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How to Keep Guinea Pigs Cool in Summer & Heat Stroke Advice

Guinea pigs are susceptible to overheating and heat stroke in hot weather, particularly because, unlike humans, they cannot sweat to cool down. Those kept outdoors are especially vulnerable.

If temperatures rise above 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit), you must take precautions to prevent heatstroke. 

How to keep guinea pigs cool in summer

Here are ten ways you can keep your guinea pigs cool:

  1. Move them indoors: If you have outdoor guinea pigs and it’s cooler indoors, bring them inside. If this is not possible, move their hutch to a shaded area of the garden. A parasol can provide additional shade.
  2. Ensure constant water supply: Ensure your guinea pigs have access to plenty of fresh, cool water. Use a large water bottle and consider wrapping an ice pack around it to keep it cool.
  3. Ventilation: Make sure there is plenty of air-flow in their enclosure.
  4. Use ice packs or cooling mats: Create homemade cooling mats by wrapping ice packs or frozen water bottles in fleece or towels. Place these wrapped cool pads in their hutch or cage. Alternatively you can buy a Scratch and Newton Ice Pod, which is designed to keep your pets cool.
  5. Provide cool tiles: Place cool tiles, such as marble or ceramic tiles, in their enclosure. These tiles offer a cooler spot for your guinea pigs to rest. Ensure the tiles are not in direct sunlight and don’t have sharp edges.
  6. Use a fan: A fan helps circulate the air to provide extra coolness. Position the fan so it isn’t directly blowing air on your guinea pigs.
  7. Feed cooling vegetables: Offer your guinea pigs cooling fresh foods with high water content, such as cucumber and chilled lettuce leaves. These will provide hydration and help regulate their body temperature. IMPORTANT: guinea pigs cannot eat ice cubes or frozen fruits and vegetables.
  8. Trim long-haired guinea pigs: If your guinea pig has long hair, give them a trim to keep them cooler. 
  9. Dampen their coat: Dip a cloth in cool water and gently dampen your guinea pig’s coat. This can help lower their body temperature. Don’t use very cold water, as it can cause shock.
  10. Swap hideouts: Plastic hideouts can become too hot so use wooden hideouts instead. Give them a big pile of soft bedding hay they can burrow into – this will be much cooler.

Remember, the inside of a hutch can often be significantly warmer than the outdoor temperature. It’s a good idea to use a safe thermometer to monitor the temperature inside their hutch.

Cooling down a guinea pig with a damp towel
Keep your guinea pig cool by wrapping them in a damp towel

Signs of Heat Stroke in Guinea Pigs

Heat stroke is an extremely severe condition which occurs when your guinea pig becomes too hot. Some of the signs of heat stroke in guinea pigs are:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Panting
  • Inability to stand or walk properly
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Body temperature above 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit)

Urgent action is needed to save your guinea pig if they display one or more of these signs.

Scratch and Newton Ice Pod - Cool Pad for Guinea Pigs
Scratch and Newton Ice Pod – A Cool Pad for Guinea Pigs

How to Treat Heat Stroke

If you suspect your guinea pig has heat stroke, you should make an emergency appointment with your vet. However, the following steps can provide immediate first aid:

  1. Move them to a cool place: Take your guinea pig indoors or to a shaded, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  2. Use a damp towel: Soak a towel in cool water, wring it out, and gently wrap it around your guinea pig. This helps lower their body temperature. Don’t use ice-cold water and don’t put them in a bath of cold water as this can cause hypothermia.
  3. Vet appointment: After providing immediate first-aid, make an emergency appointment with your vet to give your guinea pigs the best chance of survival. If immediate professional help is unavailable, you’ll need to take further steps to help them.
  4. Offer water and hydration: When your guinea pig becomes more alert, provide water to rehydrate them. Use a syringe or handheld drip-feed bottle to give small amounts of water. You can also offer water-rich foods like cucumber, lettuce, and watermelon.

Even if you feel your guinea pig has improved, you should take them to see a vet. The vet will assess their condition and provide additional treatment to aid their recovery.

Heat Stroke Recovery

The recovery period for guinea pigs with heat stroke varies depending on the severity of the condition.  In mild cases, with immediate and appropriate treatment, guinea pigs may show signs of improvement within a few hours whereas more severe cases may take several days. 

Sadly, not all guinea pigs survive heatstroke. Despite the best efforts and prompt veterinary care, some guinea pigs may succumb to the effects of heatstroke.

Other Hot Weather Dangers for Guinea Pigs

As well as heat stroke, the hot summer weather can create other problems for guinea pigs. One significant danger is flies and maggots. These can be deadly and the risk is increased guinea pigs who are kept outdoors. Find out more about flystrike here.

Food can deteriorate faster in hot weather so make sure you remove uneaten food after a few minutes, especially fruit and anything juicy as these foods will spoil faster. This will save your guinea pigs from getting diarrhoea, another potentially life-threatening condition.

You may also need to clean the enclosure more regularly in warm weather as bacteria multiplies faster in heat. 

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