About the Piggies

There are four male guinea pigs that are apart of the Little Cavy Love heard: Alvin Theodore, Popeye, and Grizzly.

Alvin and Theodore I rescued together in October of 2014 when Alvin was a year old and Theodore was six months.

Their previous owner had them in a very tiny store bought cage (my biggest pet peeve) with only a hay rack, water, and one piggloo. They were scared out of their mind, the girl admitting that she hardly spent time with them. (To this day, April 2016, Alvin is still quite skittish and really only allows me to handle him.)

So what are they like?

Alvin can be described in one word: DIVA. He has so much attitude and will not pair with any other piggy at all! (Him and Theodore unfortunately began fighting about six months after I rescued them.) He is, however, gridmates with Grizzly. I can tell he gets sad when Grizzly is away in that he will stare into Grizzly’s cage, just waiting for him to return. I have tried bonding them, but Alvin is just way too full of personality! They are very content as gridmates though.

Theodore in one word would be GENIUS! He is a lot like a dog in many aspects. He knows his name, he will chase his toy when I throw it, he will come when I call him … it is so cute to watch! He does have a lazy streak in him though! One day I moved his bed on the other side of the cage from his food and water, and what did the little booger do? He drug his bed across the cage so he could lay in it and still reach the hay rack and the water bottle! What a goober!

Grizzly_LittleCavyLove

The next baby boy I got was Grizzly. At the time I was working at a petstore (worst decision ever!) and when I laid eyes on Grizzly I knew he was either a runt or taken from his momma too soon, and on top of that he had an upper respiratory infection that my manager didn’t want to try and treat.

I took him home the second I was allowed to, despite getting married in a week, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions! He is such a calm piggy (with a wild streak, of course) and is actually a Nationally Certified Therapy Animal with a program called Pet Partners. (To learn more about his “job”, click here.)

Popeye_LittleCavyLove

Popeye was the last to come into our family, but he was definitely meant to be with us. To learn about why he had to have his eye removed and more about his story, click here.

He is nothing but a little teddy bear, he can never get close enough to me when we are cuddling on the couch. He loves giving kisses, and despite being let down by humans in the past, is the most trusting piggy I have ever met!

So, those are my piggies! I love each and every one of them so much and I don’t know what I would do without them! They each add so much to my life their own way!

I’d love to hear about your piggies! Visit the community page here to post about your guinea pig(s), and if selected you could have an entire blog post dedicated to you and your piggy!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

About The Guinea Pig Slave

Mommy and Popeye

I will be the first to admit that I am 100% a Guinea Pig Slave, no doubt about it. The picture above is the day that we found out that Popeye would not need any more additional eye surgeries, one of the happiest days ever! (He has already had to have his left eye removed. Learn more about his story and how I care for him here.)

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted a guinea pig. They fascinated me, and I did countless hours of research on them before I even owned my first piggy.

I got married in April of 2015, and my new husband took to the piggies just as much as I did. I am currently getting my Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and plan on using my piggy Grizzly in my work. Grizzly is a Nationally Certified Therapy Animal, we visit people a couple times a month at different facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.

Once I have finished my Master’s degree, I hope to partner with my local guinea pig rescue and become a foster mom to a few piggies. I have so many ideas for an outdoor sanctuary, I can not wait to get my own home!

I did not always care for my piggies perfectly, and still don’t sometimes, as I am continually learning how to better care for them. I have already learned a lot, through vet visits and expert piggy slaves, which is why I decided to start this blog. I also want this to grow into a community where we can share our journeys as Guinea Pig Slaves.

Learning to Care for a One Eyed Guinea Pig

 

Caring 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 a year ago, 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.

Guinea Pigs in Animal Assisted Therapy

Guinea Pigs in Animal Assisted Therapy

What exactly is animal assisted therapy?

Let’s get some vocabulary out of the way so you know what the heck I’m talking about!

When volunteering with your piggy (or any approved animal for that matter), there are different types of activities that you can participate in.

1. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). The leading organization in bringing animals and people together in this type of environment is Pet Partners. (To find out more about this amazing organization, and hopefully join me in volunteering with them, click here.) They define AAT as “Animal-assisted therapy is a goal oriented, planned, structured and documented therapeutic intervention directed by health and human service providers as part of their profession. A wide variety of disciplines may incorporate AAT. Possible practitioners could include physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, or mental health professionals.”

2. Animal Assisted Intervention, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted interventions are goal oriented and structured interventions that intentionally incorporate animals in health, education and human service for the purpose of therapeutic gains and improved health and wellness. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), animal-assisted education (AAE) and animal-assisted activities (AAA) are all forms of animal-assisted interventions. In all these interventions, the animal may be part of a volunteer therapy animal team working under the direction of a professional or an animal that belongs to the professional himself.”

3. Animal Assisted Activities, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted activities provide opportunities for motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits to enhance quality of life. While more informal in nature, these activities are delivered by a specially trained professional, paraprofessional and/or volunteer, in partnership with an animal that meets specific criteria for suitability.”

4. Animal Assisted Education, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted education is a goal oriented, planned and structured intervention directed by a general education or special education professional. The focus of the activities is on academic goals, prosocial skills and cognitive functioning with student progress being both measured and documented.”

So, now that we have the nitty gritty of the vocabulary out the way, let’s get to the fun part!

I start preparing Grizzly before we even leave the house. I have a store bought cage for his travel carrier (all they should EVER be used for). I put some fleece at the bottom, his hay rack, water bottle, and the fleece sleeping bag I made for him so he can hide if he wants. I get him out of his big cage and spend some time with him, giving his veggies and just loving on him. Next, the car ride.

He actually seems to enjoy car rides. He tries his hardest to get high enough to were he can see out the window. (If my husband is driving I will sometimes take him out and let him look out the window, he is so fascinated by it!)

During the car ride, I try to talk to him as much as I can. Hearing my voice not only reassures him that I am still there with him, he seems to be calmer through the visit as well.

Before we head into the facility where were we will be visiting, I put his blanket in his basket that he travels in (I use the same blanket every time) and give him a few minutes to get comfy in his basket. We have done this so many times now, when he goes into his basket, he knows it’s time for work!

This is where I tend to get the question, “How do you keep him from using the bathroom on people?” 99% of the time he stays in his basket, and if I do take him out to let someone hold him, he is on a VERY thick blanket so that if he were to urinate, it would not get on anyone. If he does poop, I ALWAYS keep hand sanitizer with me, so I pick it up discretely as possibly and use hand sanitizer right away! However, because we have visited so many facilities together, Grizzly knows when he is working and he tends not to use the bathroom. Once he gets back into his travel cage, that’s a whole other story though!

So, like I said during the visit, 99% of the time I keep Grizzly in the basket for two reasons:

1. Less stress on him.

2. Most people have never held a guinea pig and they may feel uncomfortable holding him. Using a basket provides an opportunity for the individual and him to connect in a way that is comfortable for both of them.

Once our visit is complete and Grizzly is back in his travel cage, I like to let him decompress for awhile before I snuggle on him anymore. I give him lots of fresh veggies as a reward, and he usually ends up taking a nap on the ride home.

Why do I volunteer with him?

It is absolutely amazing to be able to see people that are very stressed out, completely  decompress and relax when they are interacting with Grizzly. Their whole demeanor changes. I also just love interacting with people, you would be surprised how much people open up to you, and you might be the only smiling face that they see all day!

I love visiting nursing homes and seeing people who don’t normally engage with other or talk much, open up when they see Grizzly.

Volunteering with Pet Partners has been such an incredible experience. I highly recommend looking into getting your guinea pig (or another animal you may have) certified through this amazing organization. Get plugged in and see the difference that you can make!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on any of the social platforms or shoot me at hi@littlecavylove.com

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

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

P.S. Here is a picture of Grizzly in his basket heading to “work”!

20160130_125700

Taking Your Guinea Pig Outside

Taking Your Guinea Pig Outside

To start off, raise your hand if you know that guinea pigs can’t sweat.

Did you raise your hand?

If you didn’t, keep reading.

If you did, keep reading, I still have some information that will help you!

So, guinea pigs can’t sweat huh? That’s right, anything over 80 degrees F puts them at risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Now, this doesn’t mean that they can’t get too cold. You want to keep your guinea pigs in an environment that is between 70 and 80 degrees F (some will say 65 to 75 degrees F, as a rule of thumb if you are uncomfortable, your piggies probably are too).

With this mind, and for other reasons as well, you should never keep your guinea pigs outside in a hutch that is not temperature controlled! Taking your guinea pigs outside is completely fine, and highly encouraged for busting boredom, but there are a few things you are going to want to take into consideration before adventuring out into the open with your piggy.

1. Heat (if you haven’t guessed that one already 🙂 ) and humidity level.

2. You want to make sure that your guinea pig is contained, you don’t want them to escape as they will not be able to survive on their own in the wild.

3. Keep an eye out for prey animals, especially birds that can swoop down and pick them up. By sitting under a tree with them, putting a sheet over a wire play pen, or creating a hutch with a roof your guinea pig will be safer.

4. You also want to make sure that there have been NO PESTICIDES used on the grass (your piggy should NEVER be placed on the concrete to run around, as it can get too hot), they will harm and potential kill your piggy.

5. Make sure where you place your guinea pig there are no harmful plants near that they could eat.

Your guinea pig will love going outside with you, it is a great boredom buster for them and a great bonding experience! Follow the five guidelines I have written about here, and you and your piggy will have a safe adventure out doors!

Here are two of my guinea pigs, Alvin and Theodore, enjoying time outside together!

If you have any questions please comment down bellow or follow me on any of the social media platforms!

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

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Why You Should Weigh Your Guinea Pig!

Why_You_Should_Weigh_Your_Gruinea_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?

Let me explain 🙂

Guinea pigs are prey animals, this means in the wild they have other animals that are trying to harm them all the time, they are also pack 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 injured, they then become vulnerable to attack before any of their pack-mates.

2. If the other guinea pigs in their pack 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 pack.

For these very reasons, your guinea pig will hide their illness from you as well. They will still act “normally” and weight loss will 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 daily 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.

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 Do Guinea Pigs Eat?

What_Do_Guinea_Pigs_Eat

Are you a new guinea pig owner?

Do you know for a fact that your guinea is getting all the proper nutrition?

Do you want a review of everything your guinea pig should be getting on a daily basis?

Well, you’re in luck! I have created a comprehensive guide to walk you through everything your guinea pig should be eating on a daily basis!

1. Plenty of FRESH, CLEAN Water

First and foremost you want to make sure that your guinea pig has access to water 24/7. This water should be fresh, changing it at least once a day is going to guarantee this; however, I recommend that you change it twice a day. Personally, I change my guinea pig’s water once in the morning and once in the evening when I give them their pellets (morning) and veggies (evening).

You also want to make sure that the water bottle your guinea pig is drinking from is clean and doesn’t have any mold build up. I clean all the water bottles once a week with water and a brush and Q-Tips, and disinfect them in the dishwasher once a month. (I don’t use soap in the dishwasher, the hot water is enough to make sure they are clean!)

2. Fresh Hay 24/7

Your guinea pig should also have access to fresh hay at all times. Why? Because not only is this your guinea pig’s main source of food, but a good quality hay keeps them healthy and their digestive tract running smoothly! So, make sure the hay that you are buying is a high quality hay!

So what type of hay should you get?

If your guinea pig is under 6 months of age or pregnant, they should be eating alfalfa hay primarily. This type of hay is higher is protein and caloric content, timothy hay on the other hand is higher is fiber content but lower in protein and calories. If your guinea pig is older than 6 months and is not pregnant, then they should be eating timothy hay.

How much hay should you give them?

As much as they want! 🙂

3. Pellets with Vitamin C

Each guinea pig should ONLY get 1/4 cup of pellets each day. Over feeding your guinea pig will lead to obesity which can lead to other health problems. Again, these pellets should be high quality, made from timothy hay (despite age or pregnancy status), and contain STABLE vitamin C. I tend to shy away from liquid vitamin C being added to water for two reasons:

1. This form of vitamin C is highly unstable and thus breaks down, no longer providing the health benefits to your piggy.

2. Not all guinea pigs will drink the water with the added vitamin C, thus leading them to become dehydrated and not receiving adequate amounts of vitamin C.

Why do guinea pigs need vitamin c?

Like us humans, guinea pigs can not produce their only vitamin c. If they do not receive adequate supplies of this vitamin, they will ultimately end up with a life threatening condition known as scurvy.

4. Fresh Veggies

Guinea pigs also require 1/2 cup – 1 cup of fresh vegetables each day. These vegetables should be washed and chopped and provided once daily (or throughout the day if you prefer).

Leafy greens (Romaine NOT iceberg lettuce) should be the bulk, with a sprinkling of carrots, celery, cucumber, and other veggies added in.

You can find vegetables that are high in vitamin C to provide to your piggy as well that aids in them receiving enough vitamin C.

5. Fruits and Other Treats

Fruits should only be given to your guinea pig once a week, as the high sugar content can cause obesity and diabetes. Treats that you find at the Pet Store should also be given sparingly.

*Caution: Stay away from treats with seeds and nuts, these are NOT good for your guinea pig despite them being found at the pet store!*

What veggies and treats do you feed your guinea pig? Comment down bellow!

As always, if you have any questions, you can reach out to me on any of the social media platforms or simply shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com

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

Also, skip on over to my Etsy store HERE for resources to help keep all your piggy’s care organized!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies