Your natural instinct is to make a wonderful home for your pet guinea pig so that he will have a long and happy life.
Now that you’ve read everything you can find about how to take care of your pet, it’s time to read about 5 things you should never do for your pet guinea pig.
1. Do not wash him too often.
Your pet guinea pig cannot stand to be washed too often, nor does he require it. Your main focus should be providing him with a clean environment, and he will do a good job of grooming himself. If you bathe him too often, you will wash away the natural oils in his skin.
It is important, however, to keep his fur brushed. Initially he may seem fearful of the brush you use—he’s naturally suspicious of anything he doesn’t recognise. It’s best to choose a nice baby brush instead of a brush with stiff bristles. To go with that you’ll want a greyhound comb, with its teeth close together and gradually spaced out along the length of the comb. Use a greyhound comb because of its antistatic coating.
For more tips on giving your pig a bath and how often, check out the How to Bath Your Guinea Pig article.
2. Do not feed him commercial treats.
Your guinea pig is an herbivore, and he will enjoy nothing more than fresh grasses and hay plus a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some stores market treats in cute packages that are more attractive to you than to your guinea pig. Not only are those kinds of treats unnecessary, they are actually inadvisable. The treats that contain yoghurt drops carry too many calories from sugars for your pet.
Snacks that resemble trail mix—with lots of nuts and raisins, for example, are also to be avoided, again, for their high sugar content. In fact, any dehydrated fruit should be avoided because the natural sugars found in fruit gather in concentrated areas during the dehydration process.
Stick to green peppers, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, apple slices, the occasional strawberry, and others of your pet’s favourite fruits and vegetables.
Check out the big list of what to feed your guinea pig.
3. Do not feed him foods that cause gas.
Remember that your tiny little guinea pig has a tiny little digestive system, and he cannot handle the kinds of foods that generate gas. The biggest culprits include cauliflower, cabbage, and legumes such as kidney beans or anything in that family.
Green beans are fine; they are not the same kind of beans. Broccoli is okay in moderation. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value for him, it might cause diarrhoea and it’s very high in Calcium.
4. Do not fail to provide sufficient vitamin C.
Guinea pigs are unable to produce any amount of vitamin C, and so your pet needs you to provide adequate amounts in his daily diet. Your guinea pig needs it for development of his bones, teeth, and nails. It also helps blood vessels to develop properly and it can aid in the growth of his ribs and promote intestinal health.
The average guinea pig requires approximately 10 to 30 milligrams per kilogram every day to maintain good health. Inform yourself of which foods offer the highest amounts of vitamin C, and do not just put drops in his water.
If he doesn’t drink all his water, or if he spills his water dish, he will not get his daily amount. Plus he might even avoid the water.
If your guinea pig seems lethargic, loses his appetite and gets a rough-looking coat, he may be short on vitamin C. He will get runny eyes and nose and possibly even diarrhoea. Guinea pigs without sufficient vitamin C develop scurvy.
5. Don’t leave your guinea pigs alone for more than a day.
It’s tiresome to try to find someone to take your guinea pigs if you’re going on a trip for a couple days. It’s even worse to add to the cost of your trip by setting aside money to pay someone to do that.
But you simply cannot leave them alone for longer than a day. Your guinea pigs will consume a large portion of the food you leave for them on Day One, and who knows how long the water will last?
They’re pigs, remember?
If your vet won’t board guinea pigs, ask if he knows someone who will take them for you.
Better yet, pay a neighbour to come in and check on things whilst you’re gone. Put some fruits and veggies in sandwich bags in your refrigerator so that whoever comes in can give them fresh produce each day that you’re away.
You don’t have to worry about cleaning the cage until you’re gone for more than three days; in that case, at the very least, ask your pet-sitters to exchange the dirty fleece for some clean stuff.
There are guinea pig lovers and owners on guinea pig forums who will sit for you; do a search on your locally based guinea pig website.