Wincanton Vet Nurses give top tips to new guinea pig owners
August 21, 2022
If you are looking for a family pet, perhaps to help your child learn about responsibility and pet care, then guinea pigs could be right for you. Our nursing team at Wincanton have listed their top tips for keeping guinea pigs happy and healthy below.
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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 Southill Vets.
A happy guinea pig guide
Socialisation and enrichment
- Ideally, 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 fare best indoors – even fur doesn’t protect them from getting cold and wet outside, plus, they’ll be safer from predators indoors.
- 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 dust-free hay made from Timothy grass.
- Guinea pigs need a special diet supplemented with vitamin C. Muesli-style food and rabbit food are not suitable. Talk to our team
- Supply fresh water every day in a bottle feeder.
- 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.
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 of 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.
If you have any top tips you’d like to share, why not post them on our Facebook page?