Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quarantining and Introducing a New Guinea Pig

So you already know that are usually happiest with a companion of the same sex and you're ready to adopt another....  Now what?

First, quarantine your new guinea pig away from any other guinea pigs for at least two weeks.  Bringing home a new guinea pig greatly increases the risk of your existing guinea pigs getting sick.  You need a couple weeks to observe the new guinea pig for itching, sneezing, weight loss, or any other odd behaviors that could indicate respiratory infection, lice, mites, or another illness. 

Although too small for a permanent cage, store bought cages work well for quarantine.

Here are tips for the best method of success:
#1.  Do not just take a guinea pig and place it in your resident pig's home, because it will be seen as an intruder.  Your guinea pig is likely to be alarmed and take action.  The new guinea pig will be on the defensive and fight back.  The key is to move slowly with introductions.

#2.  Introduce the guinea pigs on neutral ground with many goodies and hiding spots - cardboard boxes work great.  This makes the meeting a pleasurable experience and helps them feel safe.  When it's time to introduce the new guinea pig to the shared cage for the first time, have it freshly cleaned, rearranged, and put in some new fun stuff to change it up.

#3.  Bathing both guinea pigs first so they smell the same can help.

#4.  Rumbling and swaying is natural.  They're going to sniff each other.  They may mount each other to compete for dominance.  

Here Dan shows Chance his rumble strut.
#5.  Monitor them closely with a towel, but leave them be unless fighting is serious.  If fighting becomes serious and there is blood shed or hair flying, throw the towel in and grab one immediately.  If there is not blood drawn, let them squeal, chase, and work out their piggy hierarchy.  They will compete to determine who's the leader and who's the follower.  It's natural; you only want to step in if there's serious fighting.

#6.  Introducing a younger pig is likely to go better than adding an older one.  A baby guinea pig is likely to accept the other pig as a leader much more quickly.  Two older pigs are likely to work out their differences more harshly.  Two "teenager" guinea pigs guinea pigs on the brink of adulthood are more likely to be hormonal and aggressive temporarily.

#7.  Be patient.  The payoff is very much worth it.  I introduced all three of my boys one at a time when all were over a year old.  Success is very possible.

It is important to say that all guinea pigs are individuals.  They have their own personalities.  Everything I am saying here is a generalization to the majority of guinea pigs.  There will always be an exception here and there, so be prepared to take the time to find another loving solo-pig home, or keep another cage on hand for the long term if this does not work out.

Here are links that you may also find useful for your new guinea pig(s)-

Why where you put the cage matters:

Consider these easy DIY accessories when rearranging your cage for a new introduction:

Taming and bonding with your guinea pigs:

Pellets and Hay:

Keeping your guinea pigs healthy:

Vegetable and fruit list for guinea pigs:

Why I recommend adopting not shopping for your new guinea pig:

Keeping you and your guinea pigs healthy - avoid sharing illnesses:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Zoonotic Diseases - Transmission of Illness Between People & Pets


Zoonotic Diseases - Transmission of Illness Between People & Pets

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed between people and their pets.  While many illnesses are believed to start from an animal origin, rest assured that guinea pigs are not considered a big carrier of any serious diseases.  Despite the relatively low risk, the risk does exist, so to keep both you and your guinea pig healthy, I'll discuss it here.

Illnesses (including parasites) such as staph, E. coli, salmonella, dermatophytosis aka ringworm, giardia, and some viruses - possibly even flu viruses - can be transmitted between humans and guinea pigs.

The risks are low so no need to worry, just take extra precautions if you or your guinea pigs are ill.  Avoid coughing and sneezing in their direction, handle them minimally if either of you are ill, wash hands often, and don't put your faces close together.  In fact, it's generally recommended not to kiss your guinea pigs at all, but some of us rebels do it anyway when everyone's healthy.  シ  You should also be in the habit of always washing your hands after handling your guinea pigs.

Take extra care in keeping the cage sanitary when a guinea pig is sick and separate the guinea pig.  If you are sick, have minimal contact with them, and have another family member care for them if possible.  Don't allow young children or other pets to interact with an ill guinea pig.

Also, carefully quarantine a new guinea pig for at least 2 weeks before introducing them to other guinea pigs, and it's recommended that you handle them with the same care you would a sick animal throughout the quarantine period.  The recent introduction of a new guinea pig is when there's a significantly increased risk of disease transmission.

If a guinea pig shows signs of illness at any time, take them to a vet for treatment.  Since guinea pigs are a prey animal, it's instinctive that they hide illness, so when you start seeing that there is a problem, your guinea pig could already be very ill.  Weighing them weekly is recommended to catch an illness early by loss of weight.  Increasing vitamin C in their diet may help them recover more quickly, so discuss this with your vet when treating for illness.

With all precautions taken, you and your guinea pigs should be back to health and ready to cuddle again in no time!
Below are some links with good information, if you're interested in additional reading on this topic:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chatter From Chance

This is a thank you from Chance for all the positive thoughts and wishes for a full recovery.  Can you believe he's been with me a full month already?!  Although, he's having a hard time kicking this infection for good, he's certainly in good spirits.  He's very inquisitive and friendly. He gets so excited when I come to the cage to see what I've brought for him.  He is enjoying bossing me around at veggie time - I think I need to update my resume to include guinea pig servant.  He has the cutest little high pitched squeal ever!  ♥ 
Here, Chance is wondering why I'm taking so long to clean his cage, and why he only has a vitamin C tablet to chew on while he waits.  (I'm giving him chewable vitamin C supplement while he is recovering from the URI.)  He's on this tiny cart that doesn't easily move and barely sits an inch off the ground, however Chance believes it's an island so it keeps him from running around the room like a wild pig while I get his cage done.  ☺  Occassionally he grabs on to the little red rope on the cart and refuses to give it up when I take it away.  He's got spunk!
Finally, the cage is clean and up to Chance's expectations.  He also has his veggies now, so he's pretty happy about that.  (The white powder on the veggies is probiotics to keep his gut healthy while he's on antibiotics.)  It's important to note that this isn't a sufficient size permanent cage for a guinea pig, but it works well as a recovery cage until he's 100% healthy.

Fresh cage, hay, pellets, and veggies create a sleepy pig with a full belly.   Notice how he pulls his pillow and stuffed carrot in close to lay his head on - he's so cute!  

Thanks again for following Chance's journey - I am confident that in time, he will beat this illness!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Update on Little Chance

It's time for an update on Chance!  Here he sits, helping me update his story.

The last updated, he had been doing very well and was slowly being introduced to the other boys over lunch play dates.  Unfortunately, after about a week of being off antibiotics, Chance started to show signs that his upper respiratory infection was returning.  He has not been able to see the other boys and is back on Baytril.  He's responding well, however it's clear that this infection is very severe and he needs to be treated longer.

The good news is that I am seeing less and less of his head tilt.  He's active, maintaining his weight, talkative, gets excited for veggies, and has a fantastic appetite despite being on medication known for suppressing appetites.  It does however make him more thirsty.  Since long term antibiotic use can have a very negative impact on the gut flora needed for digestive health, Chance is receiving his daily veggies tossed in probiotics powder, but he doesn't mind at all.  We've also been trying 1/2 of a chewable vitamin C tablet a few times a week for an extra boost of vitamin C since he's trying to get well, but he doesn't do more than nibble on them.  I'm not too concerned since he eats so well.

Chance got a new step stool house from a garage sale last weekend, shown in the picture below, which he really likes.

He also recently got this new pepper dish he's enjoying today's menu from.  He's a happy guy.

Overall, Chance is doing really great, he just needs more recovery time after going untreated for this infection for so long prior coming here.  Thanks so much for your well wishes and following his journey!  :)