Alexandra Vets, Clevedon
GENERAL HEALTH CARE AND ADVICE
Guinea pigs originate from the mountains in South America where they naturally eat a diet of high fibre vegetation. To cope with this diet, guinea pigs have continuously growing teeth and a complex digestive system. Most guinea pig health problems are related to an inappropriate diet.
The plants in South America have a much higher vitamin C content than the vegetation in the UK. It is essential that your guinea pigs diet includes the required amount of nutrients, especially Vitamin C, as, like humans, guinea pigs cannot synthesise this vitamin.
A Vitamin C deficiency will cause your guinea pigs immune system to be less effective and leave them susceptible to infection and parasite infection. It can also lead to dental problems and in severe cases scurvy may develop, which if not treated promptly, could be fatal.
YOUR GUINEA PIG NEEDS:
- A tablespoon (no more) of good quality guinea pig food – we recommend Oxbow Cavy Performance for you guineas up to a year old and Oxbow Cavy Cuisine or Super Guinea Excel for adults.
- Ad-lib good quality hay – we recommend Oxbow Alfalfa Hay for guinea pigs up to 6 months of age and the Oxbow Timothy Hay for adults
- Ad-lib grass, either grazed from the lawn or handpicked, never feed you your guinea pig mower clippings as this can cause colic.
- A small amount of leafy vegetables, e.g: cabbage, broccoli, parsley, dark green rocket etc. Do not feed your guinea pig spinach as this can cause bladder stones.
- Occasional treats of small pieces if apple, carrot and tomato 2-3 times a week. Your guinea pig will let you know what they like and dislike, so it’s best to experiment at first to find out what their favourites are.
- Most treats sold in pet shops are generally high in sugar and low in fibre so are not advised.
The correct diet is essential, not just for the general health of your guinea pig but also its welfare. It is especially important as diet plays a huge role in your pets dental health.
It is a good idea to arrange for male guinea pigs to be castrated. As well as preventing unwanted mating, this can help with behavioural problems such as aggression or fighting. Neutering is available for guinea pigs from 5 months of age and after neutering we recommend regular weight checks as it is common that your pet may gain a few pounds.
PREVENTION OF DENTAL DISEASE
Dental disease is an extremely common problem and a very frustrating one to treat, it’s also very complex and can be linked to nutrition and diet. Problems with pet’s teeth can also cause a number of secondary problems such as; anorexia, poor grooming, facial abscesses, eye infections, colic or pneumonia. Your guinea pig may also be more susceptible to Trixacrus Caviae mites due to immune suppression and altered behaviour
Very simply, there are 3 contributory factors to dental disease, the first being that it is generic or inherited. The second is poor nutrition, which relates to growth and development of the teeth as well as the supporting bones of the skull. The third is due to failure to provide enough roughage for your guinea pig to naturally wear down their growing teeth. The first reason can be easily prevented by careful breeding, whilst the second and third can be avoided with responsible pet ownership.
Is it best to feed pelleted food (e.g Supa-Guinea, rather than a coarse mix of cereals? Guinea Pigs tend to leave the parts of the cereal that they aren’t particularly fond of – a bit like when you leave the coffee creams in the bottom of the Quality Street box. A pelleted feed ensures they are receiving a truly balanced diet.
Allowing your pet daily access to sunlight is also a good idea as it provides Vitamin D absorption through the skin, enhancing the strength of both teeth and bones.
Fibrous food such as good quality grass and hay should be fed ad lib to provide dental wear and also improve happiness and welfare by decreasing boredom. Your guinea pigs diet should also be supplemented with non-poisonous weeds and plants such as; dandelions, brambles, tree leaves (good sources of calcium and fibre). Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and spinach can also be a good addition to you guinea pigs diet, root vegetables such as carrots are not a great source of calcium.
KEEPING GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS TOGETHER
It is not recommended that guinea pigs and rabbits are kept together in the same hutch. Rabbits tend to bully guinea pigs and they have the capacity to inflict a lot of damage by kicking with their powerful hind legs. Also as they are different species, they both carry different bacteria in their lungs which increases the chances of infection that could lead to pneumonia.
OUT OF HOURS
If you ever need to contact us out of hours then please just call as usual and you will be given the contact details for our dedicated emergency service – Vets Now Ltd. This is manned by vets and nurses who only work nights, this means that they are fresh, awake and awaiting your call, enabling your pet to receive the best out of hours hospital care possible. The team at Vets Now Ltd are also specialists in emergency as well as critical care and have access to all the facilities required to provide a high class service, around the clock.
We hope you find this information useful and would appreciate any feedback or comments. Remember we’re only a phone call away.
Hillyfields Vets, Winscombe
Monday-Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday : 9am to 11am
(Hillyfields Vets, Winscombe)
Consultations: 9am – 10.30am
Saturday:11am to 1:30pm
(Alexandra Vets, Clevedon)
Consultations: 12pm – 1.30pm