HEALTH CARE

Weighing 

Why is weighing important?

  1. indication of overall health

  2. can detect illnesses

  3. allows owner to understand what to feed them

How do you weigh a guinea pig?

Weighing your guinea pig on a weekly basis is important.

Baby scales or kitchen scales both work really well.

Record weights each week in a diary to keep track.

 

What is a healthy weight?

Males generally weigh more than females but this doesn't always follow. So long as fully grown guinea pigs are maintaining their weight, and not gaining or losing significant amounts each week, then they are a healthy weight. Continuous weight loss, or even weight gain could indicate a problem. Make sure you keep track of their weights and monitor them closely.

Nail Clipping

Which nail clippers are best?

Regular nail clippers for people work just as well as others. I find that using those for the nails on their front feet work well. Those designed for small pets are also suitable. Here is what I use mainly for the nails on the back feet.

How often should it be done?

 

All guinea pigs nails grow at different paces, so you may find yourself doing some piggies nails more often than others. If they are housed indoors, I reccomend trimming as often as once a month. Outdoor guinea pigs may not need this doing as often, depending on the surface of their enclosure.

 

The cause of foot spurs has not yet been proven. Substrate and ground surface appear to have no impact. They are harmless and can be carefully removed with nail clippers.

How do you clip their nails?

Nail clipping is best done little and often. Leaving the nails too long can cause them to become overgrown, and as a result they are usually more difficult to trim. Just take off the very tip, but be careful not to cut into the quick, which is a blood vessel running through the guinea pigs nail. Generally you can see where the quick ends, but if not, shine a light under the nail so it becomes more visible.

Coat Care

Shiny coat?

If your guinea pig appears to have a dull coat, they may require additional fatty acids. Commercial dried food often makes claims to promote a shiny coat and improve overall coat condition. A better alternative is to feed 1tsp of oil seeds per guinea pig per week. On the shop you can find different blends which can help improve their skin & coat.

Do guinea pigs need brushing?

Most guinea pigs don't require any brushing. It can be quite uncomfortable for them, so should only be done if necessary. Long haired breeds may benefit from grooming to de-tangle matted fur.

Which brush is suitable?

There are a few options. For general use, soft nylon brushes are ideal as they don't pull and cause discomfort. Combs designed for small animals may be used to remove small tangles, but be very gentle!

 

Should they get fur trims?

Long haired guinea pigs should be trimmed regularly, particularly near their bottom area because urine and faeces can easily get soiled in their fur. During the warm season, I suggest trimming the fur quite short so they are able to keep cooler on hot days. You can buy hairdressing scissors from health & beauty shops.

FOOT SPURS

Bathing?

Do guinea pigs need bathing?

Bathing guinea pigs is normally completely unnecessary, and in fact can cause a lot of stress. You should only bathe a guinea pig if they have, for example, a skin condition which requires bathing, and it has been advised by a vet to bathe the guinea pig.

 

How do you bathe a guinea pig?

If you need to bathe a guinea pig, the following equipment is required:

  1. Bucket with a few cm water (no more than 5cm)

  2. Shampoo (must be gentle, e.g. baby shampoo)

  3. Towel (a few spares may be required)

  4. Hairdryer (optional)

 

Ensure you support the guinea pig at all times! If their heads are close to the water, this will cause stress and they will panic. Support their upper body so only their back end is sitting in the water. Use lukewarm water and gently coat their fur using your other hand. The shampoo should be very gentle, e.g. those intended for babies, but you may need to use specific shampoo for treating certain conditions (piggie safe of course!). Then lather the shampoo, or as directed by your vet. Try not to get the shampoo near their face. Then carefully rinse all the product out using your spare hand. Once excess water has dripped off into the bucket, wrap the guinea pigs in a towel to dry them off; a hair dryer may be a good idea, but only if they are comfortable with this. Bathing in warmer season is best, unless they already live indoors. Be careful with bathing outdoor guinea pigs - if it's in the cold season, bringing them indoors to be bathed can be dangerous due to the significant temperature difference! Especially if they are slightly damp still, then they are put back outdoors, this could cause problems, and they might get poorly. Sunny, warm days are better as they dry off much quicker, but once again, only bathe a guinea pig if it's absolutely necessary. You should really explore other options first, if they have for example, a fungal or parasite problem, see what other treatment is available.

Syringe Feeding

Why is it necessary?

If a guinea pig stops eating, this can become life threatening in just a short time. Their bodies shut down very quickly when they stop eating, so it is essential to act fast! If a guinea pig refuses food, it is often a sign of an underlying illness, which should be identified. Remember to visit a vet if you are concerned.

 

How do you syringe feed a guinea pig?

If you need to syringe feed a guinea pig, the following equipment is required:

  1. Syringe (15ml is ideal)

  2. Recovery Feed of choice

  3. Water 

  4. Kitchen roll

  5. Blanket (optional)

To syringe feed a guinea pig, you place a handful of pellets into a container, then pour boiling water over the pellets so they become a mush consistency. Leave for about 5 minutes to cool, then mash up the pellets using a spoon. Once the pellet mixture has cooled, fill it into a syringe. Put the guinea pig on your lap, or on top of a covered table - it may help to wrap the guinea pig in a blanket to keep them still. Then gently open their mouth using your index finger and thumb. Using the other hand place the syringe into the guinea pigs mouth, angled at one side. Little and often is key; give them a few mls at a time and remember to slow down if they are unable to take that much. You should syringe feed water at regular intervals to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Syringe feeding can be messy, so remember to keep them clean using kitchen roll. Repeat this process every few hours, or as needed. 

flystrike

Why are flies a threat?

During the colder season, flies are not usually a cause for concern, however during the warmer season, especially Summer, they can be a danger to rabbits and guinea pigs. Treatment for flystrike is not always successful and it is a potentially life threatening problem. It is very important to do what you can to keep flies away and hopefully prevent this from happening.

Basic guidelines for keeping flies away:

  1. Cleaning their accommodation regularly is a must! Flies are attracted to animal urine & faeces, so it is essential to maintain good hygiene. Also be sure to keep tight fitted lids on bins.

  2. Use strong smelling herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint & basil to deter flies from their environment. Flies can't stand the scent of these herbs so keeping them nearby is beneficial.

  3. Use citrus peels (especially lemon & orange) along with spices such as cloves & cayenne to put them off, but be sure to keep this far out of the guinea pigs/rabbits reach!

  4. If you have long haired guinea pigs/rabbits, keep their fur trimmed regularly (especially the rear end) as flies are often more attracted to the longer haired breeds putting them at a higher risk for flystrike.

  5. Use fly screens if possible. They are a great way to keep your rabbits/guinea pigs safe during the peak season.