All guinea pigs should see a vet on an annual basis for a routine check-up. You may also find yourself having to take your pet to the vet on an emergency basis if they have an accident or if they become ill.
Guinea pigs can deteriorate quickly when they become ill so it is important to get specialist veterinary care as soon as you notice something is wrong.
Choose Your Vet in Advance and Be Prepared
When you first take on guinea pigs, you should register with a veterinary practice and ensure you have what is required to be able to transport your new pet to the vet should he need it.
How to Find a Good Vet
It is important that you find a reputable vet and one that is used to dealing with guinea pigs.
We chose our vet because they handle a lot of guinea pigs due to the fact that there is a nearby rescue centre who uses this vet for their guinea pigs.
For this reason, the practice we chose are used to handling, diagnosing, neutering and operating on these small delicate pets.
In fact, even though we have moved house and live quite a bit further away now, we still use this vet as it gives us peace of mind that they are being cared for in the best possible way.
Don’t be afraid to phone up various vets in your area and ask about their experience with guinea pigs. Like us, you might want to find out from a guinea pig rescue centre in your area which vet they use and get some information from them. They will be only too pleased to offer you this advice as their primary concern is that these lovely pets are taken good care of.
How to Transport Your Guinea Pig to the Vet
A trip to the vet will mean that you to transport them in a pet carrier either on a walk, via car or public transport.
It is essential that you are able to handle your cavy confidently in order to get them into their pet carrier. It is also important that they are transported safely and appropriately so they don’t become too scared.
What Type of Carrier Should I Use?
To transport your guinea pig to the vet you will need a suitable pet carrier. We use the same carriers we use for our cats simply because we have a lot of guinea pigs and can easily fit 3 in each one.
However, if you just have two guinea pigs, you will be better to buy one that is suited for small pets. A small carrier will be much easier to transport and get in the car or walk with.
How to Prepare the Carrier for your Guinea Pigs
You should make sure your pet carrier is prepared in advance.
We put a towel covered with a fleece and add some hay for them to nibble on and bury into.
However, you could also simply line the carrier with newspaper and put some hay on the top. You might also want to include a few small pieces of vegetable or guinea pig pellets.
If the weather is hot, adding some cucumber for them to eat on their journey is a good idea as it has a high water content and will keep them hydrated.
Putting your guinea pigs into the carrier
Before you attempt to pick up your pet, make sure the door of the carrier is open. Carefully pick them up and place them, rear end first if possible, into the carrier before securing locking the cage door.
It is worth placing a cloth over the carrier so your guinea pig feels safe and hidden and prevents any exposure to other animals once you arrive at the vets.
Whenever we need to take one of our piggies to the vet we usually take one of the others so they have company. This gives them some familiarity and makes them feel a little more secure.
How to Travel Safely
Travelling with a guinea pig in a pet carrier should be done carefully and securely. If you are driving then secure the carrier into the passenger (or rear) seat using a seat belt firmly threaded through the handle of the carrier. This will prevent the cage from rolling around or being jolted in the event of an emergency stop.
When walking with the carrier, be mindful of your little pet inside the cage and don’t swing or jostle the carrier and try to avoid making any sudden jerking movements. Keep well clear of any dog-walkers as the scent of your pet may attract unwanted attention.
How to Keep Your Guinea Pig Safe and Relaxed at the Vet
Once at the vet, if there are dogs in the waiting area, sit well away from them. It is a good idea to have the carrier on your lap or the chair next to you so your guinea pig does not feel so threated by other animals who may be sitting on the floor.
Once you have been called through by your vet, they will ask you to take your pet out of the cage.
Most vets are exceptionally confident with all types of animal but if your cavy is particularly nippy or nervous you must not be afraid to say so.
Once you get back home from the vet, make sure you return your guinea pig to his cage straight away. He will be pleased to be back in a familiar environment!
How Much Are Vet Bills?
Costs vary between veterinary surgeries so it is difficult to give an accurate answer. However, bear in mind that you will pay for the consultation plus there will be an extra fee for any medication that is prescribed or for any procedures or surgery that is necessary.
To give you at least some idea of how much it will cost you in the UK, the check ups for our guinea pigs usually cost around £26 (for one piggy). At the last visit, we also needed some antibiotics which cost £14. So in total the bill came to £40.
Depending on where you live and the particular veterinary practice you choose, these charges may be more or less than the ones I have quoted. However, I would not base your choice of vet primarily on cost but on finding a good vet that has plenty of experience with guinea pigs.
Should I Take Out Guinea Pig Insurance to Cover Vet Bills?
If you are concerned about how much it might cost you to have your pets seen or treated by a professional, you should consider taking out guinea pig insurance (it is usually categorised as small pet insurance).
It is vital your guinea pigs get the treatment as and when they need it as they are quite fragile creatures. Find out more about small pet insurance here...
To help keep a handy record of your vet's contact details as well as any medications that need to be given plus a lot more, check out our helpful Guinea Pig Care Sheets.