How to care for your guinea pig

Guinea Pigs, like all other pets, require quite a fair amount of care. Although many people commonly think guinea pigs are great first-time pets, it’s important to take into account the time that goes into properly caring for your guinea pig. These cute little furballs are quite entertaining pets, and with enough education, care and attention they can make for great pets for any family.

How to care for your guinea pig

June 04, 2018

The first step in properly caring for your guinea pig is getting to know your new furry friend.

Quick Guinea Facts:
  • They are nocturnal animals, which means they are a lot more active during nighttime than in the day.
  • The average lifespan of a guinea pig is between four and seven years.
  • They are herbivores, living off mostly grass, hay and high-quality pellets.
  • Baby Guinea Pigs are called ‘’pups.”
  • They are much happier when paired off with another guinea buddy. Consider giving your guinea pig some much-needed companionship by getting two.

Handling your Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are easily stressed and require careful handling. It’s best to give your guinea space for about two days after getting him or her. This gives them time to get used to their new home without being too overwhelmed. Luckily, once they start trusting their owner, they tend to be quite affectionate creatures and will grow to love the attention.

Feeding your Guinea

The majority of your guinea’s diet should consist of high-quality commercial guinea pig pellets, which should contain Vitamin C. Guinea pigs do not produce their own vitamin C. Therefore they need to obtain all their Vitamin C from their diet. Separate Vitamin C supplements often cause intestinal upset, resulting in diarrhoea. Speak to your vet or one of the Family Pet Centre members about the perfect guinea diet for your specific pawed-pal. As they are herbivores, you should include fresh veggies and fruits in their diet. This should not make up the majority of their diet but should rather be given as a treat or snack. Never feed Iceberg lettuce, onions, avocado or raw beans. Remember to include lots of hay in their diets too! Guinea Pigs love to forage, not only does hay make a nutritional snack, but it is also lovely to add to their cage or hutch to help them forage.

Guinea pigs teeth grow fast, like all other rodents they therefore require suitable chew toys to nibble on. Visit Family Pet Centre to see the wide variety of chew toys available for your pet.

Be sure to add fresh, clean water for your guinea pig and to change the water daily. You will soon realise that guineas lean more towards the messy side at times, so make sure the water stays clean and fresh. Glass pet drinking bottles are the easiest to clean and less messy than a water bowl. Don’t forget to check the water bottle daily to ensure that it is full, not leaking and that no algae is building up inside the bottle.

DON'T feed your guinea pig chocolate, caffeine or sugary snacks. It’s best to avoid sugar/high fat treats altogether.

Grooming your Guinea Pig:

First things first, guinea pigs don’t need baths and find the entire process quite stressful. The only reasons for bathing your guinea pig might be because of diarrhoea or skin related issues. Before bathing your guinea pig, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian for recommendations. If your guinea is exceptionally dirty, you can easily give your guinea pig a quick spot clean with a damp cloth.

What can’t be skimped on, however, is brushing your little fur-ball. Longhaired breeds, especially, require a lot of grooming. Give your guinea pig a good brush once a day and comb out any mats in their fur. If you find that your longhaired guinea pig’s hair is extra difficult to comb through, ask your groomer for advice on trimming your guinea pig’s hair so that it is no longer dragging on the floor. While grooming your little one, you can use this time to check for any skin sores or lice.

It’s crucial that you trim your guinea’s nails every second month. This keeps their nails in tip-top shape for walking. Watch out for the little vein and nerve that run in the nail. Bring your beloved guinea pig to your veterinarian to trim the nails in a safe stress freeway.

Guinea Pig Habitat

Be sure to set up a cosy home for your new pet with plenty of room to exercise. It’s best to stay away from treated or scented wood shavings as bedding, so rather fit the habitat with suitable bedding and hay. Family Pet Centre provides a variety of bedding, perfect for your guinea pig.

Their cage lining acts as both bedding and a toilet, so be ready for some daily housekeeping assistance when it comes to your pet. Replace the bedding at least once a week and be sure to disinfect the cage while you’re at it.

Guinea pigs love to hide during the day when they sleep. Therefore it is important to give them a house to hide in.

FPC Tip: Guinea Pigs do not need exercise wheels. Exercise wheels damage your precious Guinea’s back and often cause injuries to their feet. It is however important that the cage is big enough for your guinea pig to run around in.

Red flags to look out for:

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see any of the symptoms listed below:

  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal hair loss
  • Skin sores
  • Scratching or Itching
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargic
  • Eye or nasal discharge

Pretty soon, you’ll start understanding your guinea pig and how to handle their personality. With these guidelines, however, you will be well on your way to a happy and healthy guinea pig. If you have any questions, give us a call, we’d love to chat! Read some of our other work for more tips and tricks on how to care for your pet: https://familypetcentre.co.za/blogs/articles

Sources:
https://www.petfinder.com/pet-care/small-and-furry-care/care-guinea-pigs/
https://www.petsmart.com/learning-center/small-pet-care/caring-for-your-guinea-pig/A0093.html
https://www.thesprucepets.com/grooming-guinea-pigs-1238883
https://www.vetbabble.com/small-pets/guinea-pigs/guinea-pig-care/
https://pethelpful.com/rodents/How-To-Care-For-Your-Guinea-Pig-A-Beginners-Guide-Guinea-Pig-Care
https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/choosing-right-small-pet
https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/fun-interesting-facts-about-guinea-pigs.html


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