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10 tips on caring for your guinea pig

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Housing & Bedding

Hutches and runs should ideally be placed out of the sun, sheltered from the rain and raised off the ground.

In winter, the hutch should be moved inside where possible.

Straw or shavings are ideal bedding and soiled material should be removed on a daily basis.

A complete strip out and scrub should ideally be done once a week and more in winter, when the guinea pig spends more time indoors.

Nutrition

Guinea pigs need fibre rich diets such as hay or grass, to help digest food and maintain healthy teeth.

This should be supplemented with a complete food designed especially for guinea pigs.

This is different to rabbit food as guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C and they also require high levels of vitamin A.

Fresh vegetables can be given in moderation and water must be accessible at all times.

Dental

Dental problems are a major health issue for guinea pigs, they need to eat fibre to wear down their continuously growing teeth.

If teeth don’t get worn down enough this can cause drooling and lack of appetite.

Claw Clipping

It is advisable to clip the claws approximately once a month, however the more time the guinea pig spends on a hard surface, the less frequently they will need clipping.

Exercise

Regular exercise is important to keep guinea pigs fit and prevent boredom.

It is advisable to exercise pets in an outdoor run, the garden or house as often as possible.  Ideally for at least 4 hours a day.

You can make this time more fun by using boxes and tubes as tunnels and holes for them to hide in.

Grooming

Guinea pigs will groom both themselves and others, as it’s  a social activity.

Some long haired breeds will need grooming by their owners to remove loose or matted hair.

Company

It is recommended that guinea pigs are kept in social groups to encourage them to interact and socialise.

Neutering

Neutering females will prevent unwanted litters and behaviour problems.

Castrating a male guinea pig can prevent aggression.

Your vet will advise you on neutering your pet.

Handling

One your guinea pig is accustomed to feeding out of your hand and stroking him, they generally enjoy being handled.

Be sure to supervise children while holding a guinea pig and be careful of how they lift them.

Regular Health Checks

Your vet can carry out a nose to tail check, but by following the guidelines below,  you can keep an eye on your guinea pigs health, help him stay in tip top condition and live a long and happy life.

  • Look out for changes in food consumption, drinking and toilet habits.
  • Rub your hands over your guinea pigs body and check for lumps and bumps.  Check the quality of the coat and note whether any dandruff or hair loss is evident.  Is your guinea pig scratching, chewing or biting a lot?
  • Check the nose, eyes and ears for abnormalities or discharge.  Your guinea pigs nose should be moist, the corners of the eyes should be free of discharge and his ears clean.
  • Regularly examine the mouth for signs of disease and overgrown teeth.
  • Monitor your guinea pigs body condition by running hands over ribs and backbone.  If he is losing weight or is overweight, it’s advisable to visit your vet.

If you would like to know more about looking after your guinea pig, please call your surgery and ask to speak to one of our nurses.


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