Guinea Pig - Health Information
Nail Trimming and Teeth
A pet guinea pig will need his or her nails trimmed. Wrap the little guinea pig in a towel and carefully trim his nails avoiding the quick. It is better to trim too little than too much. If the quick is cut it will cause bleeding and needs to be stopped with something like Clotisol - blood clotting agent. (link at bottom of page)
It’s best to keep rough surfaces in your guinea pigs cage like rocks and bricks to help keep the nails worn down naturally. If you are uncomfortable trimming your guinea pigs nails; have your veterinarian do it the first time watching the veterinarian very carefully.
A very important aspect about guinea pig health information is that rodent’s teeth constantly grow. You will need to regularly examine your guinea pigs teeth (incisors). The teeth will grow inward making it impossible for your guinea pig to eat. A veterinarian will need to trim the teeth if they get to long. To avoid this happening provide your guinea pigs with plenty to chew on, rodent sticks, safe tree branches (hardwood works well), and hay cubes.
Toys and such to keep you exotic pet guinea pigs teeth worn down and to provide fun and entertainment for your pet guinea pig. You can find a huge variety of rodent chew toys in the small critter's department.
You must inspect your guinea pigs coat and skin frequently for any signs up problems. Brushing should be done daily with a soft bristled brush. This will help keep his or her coat in good health, as well as to help you bond with your pet. Guinea pigs do not handle stress and stress will lead to poor health. Therefore only bathe a guinea pig when it is essential. Essential means it got into something really smelly or that he or she has contracted lice. If the guinea has contracted lice seek advice from your veterinarian. It is better to use a powdered bath that is formulated for guinea pigs. Follow the directions for use then brush out with a stiff wire brush and then switch over to a softer bristle brush. You can “sponge bathe” a guinea pig. If he or she has urine stains on it's hinny you can use hydrogen peroxide.
Handling, Bonding and Training
Guinea pigs are very sweet, social, and trainable. They enjoy your company and love to be gently cuddled. Guinea pigs can be trained with repetition and using treats for association.
Like rabbits, guinea pigs have a special pouch in their anus where soft poops are stored. They will drop these soft poops most anywhere and anytime and will eat them. It is natural, though it sounds a bit disgusting.
They will find comfort in an article of clothing that you have worn. They will associate comfort with your scent. Place this article of clothing in their cage. Just make sure there are no loose strings or places for them to get caught-up or strangulate.
This article of clothing will come in handy should your guinea pig need to go to the veterinarian or babysitter - the little cavy won't get so lonesome.
Guinea Pig or Cavy
To begin bonding and handling your guinea pig, pick him or her up gently with one hand under its belly and the other hand securing the cavy. Place him or her on your lap and gently speak to it a stroke his or her back. At first he or she may be afraid to be handled. But with frequent handling he or she will soon come to enjoy it. When playing with your cavy, you look mighty big to the little guinea pig. Get down on the floor with him or her to play. Have some treats in your pocket, and while playing, offer a treat every once in a while.
Always approach and handle your guinea pig calmly because they are highly excitable and stress easily. Guinea pigs have exceptional hearing and have a wide range of vocalizations.
Usually the first signs of illness are that the guinea pigs will stop eating. They will also become very lethargic. At the first signs of problem get them to a veterinarian. Diarrhea is very serious in a guinea pig because it is a sign of a bacterial infection and guinea pigs dehydrate very quickly.
Other symptoms of concern are discharge from the nose and eyes or wheezing. It’s best to contact a veterinarian because the guinea pig, once showing symptoms, can succumb to illness very quickly. If you see blood in the urine, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Guinea pigs can succumb to heat very quickly. The guinea pig is not capable of perspiring. The temperature should never be over eighty-five degrees. I keep large pop bottles half full of water frozen in my freezer in case my air conditioning goes out. I put them in the cages to keep the animals cool. You must keep these animals cool! You may want to read my article on Electrical Power Failure (link at bottom of page)
There are many antibiotics that are toxic to your guinea pig. These antibiotics cause changes in the intestines and will cause diarrhea leading to a rapid death. These antibiotics include:
As you can see, it is wise to pick out a veterinarian that is knowledgeable about guinea pigs.
The guinea pig is a very special little pet that is highly social. Paying strict attention to their special dietary needs and keeping their cage and accessories clean and sanitized you will enjoy your pet for a long time. Never put a guinea pig on a wired floor cage (see part one). Give them adequate space in their habitat, with every animal I always say bigger is better. Remember that guinea pigs do not perspire, and cannot be exposed to temperatures of over eighty-five degrees. Above all enjoy your pet guinea pig!
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