condition. Record any changes.
  • Contact us immediately if you notice a sustained loss of appetite (more than 7 hours), rapid weight loss, diarrhoea, runny eyes, saliva running from the mouth, dry or flaky skin, bald patches, breathing problems, or regular wet/soiled patches on their fur, excessive drinking.

Our Winchester Avenue team are always happy to offer advice and we can arrange a full check-up if you want to ensure your guinea pig is in top condition.

If you have any top tips you’d like to share, why not post them on our Facebook page?

Share your tips on Facebook

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