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

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

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

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.

For example, one of my older piggies needs to be cleaned once a week if not twice. He gets really dirty and has other digestive issues causing the more frequent cleaning. If you think your guinea pig may need to be cleaned out more often than once a month, this is something for your vet to look at and advise you what is best for your individual guinea pig.

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

Learning to Care for a One Eyed Guinea Pig

To start off, you may be wondering who the cutie is in the picture above, well this is my 3 year old piggy Popeye. I rescued him in 2015, 2 weeks after he had to have his eye removed.

So, why did this handsome man have to have his eye removed?

Popeye had gotten an eye infection, something that could have been taken care of quite quickly should his previous owner had taken him to the vet, however he did not want to spend the money on a “rodent”. (His words, not mine). This poor little guy was then put through the tragic ordeal of having his eye removed, after being abandoned by the only person he had ever known..

Most of the time, eye infections are quite easy to cure, if you take your piggy to the vet.

The day I went to the vet’s office to pick up Popeye, the moment I picked him up he melted into me and began to purr. He knew he was going to be taken care of and given all the love he would ever need for the rest of his life!

Now that’s get into the nitty gritty of caring for him. I learned a lot with this little guy; his eye did not heal as it should have and is still open to this day.

Three days after Popeye came to his forever home, he was able to get his stitches out. Not going to lie, I bawled like a baby hearing Popeye squeal while they were being removed. Once they were out, we realized that due to excessive swelling that occurred after surgery, his eye lids had not healed together. His eye socket was completely open. I was so worried he would get something in there, and begged the veterinarian to do another surgery and close his eye together.

She did not want to put his little body under anesthesia again unless he really needed it.

We went home and hoped that everything would be okay. It was, for a little while.

Several weeks after Popeye got his stitches out, I noticed that there was a lot of extra drainage in his eye and took him to the vet as soon as I could get him in. Unfortunately, he had developed an abscess in his eye. He was put on Baytril (an antibiotic) and I was instructed to clean the outside of his eye with warm water and a Q-tip twice a day.

After a round of Baytril, the abscess cleared up!

 About 6 months ago, the veterinarian that had taken care of all my guinea pigs, and did Popeye’s surgery, moved out of state and I thus the search for a new exotic veterinarian began.

I was extremely fortunate enough to be able to find such a knowledgeable and caring veterinarian to start seeing!

Our first visit with her did not turn out as I had expected, though. Upon first look at Popeye, she asked me how long he had had the eye infection. I looked at her dumbfounded, and told her that all the drainage Popeye was experiencing I had been informed by the previous veterinarian was normal.

It was then her turn to look at me dumbfounded.

She apologized and informed me that drainage is normal after an eye removal, but not to the extent that Popeye was experiencing it.

He was put on two rounds of an high dosage antibiotic and Ciprofloxacin, a medicated eye drop. Once the infection cleared up I was instructed to clean the outside of his eye daily with warm water and a Q-Tip, put a few drops of Saline Solution in his eye twice a days to keep it moist, and use the Ciprofloxacin should it start to have extra drainage again.

Taking care of Popeye takes a bit longer than any of my other piggies, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Despite being let down by humans before, he loves me unconditionally and purrs each and ever time I pick him up.

I didn’t adopt him, he adopted me.

Do you have a beautiful one-eyed piggy?

Share their picture bellow or e-mail it to me at hi@littlecavylove.com to be featured!

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

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

P.S. It is worth the extra time, and money, to find a veterinarian that truly knows what they are talking about when it comes to guinea pigs, or any exotic animal for that matter. I learned this the hard way. Don’t take your piggy’s health lightly, you never know what could happen. For help in finding the right veterinarian, jump on over HERE.

Why You Should Weigh Your Guinea Pig!

Did you know that you should weigh your guinea pigs on a weekly basis?

Do you know you should but you have no idea why?

Well, welcome! I am glad you’re here!

Let’s jump in…

Guinea pigs are prey animals, this means in the wild they have other animals that are trying to harm them all the time.

Aside from being prey animals, they are also heard animals.

So what do those two facts have to do with weighing your piggy on a regular basis?

Guinea pigs have become amazing at hiding their illnesses from those around them for two very important reasons:

1. Should a predator see that a guinea pig is sick or injured, they then become vulnerable to attack before any of their heard-mates.

2. If the other guinea pigs in their heard should see that a particular pig is sick, they are highly likely to abandon the sick pig in order to prevent a predator from targeting their heard.

For these very reasons, your guinea pig will hide their illness from you as well. They will still act “normally” and weight loss may be the only indication that there is something serious going on with your piggy.

Theodore

So now that you know why you should be weighing your guinea pig on a weekly basis, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of actually weighing them!

Q: How often should I weigh my guinea pig?

A: Weekly. Same day and same time preferably, that way the weight recorded is most reliable.

Q: How should I weigh my guinea pig?

A: Using a small kitchen scale is the best (and cheapest) option. Because guinea pigs are so small, a normal bathroom scale will not pick up on their weight accurate enough. Using some sort of container to contain your piggy during weighing will make it easier for both of you and will make the weight you record more reliable. *Don’t forget to zero out the scale after you place the container on the scale but before you place your guinea pig in the container.

As far as scales go, I use this one for weighing my guinea pigs. I also use this bowl to place on the scale to weigh them in.

Q: How much should my guinea pig weigh?

A: Adult male guinea pigs should weigh between 32-42 ounces.

Adult Female guinea pigs should weigh between 25-32 ounces.

Q: How much weight loss is too much?

A: As a rule of thumb, follow the following guidelines:

1 oz decrease is OK

2 oz decrease = go on alert and weigh DAILY

3 oz decrease = extreme alert, weigh every two hours and CONTACT YOUR VET

4 oz decrease = get to a vet ASAP

As promised, I have attached a FREE Guinea Pig Weight Tracker to help you track your guinea pig’s weight. It is also great to take to your vet during checkups so they too can monitor your guinea pig’s progress.

If you have any questions please comment down bellow or connect with me on any of the social media platforms.

As always, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

What is Bumble Foot?

Fortunately, I have only had to deal with bumble foot in two of my rescues and both were very minor cases; however, bumble foot can be a very serious medical condition, one in which a visit to a qualified exotic veterinarian is absolutely necessary.

So what exactly is bumble foot?

Well, bumble foot occurs when the foot pad of your guinea pig becomes swollen and infected.You may even notice some scabbing and bleeding on the base of the foot. T

he scary part of this is that bumble foot can travel to the bone of the foot/leg, resulting in the your little piggy having to receive an amputation.

Before we get into treatment, why does this happen to guinea pigs to begin with?

Bumble foot can occur for any of the following reasons or combination of reasons:

  • Moist/Unsanitary Bedding
  • Rough bedding (like wood shavings or a grid floor) that cause cuts and thus bacteria is allow into the foot pad.
  • Obesity (click here for what your guinea pig should be eating on a daily basis)
  • Lack of exercise

The only way to know exactly if what your piggy has is bumble foot, and for the best treatment plan for your specific pig, is to go to a reputable exotic veterinarian.

If you can not get in right away, an Epsom Salt soak has been known to help with the swelling and is how I have cured bumble foot in the past with my rescues.

*Be careful to not let your pig groom while soaking, if they get the solution in their eyes this can cause an infection*

To soak your piggy’s foot, mix one 1/2 tbs of Epsom Salt per 1/4 cup of warm water. You want the water hot enough to dissolve the Epsom Salt, but you want to allow the water to cool to a temperature that is comfortable for your piggy.

You can test this by putting dropping some of the solution on your wrist, just as you would check the temperature of a baby bottle.

Next, get a small dish (I personally use shot glasses) and soak your piggy’s foot in the solution for 15 minutes (or as long as they will tolerate it) about 3 times a day. After soaking, rinse the foot off and dry completely.

Some other tips:

  • Switch your piggy’s bedding to a soft paper or fleece. I prefer fleece bedding because the fleece will wick away any moisture from the top, keeping the fabric dry. I have a beginners guide to fleece bedding here.
  • Sweep up pellets several times a day if using fleece, or spot clean if you are using paper bedding. Keeping it swept up will help keep the cage sanitary.
  • If obesity is an issue, make sure you are feeding your piggy the right amount of vegetables and pellets a day. They should be having about 1/4 of a cup of pellets and roughly 1-1.5 cups of fresh veggies each day. Also make sure that you are staying away from the colorful and sugary snacks that you can find at pet stores and opt for a timothy hay and veggie based snack.

I hope this post was helpful, if you have any questions comment down bellow or shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com!

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

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies