A small guide to keeping your guinea pig healthy and happy
Guinea pigs are common family household pets, however, not everyone fully understands just how much space, time and effort they actually require. Although guinea pigs are highly communicative and sociable animals, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out just exactly it is that your guinea pig is needing to give them their best, healthiest and happiest life. If you’re considering to become a new guinea pig owner or are just looking for more tips and information on how to keep your guinea pig at its best, then take a look at this guide to learn more about your guinea pigs needs.
Housing your guinea pig
Guinea pigs are very energetic and active animals, so whether you choose to house them indoors or outdoors make sure to give them enough space to get around a lot. Providing your guinea pig with enough room will allow them to exercise on their schedule instead of adapting to yours which will keep your guinea pig happy. Other great ideas to keep your guinea pig happy and active are to include toys in their living space like tissue roll tubes, cardboard boxes, and fleece – lots of fleece, guinea pigs love it as it’s so soft on their feet. They also appreciate some chew sticks and hay balls being incorporated in aswell for a fun, tasty treat. Doing this will allow your guinea pig to express their natural behavior, making it easier for you to get to know their personalities.
Guinea pigs are social herd animals and can get lonely quickly, so give them some company and never house them alone – always have at least 2 guinea pigs together. Remember though, the more guinea pigs you have living together, the more space their house is going to need – just like with humans. when considering how much space to give your guinea pig it is advised to follow the minimum guidelines:
- 1 -2 guinea pigs: 7.5sq ft
- 3 guinea pigs: 10.5 sq ft
- 4 guinea pigs: 13 sq ft
Providing your guinea pigs with these minimum space requirements will help keep your guinea pig healthy by minimizing the risks of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and bumblefoot.
Whether you choose to house your guinea pig indoors or outdoors, you need to keep their temperature in good-range for their needs. Guinea pigs can’t sweat when they overheat and are susceptible to heatstroke, so it is ideal to keep your guinea pigs in temperatures between 18 -23 degrees Celcius and out of any direct heat sources – fireplaces, direct sunlight, heating vents, etc. It’s also known that guinea pigs don’t d welk in humid conditions as it promotes the growth of mold in their hay and beddings which causes illnesses to the guinea pigs.
Your guinea pigs’ house should include a ‘safe place’ for them to hide. This is easily done by adding a bedding area, you can find beds for small animals in pet stores whether it be a fleece pocket for them to cuddle inside of, a plastic bed area that can be filled with a bedding option, or others. Great bedding options guinea pigs like are confetti paper bedding which can come in different types and qualities, aspen bedding which is completely non-toxic, and fleece bedding which is a great comfort bonus for your guinea pig and an easy clean method – if you don’t mind a lot of laundry!
Once your guinea pig is satisfied with their home and settled in, it is essential to maintain their home. Guinea pigs are very clean animals and they make a fuss out of a mess. Since they are doing their business and living in the same space, you need to keep on top of it daily! Daily maintenance for your guinea pigs home is as simple as replacing any soiled areas with fresh flooring and making sure you have cleaned their food and water supplies out and gave them fresh to enjoy. It is recommended that you deep clean your guinea pigs home once a week including washing all accessories and the home area, replacing bedding and flooring with fresh clean ones and disinfecting everything. Disinfectant that is safe for your guinea pig can be bought at pet stores, don’t use regular cleaning products as some can be very harmful to your guinea pig.
*Tip: Remember when you disinfect your guinea pigs stuff, always rinse it with clean water and completely dry everything before giving it back to your guinea pig.
Not only does your guinea pigs’ home and items need cleaning, but your guinea pig also does aswell. To minimize the need to bath your guinea pig as often, brush them at least daily. When you are bathing your guinea pig, make sure the room you are doing it in is warm so that they don’t get cold. Use animal shampoo made for guinea pigs, if you’re not sure it’s best to check with a veterinarian, and warm water that isn’t hot and keep it quick but thorough to make sure that your guinea pig doesn’t get cold. Once your guinea pig has finished their bath, wrap your guinea pig in a warm towel and gently rub them dry. You can dry them with a blow dryer, but use extreme caution to not burn your guinea pigs delicate skin. Also, note that the blow dryer may scare your guinea pig.
Feeding your guinea pig
When making meals and snacks for your guinea pig it is important to take into consideration their dietary needs. Guinea pigs are vegetarians and need sufficient amounts of vitamin C supplemented into their diet as they are unable to synthesize it. By giving your guinea pig a daily portion of pellets that include vitamin C and giving orange pieces to your guinea pig as a treat every so often, don’t give your guinea pig too many orange pieces as it is highly acidic and can cause problems if they have too much.
A daily portion of fresh vegetables is a good way to ensure you are providing a healthy, balanced diet for your guinea pig. Leafy greens are good like rocket, watercress, collards, and kale. Other vegetables such as cucumber, green beans, celery, and peppers will be enjoyed by your guinea pig too.
With guinea pigs liking to nibble all through the day, hay constitutes the majority of their diet and provides the fiber they need to aid digestion, so it is important to make sure your guinea pig always has a good supply of fresh, tasty hay for then to chew on.
Checking your guinea pig is healthy
Obviously, you are going to want to know that your guinea pig is healthy and the easiest way to notice if there might be something wrong with your guinea pig is by watching their behavior. with guinea pigs being naturally active and funny animals, if you notice an uncharacteristic change in your guinea pigs’ behavior this could indicate that your guinea pig is due a vet visit.
Examine your guinea pigs’ eyes and nose, they should be clean other than a bit of milky discharge which is normal. When you brush your guinea pig check that their skin is full with no bald spots, and that their skin isn’t red, dry or flaky.
Guinea pigs’ nails and teeth grow at a rapid rate so you need to be on top of this at least giving them a weekly check to make sure they aren’t overgrown. If you do find your guinea pigs’ teeth are overgrown or misaligned, consult a vet to address the matter. To prevent your guinea pigs’ teeth overgrowing you can provide them with salt blocks for them to chew on.
Keeping your guinea pig healthy and happy can give them up to a good eight-year life span and they make a great friendly pet without as much responsibility that comes with owning a larger animal like a dog. As long as you are committed to put in the interaction and work to keep your guinea pig healthy and happy, they will keep you entertained all day.