Keeping Your Guinea Pig Safe in Winter

Keeping Your Guinea Pig Safe In Winter - LittleCavyLove.com

Well…it’s that time of the year again guys…the wintery chills are upon us!

Now you might be thinking that your guinea pigs will be happier now and that the cold doesn’t affect them…because after all they don’t sweat so you only have to worry about the summer…right?

Not quite…

Guinea pigs can get sick in extreme cold, just has they can heat stroke in extreme heat. A rule of thumb, if you are comfortable, then they are most likely comfortable too. The upper 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit is the best range to keep them in.

So…what can you do to keep your piggies nice and warm and safe this winter?

1. If your piggies are outdoors, bring them in. Unless you have a building that is extremely insulated and/or you have a heater to keep them warm. Not sure if it’s too cold? Walk out in the building in normal clothes (no winter clothes) and see if you are comfortable. If you are, chances are your piggies are too!

The safe temperature range for guinea pigs is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

*If you have a heater in an outside building, make sure that the guinea pigs are not able to chew the wire or get close to it. Spending the extra money on a high quality heater will help prevent the possibilities of overheating and/or catching fire.

2. If your guinea pigs are housed outside, make sure to change the water often to avoid it from freezing. Or, purchase an insulated water bottle cover to help it keep from freezing.

3. Again, if housed outside, make sure that the bedding stays dries and you change it more often than normal as wet bedding can freeze and make your guinea pig sick.

4. If your guinea pig is kept inside, keeping them away from any outside wall that can become cold will help prevent them from getting chilly.

5. Unless recommended by your veterinarian, avoid bathing your guinea pig. During the winter months your guinea pig is more likely to catch a cold and have drier skin than normal, so avoiding baths will help keep them warm and healthy.

Well, there you have it! If you have any questions or other tips for keeping your guinea pigs safe in the winter, post them down bellow!

Also, don’t forget to jump on over to our Etsy store!

Here’s to a safe and warm winter!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Guinea Pigs and Kids

Guinea Pigs and Kids

I get the question “how are guinea pigs with kids?” all the time. However, that is not the question that needs to be asked, it should be asked “how are kids with guinea pigs?” Which, of course, depends a lot on the specific child and their age.

Guinea Pigs are very fragile creatures, ones that should NEVER be left alone with a child. Not only are children sometimes unaware of how rough they are being, if the guinea pig is held the wrong way they can become seriously injured.

Now, with that said, guinea pigs are great at helping to teach children gentleness and responsibility.

If you have decided that your child is old enough for a guinea pig, here are some tips on how to involve your kiddo in the process:

1. Buy a book about guinea pigs to read to or have your child read.

2. Have your child help you pick out a C & C cage online (click here to find out why store bought cages should NOT be an option)

3. Make a decision on whether you want to use fleece or loose paper bedding. Fleece bedding is ultimately cheaper, also if you have an older child they can sweep it every nigh. If you have a younger child, and don’t mind the cost, loose paper bedding only needs to be cleaned out once a week which is less cleaning on your end. Here are some tips on fleece bedding.

4. Take a trip with your child to the pet store and let them pick out toys and all the other cage accessories that you need. However, you must be careful as not everything at the pet store advertised for guinea pigs is safe for them. Read this article before heading out. Also, by bringing your child along and having them involved in every step, they are more likely to be more invested in the piggie. Remember, guinea pigs live for 5-10 years, this is a huge commitment that should not be taken lightly.

5. Set up an appointment with your local guinea pig adoption agency. During this appointment, your child will be able to interact with the guinea pig pairs. Finding a bonded pair that suits your child’s personality is of utmost importance! If you decided to buy a guinea pig from a local pet store, their personality is not fully developed and they may not mesh well with your family.

6. Head on over to the appointment, kiddo in toe, and find the piggie best for your family and give them a forever loving home.

So, now that your piggie is home, you need to help your kiddo learn how to care for their new furry friend.

It is best to create a daily routine for feeding and cage cleaning. Creating a daily check list for your child to physically check off each care item as they do it is the best way to make sure that the new piggie is taken care of. I have gone ahead and made two different versions for you to choose from, one with and one without nightly cage cleaning. You can download those by following this link > Guinea Pigs + Kids.

I recommend printing and laminating a copy to pin next to the cage and use a dry erase marker to mark the day of the week and each task as it is completed.

You also want to make sure that for the first few weeks you may want to consider not allowing your kiddo to pick up or handle the guinea pig without you. Teaching them proper handling techniques and how to and how not to play with the piggies is essential in avoiding a trip to the vet. Now, should you need to visit a veterinarian, here are some tips on picking the right one. (It’s always best to find one BEFORE you need them.)

Speaking of vet trips, keeping up on their health is SO important! I recommend putting together a Guinea Pig Care Binder to keep track of nail clippings, food they like, baths, weight and all vet information. You can get yours here! (If you desire a color that is not in the Etsy store, please let me know and I will have it up within 24 hours!)

So, guinea pigs can be great first pest for some children, but with parent involvement.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at hi@littlecavylove.com or comment down bellow!

As always

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

4 Secrets to Make Your Guinea Pig Love you!

4 Secrets to Make Your Guinea Pig Love You!

I get the question all the time, how do I get my guinea pig to like me? First of all, creating a strong bond with your guinea pig is very important, not only for your piggy but for you as well! Trust me, it can take a lot of time and effort depending on your guinea pig’s personality and whether or not they have been neglected in the past. By creating this bond with your guinea pig, you get to know them better and can catch health problems much faster. (It is vitally important to keep track of all aspects of your guinea pig’s health, which is why I have created THIS Guinea Pig Health Binder just for you!)

So, you may be a new guinea pig parent and wondering how to start forming a bond, or you may have had your guinea pig for a while and just can’t seem to form that bond with them that you want. If you follow the tips that I outline bellow consistently, then I promise that eventually you will be able to develop a bond with your piggy.

Before I begin, it must be noted that not all guinea pigs bond as quickly to humans as others. It is important that you stay consistent and not give up on forming a successful bond with your guinea pig.

So, here we go!

1. Pick up your guinea pig multiple times a day.

A guinea pig that I adopted a couple years ago, Alvin, was so badly neglected that it is very hard for him to form bonds not only with guinea pigs but with humans as well. One thing that helped him get used to being around humans was me picking him up multiple times a day, it became part of his daily routine. In the beginning, maybe you only pick up your piggy for 30 seconds and then maybe you work your way up to 5 minutes of lap time with veggies. Sometimes it takes baby steps, and that’s okay! Once your guinea pig begins to expect to be picked up, it will become more of a routine for them and they will enjoy it a lot more!

2. Help your guinea pig associate good things with getting picked up.

It is a universal fact the way to a guinea pig’s heart is through their stomach! Cut up your guinea pig’s favorite vegetables into small pieces, and every time you pick them up give them a small piece. When they begin to associate getting picked up with food, they will start begging to be picked up!

3. Talk to your guinea pig.

Guinea pigs are prey animals and thus are naturally skittish creatures. By talking to them every time you enter the room they will begin to recognize your voice which will in turn help calm them as you hold them. Speaking softly to your piggy while you hold them (and giving them their favorite veggies, you can’t forget that!) will reassure them that they are not in any danger with you.

Tip: If you rescue a guinea pig that has been severely neglected, chances are that they will be frightened by the sound of voices. Unfortunately, that was the case when I adopted my first guinea pigs Alvin and Theodore. To help them get used to the sound of human voices, I would leave the television on low whenever I left the house – a radio will even work. By doing this, they not only get used to hearing many different voices, but they begin to realize that just because they hear a human voice, that no longer means that they are going to be in danger.

4. Never go a day without interacting with your guinea pig.

Yes, guinea pigs are social creatures and normally enjoy the company of other guinea pigs, but that does not mean that you cannot interact with them even for a day. Making your interaction with them part of their daily routine will help you guys form a strong bond, one that your piggy looks forward to on a daily basis. If you happen to go on vacation and will be away from them for a while, make sure that you have an experienced guinea pig owner pet sit for you. Explain to them your guinea pig’s schedule and they will make sure that your piggy still gets a ton of human interaction while you are away. NEVER trust your guinea pig with just anyone!

So, there you have it, my top four secrets for making your guinea pig love you!  Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe HERE to receive updates and special offers from me! (Don’t worry, I hate spam just as much as you do, your email is safe with me!)

Also, help keep yourself organized and your guinea pigs heathy with some MUST HAVE care items from my Etsy story which you can find HERE.

As always, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you have or any suggestions on topics that you would like for me to write about! You can reach me at hi@littlecavylove.com or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! Don’t be shy guys!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Pet Store Items that Harm Your Guinea Pig

Pet Store Items That Harm Your Guinea Pig

Let’s face it, we’ve all done it … walked into a pet store, saw the cute treats they have for guinea pigs and thought “my piggies would love this!” The fact of the matter is though, not everything that pet stores advertise as “for guinea pigs” is not always safe, or healthy, for them.

Despite the fact that pet stores are supposed to be full of helpful advice and healthy toys and treats, they are actually full of harmful options for your piggies if you are not careful. Now, they do have some healthy toys and treats, you just need to know what to look for. To help you, I have created a list of things to stay away from as you walk through the isles of your local pet store.

1. Store-Bought Cages

Store-bought guinea pig cages are very cramped for piggies. They do not foster their curious nature and can cause weight gain from lack of space to roam around. These are appropriate, however, should your piggies have free-roam of a room and have come and go access to the cage.  I do use a store-bought cage though for traveling to the vet (get your very own vet booklet here to keep everything organized!) and when I volunteer with Grizzly. (To find out more about volunteering with guinea pigs, click here).

2. Sugary Processed Snacks

Sugary processed snacks are not foods that guinea pigs would normally eat in the wild, their digestive tracts and stomachs are not made to handle these types of foods. They have no nutritional value, and may cause excessive weight gain and diabetes. So, next time you see those sugary “treats” at the pet store, resist the urge my friend!

3. Seeds

Seeds are not very good for guinea pigs, as they have a high fat content and really do not have nutritional value for your piggy. They are fine in moderation, however the sweet seed sticks they sell at pet stores are not of any nutritional value for your piggy.

4.  Exercise Wheels + Exercise Balls

Both of these items are very dangerous for guinea pigs and should not be bought for your piggy under any circumstances! The spines of guinea pigs are not meant to bend the way that they do while in an exercise wheel or ball, thus causing spinal damage.

So there you have it my friends, five things to stay away from while shopping at the pet store! Remember, just because it is advertised as safe for guinea pigs, does not mean that it is!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Choosing the Right Guinea Pig Vet

Choosing the right guinea pig vet

Choosing the right veterinarian for your guinea pig is a very important decision, one that should not be taken lightly in the least. You want to make sure that whomever you are entrusting your guinea pig’s health to is not only knowledgeable, but someone who truly cares about the animals that they care for. Unfortunately, I have run into very knowledgeable veterinarians that provided second-rate care.

 So what should you look for in a vegetarian?

Good question!

1.  Do they actually specialize in exotic animals? A lot of veterinarians say they see “Pocket Pets” (why I hate that term will be a whole other story!) but they simply took a class or two in school and don’t have a daily working knowledge of guinea pigs.  So, make sure that they see and care for guinea pigs regularly, maybe even reach out to other guinea pig owners who go there and ask them about their experiences! This is also a great way to form a community of guinea pig lovers who can gain support from one another.

2. Do they listen to you? I can not stress this enough! Aside from them asking you why you have brought your guinea pig in to see them, if you have questions or concerns they should not act as though it is a burden to answer your questions. You are there to not only get your piggy feeling better, but to learn as well.

3. How do they interact with your guinea pig? I have been to some veterinarians that will simply look over my piggy as quickly as possible and then I have seen some who love on and interact with my guinea pig as though they were their own. In my experience, if my they love on your piggy, they are more than likely going to be the vet for you! Granted they have the working knowledge that they need to properly care for your piggy.

4. If you have more than one guinea pig, do they ask you about the others? Some people may disagree with this last question, but I personally have found that veterinarians who truly put time into your guinea pig’s care will honestly want to know how the other piggies are doing. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of vet that I would like to entrust with the care of my precious guinea pigs!

Now you may be asking “Ashlee, when exactly will I know if I have found the right veterinarian for my guinea pig?”

You’re not going to know on your first visit, maybe not even your second or your third. On average I have found that by the 4th visit to the vet, if I can still answer all four of the questions listed above positively, I have found a veterinarian for life! Keep yourself from getting all excited after meeting a veterinarian for the first time, thinking they are absolutely the right one for you and your piggies, you never know. Just like a date with a new guy or girl, you are not really going to know them right away, it takes time. When meeting someone for the first time don’t we all try to put our best foot forward and impress them? Veterinarians are no different, and some will treat you absolutely wonderful to get you hooked and then the level of care you and your piggies are receiving may start to decline.

Rule of thumb: Give a veterinarian 3-5 visits. If after these visits you are not completely satisfied, then it is time to find another one, unless of course the visit was absolutely horrendous, in which case another visit is definitely necessary. You must keep in mind though that we all have rough days, if a veterinarian is not super perky and happy to see you, as long as they are still providing you with high quality care, they may just be having a rough day and your next visit will be a lot better!

So, there you have it! The four questions I ask myself after every single vet visit!

It should be noted that I have two veterinarians for my guinea pigs. One that actually specializes in guinea pigs but is only in the office on Fridays, and another one who tends to see more cats and dogs but is near my home and has 24 hour emergency care for current patients should anything happy while my other vet is not in the office. This is completely fine! As long as you have at least one veterinarian that you trust, it is not a bad idea to get into another clinic that has a 24 hour emergency care service, as you never know what will happen once closing time hits!

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to comment down bellow or shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com or connect with me via Twitter at @LittleCavyLove or Instagram!

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Little Cavy Love Notes, which you can do HERE!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

A Beginners Guide to Bonding Guinea Pigs

 

TRAVEL & LEISURE (1)

New to bonding guinea pigs? Let us help you feel confident when trying to bond your lovable piggies!

I have bonded, and attempted to bond, LOTS of guinea pig pairs. There are a few things you need to know before starting:

1. When bringing a new guinea pig into your home, you should quarantine them for a least a week. This will allow you to make sure that neither of the piggies have any illnesses that they could pass onto the other and the new family member will be able to get used to the smells of the home. During this time, you can also begin to bond with your new piggy one on one.

2. This is probably the most important to remember: not every guinea pig pair will get along! One of my guinea pigs, Alvin, has been un-pair-able thus far. He does, however, enjoy being grid-mates with Girzzly. He and Grizzly are in a large C&C cage with two grids diving them. They are able to smell each other and interact while still having their own space. You NEVER want to have a guinea pig isolated form other piggies!

3. Know that if you pair a young pig with a slightly older one, once the baby hits maturity there is a chance they may not bond well anymore. This is not true for every case, but is something to keep in mind.

There are many methods to bonding guinea pigs, and many experts have their own routine and things that have worked for them in the past. There is no one right way. Here I will outline the way have been bonding guinea pigs for many years now and has worked the best for me.

Step One: Lay down new blankets/fleece in a neutral part of the house. I like to use the bathroom because there are no other animal odors in there. Everything you use during this introduction phase should be cleaned or new. This is because you do want to use items that one of the guinea pigs has marked as their own already. A neutral, level playing field is key to success.

Step Two: Make sure there are several shelters, water bottles, hay racks, and plates of fresh veggies and maybe some fruit nearby. The reason you want several is because you don’t want them fighting over places to lay, food to eat or water to drink.

Step Three: There are different opinions about this step, so you need to decide what is best for you and your piggies. Sometimes I do this step, sometimes I don’t. I have not really found a definitive answer as to whether this step make a difference or not.

So what is this optional step?

Bathing.

Some people think that by bathing the guinea pigs prior to meeting you can eliminate heavy marking scents that are in their fur. Like I said, I have bathed guinea pigs before a meeting, and other times I have not because over bathing is not good for piggies.

So, this third step is optional. There are so many differing opinions on this.

Step Four: Place the guinea pigs in the neutral area together. You want to make sure that you have dry fluffy towels near by to toss over the piggies and break them up should a fight occur. NEVER stick your bare hands between fighting guinea pigs, trust me on this one! I once got a beautiful puncture wound on my birthday from doing this during my first bonding session. (I still have the scare to prove it!)

Step Five: This next step is also something that is debated between people, which is why knowing the piggies you are bonding ahead of time is so important.

48 hours is key.

In my experience I have tended to find that it takes about 48 hours to truly determine whether or not the guinea pigs will be a good match or not. I have talked with others who say 12, 24, or 36. Just make sure you keep your eye on them for a few days after bonding, especially after you have returned them to a clean permanent  cage.

Finally, here are some other things you should know when bonding piggies:

1.  Mounting and rumble strutting are perfectly normal at first. The piggies are trying to figure out which one will be the dominate one. Now, should they start biting each other and blood is starting to appear, this is a sign that they are not going to be a good fit. I have heard of people being able to successfully bond guinea pigs after a nasty fight, this has never happened for me though. I tend to find that once two guinea pigs have had a huge fight (where there is blood involved), they usually will never pair together.

2. Once they have eaten and fallen asleep, waking up to another guinea pig in the cage with them is one of the determining factors in bonding, and the time where you want to have a towel ready for sure.

There you have it. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment down bellow and I will answer them to best of my ability! If I don’t know the answer, I find one for you!

You can also connect with me on any of the social media platforms or shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com

And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

3 Things Even Experienced Guinea Pig Owners Aren’t Doing

3 Things Even Experienced Guinea Pig Owners Aren't Doing

We all want to be the best guinea pig owners, right?

Well, even if we have been owners for years, sometimes there are some things that we just forget about! (Myself included!) So, here are the top three things that I have found that even experienced guinea pig owners sometimes forget to do.

1. Weigh Weekly

It’s okay, sometimes we all forget to weigh our piggies. We get caught up in our day to day routines and just want to love on our piggies when we get home and not have to worry about getting down and dirty with the nitty gritty of care.

As I’m sure you know, weighing your guinea pig weekly is SO important! (jump on over here to learn more!) It is also important to keep in mind that it is best to weigh them the same day of the week and the same time. You also need to be keeping a record of your piggy’s weight, both to monitor health and take to your veterinarian during check-ups. If you would like to have a FREE weigh tracker, scoot on over here to snag a copy for yourself!

2. Boar Cleanings

Now, this one only applies to you if you have a boar (male guinea pig), obviously. I must admit though, at one point I felt as though I was a pretty knowledgeable guinea pig owner, then one day I heard the term “boar cleaning” and I though, “What the heck is that?” I looked it up and instantly felt like the worst guinea pig momma EVER! My babies were 1 and 1 1/2 at the time, meaning that they should have had boar cleanings for a long time, but I just had no idea!

What are boar cleanings?

Male guinea pigs can become compacted quite easily, thus their anal sack must be cleaned out on a monthly basis with a Q-Tip and Mineral Oil. (I will be posting a video soon on how to do this, so keep your eye out!)

Some months your piggy may not need a deep cleaning, a quick swirl of a Q-Tip to get any hay and fur out may be all they need! Just keep an eye on them as they begin to move into their later years.

3. Measuring Food

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I get lazy, or flat out forget, and don’t measure the pellets or the veggies that I give to the piggies daily. This is so important because being overweight can be so dangerous for guinea pigs. One thing that it may cause is bumble foot.

Do you know how much they should be eating? Skip on over to my Nutritional Guide to find out!

So, those are the top three things that I have found even experienced guinea pig owners forget to do sometimes.

What do you know you should be doing but forget to do sometimes? Leave your comments bellow!

If you have any questions please feel free to comment down bellow, connect with me on any of the social media platforms, or shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies