In the summer months, it's nice to let your guinea pig outside for some fresh air and grass. Whether you let your piggy spend time outside on a leash or in a small hutch, there are some safety tips you should keep in mind to avoid injuries and illnesses:
Let your guinea pig outside during the cooler hours of the day.
Guinea pigs are not very heat tolerant. They cannot sweat, and panting to cool down does them little good. Temperatures above 75 degrees F can be hazardous to them, leading to heat stroke and sometimes even sudden death.
Thus, it's important to let your guinea pig outside during the cooler morning and evening hours, rather than in the middle of the day when the temperature is soaring. On the hottest summer days, you may want to just skip taking your piggy outside altogether.
Make sure your hutch does not allow birds or other creatures to access your guinea pig.
To you, your guinea pig looks like a furry pet. To a hawk or badger, it looks like dinner. If you're putting your guinea pig outside in a hutch, make sure the slates are close enough together that any other creature cannot reach in and lift your piggy out. Open-topped hutches are a bad idea for this reason. You can easily make an open-topped hutch safer by stapling some screening across the top.
Never leave your guinea pig tied to a post on its leash outdoors, either. This is an invitation for foul play.
Make sure water is available if your piggy is out for a few minutes.
If you're just taking your guinea pig out for a few minutes on its leash, then you don't have to worry about supplying water. On the other hand, if you're leaving your piggy in a hutch for an hour or more, make sure you leave a water bottle or bowl of water. This way, if your guinea pig does start to get a little warm, it can take some sips of water to help cool down.
Make sure the grass has not been sprayed before letting your guinea pig eat it.
Clearly, pesticides and herbicides sprayed on lawns are not safe for guinea pigs. Do not let your guinea pig graze in public parks, as most do treat their lawns. If you live in an apartment community, ask the community manager whether the lawn has been sprayed before you let your guinea pig out. Obviously, if you own your own home, avoid spraying your lawn if you plan on letting your piggy eat it.
In addition to following the tips above, it's important to know the signs of heat stroke in a guinea pig, just in case an accident does happen. Signs of heat stroke include laying on the side, panting, rapid breathing, refusal to move, extreme lethargy, and seizures. If you think your guinea pig is suffering from heat stroke, take it to an emergency vet, as prompt treatment with subcutaneous fluids is generally needed for recovery.
To learn more, of if you find yourself in an emergency and in need of help, contact a company like River View Veterinary Service LLC.