Edgemoor Veterinary Practice – providing high quality veterinary care throughout Ryedale and beyond

Guinea Pig Advice


What should we consider before buying a Guinea Pig?

Guinea pigs can be very rewarding pets, they are sociable pets that will soon become part of the family. They have a life expectancy of 4 – 8 years and you will need to be committed to their care every day of their life. You will need to provide a suitable diet, keep them safe from predators, provide a suitable place for them to live and do all you can to prevent them having pain, injury or disease. You will need to adapt your daily routine to accomodate time for feeding, hutch cleaning, grooming and social interaction with your guinea pigs.

Because guinea pigs would normally live in a group and are very sociable, it is best to keep at least a pair of guniea pigs so they can keep eathother company. Fighting can occur in if only male guniea pigs are kept, it might be worth considering having a mixed-sex pair or a ‘harem’ (1 male and 2 or more females). You will also need to consider if you already have any other pets in the household. For example, rabbits will often bully guinea pigs so they should not be kept together. Guinea pigs will naturally fear dogs and cats because they would be seen as prey out in the wild.

If you are thinking of keeping guniea pigs outside you will need to take note of the local weather. Guniea pigs can become hypothermic in very cold conditions.

Where should we buy Guinea Pigs from?

There a plenty of places to buy guinea pigs from but you should take time to make sure you buy from a reputable breeder/seller and avoid taking on an unhealthy pig. Good breeders will let you see the litter and their mother and be interested in how you plan to look after them. They should also give you information on their current diet and any treatments they have had.

Once you have made your decision to take on a new family member, we always recommend bringing them to one of our practices for a check over with a vet. Because it is so important, we offer this inital check over free-of-charge.

If you would like to discuss owning a guniea pig further or to book your new guniea pig in for a complimentary check over, call us on 01439 771166 to chat to one of our friendly team.

What should we look for when choosing a Guinea Pig?

There are a few things to look out for that can be good indicators of their current health, these include:

– The guinea pig should appear active and aware of their environment and anyone visiting them.

– Their coats should not be excessively scurfy and you should check for any skin lesions.

– Their eyes, ears, and nose should not have any discharge (fresh or dried) coming from them.

– They should not appear thin and their ribs shouldn’t feel like they stick out when you stroke them.

– They shouldn’t have have any droppings stuck their back end nor be excessively wet in that area.

What is the best house for our Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs will need a large hutch that they can roam around in that keeps them protected against hot weather and wet/windy coniditions, plus prevents any predators attacking them. A good bedding material to use is straw, hay or sawdust – avoid sand as it can cause foot sores. Whichever bedding material you choose, it should be checked for cleanliness every day – changing and soiled bedding seen – and a thorough clean out done twice a month.

You should also provide a ‘run’ area that allows them to rummage and exercise. This area should also keep them safe against predators and prevent them escaping if they burrow (try burying some of the fence mesh under the ground).

In very cold weather it may be best to bring them indoors and provide extra bedding material so they can snuggle up and keep warm.

What is the best type of food for Guniea Pigs?

The majority of their diet should be made up of hay or grass so make sure they have a plentiful supply of fresh hay/grass all day. Regularly check and change any food that look wilted/mouldy. You should also provide fresh greens greens such as carrots, cucumber and tomato. They will also need added vitamin C in their diet because they cannot make their own, giving small amounts of orange or mango as treats will help privide sufficient vitamin C.

Any change or new addition to your guinea pig’s diet should be done gradually over a week or two – sudden changes can cause tummy upsets.

How should we provide water?

Fresh water should always be readily available and changed daily. You can provide water in a bowl and/or from a drinking bottle designed for guinea pigs. Both should be kept clean to avoid illness.

How will we know if our Guinea Pig is ill?

They earliest signs of ill health will be weight loss, so it is best practice to weigh your guinea pig every couple of weeks/monthly and keep a record to refer to. If there is a noticeably decreasing trend in their weight then you should contact us.

Other signs of illness include loss of appetite, increased drinking, skin sores or scabs, discharge from their eyes or nose, swelling to any part of their body, bleeding or any unusual behaviour.

If you are concerned about your guinea pig’s health at any point, please call us on 01439 771166 to chat to one of our friendly team.

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