On average, guinea pigs’ life expectancies tend to fall between the 5-7 year range, though it is not uncommon (and quite likely, if you follow tips like the ones you’re about to read!) for a guinea pig to live to be 8 or older! But how can you help your guinea pig to join the ranks of the 8+ year old piggies out there?
While guinea pig lifespan does depend partially on each unique guinea pig’s particular tendencies toward health or illness, there are many things you can do as a guinea pig owner to help ensure that your guinea pig lives the longest and happiest life possible under your care!
The following 5 tips will help you maximize your guinea pig’s lifespan. In the medical world, approaches like this are known as preventive care – helping to prevent disease and injury before it happens, because the chances for health and recovery are much better through prevention than trying to treat an existing condition.
5 simple ways to help your guinea pig live longer:
- Provide your guinea pig with a proper diet consisting of vitamin C-rich pellets, fresh water, unlimited timothy hay, and a generous portion of appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables. Unsure what you should feed your guinea pig and how much? A comprehensive list of what guinea pigs can and cannot eat is included in the official Guinea Pig Guide!
- Weigh your guinea pig regularly. Weight loss is often an early and clear sign of illness in guinea pigs. By monitoring your guinea pig’s weight on a regular basis (at least once a month, weekly if you’re really diligent!), you’ll be able to see if he or she is maintaining a steady weight and be able to react accordingly if weight loss occurs. You can invest in an inexpensive digital kitchen scale that measures in grams, and use a plastic or glass bowl to place your piggie in. Easy as pie!
- Find an experienced exotic animal veterinarian close by to you. Unfortunately, not all veterinary offices treat guinea pigs, and even some that do aren’t very experienced in proper guinea pig care. This is why it’s so important to not wait until your guinea pig is sick to begin searching for a vet. Be sure as soon as you bring a guinea pig into your life (ideally beforehand!) that you find a vet that’s knowledgeable and experienced with guinea pigs. Some offices specialize in exotic pets (guinea pigs, bunnies, birds, reptiles, all fall under this category), but other general vet offices have veterinarians who are excellent with piggies. XXX PUT INFO ABOUT FINDING A VET HERE XXX
- Keep an eye on your guinea pig’s teeth and nails. Both guinea pigs’ teeth and nails grow continuously. With a constant supply of hay, guinea
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pigs grind their teeth down to a comfortable length, but sometimes their teeth can become misaligned or snap and cause problems. Be sure to check your guinea pigs’ teeth for evenness regularly, and safely trim their nails every few weeks so they don’t overgrow, curl, and cause potential foot problems that can lead to even worse medical problems over time.
- Keep your guinea pigs comfy and cozy. Piggies are sensitive to temperature, so one of the easiest things you can do to help ensure their health is to provide them with shelter in a room that maintains a fairly stable temperature throughout the year. Ideally you don’t want your guinea pigs to be any colder than 65 degrees or any warmer than 75 degrees if you can help it. Otherwise they are at risk for heat stroke or other cold-related problems which can cause stress, lower immune function and bring on upper respiratory infections, which can be fatal.
There are of course many many more ways to help your guinea pigs live a long time, but these are just five to get you started! I hope you’ve found this list helpful and an approachable way to ensure your guinea pigs live a long time with you!