Do Your Guinea Pig Homework

Two guinea pigs at home | Hinzefoto

Guinea pigs are cool, but they’re also a little different from most other animals. That creates the need for a little investigation into these unique animals.

Guinea Pigs, known as cavies among professionals and enthusiasts, make excellent animal companions. They have a range of interesting behaviors and they’re ultra-easy to care for. They come in a variety of breeds and colors to suit all tastes.

The prospective guinea pig owner will want to research the local vet situation before bringing his or her new friend home. All vets have experience with dogs and cats because they’re such overwhelmingly popular pets. But guinea pigs, though hardly unknown, are not found in every home. Vets tend to have less experience treating them. Find a vet that can treat your pet.

As with any other species, guinea pigs have a set of common illnesses and symptoms. Eye and respiratory problems from hay or bedding particles are commonplace. Certain genetic conditions predispose them to specific illnesses. Skin problems are a typical concern. Knowing a little bit about what they are and what to look for will help protect your pet.

Even when you’ve selected a vet and become knowledgeable about symptoms to look for, it’s wise to review which medications are safe and which are not. Penicillin, for example, is highly beneficial to a number of species, but is toxic to cavies. Most vets will know this if they have any experience with guinea pigs or rabbits, but it’s always a good idea to double check.

Doing some research about diet is a good idea, too, before bringing Binky home. Guinea pigs thrive on grassy hay, and can benefit from small quantities of certain fruits and vegetables. Others are decidedly harmful. Knowing which is vital to your new friend’s health.

Everyday practices, such as grooming, are slightly different for guinea pigs, and even within breeds. They’re not social groomers, but they’ll keep the fur on their face clean by using a milky substance secreted from the eyes. An owner who thinks the liquid is a sign of disease may wipe it away, doing the pig a disservice. Long-haired breeds require slightly different treatment than short-haired types.

Knowing a little bit about guinea pig behavior, which will naturally get expanded the longer you interact with your pet, is helpful. Popcorning, a distinctive hopping behavior, may look to the uninitiated like a seizure of some kind. Wheeks (a common low, short squeal) could suggest fear or pain to those not familiar with guinea pigs. Find out what’s normal and what indicates stress or pain and your cavy will be better off.

They’ll enjoy the right kind of bedding, but some types (such as cedar wood shavings) can be harmful. Exploring the range of options available can be fun and is definitely beneficial for your new companion. They’ll also like to have the right kind of cage and toys to keep them safe and stimulated. There are dozens of options that can be expanded as your guinea pig family grows in size.

Spend some time learning what suits your cavy best and you’ll be happier, too.

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