Guinea pigs are easy to take care of as pets and require little daily maintenance. Developing health routines for your guinea pigs is still a good idea. If you do this health routine every other week, you can head off many uncomfortable situations for your guinea pigs.
Guinea Pig Hair
Hair is the exception to the biweekly health routine schedule. If your guinea pig has hair that requires special care, such as a long hair guinea pig, you may need to up how often you do this part. Some guinea pigs have dense hair or out of control growth and may require brushing every day.
Guinea pigs do not require baths as a dog would. Most guinea pigs find baths terrifying since they are not strong swimmers. Instead, your piggles do most of their own grooming. They remove all kinds of debris using their paws and mouth. Grooming is also a herd behavior, so your guinea pigs may help each other.
For your part, you need to brush your guinea pig out. Plastic tools are ideal for this task, since metal may pull too hard on your guinea pigs’ sensitive skin. A short-haired guinea pig just requires a quick brush. Meanwhile, a long-haired guinea pig relies on you to help them untangle their locks. The same may be required for dense haired breeds.
Your guinea pig may also require haircuts, depending on their hair length and how much you’re able to help them groom. It’s vital that you not cut your guinea pig’s skin if you must take this course. Also, remember that their hair protects their skin, so leave them some.
Your Guinea Pigs’ Nails
Guinea pig nails are similar to human nails, and they’re always growing. If you leave them out of your guinea pigs’ health routine, the nails will grow in odd directions. These nails may even grow around into your guinea pigs’ feet.
Fortunately, this part of the health routine only requires a little practice. You’ll need a pair of small animal nail clippers and a small jar of styptic powder. On guinea pigs with light nails, you can see the quick. The goal is to get within a few millimeters of this darker part of the nail. On guinea pigs with black nails, it’s best to clip from the tips back slowly. If you miss and cut the blood-bearing quick, apply styptic powder and watch the guinea pig until they stop bleeding.
If you are uncomfortable with clipping guinea pig nails, your local small animal veterinarian offers this service.
Teeth as Part of Health Routines
Guinea pigs do not need teeth brushing and are unlikely to require dental cleanings in their lives. As part of health routines, though, you should check your guinea pigs’ teeth anyway. Since guinea pig teeth continuously grow, if your piggles are not wearing them down appropriately, they require veterinary intervention. Check that the teeth are level and not impeding mouth movement.
Ear Cleaning for Guinea Pigs
Cleaning guinea pig ears is not a glamourous task, but your piggles depend on you. As with humans, guinea pigs can get buildup on their ears, and it’s annoying to them. Remember, never put anything inside your guinea pigs’ ear canals.
For cleaning, you need some cotton swabs and mineral oil. While you’re catching the guinea pig, place the swab ends in mineral oil. Then you simply need to run the swab over the outside and underside of the ear flap. Avoid the ear canal area, and if you see something concerning in the canal, contact your vet.
Regular cleaning like this prevents waxy buildup. It can also help you find mite infestations and fungal infections in their early stages. If you see either, contact your vet to begin the prescription treatments.
Keeping track of your guinea pigs’ weight lets you adjust their diet for optimum health. For the most part, guinea pigs do self-regulate, so don’t worry about small fluctuations. If a guinea pig is experiencing a rapid drop or rise in weight, you should seek veterinary advice.
Weighing guinea pigs as part of their health routines involves a scale. At Guinea Pig Center, a mechanical food scale with a plastic bin worked well. You want to ensure the guinea pig is fully resting on the scale for an accurate weight.