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Caring for guinea pigs in hot weather

19th February 2018

Guinea pigs are a popular pet for young children. They are small, relatively easy to handle and have a sweet nature.

However, these little creatures can struggle to keep cool in warm, humid weather particularly if they’re a little overweight or have a heavy fur coat. Heat stroke is a real risk as the temperatures rise in spring and summer. Other circumstances that can contribute to overheating include poor ventilation, no shade and overcrowding. Heat stroke can cause serious illness and death in these little animals. 

If your guinea pig is getting a little too warm, you’ll notice them panting and salivating. They become weak and don’t move around as much as usual. At this point they need to be cooled down or they may start to have convulsions. Emergency first aid for heat stroke is to cool your guinea pig down by bathing them with cool water. When this has been done, call us to let us know you’re coming and bring them to the clinic for further treatment.

Prevention is always better than cure, and it’s not too difficult to protect your little pet from overheating. Keep their hutch in the shade and ensure there is air circulating around it. A fan blowing gently on their cage can be helpful for this. If it is very hot, the fan can be directed over an ice brick to blow cool air in their direction. If your guinea pigs enjoy grazing in your yard, then it’s better to let them do this in the early morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is less intense. If their housing is moveable, they may be able to be brought indoors to enjoy the air conditioning.

Don’t leave it too much longer to work out how you’re going to keep your guinea pig cool when the mercury starts to rise. Forward planning is the key to avoiding heat stroke this spring and summer.