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HYGiENIC PRACTICES

Hygiene is important to ensure that your guinea pig lives a long and healthy life with control on unwanted odours

HYGiENIC PRACTICES

Do I need to bathe my guinea pig?

No. Guinea pigs are quite capable of cleaning themselves and taking care of their hygiene. In fact, taking a bath could be stressful. They are not natural swimmers and are prone to cold. So, taking a bath could lead to serious diseases. Your guinea pig has natural body oils which get stripped when they take a bath, leaving them susceptible to parasites infestation.

You should not give your guinea pigs a bath if they are very dirty and need to be cleaned up, if your guinea pig recently had a parasite infestation and you need to clean out the dead parasites, if he/she has a dirty rump because of bladder infection or diarrhoea. If you must give your guinea pig a bath, make sure of the following details:

The water is not too cold

The room in which you are giving your guinea pig a bath is not too cold

Do not use a deep washing bowl and ensure the water is not higher than your guinea pig's height

After the bath immediately dry your guinea pig with a towel or flannels by gently rubbing or patting down in the direction of the fur.

My guinea pig is eating its droppings. Is this normal?

This is very normal and healthy. Even though humans might find this action abnormal and dirty, your guinea pig eats his/her own droppings to completely absorb the nutrients in the food. Guinea pigs have two types of food - dark solid droppings and soft squishy droppings called caecals or cecotropes. Caecals are lighter in colour with a green or yellowish tint to them. Plant material is difficult to digest in one go therefore, many nutrients don't get absorbed in the intestine and pass out of the body as faecal matter. Like a cow chews the cud, a guinea pig eating its caecals is a similar process. The food is first consumed and broken down by bacteria in the intestines of the guinea pig. This result in partial absorption of the nutrients in the food, the guinea pig will then consume the caecal again to thoroughly absorb the nutrients. Therefore, ensure that your guinea pig gets an adequate balanced diet to keep him/her healthy.

My guinea pig seems to be shivering. Is something wrong?

Generally guinea pigs shiver because of fear. If there are any animals in the vicinity of your guinea pig or if he/she is in a new environment then he/she could be experiencing fear. Make him/her comfortable, spend time with him/her and ensure that no animals in the vicinity are scaring your pig. Another cause of shivering is if your pet is cold. Guinea pigs can't handle cold well. Even if it feels warm to you, it might not be warm enough for your guinea pig. Ensure that there is no wind or drafts near your guinea pig's cage and that it is sufficiently warm and cosy. Guinea pigs are prone to pneumonia and respiratory infections so if you notice any abnormal shivering with other symptoms, immediately consult a vet.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to manekaanimallove@gmail.com)

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