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General What NOT to do for your guinea pigs!

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Staff member
Cavy Slave
Sep 23, 2009
Here's a thread with a summary of what you should NOT do for your guinea pigs. Many pet stores and other internet sites have incorrect information about their care, so we decided to pull a summary together that makes it easier to avoid mistakes that can actually harm your guinea pigs. So:

Don't buy:

-- leashes and harnesses
-- exercise balls
-- exercise wheels. None of those are good for GP backs.

-- treats with a lot of sugar, or that have hard nuts and/or seeds
-- salt/mineral licks
-- yogurt drops. Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant

-- pet store cages. They're all too small even for one pig.

Don't use:

-- corncob bedding
-- cedar bedding
-- any pine bedding that has a strong pine odor
-- clay cat litter
-- wire-bottomed cages that have no bedding on top
-- cages with exposed wood where the urine can reach it -- it will smell terrible.

Don't feed: (See https://www.guineapigcages.com/foru...vy-Nutrition-Charts-amp-Poisonous-Plants-List for what you can feed, and how often)-- iceberg lettuce. It has no nutritional value whatsoever.

-- fruit, except small bits as occasional treats. Guinea pigs don't process sugar, and it can cause digestive upsets.
-- hard seeds and/or nuts.
-- grass that has been treated with pesticides, recently fertilized, or has been urinated on by wild animals
-- a lot of fresh grass at one time. Start off with small amounts, and increase slowly.


-- buy a guinea pig from a pet store. They're bred and raised in horrible conditions, and are often sick, missexed, and/or pregnant.
-- take advice from pet store employees.
-- take your pig to a dog-and-cat vet. They're not qualified to treat them.

-- breed your guinea pigs. Pregnancy is very hard on sows and pups, the death rate is high, and they're prone to genetic diseases.
-- put unaltered males together with unaltered females for floor or play time. It takes 2-3 seconds to impregnate a sow.

-- add vitamin C drops to their water
-- ignore signs of illness or the failure to eat.

-- house your guinea pigs with other animals, especially rabbits. Rabbits carry bordatella, and can easily injure pigs.
-- house your guinea pigs outside or in an out-of-the-way room in the house. They need company.
-- buy a guinea pig as a pet for small children.
-- have just one guinea pig. They're herd animals, and need another guinea pig as a friend.

If you have other suggestions, reply to this post, and I'll incorporate those suggestions up here.
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I hope when this is done, it becomes a sticky too.
It is a sticky.
Not sure if it goes in the "Don't Buy" or "Don't Feed", but I frequently read about folks wanting to supplement vitamin C using the water drops. I think that's a common mistake. All pet stores and even some vets advise it. SO I would include "Don't add vitamin C to their water."

Edited by bpatters: Added. Thanks.
- Don't use a wood-bottomed cage without a waterproof layer. Urine will soak into the wood.

- Don't house your guinea pigs with any other species of animal--even rabbits.

Edited by bpatters: Thanks!
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-- Don't bathe your pigs multiple times a month

--Don't feed grass if it's sprayed or if you aren't sure if it is (better safe then sorry!)

Edited by bpatters: Done.
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- Don't house your guinea pigs outside or in an out of the way room like a garage, shed, or basement. They're sensitive to temperature changes, drafts, and vulnerable to parasites and predators. You would also be unable to closely monitor their well being for illness which can easily be missed.
- Don't get guinea pigs for your child. Guinea pigs are high maintenance and children are prone to neglect the guinea pigs or accidentally harm them.

Edited by bpatters: Done.
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Don't have lone pigs. They are herd animals. Get your cavy a friend.

Edited by bpatters: Done.
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Don't ignore signs of illness or not eating.

Edited by bpatters: Done.
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Don't take them to a dogs/cats vet. These people generally have no knowledge of guinea pig illness.

Don't take advice from pet store employees.

Edited by bpatters: Done.
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A lot of people groom their guineas without knowing how. Always research, esspecually how to cut their nails. If you cut to close to the wick, they can bleed and it will hurt them.
Always read your pellets bag to make sure that it doesn't contain any more calcium than 4% for adult guineas. :)
Don't feed adult guinea pigs alfalfa hay.
Don't give guinea pigs all pellets and no hay. (Basically don't NOT give them hay, but that sounds strange)
Don't put multiple guinea pigs together without being completely certain of their sex.
Don't house two males (unaltered or otherwise) with one or a few females.
Don't introduce guinea pigs, then seperate them, then introduce them again. (Seems like this has happened a decent amount of times recently and causes unneeded stress)

...hmm...that's all I can think of that hasn't been mentioned thusfar.
Woombat sorry but I have to disagree guinea pig need hay for there gigestive system to run smoothly and trim down there teeth
Don't bath your piggy in water so deep they are swimming.
Woombat sorry but I have to disagree guinea pig need hay for there gigestive system to run smoothly and trim down there teeth

I think that's what he/she meant "Do not not give them hay" = "Give them hay". If that makes sense.
Oh ok sorry xD lol
I'm a new mama to 2, so I have to ask, WHY is putting Vit. C a bad idea? Thank you for the help!
Vitamin c ops degrade quickly in water, and the taste may cause them not to drink.
So how do you give them Vit C? i saw that they shouldn't get the wheels with salt and minerals too
Putting vitamin C. into their water generally changes the taste of the water which may cause your guinea pigs to not drink at all. Also vitamin C drops degrade very very quickly in water so it provides little benefit over feeding good, fresh vegetables or supplementing with a vitamin C tablet.

There is also the fact that unless you are monitoring your pigs 24/7 you can't be sure how much of the water they are drinking. If you are putting vitamin C into the water you can't be sure of how much they are getting.

You really can't go wrong with feeding green or yellow bell peppers. Feeding 1/2 cup of chopped peppers to each pig daily will provide a lot of vitamin C and is generally less expensive than supplements anyways.
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