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FAQS About Adopting A Guinea Pig 

March 1, 2024

It’s Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month! We usually focus on dogs and cats, but we’re happy to turn the spotlight on these beloved children’s pets for this blog. Guinea pigs’ popularity has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic, with 1.5 million households now including these furry companions. In fact, these cute little pets are ranked as the third most sought-after pet in several states, such as Massachusetts, California, and New York. If you are looking for a small, adorable, and low-maintenance pet, consider adopting a Guinea pig (also known as a cavy). Keep reading as a Brookville, PA veterinarian addresses some common inquiries about Guinea pig care and adoption.

Are Guinea Pigs Expensive To Keep?

Guinea pigs are one of the least expensive pets, but there are still some associated costs. A good cage is a must. That’s a one-time expense. However, you’ll have to provide food, bedding, toys, and veterinary care.

Do Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets for Children?

Guinea pigs are extremely popular kids’ pets, and with good reason. They’re small, quiet, gentle, and super cute. They also don’t have a huge lifespan: they can live up to ten years, but the average is about five to seven.

Please note: We do not recommend getting Guinea pigs for children younger than about five or six, unless you’ll be caring for the animal yourself.

How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig Is Sick?

As with any other pet, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of sickness. Every animal displays these in different ways, so you’ll want to do some research and ask your Brookville, PA vet for advice.

That said, here are some of the things you’d want to watch for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dull, Red, Sunken, Or Watery Eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Sitting In Stiff Or Hunched Positions
  • Withdrawal
  • Limping
  • Stumbling
  • Bloody Urine
  • Hair Loss
  • Skin Irritation
  • Lumps, Bumps, Or Lesions
  • Erratic/Unusual Behavior 
  • Weight Loss  
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Refusing Water
  • Crust On Eyes
  • Unkempt Fur 
  • Drooling

Contact your Brookville, PA veterinary clinic immediately if you notice any of these things. Many issues can be treated with medication, but you should never try to administer anything unless your vet directs you to. Many medications, such as amoxicillin, can be deadly to Guinea pigs. 

How Do You Take Care Of  Guinea Pigs?

A Guinea pig isn’t the hardest pet to maintain, but they do require daily attention. As far as food is concerned, your tiny pal will require grass hay, commercial pellets, and about a cup of safe fruits and vegetables every day. Ask your Brookville, PA vet for specific advice on this.

Aside from providing food and water, you’ll also need to spot clean your pet’s cage every day, to remove waste and uneaten food.

Your pint-sized pals will also need time out of their cages every day. Make sure you have a safe, pet-proofed area for them!

As far as grooming goes, you’ll need to keep your pets’ nails trimmed. Some cavies will need only brushing, while others will benefit from occasional baths. Check with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Toys?

Yup! Like many other small animals, cavies like mazes and solid exercise wheels. You will also need to provide a lot of chew toys for your adorable pets. Guinea pigs have open-rooted teeth, which never stop growing, so they need to chew to prevent dental issues. You can make many toys yourself from household items like paper, cardboard, or even wood. Just choose safe options. Do not give your pet anything small or sharp. Items covered in decorative coatings like paint, varnish, glitter, or dye are also dangerous for your pet. Ask your vet for more information.

What Are Some Common Guinea Pig Care Mistakes?

When it comes to pet care, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so for now, we’ll just touch on the basics.

Here are some of the most common mistakes:

Keeping Just One: Guinea pigs need at least one buddy. They are very social animals. It’s actually illegal to own just one in Sweden!

Small/Inferior/Dirty Cage: For two cavies, you’ll need at least ten square feet. Be sure to choose something with a solid floor! Wire floors do not hold bedding and can even cause paw injuries. Keeping the cage clean is also very important.

Lack of Vitamin C: Cavies need Vitamin C to stay healthy. If they don’t get enough, they may develop scurvy.

Not Petproofing: These guys need daily play time. It’s crucial to make sure the area your furry friends are allowed into is safe and fully petproofed. 

Letting Them Interac t With Dogs Or Cats: You can certainly have Guinea pigs, cats, and dogs, but you should not allow them to play together. Fluffy and Fido can seriously hurt these little guys!

Should I Handle My Pet Guinea Pig Every Day?

Guinea pigs are generally more social and friendly than many other pocket pets like hamsters, mice, and gerbils. Some even like to snuggle up in their human’s lap! However, you’ll need to get your cavies to trust you. Playing, petting, and holding your little buddies will help you bond with them.

Never force attention on your pets or hold them against their will. It’s also best to let your little friends settle in before you handle them.

Why Does Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month Happen In March?

Back in 2002, Julie Morris, ASPCA senior vice president for National Shelter Outreach, chose March as the month for shelter outreach. The goal of this campaign was to raise awareness about guinea pigs in need of homes and to encourage people to adopt them from shelters and rescues. Rehoming an animal -no matter how big or small- can be a rewarding experience. If you’re getting one for a child, it’s also a great lesson in kindness and empathy.

Why Do So Many Guinea Pigs Need Homes?

This happens for many reasons. Sometimes the owners move and are unwilling or unable to take their cavies with them. Children also sometimes beg for pets, but then lose interest in them. Pets can also need to be rehomed because of the death or illness of an owner, financial hardships, or strife with other household pets.

Sometimes, it’s a case of buyer’s remorse. Many people buy Guinea pigs as impulse purchases without realizing how much care they need. Fortunately, progress is being made. California, for instance, now requires pet stores to provide care sheets for every animal they sell.

There’s still a lot of work to be done here, though. We know, it’s hard to resist those cute faces. It’s not hard to see why people fall for them! However, all animals deserve to be treated with love and kindness, so do thorough research before adopting any pet.

How Did Guinea Pigs Become Popular Pets?

Interestingly, Guinea pigs are not pigs, nor are they from Guinea. The tiny balls of fur we know and love today are relatives of wild cavies in South America. During the 16th century, Spanish, Dutch, and English traders introduced them to North America and Europe. Their popularity quickly grew. Queen Elizabeth even had one of them as a pet. 

Conclusion: Guinea pigs are very cute and charming, but they do have specific care needs. Do plenty of research before adopting one!

Do you have questions about caring for a Guinea pig? Contact us, your Brookville, PA animal hospital, today!