Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ask A Guinea Pig: How Frequently Should I Bathe My Guinea Pig?

Reilley Turner asks: "how often should guinea pigs be bathed? Currently we bathe them once a week, but we don’t use any shampoo. Is this a problem or is this fine?"
Please, don't put me through this more often than you have to!

Guinea pigs should be bathed infrequently, if at all. In general, short-haired guinea pigs should only be bathed 1-2 time per year, although long-haired piggies like Buffy need baths more often than short-haired piggies (perhaps once every month or two). You don't want to bathe a guinea pig too often because it can dry out the skin, making it itchy and causing us to scratch ourselves a lot. We can even hurt ourselves if we scratch too much. To avoid drying out the skin, make sure you use a quality shampoo like Gorgeous Guineas that is made with guinea pigs in mind, and lacks bad ingredients like harsh sulfates. Please, no human shampoos! (Four Paws Bunny Bath is another acceptable shampoo.)

 Certain factors can cause us to need a bath more often, including:
  • If you aren't cleaning your guinea pig's cage regularly;
  • If we have long fur around our backsides that is trapping our waste products (in which case, it may be time for a trim);
  • If our favorite sleeping spot doubles as a bathroom (in which case, you might want to do additional spot cleanings between full cage cleanings);
  • If you feed us certain foods that cause us to have mushy poops, making it easier to get dirty;
  • If your guinea pigs tend to spray their urine at each other; 
  • If your vet recommends bathing due to lice or other parasites. (In which case, your vet will likely want you to use some sort of special medicated shampoo.)
The best way to know if your piggy needs a bath is to use the sniff test. If we don't smell bad, then we probably don't need a bath. Lola and Broccoli have never had a bath, but since I'm a long haired pig, I have to have a bath every two months or so!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guinnea Pig Product Review: Beaphar Grooming Spray

Beaphar Grooming Spray is supposed to "[detangle] the coat and [moisturize] the skin, and [leave] the coat beautifully shiny." Sounds nice, doesn't it?

There's a guinea pig on the front. That's often a good sign.
However, the bottle itself didn't have the ingredients listed. After our humans discussed this stuff on a guinea pig forum, we were concerned that if there were any bad ingredients in this stuff, we could end up ingesting them since we like to groom ourselves. (Keep this in mind if you ever run across any similar products.)

After doing some web searching and even emailing the company, we got a list of ingredients in this stuff: "The main ingredient of the Beaphar Grooming spray is the almond oils as this conditions the coat and leaves it feeling soft and shiny. After this there is water, Bronidox and castor oil in it." Bronidox is an anti-microbial compound commonly used in shampoos, and the US FDA considers castor oil to be a "generally recognized as safe and effective" (GRASE) ingredient. So none of the ingredients seemed particularly toxic. However, one of the fine folks at the forum told us: "Leaving oil all over the pig (or human scalps for that matter) for longer periods of time without washing it out can disrupt the acid mantle."  According to Wikipedia, the acid mantle is: "a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin." That definitely doesn't sound like the kind of thing you want disrupted!

The forum poster did point out one safe way to use oil products like this, however: you can use it half an hour before you give your guinea pig a bath. So I guess that's what we're going to have to do to try this product.

Wait, I'm the one who gets baths all the time! Maybe we could just skip this review?

What is this stuff you're spraying on me? It smells!

I'm not enjoying this!

Already, the bottle has made several statements that I strongly disagree with:
  • "Many pets enjoy being groomed." --I can't speak for other pets, but I don't like this at all!
  • "It keeps the fur in good condition and strengthens the bond between pet and owner." --It made my fur smell funny, and I can't remember the last time I've nibbled on my human's hands so angrily!
  • "It contains macadamia oil which helps the tangles slip out more easily, moisturizes the skin, and leaves the coat beautifully shiny." --The comb didn't go through more easily, I already talked about how it's probably not good to leave on the skin, and my coat just looked like an oily mess. (Also, I thought the main ingredient was almond oil, not macadamia oil?)
As if I wasn't having a bad enough time reviewing this product, then I had to have a bath to get this stuff off me!
I'm so miserable! (But at least the Gorgeous Guineas shampoo smells much better than the Beaphar Grooming Spray!)

Time to dry off and put this nightmare behind me.

As should be obvious by now, there was nothing about this product I enjoyed. It smelled bad, I didn't look good after being sprayed, it didn't make it easier to brush me, and I had to have a bath to get it off. This product gets 1/5 stars!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ask A Guinea Pig: Why Do Guinea Pigs Get Gassy From Certain Foods?

riordan77piglove asks: "Why do some certain foods make guinea pigs gassy?"

Answer: Good question! There are many foods that can make guinea pigs gassy, including:
You may have noticed that the items on this list are all cruciferous vegetables. Feeding too many cruciferous vegetables can lead to serious bloat in guinea pigs, which can be fatal without treatment. Guinea pigs with bloat have distended bellies, and will sound hollow if you lightly tap on the side of them. Bloating is a symptom of gastrointestinal (GI) stasis, which is when the GI tract is thrown off-balance, allowing gas-producing bacteria to thrive and produce gas.

Why does this happen? Well, cruciferous vegetables contain a substance called raffinose. According to Wikipedia, animals with a single-chambered stomach like humans and guinea pigs lack an enzyme that would allow us to process raffinose. Instead, raffinose gets fermented in the intestines, creating gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen.

Besides bloat, other symptoms of GI stasis include: changes in pooping or urination, drinking too much or too little water, drooling, hunched posture, and loss of interest in food. If you suspect your guinea pig might have GI stasis, you'll want to get them to the vet as soon as possible!

Clearly, GI stasis is a very serious issue, so make sure you follow the food guidelines we post here. There's no need to cut cruciferous vegetables out of our diet entirely, but if we tell you to feed small portions and/or only a few times a week, there's probably a good reason!

I know it's hard to say no to an adorable face like mine, but when it comes to gassy foods, you can't just let me eat as much as I want!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guinea Pig Product Review: DreamersStudio Snuggle Hut

As you may recall, we had a 300th post giveaway, and Marianberry was our grand prize winner. She won a DreamersStudio Snuggle Hut, and we gave her the option to let her piggies do a guest review of it since this is a product we've never tried. We're happy to say that her piggies decided to review it, which we will now share with you:

Hi! My name is Pippin, one of three guinea pigs in this family. I don't get to see the other two that much though, because the Human says I'm going through something called "guinea pig puberty". I have to stay in my own cage, which is a real drag. At least I get plenty of floor time, so I'm getting plenty of exercise!

When the Human brought home the DreamersStudio Snuggle Hut, at first I didn't know what to make of it. Sure, it was a change of scenery during floor time, but what was this strange thing?

I decided to explore it further.

So far, so good.
Later on, the Hut began to stink a little, so the Human took it away to wash.  I heard her oohing and ahhing over how easy it was to take the tube out and wash.  That really makes no sense to me; I just want to know when I can have it back to snuggle in some more!  But, cruel Human that she was, she put it in the other cage with the big meanies.  I think Fatty (who is slightly less mean than Merry) took a real liking to it.  

At least the Snuggle Hut made its way back to my area after the Human saw how their bedding and hay stuck to the fleece.  
Overall, the Snuggle Hut is one of my favorite places to nap, and the Human likes how easy it is to clean, as long as it's kept on fleece bedding or carpet, so I give the DreamersStudio Snuggle Hut a 5/5!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014 Giveaway Winner

As usual, we used a random number generator to pick a winner for our Valentine's Day Giveaway.

I'm excited to to find out who it is!
And the winner is... Jessa! Please email me your mailing address to and we'll send you your treats. Thanks to everyone else for reading!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mexican Guava?

Mexican guava, also known as Mexican cream guava, is just one of several guava varieties. Guinea pigs can eat guava, although it doesn't appear on our favorite food chart, so we're going to recommend no more than once a week to be safe. Some people like to scrape off the seeds first, although the white varieties like Mexican cream guava tend to have softer seeds, so it's probably not necessary.

This is a Mexican cream guava.
It's pretty good...
No complaints so far, I guess...

While we were eating, one of the humans coughed, which sent us scrambling in all directions. Lola eventually went back to the plate of guava first, while Buffy and I just ate hay. The humans had to move the plate closer to remind us that we had a new food to try. We then ate most of it, but left a chunk. It's not bad, but it's not our favorite, either. We'll give Mexican guava 3.5/5 stars.

How to Care for Your Guinea Pig when Going Out Of Town

Sometimes, humans have obligations that require them to leave home. Maybe their friends or families need them to attend a wedding, or maybe their jobs need them to go on a business trip somewhere. If you're a human and you are required to be elsewhere for an extended period of time, make sure you have a plan for your guinea pigs. Here are your main options:

1. Find a good pet sitter (or two). Try to pick someone you know to be reliable; someone with previous guinea pig experience would be great. They should be able to come at least once a day; we recommend having two visits per day if at all possible, however. It's possible that it might be more convenient to have one pet sitter in the morning and one in the evening, depending on their schedules. Make sure you have extra house keys made for your sitters. We also recommend having one additional key copy made, which you can either give to a designated backup pet sitter, or hide somewhere near your front door (if you feel safe doing so). You should write out a detailed care sheet with the following information for your pet sitter(s) with the following information:
  • The amount of food your guinea pigs should receive and when. 
    • Make sure it's clear that guinea pigs can have unlimited hay, but should not have unlimited access to fruit, vegetables or pellets.
    • You can make things easier for your sitter by putting a measuring cup in your pellets and putting our daily veggies in Tupperware containers in your refrigerator. 
    • Keep hay, pellets, and other necessities out in the open so your sitter doesn't have to look for them. Tupperware containers should be kept in the most visible position when you open your refrigerator: on the top shelf in the center. 
    • If you have other pets besides guinea pigs, make sure it is clear to the sitter which pet foods are for which pet. You don't want your piggies being fed food that isn't meant for them.
    • You can put labels on everything if you want to make sure there is no confusion ("Feed 1/8 cup of these pellets every morning", "This is hamster food, not guinea pig food!", etc.).
  • A reminder to refill the water bottle. 
    • Specify which water your sitter should use if you have filtered water (e.g. a Brita filter). 
    • Give instructions for how to hook the water bottle onto the side of the cage if it's not obvious. The kind we currently have has a U-shaped hook that goes behind the bottle outside the cage with the nozzle sticking in through the bars; one of our pet sitters tried to put the bottle back on the inside of the cage, and couldn't figure out why the hook wouldn't hold it. 
  • Instructions for floor time (optional, but preferable).
    • Make sure there is nothing on or near the floor (wires, unsafe plants, etc.) that your piggies can chew own while the pet sitter gives them floor time. 
  • Cleaning instructions.
    • If you're only going to be gone a short time, this may not be necessary.
    • Keep in mind this requires significantly more work on the part of your pet sitter than just feeding us, especially if you're using fleece. Make sure your sitter doesn't mind the extra time and inconvenience if a cage cleaning will be required of them. You may want to thank them appropriately for the extra work (pay them, take them out to dinner, etc.).
  • Reminder of what the right temperature for your guinea pig is (generally 65°-75°F) if it's summer or winter, and you're concerned your piggies might get too hot or too cold.
  • A way to contact you. This will most likely be your cell phone number and/or email address. Encourage your sitter to contact you if he or she has any questions.
  • The name and number of your vet, and your preferred animal hospital if vet is closed. You can let your sitter know that you'll cover any expenses that arise, or you can leave an envelope with cash for emergencies. 
2. Bring your guinea pigs to stay with another human. Unless they happen to have guinea pigs themselves, you'll probably need to bring over your cage, food and other supplies. The same considerations generally apply as with option #1.

3. You can hire a professional pet sitter. Guinea Pig Zone has a list of Pig Sitters, though unfortunately it currently only has 5 entries so far. If none of them happen to be near you, you have a few other options:
Before you entrust your guinea pigs to a stranger, make sure you do your homework. Google the pet sitter, look for them on Yelp and Angie's List, and anything else you can think to make sure they're going to be responsible.

4. You can leave your guinea pig with an animal boarding facility.
As with option #3, you should always do your homework on boarding facilities before entrusting them with your guinea pig.

5. You can bring your guinea pigs with you. Traveling is stressful to guinea pigs, however, so you shouldn't consider this option unless you'll be gone for at least five days. If you're going to use this option, make sure you have decent travel cages for your piggies. We're fans of the All Living Things Small Animal Carrier (Large size). Line the carrier with a towel to absorb waste. Maintain a proper temperature in the car. If possible, bring cozies or something familiar from home. Make sure you give us food and water regularly during the ride. Set up our cage ASAP upon arrival.

Human, you're not going anywhere, are you?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens?

Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant, which is better known for its roots. When selecting turnip greens, look for ones that are unblemished and deep green. They should stay fresh for about four days in your human's refrigerator.

We can eat turnip greens only 1-2 times per week because they are high in calcium.

Hey! You two didn't wait for me before you started eating!
That's not how you treat the dominant pig!
Oh, that reminds me! I'm the dominant pig, not you, Broccoli! Just needed to clear that up after your latest post.
It's unfortunate that turnip greens are so high in calcium so we're not allowed to have them again for a while. We really enjoyed them! 5/5 stars!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

Valentine's Day is a time when humans who love each other give each other treats. Well, we think it's time guinea pigs got in on the fun! Therefore, we've decided it's time for another giveaway.

This time, we're giving away some more Simple Rewards Veggie Treats because they come in a red package and they're shaped like hearts.

I'll be your valentine, human, as long as you give me that treat!
As usual, here are the rules:

Contest Rules:

  • You must be a resident of the continental United States.
  • You have to be a follower of this blog. To follow us, just click the "join this site" button on the right.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this blog post expressing your interest in participating in the contest. 
  • One winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries and announced on this blog on February 14th. All entries must be received by February 14th at 12:00 pm (US Eastern time) to be eligible.

Good luck!