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Key FAQS About Adopting (And Caring For) Guinea Pigs

March 1, 2024

It’s Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month! Guinea pigs, or cavies, are tiny, fluffy, adorable, and low-maintenance pets. Many kids love them! Actually, Guinea pigs might have more fans than you think.  About 1.5 million households have them as pets. They’re also the third most sought-after pet in several American states, including Massachusetts, California, and New York. Keep reading for some answers to common inquiries about adopting a guinea pig from a local Las Vegas, NV veterinarian.

Why Is March Dedicated to Adopting Retired Guinea Pigs?

Julie Morris, the ASPCA’s senior vice president for National Shelter Outreach, chose March in 2002. The goal was—and continues to be—to raise awareness about the plight of Guinea pigs in need of homes, as well as to encourage people to adopt from shelters and rescues when looking for one.

Why Are There So Many Guinea Pigs In Need Of Housing?

There are many reasons why these tiny fellas may be up for adoption. One common scenario is when a child pleads for a pet, but then becomes disinterested in taking care of it. In other cases, it’s just a matter of unfortunate circumstances, like the owner’s illness or death, or even financial troubles.

Sometimes, buyer’s remorse is the cause. A lot of people buy Guinea pigs without thinking about how much care they need. Do your homework before adopting any animal, and ask your Las Vegas, NV veterinarian for more information.

What Are Some Fun Guinea Pig Facts?

Probably the most surprising thing about Guinea pigs is the fact that they are not pigs and do not originate in Guinea. They are descended from wild cavies in South America. Traders from the Netherlands, England, and Spain transported them to the Americas and Europe in the 1600s. They quickly became favored pets of the nobility. Actually, Queen Elizabeth had one of her own!

What Are Some Warning Signs Of Illness In Guinea Pigs?

You should always be on the lookout for symptoms of illness in your pet. Notify your vet right away if you see anything out of the ordinary.

Keep an eye out for these things in particular:

  • Unkempt Fur 
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Refusing Water
  • Crust on eyes
  • 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 

It’s important to find a great veterinarian with extensive expertise in caring for Guinea pigs. Never give your cavies medication without checking with your vet. Amoxicillin and many other drugs can be fatal to them!

Are Guinea Pigs High Maintenance? 

Although guinea pigs aren’t the most demanding pets, they require attention on a daily basis. You’ll need to provide food and clean water every day. Your little friend’s diet should consist of commercial pellets, grass hay, and around one cup of safe, nutritious fruits and veggies. 

You’ll need to remove any trash or uneaten food from your pet’s cage every day by spot-cleaning it.

Grooming is also crucial. While some cavies may just need a brushing, others can even benefit from a bath. Cleaning the ears is also on the list. 

Ask your Las Vegas, NV vets for specific advice, including safe and unsafe foods, toys, and grooming needs.

What Types of Toys Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Your furry friends will require lots of playthings. Mazes and sturdy workout wheels are great options. Chew toys are also a must. You can make many different ones using common household materials like paper, cardboard, and even various pieces of wood. 

Stick to the tried-and-true, vet-approved options, though. Do not give your pet anything small or sharp. Things that have paint, varnish, glitter, or dye on them are also not safe. Ask your Las Vegas, NV vet for more information.

How Much Do Guinea Pigs Cost?

Although they are less expensive than other animals, guinea pigs are not free. A good cage is essential. You will of course just have to pay for that once. However, ongoing costs include vet visits, food, shelter, toys, and bedding. 

It is worth noting that while these cute pets have the potential to live for ten years, the mean lifespan is closer to five to seven.

Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets for Children?

Of course! They can be great companions for children. Unless you want to take care of the animal personally, we advise against acquiring one for a youngster under the age of five or six.  

What Are Some Mistakes In Guinea Pig Care?

We could (and may) write a blog about this, but for now, we’ll just go over the basics.

Here are some of the most frequent errors:

Lack Of Vitamin C: Vitamin C is essential for the health of cavities. They are susceptible to scurvy if they don’t get enough of it!

No Free Time: Cavies require playtime every day. This should only happen in petproofed areas.

Allowing Them To Interact With Other Pets: While guinea pigs, cats, and dogs are all perfectly acceptable, it’s best that they not play together. Fluffy and Fido can seriously injure these small animals, even if they are just trying to play. 

Just Getting One Cavy:  Guinea pigs are very social, and require companions.

Housing with Wire Floors: You might have seen guinea pig cages offered with wire floors, but trust me, those aren’t good options. They do not hold bedding and may cause paw injuries.

What Makes Guinea Pigs Angry?

All of our animal companions have their own pet peeves. That includes Guinea pigs, too! You may discover that your pet dislikes being touched or petted in specific areas. Generally speaking, they only tolerate being touched on the head, back, and shoulders.

Other things that these tiny fellas aren’t very fond of? A major one is being picked up or held against their will. Your pet may go stiff, struggle, or start making unhappy noises. They dislike things like strong scents, automobile journeys, and loud noises. Even though these may be considered necessary evils, they also do not enjoy having their nails trimmed or getting baths. Sometimes they also dislike each other! 

Should I Hold And Cuddle My Guinea Pig Every Day?

Sure! Bonding with your little friends will be easier—and more enjoyable—if you take the time to hug, pet, and play with them. Your pets may also get a sense of comfort and affection from this. No need to press it, though! That could even instill fear in your cavies, which is the last thing you want to do. It’s best to wait until your little companions have settled in before handling them. Keep in mind that some animals just have a higher innate affinity for cuddling than others. If your pet seems scared or timid, don’t force the matter.

Conclusion: Guinea pigs are very popular pets, and with good reason. They’re gentle, cute, and lots of fun! However, they do need love and care. Do lots of research before adopting one! 

Have you recently adopted a Guinea Pig? Do you have questions about caring for one of these guys?  Contact our Las Vegas, NV veterinary clinic right away!

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