Guinea pigs make lovely pets, but they are rather sensitive. They have special digestive requirements, and specific temperature requirements as well. We consider the problem of how to keep your guinea pig cool in hot weather.
Guinea pigs have a strong dislike of both heat and cold. They prefer an environment of 65-75 degrees. Otherwise, they will become uncomfortable, and even unhealthy.
In fact, should a guinea pig grow too hot, they become prone to heatstroke. This is a serious condition that you should learn the signs of.
Then we’ll move onto some quick, easy ways to keep your guinea pig cool, especially in the summertime.
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How To Tell If Your Guinea Pig Has Heatstroke
First, you will want to be aware of your guinea pig’s temperature. Heatstroke in guinea pigs manifests in a few ways: lethargy, panting, salivating, restlessness, and, as the condition progresses, convulsions. Some of these symptoms are more obvious than others. Lethargy and restlessness are probably the most subtle. In hot weather, be sure to keep an eye out for these early signs of heatstroke.
From here, panting and salivation follow.
How to treat Guinea Pig heatstroke
Should your guinea pig exhibit any signs of heatstroke, you will need to act quickly. This is a serious condition, and when left unchecked, it can prove fatal.
Take your guinea pig indoors, where there is air-conditioning and shade. To help them cool off, wet their fur, ears, and feet. Be careful not to completely douse your guinea pig. When their body temperature drops too fast, other health problems become a risk.
Once your guinea pig is starting to cool, call up your vet. Other, severe complications can be caused by heatstroke. These require professional care. Here’s a link to help you find a suitable vet for your Guinea Pig.
Heatstroke is incredibly unpleasant for guinea pigs to experience, as well as distressing for their owners to deal with. As they always say, the best treatment is prevention. Fortunately, there are several simple but sure ways you can protect your guinea pig from heatstroke. The following are 7 ways you can keep your guinea pig cool:
1. Keep Your Guinea Pig Inside
When it comes to temperature, one of the worst places you can keep your guinea pig is outside. The weather fluctuates, and sunlight warms the outdoors. Inside, obviously, you can control the environment with air conditioning and the like.
Garages and sheds are especially unsuitable for guinea pigs. They have next to no filtration, and they rapidly accumulate heat. Guinea pigs can go out of doors when the weather is mild and fine. However, weather fluctuations and temperatures remain a risk.
The best place inside to keep your guinea pig is somewhere that is both peaceful, and a place that they can be around family. Guinea pigs are sociable by nature. The TV room is not a good choice, as the sound will cause your guinea pig stress. A living room or family room is ideal.
2.Create A Cooling Breeze For Your Guinea Pig With A Fan
Fans can be a great way to help keep your guinea pig cool. Set one up near the cage. There are two things you will want to keep in mind: The distance the fan is from the cage, and the angle of the fan. A constant, chilly wind will cause your guinea pig stress. Guinea pigs appreciate breezy airflow that they can step in and out of, to regulate their temperature as they please.
First, angle the fan toward one portion of the cage. In this area, you can create mild to moderate airflow. To achieve the proper height and distance, use a chair to prop up the fan. Allow the fan to run during the hotter portion of the day. Your guinea pig is sure to appreciate the refreshing airflow, there when they require.
We use a large free-standing fan like this one on Amazon.
3. Place Cold Items In Your Guinea Pig Cage
To keep your guinea pig cool, you can take frozen objects and put them in the cage for your guinea pigs to enjoy. They will lie on or against these and experience great heat relief. Some of the best items for this purpose are frozen water bottles. These are easy to acquire and freeze. Guinea pigs also find frozen water bottles difficult to ruin and chew.
Some opt also to use gel ice packs. These are iffy… if your guinea pig will chew them, then they are a bad choice, clearly. Otherwise, they can serve as a fine option. Try to find ice packs that are chew-proof.
Newspapers can also be surprisingly effective at keeping guinea pigs cool. Lay them flat in the cage. Their surface will be cooler than the rest of the cage. They also allow for increased airflow.
Another technique is to drape a blanket or cloth, damp with cold water, over the cage. This can help cool down the surrounding temperature. Get the cloth wet, but not dripping. Making certain that you and your guinea pig can still see each other, hang the cloth over a large portion of the cage. This will not solve the heat problem by itself.
4. Brush And Trim Excess Guinea Pig Fur
In the warmer months, it is more important than ever to keep your guinea pig well-groomed. Excess fur is not only unideal for hygiene, but it will also keep your guinea pig too warm – especially in the summertime.
This goes doubly for guinea pigs of the long-haired varieties. In fact, during hot months, long-haired guinea pigs need their fur trimmed in order to keep the heat at bay. To help keep your guinea pig cool on warm days, maintain their grooming and trimming. A freshly-brushed or trimmed coat will be less thick and heavy and offer your guinea pig heat relief.
5. Keep Fresh And Cool Water Available
Did you know that guinea pigs will not drink warm water? This is probably because they know it will heat them up. Still, what they don’t know is that warm water is better than nothing on a hot day. They would rather go without and, combined with the heat, the consequential dehydration can lead to severe ailments, such as heatstroke.
Keep the water cool for your guinea pig by replacing it frequently. On hot days, you should replace the water at least 3 times daily, sometimes more. So that the water stays cool longer, make sure it is quite cold to begin with.
Recommended is to have a backup water bottle, already filled and kept in the fridge. You can swap the two water bottles out, ascertaining that one is always cold and ready.
6. Give Your Guinea Pig A Hydrating Snack
Water-rich, juicy foods can help keep your guinea pig hydrated and cool. Any guinea pig-safe fruits and veggies are perfect for this. This includes:
● Strawberries. Not only are strawberries water-rich and juicy, but they are also plentiful in vitamin C. This is a vitamin that guinea pigs must obtain from their food because they don’t produce it on their own. Read all about pets eating strawberries in one of our articles here.
● Kiwis. Like strawberries, kiwis are guinea-pig safe and full of vitamin C.
● Apples. Guinea pigs do enjoy a good apple. These fibrous fruits are chock-full of water. They are also a guinea pig favorite, to tempt their palate.
● Oranges. You can actually see the little pockets of juice in oranges. Guinea pigs eat these up and hydrate themselves rapidly. Oranges are also packed with vitamin C.
● Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries… guinea pigs can eat all of these, and they are happy to. Treat your guinea pig to some berries on a hot day – perhaps a tiny (¼ cup) fruit salad for a snack.
There are also some extra hydrating fruits and veggies that should do the trick:
● Melons. Did you know that melons are 92% water? No wonder they are so refreshing – for humans and guinea pigs alike!
● Cucumbers. Cucumbers beat out melons, at a whopping 96% water. Your guinea pig will hydrate themselves as they munch on this nourishing veggie.
● Romaine lettuce. Like cucumber, romaine lettuce weighs in at 96% water. This is not to be mistaken with iceberg lettuce (which is actually bad for guinea pigs).
7. Keep Your Guinea Pig Out Of Direct Sun
Even if you keep your guinea pig indoors, and even with air conditioning, the sun can cause them to overheat. Indoors or out, the cage should be situated somewhere that it will not receive direct sunlight. Outside, you can place a parasol over your guinea pig cage to accomplish this. Try also to set the hutch up in the shade, or a part of the yard where the sun doesn’t often shine.
Indoors, simply set up the cage away from windows. You can allow for some natural lighting in the room, but do not let sunlight hit the cage directly.
If you do keep your Guinea Pig outdoors, ensure you have a cover over the top of the run to provide shade.
Conclusion: How To Keep A Guinea Pig Cool In Hot Weather?
As you can see, there are many ways that guinea pigs can become hot… sunlight, insufficient airflow, an outdoor cage, and more. Luckily, there are even more ways to combat overheating and heatstroke.
Simply set up the cage inside; away from windows; with fans; cold items in their cage; fresh, cold water; and perhaps a hydrating snack. This is a recipe for a guinea pig that is comfortable, content, and cool.