Guinea Pig Awareness Week is a week of activities dedicated to raising the profile of these popular pets. Sadly, our small furries are often ‘forgotten pets’ and can be over looked. That’s why we’re shining a light on them and educating owners about their pets’ needs to help guinea pigs live healthy and happy lives
The theme for this year’s event is guinea pigs five welfare needs! They are as followed:
The best way to know if your guinea pigs are healthy is to do a daily health check for them.
- Check their face and eyes- check their eyes are bright and open, they don’t have weepy eyes or a runny nose and their mouth is closed and clean with no teeth poking out. Don’t forget to check their ears too by gently lifting their ear flaps.
- Check their coat- healthy guinea pig coats should be clean with no bald patches, tangles or lumps in the skin.
- Check their back end- your guinea pigs should have a clean, dry back end. It’s also important to check they don’t have any poo stuck in their bottom or a faecal impaction
- Check their feet- check their nails aren’t too long or curling under and that their feet don’t have any sores or wounds. Make sure your guinea pig is able to move around without stiffness or limping.
Many guinea pigs need brushing and grooming regularly. If they have a long or very thick coat, your guinea pigs will need a daily brush to remove any knots and tangles from their fur. Shorthaired guinea pigs will enjoy a brush once or twice a week to help keep their coats in tiptop condition.
It’s important to watch your guinea pigs and learn about their behaviour and routine each day, you’ll quickly learn what’s normal for them. This will make it easier for you to spot any signs that they’re under the weather.
Guinea pigs are herbivores – meaning they only eat plants. Their ideal diet will include:
- A constant supply of good quality hay or grass. This should make up at least 80% of their food – it’s really important for their teeth and their digestive system. You can buy feeding hay from pet shops.
- Commercial guinea pig nuggets. Follow the feeding guidelines on the packet.
- A teacup sized amount of fresh greens per day. Fresh greens are a great source of vitamin C which is important for your pigs. Try to give your guinea pigs a different mix of fresh veg each day.
- Introduce new foods to your guinea pigs slowly over a week – any sudden changes to their diet could upset their stomachs.
- Constant access to fresh, clean drinking water from a water bottle with a metal spout. Check your guinea pigs are using the bottle: if they’re used to drinking from a bowl they may not change to a bottle easily. If one of your guinea pigs starts drinking much more or much less than usual, speak to your vet because this might be a sign that they’re ill.
Our guinea pigs need other guinea pigs. They love nothing more than the company of their own kind; this allows them to express their natural behaviours and meets their social needs. Our company is not enough – if you have one guinea pig on their own, or your guinea pig recently lost their pal, they will often struggle. We’re not able to stay with our pets 24/7 and they need a friend of their own species to understand them and communicate with.
It’s really important that if you’re planning to bring a new guinea pig into your current guinea pig’s life (or into an already existing social circle) you do it very carefully. This will stop any disagreements
Getting the right friend for your guinea pig is vital for them to get along well. Some guinea pigs can have big personality clashes so it’s important to make sure they have the right companion to share their life and home. Wherever possible, we’d recommend getting your guinea pigs as established friends – whether they are littermates or a previously bonded pair. But if you lose one of your guinea pigs, or you already have just one guinea pig at home, you need to know how to find the right new friend to keep them both happy.
Guinea pigs are very active animals and they need lots of space as well as plenty of toys, hides and tunnels to keep them healthy and happy. If your guinea pigs don’t have the right home it can lead to boredom and health problems.
There are lots of different ways you can make the perfect set up for your guinea pigs. A large hutch and a big exercise area provide them with the ideal living area, a cosy bedroom to snuggle up in and plenty of room to run around and explore.
Guinea pigs can live indoors or outdoors, so long as they have enough space and you can keep them at a comfortable temperature in the summer heat or bad winter weather. You can also keep your guinea pigs in their own heated outhouse, a car-free garage or a shed.
If your guinea pigs have access to the outdoors, it’s important to be careful in bad weather. Their bodies are very low to the ground and they can get cold and dirty on their bellies. Make sure their exercise area doesn’t get too wet or muddy and avoid any hard or cold surface that might hurt or damage their feet.
Here are our girl guinea pigs getting involved with guinea pig awareness week!