Guinea pigs are particularly susceptible to heat stress. They cannot sweat and are unable to cool down by panting so they can start to show signs of heat stress at temperatures of 24℃ or even lower.
What are the signs of heat stress in guinea pigs?
As prey animals, guinea pigs are very good at hiding signs of illness. In the wild, showing any signs of vulnerability would make them an easy target for predators. So, it is important that you keep a close eye on your piggies as the weather warms up so that you will be able to pick up on the signs of heat stress as soon as possible:
It is vital that you seek veterinary attention as soon as possible if your guinea pig is struggling because sadly the outlook is not good unless treatment is started promptly.
How can I keep my guinea pig cool in hot weather?
When it comes to heat stress in guinea pigs, prevention is always better than cure.
Move their hutch to a shady spot
Wooden hutches can get very hot very quickly, especially in direct sunlight. Move your guinea pig’s home to the coolest place in the shade that you can find. Garden parasols are a great choice if there is no natural shade. On a hot summer’s day, the best place may well be in your house, closing the curtains if necessary to keep your fluffy friends as cool as possible.
Provide a breeze
Don’t underestimate the cooling effect of a breeze. Position the hutch so that there is good airflow, whether that is provided by a natural breeze outdoors or an electric fan indoors.
Provide plenty of fresh water
Allow unrestricted access to fresh water to make sure your guinea pig stays well hydrated. You can add ice cubes for an extra cooling effect.
Offer cool treats
Serve tasty snacks straight from the fridge. You can try soaking leafy greens in icy water before giving them to your guinea pig. Remember to feed these treats in moderation so that your guinea pig doesn’t end up with diarrhoea!
On a hot day, your guinea pig will appreciate a cooling mat to lie on. These are readily available to purchase in pet stores. An ice pack wrapped in a towel provides a good alternative or how about a ceramic tile that has been pre-chilled in the fridge? All of these provide a welcome relief from high temperatures and your guinea pig will soon learn to seek these spots out.
And finally, don’t forget to check your guinea pig for fly strike twice a day in warm weather!