Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Car Safety and Comfort for Guinea Pigs

We're generally not a fan of change. For example, when the humans let us roam, there are certain rooms that we never go into because they're unfamiliar to us. We tend to just stick to the rooms that are closest to our cage. Therefore, you can probably imagine that we're not thrilled about going for car rides. However, sometimes your humans might deem it necessary for you to take a car ride to go the vet, to attend a social event like a pignic, or if your humans need to go out of town and they don't have good pet-sitting options. If you absolutely have to ride in a car, here's what your human should know about keeping you safe and comfortable:
  • Trip Length: Unless it's absolutely necessary, try to keep road trips under 2 hours. If it's necessary to take longer trips, make sure you stop at least once every 2 hours (see below).
  • Carriers: Use a well-ventilated pet carrier rather than allowing us to roam free in cars. Cages are also generally not a good option since we could be thrown around. (If a cage is your only option for some reason, make sure it's secured, and there are no heavy objects in it that could hit us if you suddenly stop the car. Also, expect to get guinea pig poop in your car if you use a cage.) To get your guinea pig accustomed to a new carrier, before your trip, you can leave it on the floor during floor time for us to explore. For most car trips, we use All Living Things Small Animal Carrier (Large size). (This carrier is fine for just shorter trips, but if the humans were ever thinking about taking a 2+ hour trip, we may insist on something larger.)  Small cat carriers are a better option than guinea pig carriers that are too small. Line the bottom of our carriers with small towels or blankets. (Our humans took an old towel, cut it in half with scissors, and made a nice carpet for our carriers.) Some people like to add a layer of newspaper underneath the towel layer. Guinea pigs may share carriers if the carriers are large enough and there is no history of fighting between them; in fact, being together may be comforting to us.
  • Carrier Placement: Having some objects like boxes around us may help to keep our carriers secure, but don't put our carrier in an area that's too crowded with other objects, as this can impede air flow. Do not expose us to wind or direct sunlight. Ensure that our carrier is properly secured with a seat belt so that it won't go flying or fall on the floor if you hit the brakes. The back seat is preferable to the front seat. Putting us in the open bed of a pick up truck is extremely unsafe. Never put us in the trunk of the car, either.
  • Food and Water: According to Guinea Pig Today, allowing guinea pigs to eat while in a moving car is a choking hazard. On longer trips, plan to take breaks from driving where you can feed your guinea pig safely. Don't go longer than 2 hours between breaks. Make sure you offer us hay, vegetables, and our water bottle during these breaks. (Pellets may also be offered on especially long trips.) Vegetables like cucumbers can help prevent us from getting thirsty on car trips; it's a good idea to keep your vegetables in a cooler. Don't be surprised if we don't have much of an appetite due to the stress of traveling. It's a good idea to make sure we are well-fed before the car trip, unless your guinea pig is prone to motion sickness (in which case, withhold food and drink for no more than 2 hours before the trip).
  • Temperature: Be mindful of the temperature in the car, and use the AC or heater if necessary. Remember, the ideal temperature range for most guinea pigs is about 65°-75°F (18-24°C), and the ideal humidity level is about 50%. On very cold days, you may want to let the car heat up before bringing your guinea pig into it. In addition, try to keep the temperature and humidity from fluctuating too much.
  • Monitoring: Don't leave your guinea pigs alone in the car. Temperatures can change quickly, rising or falling out of our ideal temperature range, which can make us uncomfortable, sick, and even kill us. In addition, many states have laws that protect animals from being left alone in vehicles, and law enforcement may be allowed to break into your car to rescue an endangered animal. (By the way, if you happen to see a guinea pig or any other pet in serious danger due to being left unattended in a car, please call 911 immediately and let the authorities handle the situation.)
Here is a All Living Things Small Animal Carrier (Large size) secured with a seat belt in the back seat of a car. This carrier is a fine option for shorter trips. No one's in it now because we don't currently have a reason to go on a car trip. Honestly, you'd have to be crazy to leave a warm, comfortable pigloo to get into a pet carrier in a car on a cold November day just for a photo op.
Has your human ever taken you on a car trip? Tell us about your car experiences in the comments section!

8 comments:

  1. My pig was not a fan at all! We got his nails trimmed and stoped at home depot. He would barely eat even treats!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for posting this. I'm moving across the country and I have to drive my pigs with me. I was originally looking into doing the 5 hour flight with them but they aren't allowed as a carry on on any of the airlines here so to avoid putting them in cargo we're doing a 4-5 day drive. I'm going to put their smaller cage in the back seat. My shih tzu is coming along too. I'm really hoping I can minimize the amount of stress. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated. I love my pigs to the moon and back and I want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible on this very long trip. (Almost 5,000km)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we may end up doing a post on taking your guinea pig on flights in the future, so thanks for giving us the idea. By the way, are you sure they aren't allowed as carry on for any of the airlines? We've heard that it might be possible to get your guinea pigs registered as therapy animals and get an exception, though we haven't looked into this much yet. We agree with you that checking your guinea pigs as cargo is probably not a good idea.

      If there's no way to avoid the 4-5 day drive, make sure you follow all the advice mentioned in our post (no more than 2 hours between breaks, etc.). In addition, you might want to be prepared to clean and swap out the towels, newspapers, etc. lining the bottom of their carriers since they're likely to get much dirtier on longer trips. You might want to bring plastic bags to store the dirty towels. Make sure you have a copy of your vet records handy in case a medical issue comes up. On longer trips like this, it's probably better to get some sort of small cat carrier rather than the one we use to give your piggies more room. Also, once you arrive at your hotel (or wherever you'll be spending the night), you should set up a cage with all the usual accoutrements (carefresh or newspaper, water bottle, bowl with pellets, etc.). If you can fit the cage they've been living in into your car, that would probably be best so they're somewhere safe and familiar at the end of a stressful day. Also, as we mentioned in the post, you shouldn't leave your guinea pigs unattended in the car, so plan ahead for how you're going to handle human meal times. (Are you traveling with someone who can bring back food to the car? Are you going to pack some sandwiches? Are you going to eat drive-through meals?)

      Delete
  3. Thank you!!
    Yeah I live in Canada and we only have two airlines that go across the country. I checked both and they allow rabbits but not guinea pigs. If I go through the states it'll start to get complicated because then I have to get their paperwork for travelling and I've never taken a guinea pig out of the country.

    I'm thinking I might take the cage I got Yoshi in and put it in the back seat with the two of them in it. It's about the size of a 2 x 1 C&C cage. So not huge but larger than a carrier. My pigs are really big boys too.

    You're right about the car part too. I won't be driving alone so I'll definitely be staying with them while my fiance runs to get food. I've been looking up pet friendly hotels for the stop overs.
    The things we'll do for these little guys lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let us know how it goes when you move! We'd love to hear any additional tips you might have.

      Hotel pet policies--there's another potential future post idea! :-)

      Delete
  4. Awesome post on trips! We were recently taken to the vet, which is pretty far away from where we live. Our owner held us in the back seat the entire way there and the entire way back (we were in a carrier of course)!
    On a different topic, today it snowed. This kind of weather is cold, and we live right next to a window. Although we originate from Peru, and we should be used to this kind of cold, our owner is concerned. if it's snowing before Thanksgiving, then how cold will it be in the winter? If we turn the heat on, then our owner will have a dry throat (possibly. She was sick recently because of a dry throat). We don't want to be the cause of our owner being sick, so do you have any ideas?
    XOXO
    Ashley & Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You had us worried for a second until you clarified that you were in a carrier, not just sitting on your owner's lap in the back seat of a car. :-)

      Regarding how cold it will be this winter, the Farmer's Almanac "predicts that this winter will be another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall throughout much of the nation." Has your owner considered getting a combination heater and humidifier? That might help with her dry throat while maintaining a temperature of 65°-75°F for you.

      Delete
    2. Great idea! she is thinking about getting one, but she better think fast, 'cause the holidays are drawing closer, along with chilly weather!
      XOXO
      Ashley & Wendy

      Delete