How to keep guinea pigs cool in summer?
We are now fully into the summer months here in the UK and an important consideration is how to keep guinea pigs cool in summer. They struggle to cool down as well as humans, simply because they cannot sweat. Signs of them trying to cool down is by lying right down on the surface they are on, like grass or fleece, as it can be colder in this area. Obviously they will have less energy and spend more time sleeping and resting. Now if they are kept inside, this is easier to deal with as most of the house may be cool. But if it does get too hot inside and whilst they are in their playpen outside, there are a few things you can do to help them.
Make sure that all water bottles are filled up and if needs be, refill again in the day. Place them where it is easy for the guinea pigs to get too and you could add one to two ice cubes, but not any more as it can shock them. Feed only once in a week and still a tiny amount, some watermelon or high water content fruit. You may feed them these anyway, but cucumber and romaine or sweet gem lettuce will help. A good tip is to freeze some bottled water and place it in wherever they are situated. Also, regular weekly grooming can get rid of any loose hairs that can make the guinea pig even hotter. Do not place them in garages and sheds as they can build up in temperature very quickly.
Now the ideal temperature range is 18 to 24 degrees celsius. If the temperature lets say suddenly goes up to 27 degrees celsius, I will already have the playpen located in a very shady part of the garden by the fence and below the tree and I create a sheltered area inside. So they will be cool even if it does rise, but I will not have them outside if I know the day before that it will be above or at 27 for most of the day. If your able to provide some shade with items but you don’t have shady parts of the garden, then the real max temperature I would say to keep them outside is at 25.
When outside make sure the playpen has a roof cover and if your able to place them nearer to the corner of the garden by the fence, even under a tree. Do not use plastic hideys, as the temperature will be too high inside them. Plastic tents are of thin material and provide great shade and even peg up a towel to the walls of the playpen to create a small cover. Guinea pig beds are good to use as they can hide underneath. There are specifically made cooling mats that you can buy that can keep them cool, but they may tend to not just lay on them, but try it out and see what happens.
To keep them cool inside, close windows as it will not let the heat in. Make sure they are away from windows and doors and in the coolest part of the house. I find in my hutches that it acts as a cool place for them. You could use a little stand up office fan, but do not direct right at them. Maybe place a little piece of flat wood or a concrete slab in the inside playpen and their home, so they can lay on to keep cool, as they are colder surfaces.
Signs that a guinea pig is getting too hot
They will be breathing very fast and lying down but starting to shake or rolling slightly. Get a wet towel but not too wet and wrap around the guinea pig and give it a bit of water to drink, when starting to recover. Quickly bring inside and relocate to a cooler part of the house. You will need to go to the vets, but you really want to avoid them getting too hot in the first place. It is a serious matter and can cause death, if heat exhaustion is not treated properly. Older and young guinea pigs will be more affected, so provide shadier areas and bring them inside if they are struggling.
Summer can be a great time for guinea pigs to spend time outside eating grass, just relaxing and running about, but we just need to be extra vigilant in the care we offer in this hotter period of the year. Keep them hydrated and provide places of shelter. If in doubt, do not have them outside and be safer than sorry. Remember even indoors, you may need to take appropriate measures, depending on different circumstances like where they are usually kept in the house. When outside in the garden, shady areas will really help.
If you have any questions for me, then please leave a comment below. Thank you so much for reading.