Heat can be extremely dangerous for guinea pigs so it is important they are kept cool when the weather is hot. Here are some useful tips on how to protect your guinea pigs from becoming overheated during a heatwave:
If your guinea pigs are outdoors, move their hutch and run to a shaded part of the backyard. On extremely hot days and especially during a heatwave, this may not be enough and you may need to bring them inside. It’s worth having an additional indoor cage for these occasions. You could also position a parasol so that it shades the hutch.
Make sure they have a constant supply of water. Use a large bottle and perhaps even two to make sure they don’t run out. You could also try wrapping an ice pack around the bottle to keep it cool.
Wrap an ice pack (more than one is even better) in some fleece or towel and place in their hutch or cage. Alternatively you could use an old plastic water bottle, fill it with water and freeze then wrap in the same way. They can lie on this to cool themselves down. Make sure you have enough for all your guinea pigs to use your homemade cooling mat. You can also buy ice pods that are specially designed for small pets and are really easy to use an reuse.
Place some cool tiles (marble or ceramic) in their housing. These can provide somewhere cooler to relax but they should not be in direct sunlight or they can get extremely hot and harm your pets. Also make sure there are no sharp edges which may hurt them.
Give your guinea pigs some cooling food. Cucumber and cold lettuce leaves are excellent as they also contain a lot of water which will help keep them hydrated.
If your guinea pig is long-haired, give them a trim. This may help keep them a little cooler.
Get a cool damp cloth and dampen down their coat. This can help keep their body temperature down.
Flystrike: Guinea pigs are at a much higher risk of flystrike in this hot weather – flystrike can kill! Please read this article on how to avoid it.
Heatstroke: If they overheat, guinea pigs can get heatstroke. This is another very dangerous condition which can be fatal. If you think your guinea pig may have heatstroke, you need to take immediate action (see our article on emergency treatment for heatstroke) and if necessary make an appointment with your vet immediately explaining their symptoms to ensure you get an emergency appointment.
If you are in any doubt as to whether it may be too hot for your guinea pigs outside, please bring them indoors. Here’s some info on housing guinea pigs…