July 14, 2021
Your accommodation is booked and you’re excitedly counting down the weeks until your summer holiday. Your guinea pig might not be quite as thrilled, however, about your upcoming trip…
Guinea pigs can become easily stressed by sudden changes to their environment or routine, which can present as irritability, aggression, depression, reduced activity, and self-mutilation. Our Alexander Street nurses have come up with a list of things guinea pig owners should consider when planning time away.
How to prevent Guinea Pig Holiday Blues
You can minimise stress by asking someone you trust to provide daily care for your guinea pig at your home while you’re away. Live-in care would be ideal, or at least two daily visits.
It’s helpful to think about whether your chosen pet sitter knows how to take care of guinea pigs if they’ve not done so before. Our list below covers what care guinea pigs need and will help you create a personalised ‘how to guide’ for their holiday carer.
10 things guinea pigs need while you’re on holiday
- Routine – Consistency can reduce potential stress so write down your guinea pig’s routine, including feeding times, exercise, and grooming. Any changes should be introduced gradually.
- A meal plan – Stock up on your guinea pig’s food and create a meal plan for the time you’re away, including treats. Ask your pet sitter to stick to the plan to keep your pet happy & healthy.
- Fresh water – Your pet’s water bowl/bottle will need changing daily so they always have access to fresh water. Bottles should also be checked daily for blockages.
- Summer care – If it’s going to be hot in London while you’re away, move the hutch somewhere cool, safe and well ventilated, away from direct sunlight. Guinea pigs need some carefully monitored time in natural sunlight (or under a UV lamp) to help them get the vitamin D they need. An outdoor playpen can be useful.
- Grooming – We can check if your pet’s teeth need filing and nails need clipping before you go, just ask our team. Long-haired guinea pigs especially need daily grooming to remove tangles, mats, and bedding from their hair – show your pet sitter how.
- Daily/weekly cleaning – To avoid harmful health conditions, your guinea pig and their hutch should be kept clean, dry, and free of excess dust. Replace soiled bedding daily. Gently clean & dry your pet’s bottom if needed with pet shampoo. Hutches should have a thorough clean weekly.
- Boredom busters – Boredom can affect your guinea pig’s health. Keep them occupied with enriching toys and challenges that enable them to mimic wild behaviours. Try hanging treat balls, tubes/tunnels, foraging trays, and digging boxes. Remember though, they’re not great climbers!
- Handle with care – Falls are a risk for small furry pets, particularly when being handled by someone new. Show your pet sitter how, keeping your pet close to the chest or lap for safety.
- Keep unneutered girls and boys apart – Ensure your sitter knows to keep ‘intact’ males and females apart unless you want to come home to expectant parents!
- Know the signs – Common guinea pig illnesses needing urgent veterinary care include:
- Flystrike – look for wet fur patches (incontinence), flies & maggots particularly on the rear.
- Not eating or drinking for 6+ hours – look for appetite/thirst loss, less stools/urination.
- Bacterial pneumonia – Look for respiratory distress, eye/nose discharge, sneezing, weight loss, depression.
We hope our list above helps your guinea pig have an enjoyable time when you go on holiday. Just in case there are any issues, see our contact and emergency pet care information here.
You could help other guinea pig owners by sharing your pet’s holiday preparation plans on our Facebook page.