Guinea Pig Mistakes

Guinea Pig Mistakes:

What Not to Do

Exotic Animal Hospital

Here Piggy, Piggy, Piggy!

Considering your spay options for your pet? We have the answers you seek. While it is tempting to search the internet for the best surgery options, be careful of what information you base your decisions on. Some information may not fit your and your pet’s specific needs.

​​​​​​​What does it mean to spay a pet?

Spaying is the term we use for females and it means the surgical removal of sections of the reproductive tract. This renders the pet unable to reproduce.

This, of course, dramatically impacts the hormone levels of the pet. We are learning over time that retaining some hormones may be a beneficial process.

The hardest part of the hormone question is knowing how much hormones are needed for health. Unfortunately, even in the human world, hormone levels vary from day to day, and from person to person over time.
We cannot set a one-size-fits-all number for the ideal amount of estrogen to leave in the body. So while there is some thought that leaving some hormones may be the best option, the exact levels are open to interpretation.

Spaying Options

First off, on a positive note, let’s list the things you need for your guinea pig:

  • Preferably a companion for your little friend

    • Guinea pigs do better in pairs

    • Immature females are a good start

    • Males may fight if a female is around; growing up together usually makes males bond

    • If single, gender does not matter much

  • Fresh water and good food

  • A roomy hutch (cage)

    • The larger the better – males can get territorial

    • Put in a place where the guinea pig can interact with you

    • Not direct sunlight but not in a dark area either

  • Bedding

  • Hiding Places – they do like their privacy

  • Nail clipper (human kind are okay)

    • Cut back the nails every few weeks

    • Do not cut into the quick

  • Exercise

    • Spend time with your little one daily

    • Guinea pigs lover to interact with people and walk around

    • Do not use exercise wheels, they are not for guinea pigs but for smaller animals

  • Hygiene

    • Brush their little coats with a soft brush

    • Bathe in warm, clean, water every few months, soaps are usually unnecessary

      • Be gentle, use a soft cloth


      • Towel Dry

  • Ears

    • Examine often – take to vet if red and irritated

    • Wipe clean with a warm, clean, water and a soft cloth

    • Do not poke or use cotton buds

  • Spaying and Neuterin

    • Every guinea pig situation is different

    • Oddly, male (boar) behavior does not significantly change when neutered

    • If same sex companions, there may be less reason to neuter/spay

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Food and Diet

Guinea pigs should always have water, grass hay, and pellets available.
You can supplement your guinea pig’s diet with

  • Cucumber (not much nutrition)

  • Bell peppers with the seeds removed

  • Carrots (moderately)

  • Chard

  • Endives

  • Zucchini

  • Arugula

  • Artichoke

  • Leafy lettuce other than iceberg lettuce

  • No cabbage

Veggies are good:

  • Cauliflower in small doses

  • Kale in small doses

  • Corn silks and husks

  • Parsley greens and root (less often – too much calcium)

  • Dill

  • Celery leaves

  • Celery cut in small pieces to avoid choking

  • Pesticide free fresh grass

  • Tomato – no seeds and not the green top (poisonous)

Occasional fruits like apples, pear, apricot, blueberries and blackberries. No seeds, ever. Dried fruit in very small doses (too much sugar). Always cut small, seedless, small quantity (1/8 of an apple or orange or a like portion of grapefruit) and keep it infrequent (no more than once or twice a week) as it may lead to bladder problems.

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Mistakes to Avoid

  • No leashes or harnesses

  • No exercise wheels (guinea pig spines are delicate and the wheels are made for smaller animals)

  • Avoid direct sunlight and high temps, guinea pigs can get heat stroke

  • Single piggies don’t do as well as those with company

  • Small cages

  • Bad diet – no junk food, no seeds or anything not on the recommended list

  • Not providing fresh hay and water

  • Not enough vitamin C – their diet should be enough

  • Artificial food additives, especially in water (often they may not like the taste it gives to the water)

  • Unclean living conditions

  • Being loud and yelling and scaring your guinea pig

  • Rough handling

  • Letting your cat or dog “play” with your guinea pig

  • Letting the nails overgrow

  • No wire mesh bottoms to your cages

  • Lack of exercise

  • Inappropriate bedding material

  • Ignoring illness problems – especially respiratory. Untreated symptoms can lead to death.

  • Not being attentive to your pets’ needs. It is not an ornament but a living animal that needs your attention. Guinea pigs are social animals.

  • Inadequate supervision during free walking time or letting them walk in hazardous areas

​​​​​​​Choosing your Vet

As with any animal, good medical care may be required from time to time. Make sure your vet is qualified to see exotics like guinea pigs. If you see any signs of health issues, especially breathing or blood in urine or excrement, please see your vet.

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