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Level of Effort? How much does good guinea pig care REALLY cost per month/year?

petluv

Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
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197
I see so many different numbers on monthly/annual costs of guinea pig ownership online, though I have a hard time believing their accuracy. I’ve seen anywhere from 300-800 a year. That seems rather low. Also my cage will be much bigger this time around, two by four feet. What has been your experience? Also for disposable bedding users, how much does that cost you? (My husband would never agree to fleece.) Average costs in yearly vet bills would be most helpful as well. Thanks!
 
I spend roughly $50 a week on fresh vegetables. Bear in mind, I'm in Canada. A large bag of Oxbow pellets is $30, lasts about a month. A large bag of Oxbow hay is roughly the same and lasts about 3 weeks.

Fleece would be one of your most cost-effective bedding options. Fleece over wood pellets would be about the best. Disposable bedding is by far the most expensive option.

Vet bills will vary wildly. My two most recent pigs had no veterinary costs at all for almost the first 3 years of their lives. Then, both fell seriously ill at almost the exact same time. One sadly did not survive after a two month long fight, while the other is still now recovering. I spent roughly $3000 at the vet between September 1st of this year, and now. That is a conservative estimate because my vet is very, very reasonable and likes us a lot so didn't charge us anywhere near what they should have for a lot of things.


Pigs, like any other pet, can be expensive. They don't HAVE to be, but looking after their medical needs will be the biggest expense should they require it. It's generally not a question of "if" a pig will need medical attention, but "when".
 
I currently have 10 guinea pigs. I spend between $5-30 Australian on vegetables a week, however i garden a lot so I supplement store bought vegetables with home grown vegetables. This of course depends on the season, some times of the year the only vegetable I need to buy in store are capsicums other times I need to buy lettuce, zucchini, carrots and capsicums. Gardening in and of itself does have some costs associated that are hard to estimate, like additional water consumption, but i also use the vegetables i grow for myself.

I get a full square bail of hay from a local fodder store for $13.50, I store it in an old outdoor toilet building and this lasts me about 3-4 months. I buy oxbow garden select pellets online and that costs me about $60 for 2 bags plus shipping, that lasts me 1 month.

I use fleece for bedding so aside from the up front cost of buying, the only ongoing cost is washing it.

I have a vet fund set aside that is $300 per guinea pig on reserve. I do have more funds I can pull towards vet care if i have to but I feel this is a good amount. In the past some of my guinea pigs have needed very little vet care for the most part, my current senior guinea pig is one of these, he is 7 years old and has never needed the vet so far and is still going strong. I suspect he may later need to see a vet if he begins to have signs of arthritis but we are not yet at that point. I have also had some guinea pigs who needed to see the vets several times, for example one guinea pig that racked up $700 in vet care (abscess removal, Gi stasis), and overall these were relatively cheap conditions to treat. A big part of this is being informed on medical care and being able to tell when it needs a vet and when it doesn't, for example you may be able to treat skin diseases at home whether it be fungal, bacterial, or mites, but a URI needs the vet.
 
We have 6 pigs and 1 bunny.

I buy a huge bag of lettuce from GFS (Public restaurant supply store) that lasts us a week for $8. Another $10 a week on other veg. Pellets are oxbow and I get the 10# bag for $30 locally. I wanna say that lasts about a month but I'm not positive. I order a 50# box of oxbow orchard grass online with free shipping for $53.00. That lasts about 2 months I think. For bedding I do fleece with wood pellets kitchens. I get 40# bags of pellets for $10. 2 a month I think.

Vet care is a whole new ballgame. It seems ours is on the more expensive end. Bladder stones: intital exam and x-rays, surgery and meds, follow up visit, ran me $1500. A hay poke ran me $400. Mass removal (easy one) was $600. Open cyst was $200. My Colonel Mustard, just in vet bills alone has run me $1000 a year. Our oldest girl passed away at 7 and only cost us $200 in vet bills her whole life. Around here it cost me $65 just to walk in the door with a guniea pig and that's mid range. We get that price because our dog vet just happens to have spent years doing just exotic small fur babies before moving to our practice, which he ended up buying. Lucky for us he still loves the little babies so much he kept his skills and education up while he was doing just dogs and cats before he bought the place. Before we could see him, it use to cost me $100 just to walk in.
 
One of the reasons you'll see such a wide range of estimates is that different people may have different opportunities available to reduce their costs. For example, some people may be able to grow their own vegetables and save money there, or some people may know a local farmer and be able to get cheap hay. Costs for veterinary services, too, can vary widely depending on where you live (and who you know).

I built a budget before I adopted my latest pair of pigs, based on research I did into the resources available to me. I studied the typical prices of produce in various local grocery stores to find where I could get good-quality veggies at a reasonable price. I shopped online and explored various options for buying hay in bulk from various suppliers, taking into account the cost of tax and shipping for each. I already have a pig vet and have some idea of what costs can run there, but I also called the office to inquire about cost for boarding, in case I ever need to leave a sick pig at the vet during a workday. I use fleece on wood pellets, so I budgeted for that as well.

Altogether, I came up with a rough, high estimate of about $100/month, or about $1200/year as part of my regular budget for maintenance (ie food, bedding, laundry, groceries, etc). That's a high estimate; I'm planning to keep careful track of actual costs and get a better idea of what I actually end up spending. I expect it to be quite a bit less.

For veterinary costs, I made a separate fund (separate from my monthly/annual budget, I mean). Like others have said, it can be incredibly difficult to say exactly how much you should "expect" to spend on vet costs. Some pigs are healthy their whole lives long until the day they die. Many others have to see a vet a few times in their lives, and still others are walking medical disasters from the day they're born. And since reputable guinea pig breeders are generally scarce (and even good breeding doesn't garuntee better health), you never know what you'll end up with. Just based on personal experience as well as stories from other pig owners, when a pig does get sick, vet costs often end up getting very expensive very fast.

I settled on an "ideal" vet fund of about $1500 per pig, or $3000 for my pair. This was based in part on a survey of suggestions from other pig owners on this forum, and then increased to include the possible cost of dayboarding a sick animal during a workday, possibly for several days in a row, and the cost of regular boarding for a vacation. As I said, $3000 is my "ideal" vet fund, the same way that my monthly/annual budget is a "high" estimate. Do I actually have $3000 available all the time to spend on pigs? Well...no. Rather, $3000 is what I'm always working towards. With each holiday paycheck and overtime I work and Christmas and birthday money, a portion of it always goes into the vet fund. However, as a minimum, I waited until I had saved up at least $2000 before I went out looking for pigs.
 
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