Wheeky Piggy

Caring for senior guinea pigs

In case you didn’t know, guinea pigs’ life expectancy is about five to seven years. Since Freya and Ellie are turning five years old this year, they will soon be considered senior guinea pigs. Where has the time gone?

Senior guinea pigs such as Freya and Ellie require more attention than younger pigs because they are experiencing a lot of changes in their bodies and temperament; some long-time owners find that elderly guinea pigs are not as bouncy and excitable as they once were, and they also take a longer time to recover from illnesses. For some, these changes can feel quite unnerving and some people are not really sure how to help their guinea pigs live longer and more comfortably. Well, here are some ways to help you in caring for your senior guinea pigs:

1. Regular vet appointments

Since senior guinea pigs are experiencing many changes in their bodies due to aging, they need regular vet appointments to make sure that these changes are not making them uncomfortable. For the best management of their health, you should take them to an exotic vet that specializes in small animals like guinea pigs.

Please do not think that your guinea pigs no longer need to see a vet just because they are older and please do not assume that age-related health issues will no longer be treatable. These regular appointments will also let your guinea pigs live a long and healthy life during their advanced years, and many health issues can be definitely be treated if they are detected early.

All good!

2. Check the cage setup

Pay attention to your current cage setup. Elderly guinea pigs may have less energy to move around, so make sure that they can easily get around the cage by removing potential obstacles for them such as ramps. This means that if you have a two-level cage, you may have to consider changing to a one-level setup to make things easier for your guinea pig. You should also check whether the food bowls and water bottles are accessible since aging guinea pigs may have difficulty stretching just to get access to their food.

Guinea pigs’ foot pads tend to be more prone to irritation when the piggies are older, so you can also put softer bedding or blankets to help them stay comfortable when walking around the cage.

3. Monitor food and water intake

It is natural for guinea pigs’ appetite to gradually change as they get older, and they may also eat more slowly. You can break meals down into small and frequent servings if this happens. You can also try to add a little variety to their diet by changing things up a bit once in a while, but be careful not to make too many changes to their diet at this time.

But if you are noticing that your guinea pig is suddenly not eating or drinking, bring your piggy to the vet immediately. Reduced food and water intake and drastic weight loss are important signs of illness so monitoring your guinea pigs is one of the best ways to detect whether something is amiss.

4. Health checks

Besides regular vet appointments, regular health checks at home also helps in ensuring that you detect health problems as early as possible. Be on the lookout for thinning hair, dry skin, crooked teeth, crusty eyes, clicky breathing, and limping. If you see any of these, take your guinea pigs to the vet immediately to get them treated as soon as possible.

5. Simply spend more time with them

Senior guinea pigs may not be as perky and lively as before, but they will still enjoy playing and spending time with you, so seize the opportunity and bring them out for a relaxing lap or floor time. Guinea pigs are social animals and love attention, so shower them with all the love and attention you can give them to help them live a long and happy life!

2 thoughts on “Caring for senior guinea pigs

    1. Claudine Post author

      Unfortunately, I’ve never had two boars at the same time; but I do know that sometimes they take a longer time to bond than two sows or two piggies of opposite sex.

      I think there are some commonalities with introductions though: first, you have to introduce them in a neutral space, ideally a large space where both of them haven’t been to before. Also make sure there are no spaces or hidey houses where the guinea pigs can retreat to. You can leave a large pile of hay in the space to help them feel more comfortable and well-fed. It’s a long process and you must keep watch, but don’t interfere unless absolutely necessary (ex. drawing blood, fighting). I also recommend giving the cage a good cleaning before you put both of them there – you’ll want to neutralize the exisiting piggy smell.

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