Caring for guinea pigs in summer

Guinea pigs are very susceptible to temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit/27 Celsius and you need to ensure your guinea pig is kept at a comfortable temperature during the summer (May to September). If you do not ensure that your guinea pig is kept cool enough he may suffer from heat exhaustion, and death may occur in extreme cases.

Here are our recommendations to help your guinea pig in hot weather:

  1. Make sure the hutch and run are well shaded
  2. Avoid plastic hutches as they get overheated very quickly in hot weather
  3. Fill plastic bottles with cold water and lay them in the hutch or run making sure he does not nibble the plastic. Alternatively purchase an Ice Pod (available at April Lodge) which will cure this problem
  4. Drape cold water-soaked towels over his hutch or run
  5. Keep him inside in the cool on really hot days
  6. Put a parasol over his run
  7. Make sure he has an unlimited supply of fresh water (this is critical at all times, but especially in the summer months. It is a criminal offence to deny your animal access to clean fresh water at all times)
  8. Remember that the sun moves round during the day, so change the position of the hutch to ensure your guinea pig is sheltered
  9. Consider putting him out after the sun has gone down, not forgetting to put him back later!  Perhaps you can set an alarm, maybe your mobile phone, an oven timer or clock to remind you he is still outside
  10. Longhaired or older guinea pigs are more susceptible to blowfly strike during the summer. Keep long tail hair trimmed and bottoms clean. Putting a dab of citronella around the rump area, or a product called “Rear Guard” will help to protect your guinea pig against blowfly.

Heat exhaustion

If it is too late and your guinea pig is already suffering from heat exhaustion, he will not be able to stand. He will be lying on his side, panting. You should wrap your guinea pig in a cold water-soaked towel for a short while, usually until he is able to stand again and respiration returns to normal. Do not give him a drink at this stage as the heat may have caused a swallowing abnormality and he could drown. Keep him in cool surroundings and when he has recovered, carefully and slowly syringe water in or use a drip-feed bottle. If there are no further problems try to re-hydrate him as much as possible later. If in any doubt, you should seek the advice of a vet.

For further information see our emergency medical guide.