How to keep guinea pigs cool in the heat
- Guinea pigs can overheat very quickly, particularly those kept in wooden hutches and sheds outdoors which can heat up extremely rapidly
- Sadly, heatstroke can be fatal, so it’s essential that guinea pig owners take steps to prevent this
- These include moving hutches into the shade and providing cooling ice blocks and fans to regulate temperatures
- Signs of heatstroke include lethargy, panting and convulsions
- If you suspect that your guinea pig has heatstroke you must seek veterinary help immediately
Top 10 tips to keep guinea pigs cool in the heat
- Move your guinea pigs' hutch out of the sun into a cooler place, either in a shady spot, under a parasol or inside your home in a cool room out of direct sunlight
- A fan can be used to keep the air cool and create airflow, however, do not blow the fan directly onto the guinea pigs and ensure they have enough room to move away if they wish. A cold, rung out towel can be placed over the run to provide shade and the fan can be blown onto this to help lower the temperature. Be careful to not cover the whole hutch as the guinea pigs will still need airflow to keep cool and ensure that the towel isn't dripping wet to avoid drenching them. Cooling hutch covers can also be purchased.
- Try freezing a large bottle of water or ice packs and wrapping them up securely in an old, clean towel and place in the hutch. That way, if your guinea pigs feel hot, they can lie next to the bottle to keep cool.
- Consider purchasing a special self-cooling mat which can be placed on the floor of the hutch or run to lower temperatures and provide respite from the heat
- Marble tiles or slates are brilliant to introduce into a run and keep it cool so your guinea pigs can lie on it if needed. Be careful to ensure the tiles remain in the shade, though, as the tiles can become extremely hot if placed in direct sunlight.
- Ensure your guinea pigs have plenty of fresh, cool water to stay hydrated and check regularly that the water spout isn't blocked. Provide more than one source.
- Consider soaking your guinea pigs' leafy greens in icy water or serve fresh from the fridge. Hydrating vegetables such as cucumber can be fed in moderation (too much can cause tummy problems) to add more water to your guinea pigs' diet at times of extreme heat.
- Consider introducing a man-made burrow in your guinea pigs' enclosure for them to go down into out of the sun or introduce hideouts for them to cool down in, but avoid any shelters made from plastic as these can get too hot
- Brush out any excess fur which can particularly affect long-haired guinea pigs and will make them feel hotter and more uncomfortable in the heat
- Dampen their fur with a tepid cloth to help them cool down or, if they are comfortable with it, spray a fine water mist (you'll need to do this gently and at a distance at first)
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in guinea pigs?
- Weakness and lethargy
What should I do if my guinea pig suffers heatstroke?
If you suspect that one of your guinea pigs is suffering from heatstroke, do not submerge your them in cold water as the shock can be fatal. Instead, dampen their fur with cool, but not freezing, water and seek veterinary attention immediately.
Guinea pigs are at higher risk of myiasis, or fly strike, during the summer months - particularly those that have issues keeping themselves clean due to old age, arthritis or dental problems. Make sure your guinea pigs and their bedding is clean at all times. Flies may quickly lay eggs on soiled bedding and the resulting maggots can burrow into your pet's fur and body cavity, which is potentially fatal.