Would You Consider A Guinea Pig ?
Author, Dorinne Whynott, Owner of Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are affectionate, social, gentle, and intelligent species which are easy to keep and often bond well with their owners. They’re popular pets especially for families because of their great temperaments. In this article, we are going to discuss how to properly care for a guinea pig as a pet, here are our Guinea Pig Basics.
Guinea pigs need a large predator proof cage, somewhere inside your home. For one guinea pig, the cage should have a space of no less than 7.5 sq ft, or 10.5 sq ft for 2 guinea pigs. However, a bigger cage is always better if you’ve enough space. The cage should have a solid bottom to protect your guinea pig’s fragile feet. Guinea pigs generally love hiding, so you can provide enrichment by placing things like cardboard houses, hide away castles, hay nests, and plastic tunnel pipes in the cage.
Guinea pigs normally use the bathroom wherever and whenever they please so you will need bedding material that’s absorbent but does not cause any harm. The safest and best type of bedding is dust free hay or shredded paper. Don’t use softwood shavings like cedar or pine because their oils can be very unhealthy for the pet’s lungs.
You need to find a safe location for your pet’s cage. You can place it where there’s high traffic, but not in direct sunlight. They must be placed in a draft free area. The best temperature range for guinea pigs to be comfortable is approximately 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Guinea pigs should be housed away from wood stoves, fireplaces and heating vents.
Guinea pigs are relatively clean, so you should try to clean the cage from any soiled bedding daily. Remove the droppings, any uneaten food and scrap all the mess from the bottom of the cage. Thoroughly clean the cage, the water bottle, and replace the hay and shredded papers. The frequency of cleaning the cage generally depends on the type of bedding material used, and the number of guinea pigs you’ve got.
High quality, fresh, dust free Timothy hay should always be available for the guinea pig to eat. Timothy hay maintains a healthy digestion while helping wear down the guinea pig’s teeth, thus preventing them from over growing, or getting misaligned and becoming uncomfortable or painful. Lack of good quality hay can actually lead to malocclusion and GI Stasis. Alfalfa hay should only be given as a treat.
You can also feed your guinea pig fresh fruits and vegetables occasionally. Fruits and vegetables should make about 25% of the guinea pig’s diet. Fruits and vegetables which are good for your guinea pig include; apples, corn, carrots, green lettuce, zucchini, celery leaves, spinach, melons, papaya, grapefruit rinds, broccoli, kale, cucumber, carrots, parsley and tomatoes. Vegetables to avoid feeding your guinea pig include; iceberg lettuce, beet greens, potatoes, red leaves, rocket salads, cauliflower, and radishes. Also don’t feed caffeine, chocolate or alcohol as they can cause very serious medical conditions.
Fresh Clean Water
One of the most crucial elements of caring for a guinea pig is providing it with fresh, clean water at all times. You can provide water by using a clean water bottle that can be attached to the side of the cage. Another method is putting a water bowl in the cage. Remember to always keep your guinea pig’s water bottle or bowl clean and change the water on a daily basis.
Grooming is an important part of the routine care of guinea pigs. That said, you should know that guinea pigs generally stay clean and rarely require baths. However, if you have to bathe you pet, it’s recommended you wash them gently with warm, clean water. Avoid getting water in your cavy’s ears, and gently dry your pet after bathing.
It is recommended to regularly brush your guinea pig’s coat so as to remove any loose hairs, and lessen shedding. You can use a small, soft brush. When brushing your guinea pig, you can check for problems like sores and lice on the skin. The frequency of brushing will depend on just how long the guinea pig’s fur is, and whether he/she is shedding. Consult a vet or a groomer for advice on proper hair trimming if there is excessive hair or matting.
When the nails become too long, they should be trimmed. If you do not trim long nails, they will develop a retro curl which can dig painfully into your pet’s pads, causing twisting of paw bones. To avoid this, nail trimming should be done every few weeks. An ordinary nail clipper will work. Avoid cutting into the fleshy part of the nails; shine an additional light source (like a flashlight) behind the nail so you can see the beginning of the living/fleshy part. If you’re unsure about how to go about trimming the nails, then it’s best to consult a veterinarian or a professional groomer.
Exercise and Entertainment
Provide your guinea pig with some floor time every day, where they can freely and safely wander, run and play. This exercise time is important to your guinea pig’s happiness and health. Since guinea pigs like foraging, you can also provide your pet with toys which hide treats. You can buy appropriate toys or you can even make your very own toys out of oatmeal containers, boxes and more. Remember to always keep a watchful eye on your guinea pig when playing outside of their enclosure.
Handling and Attention
Guinea pigs are very friendly, cuddly and enjoy being held once they have acclimated to their new surroundings. When picking up your guinea pig, you should always use both of your hands. Place one hand across the shoulders with the thumb tucked behind the pet’s shoulder and the fingers wrapped around his/her ribs. Hold gently, but tightly enough to be fully secure without squeezing, and then put the other hand underneath the pet’s hindquarters for extra support. Frequent handling is great to your guinea pig’s happiness. You can talk to your guinea pig, cuddle, carry, and pet him/her as often as possible.
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About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc
Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010. It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH. Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook page, Google+ page and more. They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.
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