You finally got a guinea pig, but you still have some doubts about its maintenance, diet, and health. In short, you are thinking how to care for guinea pigs. You are fortunate because it is precisely the subject of this article!
This small rodent is one of the most popular pets in the United States mainly because of its significant social and cognitive abilities. Also, the care guinea pig needs is relatively simple and it does not require much to live happy if not a lot of love.
In this guinea pig care guide for beginners, you will get to know all the tips and tricks to raise guinea pigs well. Know that these rodents must be respected to ensure their well-being and especially to keep them in good health.
Before bringing your guinea pig home, you must prepare everything beforehand so that the guinea pig feels comfortable in its new home from the very start!
Now, let’s talk about how you can take care of your guinea pigs.
How to Care for Guinea Pigs:
A cage, large enough, at least: 70 x 45 x 40 cm. It should be placed in a place not too stressful, in a room where you are often (the guinea pig needs companionship), away from the sun, moisture, and drafts.You may also want to check out our Best Guinea Pig Cage Reviews.
You can put the cage slightly higher to isolate your guinea pig from air currents that may be on the ground and also to improve his field of vision. The most suitable cages are those with bars.
Some important factors about the housing that should be considered are as follows:
Temperature: The ambient temperature must be between 18 to 24 ° C. The guinea pig fears more heat than the cold.
In summer, if you have a garden, you can take it out in an enclosure containing a shelter. But beware, it should be neither too hot nor too cold.
Out of the cage: Your guinea pig needs daily physical activity. So, plan to let him out of his cage under surveillance for several hours a day to avoid health problems related to obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
Litter: A litter must line the bottom of his cage. It will be made of hemp or corn stover. Mineral litters are to be banned because they can cause respiratory problems if they are dusty, and digestive issues if they are ingested. The guinea pig litter should be renewed at least twice a week.
The water pot: Your guinea pig must have clean water available at all times. For this, it is necessary to install a feeding trough attached to the bars of the cage. The water must be changed every day, and the bottle regularly cleaned with white vinegar.
For the food: For his food, he must have a small bowl for his seeds or croquettes, one for vegetables and a manager (or rack) attached to the bars for hay or greenery. Instead, choose heavy, flat-bottomed bowls to prevent your guinea pig from knocking it over.
Accessories: Your guinea pig must also have a shelter in his cage, or ideally a small “house” to sleep or hide. Environmental enrichment is necessary. Also, young branches of trees (hazel, apple tree) to gnaw are much appreciated.
Another crucial aspect of caring for guinea pigs is the diet, which must be based on the consumption of certain foods. The guinea pig is a 100% herbivorous rodent. Its diet must, therefore, be based on fruits and vegetables.You should also know that Best Guinea Pig food Reviews.
It is imperative to provide forage in the form of hay, always in abundant quantity. This will ensure an adequate supply of fiber, very important for this animal.
For fruits and vegetables, it will always be necessary to choose those that are richer in vitamin C, because this nutrient is essential for guinea pigs (it can only be obtained by food). If we decide to feed it with guinea-pig food, it already contains the recommended intake of vitamin C.
For proper guinea pig nutrition, do not forget to follow these tips:
- He must always have fresh and clean water available.
- He must always have fresh and unlimited hay. (you should check out our Best guinea pig hay reviews guide here).
- You will have to control food or pellet diets to prevent obesity.
- You must provide it daily with vegetables and various fruits.
What fruits and vegetables to give to a guinea pig?
Because of the large amount of sugar they contain, fruits should be considered as a reward or an occasional food. We, therefore, prefer to offer him some vegetables. You can offer salads or other vegetable preparations.
We recommend that you try different foods to find the ones he likes the most. If you do not know where to start, dandelion, lamb’s lettuce, escarole, arugula or peppers will be the right choice, to begin with.
Grooming of guinea pig is necessary for its health. Check out some grooming tips for your pet:
Brushing: To keep a beautiful and healthy coat for your pet, you must brush it regularly.
- Short haired guinea pig care: Short-haired guinea pigs are easy to maintain, brush at least once a week.
- Long haired guinea pig care: brush regularly every day and especially during molting to remove dead hair.
For example, the Peruvians with very long fur and Texel require a thorough brushing. Because knots can easily form if not brushed regularly. A metal comb can sometimes untie the knots but do not pull too hard.
The bath: It is not advisable to wash your guinea pig. However, the bath is recommended for long-haired species that, for example, hang around in urine and excrement. Their long coat is then soiled, and the bath will undoubtedly be the only solution.
The guinea pig hates being immersed in the water. For bath, the water should be lukewarm, and rinsing should be done thoroughly. Our little rodent is extremely sensitive to soap that gives skin irritations, dandruff, or allergic dermatitis. So rinse deeply and choose a shampoo specific to the animal.
If he panics when wiping caused by noise and hot air from the hairdryer, let it dry naturally in a warm place.
Sometimes it happens that despite repeated baths, long hairs retain a dirty appearance, the hairs are soaked with urine and other stains. A small shave at the mower should solve the problem for several weeks.
The size of the claws: The long claws may eventually break and cause severe pain to the animal and sometimes bleeding. It is, therefore, necessary to cut them if necessary and without hurting him. For this, call a qualified professional.
Note that declawing (onyxectomy) is a surgical operation that consists of removing the claws and should never be done in guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs don’t require much. But there are some things that are essential for the well-being of your pet. From food to cage to accessories, here are some things to keep nearby:
- Strong cage with a solid bottom (barred preferred). Various types of housing are available. Choose the right one according to the size and comfort of your pet.
- Bedding (comfortable and non-toxic). Paper bedding is more ideal for this purpose. We discussed enough Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs in our website before.
- Food tray. It will reduce the chance of contamination.
- Hay for optimum fiber and digestion.
- For a healthy guinea pig, a healthy diet is a must. And for that reason keep a fresh supply of food.
- Keeping your guinea pig hydrated is important. Set the water source or bottle to such level that it becomes easy for him to drink.
- Hideouts for sleeping or resting
- A water bottle which is chew-proof
- Supplements such as Vitamin C
- Grooming kit including brush, nail cutter, shampoo, etc.
- Toys and treats for entertainment and play
To finish with the care of the guinea pig, we will now talk about the most common diseases that can affect the species. The state of health of a guinea pig will depend directly on the care you offer, the preventive medicine, and the speed with which you act to detect and treat any disease that may develop. Ideally, you should consult your veterinarian every 6 to 12 months for routine follow-up.
Before we can treat a disease, we must be able to identify it. Unfortunately, guinea pigs do not make it easy for us because they usually show no sign of pain or weakness. So if you think that something is wrong, you should consult a veterinarian.
The only sign of weakness that we can observe ourselves is a behavior of isolation, silence, and hiding in the corner of the cage for a long time.
Here are some of the symptoms that can indicate that a guinea pig is sick:
- Skin wounds
- Wounds in the leg
- Major scuffs
- Presence of parasites
- Hair loss
- He does not eat anymore or does not drink anymore
If you notice anything strange about your guinea pig’s physique or behavior, examine the body of the guinea pig with care to determine which area is causing pain. Although we talk about docile animals, they are easily stressed and can cry loud when they are panicked.
Common Health Problems
A pet that is very popular with families, the guinea pig requires particular care with regard to cage hygiene and veterinary checks.
We will see the most common diseases in guinea pigs in the following guinea pig care chart as well as ways to treat them.
|Skin diseases||Scabies, ringworm (due to mycosis), and lice||Medicated shampoo and antifungal medicine|
|Respiratory diseases||Poor living conditions (drafts, environmental hygiene, etc.).||Quarantine may be necessary to limit contamination Systematic antibiotic Fluid therapy|
|Cystitis||Bacterial or related to food||Surgery|
|The common cold||poor living conditions||Heavy antibiotic therapy is needed|
In addition to the diseases that can develop in the guinea pig, it is an animal with a fragile heart and very sensitive. He is prone to heart attacks. That’s why he prefers to live in quiet rooms. Its fragility does not make it an ideal companion for young children. These may be too abrupt, which is a real danger for the animal.