HOW TO: Care for your Older Guinea Pigs

HOW TO: Care for your Older Guinea Pigs

HOW TO: Care for your Older Guinea Pigs

Did you know the average life-span of a domestic guinea pig is about 5-7 years old? However some guinea pigs have been known to live much longer, with the oldest recorded age being almost 15 years?!! Over the years the average lifespan has been slowly increasing due to a higher education of owners, increased veterinary knowledge and care, and guinea pigs becoming beloved members of the household with indoor housing options. 

As our guinea pigs get older, just like us, they need a little extra care. Read on below to find out what additional things we can do to improve the quality of life for our aging piggies to allow them to live long, happy and comfortable senior years. 

Regular Physical Exam

As our piggies get older, the statistics become higher for health issues to arise - therefore it is important to keep a close eye and observe our piggies behavior daily to be alerted for any changes. If you notice your piggy is not eating or eating less than normal, is more lethargic or not moving as much as normal, or is not toileting as per normal, veterinary care should be sought. It is also important to check for any lumps and bumps, lameness, sores or wounds, drooling, and anything else that appears abnormal. 

Join our resident veterinarian Dr Sam as she demonstrates how to perform a health check on your guinea pigs at home:

WATCH OUR VIDEO HERE: How to perform a health check on your guinea pig

Soft Bedding

One of the most common health conditions that will affect most of our senior piggies at some point, is arthritis (inflammation of the joints). It most commonly affects the hindlimbs first, especially the stifles (knees) and hips. When guinea pigs develop arthritis or sore joints, they tend to not be as active as they used to be, sleep more, and spend more time in one area. You may also notice them move or hop around their cage with an abnormal gait. Due to reduced mobility, they will be more likely to develop other secondary conditions such as pododermatitis (bumblefoot), urinary scalding or urinary tract infections, and mild dehydration or nutritional deficiencies. 

If you suspect your guinea pig may be developing arthritis we highly recommend a veterinary consultation to discuss pain relief medications. 

At home, we recommended providing your guinea pigs with a soft, padded and moisture wicking bedding - this will not only reduce the pressure on their inflamed joints, but reduce the prevalence of pododermatitis and secondary foot or urinary tract infections. Ozzy Vet bed is one of the most superior beddings available for senior piggies as it is super soft and padded with lots of 'give' to reduce pressure on joints. As you can see, Ozzy vet bed adds many centimeters of padding when compared to other fleece liners or toggle mats, so it is easy to see the many benefits it provides.  

 

SHOP OZZY VETBED HERE: guineapigsaustralia.com.au

Your guinea pigs will also appreciate some soft and comfy beds for sleeping on - we highly recommend our soft fleece lined snuggle cups, cozy cottage or our personal favourite, the cuddly carrot bed!

Senior Diet and Supplements 

Diet is a huge contributor to living a long and healthy life, and there are a few diets on the market formulated specifically for our senior piggies. These diets include ingredients such as ginger root, ginseng, ginkgo, chamomile, tumeric and frankincense, which help with cognitive function, circulation and joint health and inflammation in older guinea pigs. 

We also recommended the addition of Vitamin C supplementation and Glucosamine supplements. 

CHECK OUT OUR RANGE OF SENIOR GUINEA PIG PELLETS HERE:

Bunny Nature Guinea Pig Dream Senior

Oxbow Essentials Senior Guinea Pig Food 

Vitamin C

Including vitamin C in your guinea pigs diet is extremely important during all life stages, as unlike many other mammals, guinea pigs cannot make and convert their own vitamin C and rely 100% on their dietary intake. Vitamin C is very important for healthy skin, tendons, bones, teeth, blood vessels, as well as a strong immune system. There are a number of great quality pelleted diets available that contain high concentrations of vitamin C, such as Burgess Excel , as well as supplement treats such as Oxbow Vitamin C Support treats. A variety of fresh vegetables high in vitamin C should also be added to your guinea pigs diet daily. 

WATCH OUR VIDEO ON VITAMIN C HERE

Additional Water Points 

When our piggies are not feeling well, or have developed some arthritis reducing their mobility, they are at higher risk of mild dehydration if they are not reaching their water points as frequently. We recommend adding multiple water points around your cage to ensure our piggies always have access to fresh water. 

Burgess Dual Care

As our piggies get older, they are unfortunately more likely to run into various health conditions, and therefore may require some additional nutritional support to keep their immune system in tip top shape. Burgess Dual Care is a must-have product to have on hand as a guinea pig owner, especially for our senior piggies as you never know when you may need it! When guinea pigs are unwell or in pain they will often feel too unwell to eat, which in turn can have catastrophic effects as their gastrointestinal system can stop moving and bloat can develop within hours of inappetence. The great thing about Burgess Dual Care is it's high in fibre to support gastrointestinal function, and can be fed as either nuggets OR dissolved into a liquid for assisted syringe feeding. It also contains high levels of protected Vitamin C, magnesium and Tryptophan to support the body during times of stress. 

Buy Burgess Dual Care here


Watch our video on Assist feeding your Guinea pig here 

 

Veterinary check-up 

Senior piggies should be getting an annual check-up with their local cavy-savvy veterinarian. Your vet will be able to perform a thorough assessment and may pick up on any early signs of aging, which may include arthritis, dental disease, lumps and bumps or pododermatitis for example. Your vet will also be able to provide your piggy with safe analgesia to make them more comfortable, as well as medications that can reduce the progression of arthritis in the early stages. 

 

Shop the story