As winter marches on and temperatures nose-dive, you need to think about guinea pig care during these cold months. Take extra steps to make sure that your beloved guinea pigs get through the winter safe and comfortable. This is especially the case if you have a hairless guinea pigs!
Guinea pig care tip #1: Bring your outdoor guinea pigs inside
Care for your guinea pig by protecting them from extreme and fluctuating winter temperatures. Bring any outdoor guinea pigs inside where they are safer from the cold. By bringing your guinea pigs inside, you’re also better able to keep an eye on how active they are, if they need more food or water and how their health is doing.
If for some reason you’re not able to welcome them into your home, make sure they are moved into an enclosed area such as a shed or porch. It should be a room that can have its temperature controlled either with a space heater or a built-in heater. If your guinea pig is kept in a shed or porch, you should also consider adding extra installation over the hutch. A sheet of reflector foil or even a heavy blanket are some good options. Make sure the hutch has good ventilation and that you are checking regularly to make sure they are fine and in good health.
Guinea pig care tip #2: Protect your guinea pig from winter drafts
Your guinea pig cage or habitat should be in an area of your home that is draft-free. We don’t like cold winter drafts and neither do guinea pigs! Hairless guinea pigs, for example, should be kept in a non-drafty environment with the temperature kept between 68 ºF to 79 ºF.
Guinea pig care tip #3: Give your guinea pigs extra bedding
Guinea pig care isn’t just about the shelter you give your guinea pig but also about how it’s insulated. Make sure your guinea pigs get extra bedding so they can create a warmer burrow if they’d like. Recycled bedding like Carefresh Bedding is a good choice as its extra comfortable and absorbant.
Also add extra hay, which can also help your guinea pig retain its body heat. The extra hay is also a good source of food for them. Important since it takes a lot of energy to stay warm.
Guinea pig care tip #4: Be wary of rodent poison or traps
When the temperature drops, you’re not the only one spending more time at home. Mice and other rodents are also more likely to move indoors to seek shelter from the cold and find new sources of food. And, they may pick your home as their new space! You or your family may be tempted to get rid of the mice with either traps or rodent poison. But, unfortunately, pets like guinea pigs sometimes end up eating the poison or getting caught in the traps. For this reason, take extra precaution to not place any poisons or traps anywhere near your cavies. Make sure to seal any holes in walls that might serve as passageways for mice. And keep your home clean without food and crumbs lying around so not to attract any hungry mice.
Guinea pig care tip #5: Prevent joint pain in older guinea pigs
Do you have an older or elderly guinea pig? Does your guinea pig have arthritis? If so, their joints may bother them a little more during the winter, just as they do among humans.
One way to make your guinea pig more comfortable is to give them a dietary supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural substances that are part of normal cartilage in both guinea pigs and humans. As you know, cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones in a joint. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both safe and have few if any side effects.
Products like Oxbow Natural Science Joint Support Hay Tabs contain Glucosamine and chondroitin in a tasty tablet that is Timothy-hay based. you might find that it puts some spring in your guinea pig’s step!
Guinea pig care tip #6: Keep your guinea pigs dry and warm after bath time
Guinea pigs are susceptible to colds – especially after a bath when they’re nice and wet. So make sure to dry them well. You can even use a hair dry on the warm setting to help dry them. You can aim the warm air around them quickly so as not to disturb them too much. Absolutely do not use the dryer on the hot setting!