Guinea Pig Care: How Do You Take Care of Your Guinea Pigs?

 Cavies, the slang term for guinea pigs, may be wonderful, amusing, and loving pets when they receive the right veterinarian care and attention. They are peaceful and kind rodents who belong to the family. The majority of the time, guinea pigs do not bite, however young, inexperienced, or startled guinea pigs may bite out of fear. A domestic guinea pig lives for 4 to 5 years on average.

Guinea Pig Care: How Do You Take Care of Your Guinea Pigs?
Guinea Pig Care: How Do You Take Care of Your Guinea Pigs?

 Despite the 13 breeds that the American Cavy Breeder Association officially recognizes, three varieties of guinea pigs are typically distinguished:

-American: short, straight hair.

-Peruvian: long and silky hair.

-Abyssinian: curls of unruly and rough hair.

 Guinea pigs are herding animals with complex communication and vocalizations. They are generally not happy as solitary creatures and like to live in groups of two or more. Humans are not substituting companions for guinea pigs. Even though it's ideal to raise guinea pigs together while they're young, many adults can be introduced without trouble. Males, or boars, can thrive with multiple females or sows. However, care must be taken not to allow them to reproduce if that is not the intention.

This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.

Guinea pig housing

Cage size

 When it comes to guinea pig homes, bigger is better! The cage should be even larger if they spend a lot of time there.  Most store-bought cages are way too small for guinea pigs, especially with multiples. At a minimum, the cage should measure 50" x 24". For each additional guinea pig, the available area must be increased by 20%.

 Guinea pigs have sensitive airways, thus cages should be properly ventilated to help prevent respiratory problems. The floor should be sturdy and solid (not a grid or wire) to avoid damaging the legs. Size is less important a factor, but some guinea pigs may benefit from small, safe ramps and multiple levels.


 The best bedding materials include washable fleece, Carefresh, Yesterday's News, and paper towels. Clean dirty areas daily and completely change bedding every 3-4 days. Do not use cedar shavings and avoid wood shavings in general as these can irritate the airways. Guinea pigs are generally messy and may even relieve themselves in food dishes, so good hygiene is essential.

Ambient temperature

 Heat and humidity are not ideal conditions for guinea pigs. Never let them be in temperatures above 80 degrees and keep the relative humidity between 40% and 70%. Guinea pigs can suffer from heat stroke if they get too hot.

Multi-species households

 Guinea pigs should never be housed near or with rabbits or other species. Clinically normal rabbits can carry certain diseases, such as Bordetella, which can be fatal to guinea pigs. Only other guinea pigs should be kept in a guinea pig habitat. Although some guinea pigs learn to enjoy the company of dogs or cats, it is essential to remember that as a prey species, these interactions can be very stressful and even dangerous for guinea pigs.

Toy enrichment

 Guinea pigs love a regular rotation of toys to keep boredom at bay! Exercise and toys can provide the enrichment needed to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy. Many guinea pigs are even capable of learning a few basic cues or orders. Guinea pigs have special needs for chewing, exploring, and hiding. Some common favorite enrichment items include:

  • Paper bags.
  • Cardboard boxes with cut holes.
  • Hiding places.
  • Hay stuffed with toys.
  • Paper towel rolls.
  • Tunnels.
  • Other commercially available guinea pig toys.

 Guinea pigs do not take exercise wheels easily and can injure themselves if a wheel is placed in their cage. It is better to avoid using exercise balls or wheels. Instead, be sure to include at least one hiding place per guinea pig. Guinea pigs can sleep in their hiding place and seek refuge when they are afraid. As prey species, places to hide make them feel safe, so all cages should have appropriate areas for this natural behavior.

Food for guinea pigs

 Guinea pigs have a relatively high metabolic rate and require almost continuous feeding. Since they are pure herbivores, animal protein should never be given to them.


 Hay should be offered in unlimited quantities to all guinea pigs. It is the most important part of your guinea pig's diet, representing around 75% of its intake. Hay is the next best thing to grass, which is a guinea pig's natural diet. One of the most popular hays is Timothy. Adults should avoid alfalfa since it increases calcium intake and causes obesity.

 Young or pregnant guinea pigs can have alfalfa or clover, but as adults, they should only have grass hay. Oxbow is a favorite brand of hay because it is high quality and recommended by veterinarians. Guinea pigs can suffer from many ailments, dental and gastrointestinal if they are not fed hay in unlimited quantities.


 Guinea pigs should eat about one cup of vegetables a day. Introduce any new food slowly, so your guinea pig doesn't get diarrhea. Once your guinea pig has adapted to several types of vegetables, you can offer different varieties. Shoot two or three different guys every day. This will help ensure they are getting important vitamins and minerals. Some favorite guinea pig vegetables include:

  • Parsley.
  • Roman.
  • leaf lettuce.
  • Carrots.
  • Clover.
  • dandelion leaves.

Vitamin C, Vitamin C, Vitamin C

 Unlike most mammals, guinea pigs do not have the enzyme to synthesize their own vitamin C and must obtain it from their diet. Hypovitaminosis C (or a decrease in vitamin C) can lead to scurvy and other conditions. Oxbow Vitamin C tablets can be taken as a supplement with suitable foods such as guava, red peppers, kale, or parsley.

 Vitamin C drops can be added to the water, but be careful. The water additive should be changed and mixed daily, as it breaks down quickly and will not be effective. Also, the additive may have an odd flavor that the cavy may not like. If the guinea pig does not like the taste of water, it may drink less and become dehydrated. Therefore, most veterinarians do not recommend adding vitamin C to guinea pig water bottles.

 The average adult guinea pig needs about 10 to 30 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Ask your veterinarian about the individual needs of your own guinea pig.


 Most guinea pig veterinarians recommend very small amounts of high-quality Timothy Hay Pellets: 1-2 tablespoons per day per guinea pig. The pellets shouldn't replace other foods in the diet; they should just be a supplement. Do not use pellets with dried fruits, vegetables, or seeds, which can lead to obesity and gastrointestinal problems. The #1 vet-recommended brand of high-quality pellets is Oxbow.

 Some pellets may also contain vitamin C; however, they should not be relied upon as vitamin C degrades over time and exposure. The vitamin C in the pellets may not have much effectiveness by the time your pet eats them, putting your guinea pig at risk for illness.

Fruits and sweets

 Avoid fruits and snacks altogether, or give them to your guinea pig in very little amounts. Intestinal issues and diarrhea can result from consuming too many simple carbs. Guinea pigs occasionally enjoy cantaloupe, apple, carrots, or alfalfa cubes as treats. Treats should always make up less than 5% of their diet.


 Water should be provided at all times. Most guinea pigs do best with a bottle attached to the side of the cage. However, inspect it frequently as many guinea pigs like to play with bottles and chew on them.

Guinea Pig Medical Needs

 Guinea pigs are a prey species. For this reason, they tend to freeze when frightened and hide their symptoms. When the guinea pigs finally show signs of illness, it can be advanced. Therefore, when examining a guinea pig for signs of illness, make sure it is in a stress-free environment free of loud noises and unfamiliar animals.

 Healthy guinea pigs are vocal, curious, active, and hungry! Even though they could be hesitant about unfamiliar foods, they should nearly never decline a treat or some greens when presented. To gauge appetite and energy levels, make sure to provide a familiar item. Your guinea pig may be unwell if it stops eating.

 The eyes of your guinea pig should be open and clear. Breathing should be easy and quiet. There should be no obvious areas of hair loss and your pet should move easily on all fours without lameness or pain. Their teeth should have normal alignment with no swelling or sores around the mouth.

 Guinea pigs do not receive vaccines. To monitor their weight, listen to their hearts and lungs, check their teeth, and look for other anomalies, they must visit the vet at least every six to twelve months. You can also weigh your guinea pig weekly as part of monitoring their overall health. Once guinea pigs are over 3 years old, they are considered seniors and should also have blood tests during regular visits to the vet.

Common signs of illness

 The most common illnesses in guinea pigs include signs of vitamin C deficiency (such as bone and dental problems, bruising, and abnormal bleeding), respiratory infections, dental problems, diarrhea, skin rashes and infections (such as ringworm), pregnancy-related problems, and arthritis. If you think your guinea pig is showing signs of illness or not acting normally, contact an exotics veterinarian immediately. Common signs of illness include:

  • Decreased appetite.
  • Discharge from the eye or nose.
  • Lethargy.
  • Weightloss.
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Fecal or urine staining.
  • Skin lumps, lesions, or loss of hair (ringworm).
  • Change in fecal production or consistency (diarrhea).
  • Drool.
  • Bloody urine.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Overgrown teeth.

Well-being and maintenance of the guinea pig

 Although guinea pigs require some grooming, they are generally low-care animals. The majority of vets advise trimming the nails of guinea pigs once a week because they develop continuously. As guinea pigs age, their nails can easily overgrow and become brittle. If you notice any changes in your guinea pig's nails, be sure to call your vet. The guinea pig shouldn't have any problems walking normally due to crooked or long nails.

 Guinea pigs need their coats brushed regularly, especially long-haired breeds that are prone to matting. They usually don't need to bathe, as they groom frequently. Do not bathe your guinea pig without first discussing it with your veterinarian.

 If you notice that your guinea pig is missing hair, call your veterinarian immediately. Guinea pigs in stressful situations may pull or prick their own hair or that of their cage mate. It could be a sign of overcrowding, stress, or boredom. Your veterinarian will want to make sure the hair loss is not a pathological process by performing a few simple diagnostic tests.

 Daily rinsing and cleaning of the food and water dishes are required, and twice weekly cleaning of the complete cage is also considered necessary. Cleaning procedures increase in frequency with additional messy cavities or households with many cavities. Be sure to thoroughly dry and ventilate any areas where cleaning agents are used, as this can irritate a guinea pig's lungs.

Handling the guinea pig

 Most guinea pigs are easy to handle, especially if properly socialized. However, some young guinea pigs, or those who are new, may not be used to handling. Be sure to use a calm voice and gentle, slow movements when handling your guinea pig. Do not chase the guinea pig around its enclosure, as this may cause even more fear. Guinea pigs have a variety of sounds, ranging from joy to fear. Learning these noises will help you better understand and connect with your guinea pig and its needs.

 To pick up a guinea pig, use one hand to press under its rib cage near its front legs while using the other hand to pick up the rear. You can hold them firmly against your body, which provides stability for the guinea pig. Towels can help during this process, especially in the beginning. Guinea pigs can be very vocal and may squeal with this interaction, but should eventually calm down. If your guinea pig won't calm down, make sure you're not holding any part too tightly or that there's nothing else causing him discomfort.

 Guinea pigs are known to urinate and/or defecate during the handling process due to stress and movement. This can be useful as part of a health examination, visually inspecting urine or stool for signs of illness. Look for signs of blood in the urine or loose stools, in addition to any other abnormalities.

 The more time your guinea pig spends outside of its habitat, the more socialized and happy it will become. As long as guinea pigs have enough food, water, and security, they can spend as much time as possible with their human. Some enjoy napping and cuddling with their owners, as well as exploring outside of their cages. For the safety of your guinea pig, never let him wander around the house alone. Watch for low cords that could pose a shock hazard. Check the house for areas where your guinea pig might get stuck or hide as well. Ideally, each guinea pig should spend at least one hour outside of its cage per day.