Recently we hosted our Guinea Pig Education Night at Murdoch University, with over 100 guinea pig owners attending to learn more about their furry friends. Below is a summary of what we covered on the night:
What to feed your guinea pig and why? – Dr Kelly Giles
Hay: feeding your guinea pig a diet high in a good quality hay, whether that is by using oaten, timothy or meadow hay. Lucerne hay (also known as alfalfa hay) is also available at many pet stores for guinea pigs and rabbits, and is okay for juveniles but not generally recommended for adults. Ideally, at least 80% of a guinea pig’s diet should just be hay.
Vegetables: Just like for people, vegetables are an important part of a guinea pig’s diet. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, that guinea pigs have a daily requirement for. Interestingly, humans and guinea pigs are the only two animals that are unable to synthesise their own vitamin C, and must eat it daily. Good vegetables for guinea pig include the ‘green leaves’, such as silverbeet and bok choy.
Pellets: these are a treat for guinea pigs, and they should be kept to a minimum. Offering a tablespoon of pellets a day is the maximum any guinea pig should have a day, but pellets can provide a great way to lure your guinea pigs back into their huts at night!
Is your guinea pig happy? – Dr Sam Loughridge
We get up each day, feed the pets, make sure they have fresh water and go out to work, but have you ever paused to consider; “is your guinea pig happy?” Dr Sam investigated this question and presented his findings on Thursday night, and also spoke about a number of ways to enrich your guinea pigs life. These included some easy home projects like making houses and runs out of cardboard boxes, or stuffing hay into cardboard toilet rolls. There are also a range of toys you can purchase through our online shop 🙂
Guinea pig sex education : what you should know about the birds and the bees – Dr Nicole Su
Guinea pig sterilisation is not something that is as well known as it is in other species however it is recommended and can help prevent some nasty conditions from developing. Female guinea pigs commonly develop cystic ovaries, these cysts can cause pain, discomfort and hair loss. Males can develop daily constipation (faecal impaction) by the age of 3 years, which becomes a smelly, ongoing issue to manage at home. If you are interested in desexing your guinea pig, UPV offers discounted “Hopstart” packages that includes desexing, microchipping, a health and dental check as well as some recommended food.
Calcium and the urinary system: is calcium bad? – Dr James Haberfield
Guinea pigs fed a diet that is excessively high in calcium can cause them to develop problems such as stones forming in the bladder, ureters and/or kidney, which leads to a very painful condition. The stone causes significant damage to these organs and in the most severe cases, can obstruct urination entirely leading to fatal rupture of the bladder or kidney. Guinea pigs with bladder stones are often noticed straining to urinate, or have blood in their urine. If you notice these signs in your guinea pig, please contact your vet for treatment.
Stay tuned for our next education night, which will be announced on our Facebook page in the next few months!