Do you have a Guinea pig? These little balls of fur may be small, but they’ve got some pretty big fans. They’re very popular children’s pets. One reason for this may be because they don’t live very long, and therefore aren’t a long term commitment, as dogs and cats are. However, that short lifespan means cavies become seniors in just a few short years. Read on for some tips from a Thorold, ON veterinarian on helping your pet age gracefully.
Most Guinea pigs live between 5 to 7 years. However, some cavies make it to 9 or even 10. (Note: the oldest Guinea pig on record lived almost 15 years!) You can consider your fuzzy pal as a senior when he’s around age 4.
Senior Guinea pigs often develop many of the same issues as older people do, such as arthritis and vision problems. Your pet will also lose muscle mass, and may get stiff and sore. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for signs of sickness, such as lethargy, anorexia, diarrhea, unusual posture, and uncharacteristic vocalizations. Contact your vet if you notice any of these issues.
Younger Guinea pigs often benefit from having cages that are two or even three stories high. Since cavies in their golden years can’t climb as easily, you may want to get a cage that offers ample space on one level. Or, adjust the ramps so the angle is gentler.
Guinea pigs, like other pets, feel safest when they are in familiar environments. Try to avoid rearranging your little buddy’s home.
Comfort is always king with older animals. Your tiny furball will appreciate having soft bedding. Fleece is a good option. Go for a lighter color: this will make it easier to monitor your cute pet’s waste.
Soft beds, cozies, and tunnels will help your pint-sized pal stay warm and comfy during their retirement. You can also give the little guy heated towels to snuggle up against on cold nights.
Your pet’s dietary needs may change a bit. Many older Guinea pigs benefit from having extra Vitamin C. Ask your vet for specific advice on this.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about Guinea pig care. As your Thorold, ON pet clinic, we’re here for you!