Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Guinea Pigs Need and Love Timothy Hay

  It's Timothy Hay Day here today!

It's no secret that guinea pigs love hay, but many guinea pig caregivers don't realize how important it is to have hay available for guinea pigs all the time. The roughage is extremely important to keeping their digestive tract healthy, and it is essential for keeping teeth worn down.  Investing in good quality hay can save you a lot of money down the road in vet bills, and it can save your guinea pigs from serious health issues.
There are other types of hay, but timothy is the best for regular feeding. Alfalfa is too high in calcium which can lead to health problems, and sweeter hays like orchard grass are best as an occasional treat or mixed in with timothy.


We just had 50lbs of 3rd cutting timothy hay arrive from Small Pet Select. The guinea pigs love it so much! The pictures really don't show how green it is, how soft it feels, or how fresh it smells.


 Whenever we can order the 3rd cutting, the pigs can't get enough of it. Quality hay is not as cheap as other hay, but it doesn't have the sharp pieces that may cause issues, and guinea pigs will waste very little of it. It may very well save you vet bills later too.

 There are many sources, but if you'd like to try some hay from Small Pet Select - good news - here's a $10 coupon code: (expires 4/7/2015)
I will also get a $10 discount for the referral if you use the code, although I don't expect we'll be needing anything else for awhile. :)

This "Guinea Pigs at Play" sign also came from Small Pet Select.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chewy's Update

Chewy had a rough time last week due to an impaction, which you can read about here.  His weight drastically dropped from about 1070grams to 930grams.  After the impaction was taken care of, Chewy's appetite returned better than ever!

Timothy hay is extremely important to the guinea pig digestive track, so he has unlimited amounts of that, plus quality pellets by Oxbow.  I do give him 1/4 tablet of a childrens chewable vitamin C tablet, which the boys are so excited for each day.   I've also started giving them a tablet of Oxbow Immune Support each day.  I don't know if it will help, but due to Chance's history with illness when I brought him home and now Chewy's impaction, it won't hurt.  Chewy's been getting extra carrots and bell peppers, his favorites, while he's on the mend to get his weight up.  In 5 days we've gotten his weight up to 1075grams which is excellent! 

Not only is he eating well, but he's looking bright and alert.   He's back to squealing for goodies and popcorning all over.  I've never been so excited to see nicely formed fresh poop all over his cage!

Thanks to everyone for the thoughts and prayers.  Chewy is officially back to himself.  I will regularly keep an eye on all the boys for impacting in the future, as this can happen more with boars as they age.  Hopefully this isn't something we have to deal with again in the future, but if we do, we're prepared.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Love of Animals ❤

I'm going to share a little story with pictures which happened today.  This made my heart smile in a huge way.

Chewy was under the weather today, which I posted about here.  After Chewy was feeling better, I was giving him some love and extra attention.  I started taking pictures of him and captured a beautiful moment, that I'm not usually lucky enough to get.

If you've read many of my posts here or on the Guinea Pigs' Cavy Club facebook page, you'll know I strongly advocate rescuing animals. 

Let me tell you a little back story on Rexx.  He's our dachshund mix-breed dog that we rescued from a shelter more than 11 years ago, putting him at an estimated 13 years old now.  He was found in the middle of a highway by Animal Control, on one of the coldest winter days in January.  He had some frostbite and was too cold to move.  Since that day we brought him home, he's always been a very loving and sensitive soul.  He loves everybody and everything - most people who visit want to take him with them.  His kindness is felt by people as well as other animals.  When he realized Chewy was sick, he came up and laid by him.  Now I will let these pictures speak for themselves as to what happened today.   They are posted in the order they occurred.  (Please note, always supervise your pets closely and it isn't always a good idea to let them interact.  Many dogs have a predator instinct and guinea pigs are a prey animal.)

Chewy's Big Day - About Guinea Pig Impaction

Chewy after his visit to the vet today.  Feeling much better now.

One of the lesser fun things about guinea pigs, is having to do boar cleanings.  This involves cleaning around the genitals of male guinea pigs to clear any build up of debris and stools.   This isn't always an issue with guinea pigs, but for some, especially older guinea pigs, it can build up and cause an impaction.  This is precisely what happened to Chewy, and it's the first time I've experienced this with my own guinea pigs.  It was scary!

Panic set in this morning when I realized Chewy had not touched any of the food and water I put in his cage yesterday.   I thought back and realized, I didn't see him as usual when I put it in the cage.  I went looking for him in his house and found him sitting stiffly, not wanting to move.  His eyes were dull, he didn't want to respond to me, and wasn't interested in food.   I coaxed him into eating some carrot, his vitamin C tablet, and drinking a little water.  I immediately called the vet to get an appointment set up.  When they were full, I scheduled with another cavy experienced vet further away.

After this was done, I started to look Chewy over.  There were no obvious signs of a problem until I got to his rear end.  I could clearly see a mass of stools stuck to him. is the go to reference I recommend for guinea pig medical information, so I first pulled this information:  Knowing that I needed to do this by myself immediately, I wanted to see exactly what to do.   This video was immensely helpful:  I soaked Chewy in a bowl of warm water with olive oil in it for a few minutes, and then did what the video demonstrates.  I put Chewy back in the cage for about a half an hour, took him back out, and did it again.   The second time, it appeared that I got everything, which the vet confirmed a couple hours later.

The vet check went very well. I did a good job getting him all cleaned out from the impaction and his teeth, etc. looked pretty good. He did have a little bit of crustiness around his eyes, which was new. I really think it was from his eyes watering earlier today when he was in so much discomfort. His eyes now look brighter, his squeal is back to beg for treats, and his appetite has returned! The vet wanted to put him on SMZ antibiotics just to make sure he isn't getting an URI while his immune system is down and I'm to make sure he doesn't drop anymore weight. He did get thin from not eating. Now that his appetite is already returning, I think getting his weight up will be pretty easy.

The vet did say I lubed him up pretty well.  Poor Chewy is quite greasy around the rear - that olive oil really worked great. I hope it helps him continue to pass stools without blocking up again. This will be something I continue to monitor closely.

Chewy is on the road to recovery!