SMALLPET / health & care
How to Take Care Of Your Guinea Pig
Tips from home to health to food and fun.
Are you bringing home a guinea pig for the first time? It's always exciting when you have a new furry friend coming to live with you. Every pet parent wants to make sure they're giving their pet the very best care. So what guinea pig supplies do you need, and how should you care for your new guinea pig?
What Guinea Pig Supplies Do You Need?
Heading to the store to pick up all the right guinea pig supplies? Here is a great shopping list for starter guinea pig parents.
- A Guinea Pig Cage - it's recommended that guinea pigs have a habitat or pen that is 24” x 36” x 24” or larger. The more space you can give your guinea pig, the better! There are even guinea pig cage expansions you can buy to widen the room in their home.
- Guinea Pig
- Timothy/Orchard Grass/Botanical/Oat Hay
- Hay Feeder
- Fortified Guinea Pig Pelleted Diets with Vitamin C
- Vitamin C Supplement
- Food Bowl
- Water Bottle
- Hiding Spot
- Guinea Pig Bedding
- Prepared Treats
- Guinea Pig Grooming Kit
- Guinea Pig Chews
Perfecting Their Home:
Before you bring your new guinea pig home, make sure the habitat is stocked with everything your pet needs to thrive. Your new guinea pig will be delighted if the habitat is in a calm, secluded spot away from larger pets. Keep their home far from drafty windows too, it will help keep their body temperature regulated.
Guinea pigs love a good cuddle but on the first few days home, make sure to give your guinea pig time to settle in. Speak with your new furry friend in soft, soothing tones. They also like it when you gently stroke their head. Still a little shy? Don’t worry. It might just take time for them to get used to their new setting and warm up to you. Be patient with them as they adjust.
What Should You Feed Your Guinea Pig?
A healthy guinea pig diet is about 80% hay, 10% pellets, 5% vegetables and 5% fruit. Every day, fill your guinea pig’s food rack with fresh hay keeping it full at all times and provide them approximately ⅛ cup of fresh pellets (per guinea pig) daily. Guinea pigs cannot store or manufacture their own vitamin C so in addition to their pelleted food you should offer a Vitamin C fortified treat to help them out. Guinea pigs will also enjoy daily veggies, like bell peppers or green leaf lettuce, and the occasional fruit treat twice a week like blueberries or oranges. Guinea pigs tend to love fruits, but too much can be bad for them due to the fruits’ high sugar content.
Your guinea pig will love all the food you offer, but if it sits in their bowl for more than four hours, it’s time to take it away. Also, clean their food and water containers daily—and change their bedding once a month.
Also, remember to always consult with your pet guinea pig’s veterinarian about what food will best suit them. They will have the most helpful information about the best diet for guinea pigs.
Guinea Pig Playtime:
Guinea pigs should have daily, supervised time outside of their enclosure and be provided with appropriate chews/items to safely provide mental, behavioral and nutritional enrichment. To keep interest and provide maximum engagement, multiple enrichment items/toys should be offered and replaced with new/different items frequently (at least once a month). Be sure to keep a close eye on them when they are outside of their cage, though, because they love to chew on things: especially electrical wires. Large, contained areas - like a wire guinea pig playpen - may be used to protect the guinea pigs from unsafe areas in the house.
Find a Veterinarian:
Little critters need check-ups just like any other family pets. Take your guinea pig to a veterinarian a few days after coming home, then schedule yearly health checks. You might need to take your pet in for a checkup if they display any unusual signs like:
- Lethargic behavior
- Lack of interest in food
- Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
- Overgrown front teeth/drooling
- Bare patches in the fur
- Sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
- Diarrhea or discolored droppings for more than 6-8 hours
- Head tilt
A vet will be able to examine your pet and point you in the right direction, helping you give them the best care.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.