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CARING FOR YOUR
GUINEA PIG

One of the joys of being a Guinea Pig Pet Parent is how easy they are to take care of. You can get all of the food, treats, bedding, and habitat supplies your Guinea Pig will need at your local PetSmart store or on PetSmart.com.

FIRST DAY

What You’ll Need:

  • Solid-bottom cage (minimum 24x12x12)
  • Water bottle
  • Food bowl
  • Hay rack
  • A hide house (store bought or a small/medium size flower pot)
  • Chew toys
  • Aspen, pine, or recycled paper bedding (NO CEDAR)
  • Timothy hay, orchard grass, or oat grass

Before you bring your new Guinea Pig home make sure to have the habitat and all your other goodies and supplies set up to ensure a smooth, undisrupted transition to its new home.

The Set Up
Find a place for your Guinea Pig’s habitat that’s secluded from your other family pets, especially cats and dogs, and away from a window (Guinea Pigs do not do well in direct heat, cold or drafts).

During your Guinea Pig’s first day allow him to adjust to his new surroundings by only taking him out of the habitat for a few minutes. You can sit near your Guinea Pig’s cage and talk softly as he explores, and when you’re ready to pick him up for the first time try offering a treat or piece of fruit and gently stroke its head while he eats. If your Guinea Pig scurries away, just be patient and try again in 10-15 minutes.

DAY TO DAY

This pet will be relatively low maintenance, but will require specific daily Guinea Pig care.

Feeding
Hay should make up the majority of your Guinea Pig's daily diet. Offering a variety of hay types, including timothy hay, orchard grass and oat grass, will help keep your pet healthy. Place your Guinea Pig’s hay in a hay rack. Never place food directly on top of cage bedding–you don’t want your pig to ingest bedding. Refresh the hay daily, keeping the bowl approximately 3/4 full. Every other day you can offer fresh vegetables (to make up 20% of diet), including dark, leafy greens like kale and collard greens as well as vegetables like zucchini, shredded carrots. Remove all food that cannot be consumed within four hours.

Guinea Pigs cannot store or manufacture their own vitamin C, so incorporate a daily vitamin C food or water supplement into your Guinea Pig’s diet (PetSmart carries pelleted food with vitamin C supplements).

Only offer an amount that can be consumed in four hours to prevent spoilage.

Cage Maintenance
Food and water bowls and bottles should be cleaned out daily. Remove stale food daily in order to keep your pet clean and healthy.

Playing/Grooming
Provide daily exercise to promote good health and good behavior. You can set up a wire playpen in a safe area of your home (away from outlets and electrical cords) to give your Guinea Pig more exercise and stimulation. Never leave your pet unsupervised outside of the cage. Long-haired Guinea Pigs should be brushed daily to avoid mats and knots.

ONGOING

It’s best to establish a veterinary relationship when you first get your Guinea Pig; you may want to consider a specialty small pet vet. Check your local PetSmart Banfield Pet Hospital to see if a small pet vet is on staff. Bring your Guinea Pig to the vet once a year for an annual check up as well as any time your Guinea Pig exhibits out-of-the-norm behavior, including lethargy, lack of interest in food, or change in bowel movements.

Feeding
In addition to your Guinea Pig’s daily diet of hay and vegetables you can feed fruits, including papaya, banana, and mango, once a week (5% of diet) and treats like raisins and alfalfa hay twice weekly.

Cage Maintenance
Your pet’s cage should be spot-cleaned daily and have the bedding completely changed out monthly.

Playing/Grooming
Guinea Pigs love to forage, which is great for entertainment and exercise. Toys that can be stuffed with treats will do the trick. Your Guinea Pig’s teeth never stop growing so providing store-bought chew toys can help your Guinea Pig keep his teeth at a comfortable length.

For more information on caring for you Guinea Pig, check out the PetSmart Guinea Pig Care Guide.