We are all familiar with the phrase “A healthy pet is a happy pet” – but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your pet happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well.
What are the signs of good health?
A healthy guinea pig will have bright eyes, clean ears, eyes and nose and be interested in what is going on around it. Guinea pigs are constant grazers and should be seen to be eating for much of their time awake.
If your guinea pig’s weight remains constant then they are eating the right amount of food. You should be concerned if their appetite or water consumption suddenly changes or they suddenly start to gain or lose weight. When in good condition the coat should be shiny, soft and free of parasites.
How do I keep my guinea pig in good health?
Your guinea pig must be fed a healthy diet and allowed regular exercise.
The closer your guinea pig’s diet and environment is compared to how it would eat and live in the wild, the healthier and happier it will be. Giving them plenty of enrichment in also hugely important for their mental wellbeing.
What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is a balanced diet containing all the nutrients your pet requires. Guinea pigs require a constant supply of hay and/or grass, and should be supplemented with fresh vegetables and a pelleted diet if you choose.
How can I maintain my guinea pig's health?
There are a number of measures that can help prevent your pet developing diseases. You should discuss the special needs of your pet with your vet.
Neutering It is a sad truth that the number of guinea pigs born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted ones are abandoned. Having your guinea pig neutered will help to reduce the number of unwanted animals and can also help to safeguard their health and welfare.
Castrating male guinea pigs is relatively common and the procedure can be performed by most vets. It is recommended that owners of male guinea pigs have their pets castrated from the age of 4-5 months of age. Spaying females is less common, but is does remove the risk of them developing cystic ovaries and uterine cancers which are common in female guinea pigs.
Vaccinations Guinea pigs do not require vaccinations.
Dental care All rodents and rabbits have front teeth that grow continuously, so a high fibre diet of hay and/or grass is essential to allow the teeth to wear down naturally.
If you notice any signs of overlong teeth then your vet will be able to burr the teeth down and advise you further.
How do I know if my guinea pig is unwell?
If your guinea pig has a poor coat condition, dull eyes, dirty ears, eyes or nose it may indicate that they are unwell. Changes in behaviour (a normally happy and affectionate animal may become grumpy and avoid human contact, preferring to hide away by itself), altered appetite or water consumption should also alert you to the possibility that there may be a problem.
Many guinea pigs show few signs of illness and simply lose weight. If your guinea pig is showing any these signs then you should call your vet!