15 Ways You Are Hurting Your Guinea Pig Without Realizing
If you are a guinea pig owner you surely want your pet to be happy healthy and live a long fulfilling life but sometimes we do things that can potentially harm our piggies.
In this article, we will talk about 15 common mistakes that guinea pig owners unknowingly make when they are caring for their little friends.
(15). The wrong diet
A guinea pig’s digestive system is very sensitive; guinea pigs should have a constant unlimited supply of high-quality hay such as timothy and orchard hay to graze on throughout the day.
Hay is critical not only to help wear down their continuously growing teeth but also to keep their digestive system healthy.
It is important to remember that guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin c so they require vitamin c rich foods in their daily diet; without vitamin c guinea pigs can become very ill with scurvy.
You can offer your pet vitamin c fortified pellets with no seeds or dried fruit added you can also provide them with guinea pig-safe fresh veggies and small amounts of fruits rich in vitamin c
In general, a guinea pig’s daily diet should be made up of mostly hay a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of vitamin c enriched pellets.
(14) A dirty or smelly living space
Maintaining a clean environment is vital to your guinea pig’s health, dirty smelly homes will create mental and physical health problems for your pet.
A habitat with an accumulation of dust, urine, dirt, and poop can cause respiratory problems in guinea pigs wherein they may have trouble breathing.
It can also result in the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus – keep your guinea pigs’ contents healthy by thoroughly cleaning their living space frequently.
Read also: 18 Guinea Pigs Body Language (Awkward Behaviors Explained )
(13). Feeding them too many fruits
Fruits offer a lot of minerals and vitamins that are good for guinea pigs. Vitamin c for example is what guinea pigs need, a lot of it, and fruits are high in this vitamin.
However, fruit is also high in sugar, feeding too much high sugar content may lead to obesity diabetes and an imbalance of intestinal bacteria which may cause life-threatening diarrhea.
So fruit is good for guinea pigs as long as it is offered as an occasional treat a few times a week. Be sure to limit fruits, do one or two tablespoons per two pounds of body weight.
That means a small piece of orange or apple or several blueberries raspberries or cranberries are enough on that note keep in mind that some vegetables and fruits such as avocados, mushrooms, garlic, and onions are unsafe for piggies and should be avoided.
Fruit seeds should also be avoided, and grass clippings from your lawn are also a serious health risk; your guinea pig could end up eating pesticides, bird droppings, dog urine, and other harmful things that are also on the grass.
(12). Poorly set up housing
Guinea pigs need a well-ventilated living space; this means their living place should have an appropriate room to roam with separate spaces for playing, hiding, bathroom area, food, and water.
Hard or wire flooring can cause discomfort and damage to guinea pigs’ feet with a condition called bumblefoot
So, be sure to provide an enclosure that has a solid floor with bedding or blankets in place, so your little pet can rest on soft areas as they wish.
Suitable options for bedding include soft grass, hay fleece fabric, and shredded paper.
Sawdust can cause respiratory issues and should be avoided. Straw should also be avoided as it does not absorb urine well.
Guinea pigs love to hide and burrow so providing them with a thick layer of bedding gives them the opportunity to dig roots around and hide within it.
Read also: 12 signs your guinea pig really loves you
(11) Exercise balls and wheels
Wheels and exercise balls are deadly for guinea pigs these activities may be appropriate for some small pets like rats or hamsters but they should never be used for guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs have different anatomy and they can badly injure their backs with a wheel or an exercise ball on top of that, there may not be enough ventilation and exercise balls for your guinea pig’s comfort.
You may think your guinea pigs are getting their exercise on the wheel, but it’s just more harmful than it is beneficial.
(10). Bathing them
Guinea pigs are known to be very clean animals who groom themselves often therefore they rarely need a bath.
These animals also have sensitive skin and unnecessary baths may result in dry fur coats and skin
Guinea pigs are also sensitive to temperature changes which is another reason why bathing them isn’t recommended.
Damp fur can keep their little bodies too cold and that chill can cause upper respiratory infection.
(9). Poor Handling
Poor handling includes chasing a guinea pig around their living space with your hands, not supporting their feet and abdomen while holding them, and allowing young children’s unsupervised playtime with guinea pigs
It is best if guinea pigs come to you to be lifted out of their enclosure, excessive chasing with your hands in their living space causes stress.
When you chase your little pet around the enclosure all they see is an angry predator bearing down on them you can get your guinea pig used to you by hand-feeding them.
Spend lots of time around them so that they come to recognize your scent and lose their fear of your presence.
(8) Warm Environment
Guinea pigs are very vulnerable to heat, piggies cannot sweat because they have no sweat glands and so, if it gets hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet could get heat stroke.
It is advisable to keep your guinea pig in an air-conditioned and ventilated room but do not aim a fan directly at your little pet.
If they are outside, it’s important to keep them away from direct sunlight.
Make sure your guinea pigs have plenty of fresh cool water to stay hydrated. You can also try freezing a large bottle of water and wrap it up in a clean towel and place it in their enclosure, that way if your pet feels hot they can lie next to the bottle to cool down.
(7). Lack of Attention
Guinea pigs are prey animals so they instinctively hide signs of pain and illness to avoid attracting predators’ attention unfortunately, this also means that it’s very difficult for guinea pig owners to tell if their pet is sick
Make sure to pay attention to the smallest changes in their routine any change in their posture, eating, grooming urination habits, or even increased aggression or lack of energy can be a sign of illness
The only way to ensure that your pet is as healthy as it can be is by taking them to the vet regularly for a checkup
An occasional checkup makes it easy to catch potential problems before they cause too much damage.
(6) Not enough space to exercise
Although guinea pigs are small they need plenty of room to exercise explore in tunnels and play hide and seek this is because their bodies are built to run and jump around
Be sure to provide them with an environment as large as possible, a pair of guinea pigs need a space that is at least 10.5 square feet.
Keeping your guinea pig in tiny cages is unkind and can cause a range of health problems such as obesity and depression.
(5) Free-Roaming – Your guinea pig in an unsafe place
An unsafe place is any space you haven’t guinea pig proofed- this means any area with toxins, accessible power cords sharp objects, toxic plants, and rooms with other free-roaming pets such as cats or dogs.
Some rooms such as bathrooms and garages should be off-limits to your pet because they often contain toxic chemicals and cleaning products that may be hazardous to your little pet.
Free-roaming in the outdoors presents new problems such as predators, extreme temperatures, insect bites, and unknown pesticides.
Let your guinea pig roam around as much as you can but remember to piggy-proof the area to keep them safe.
(4) Keeping them outside
The outdoors is full of dangers for guinea pigs, no matter where you live; there are predators like owls, stray cats, or dogs who want to eat your little pet
Even if they can’t get inside your guinea pig’s enclosure scary scents and sounds of predators can cause chronic anxiety in your little pet and remember outdoor guinea pigs may also face extreme weather conditions.
When your little pet is stuck in a hutch outside, they may be at risk of heat stroke. They also attract flies which bring disease, mites, and lice with them.
(3) Keeping their enclosure in a high-traffic environment
As prey animals, guinea pigs can be prone to stress so their enclosure should be placed in an area where there isn’t a lot of noise or traffic like where there aren’t many people and young children constantly walking around.
Stress can affect your pet’s physical well-being in addition to their mental well-being a little hide box in their enclosure will also help control stress, hideouts will help your little pet feel safe and confident.
Having nowhere to take cover will make your piggy scared, stressed, and anxious.
(2) Yelling at them
Yelling is another thing you should never do to your guinea pig, piggies don’t understand the word “No” when you yell at your pet you’re just frightening them – keep in mind that guinea pigs are highly sensitive to loud noises.
Yelling at them could cause them stress but they may also perceive the person making these noises as a threat and start to stay away from them.
Make sure not to do anything that causes fear in your four-legged friend
(1) Lack of socialization
Guinea pigs are very social animals and they need constant companionship; In the wild, they congregate in large herds constantly interacting with others of their kind.
When they don’t have that social interaction, they get stressed out and scared, a lonely piggy can suffer from depression and boredom, ideally, guinea pigs should be kept in pairs.
If you have a single guinea pig then make sure the company comes from you
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