Cold Weather Care
Like most animals, whee piggies do not deal well with extremes of temperature
In hot weather whee are at risk of heat stroke so whee advise you check this page whee wrote to see how you can avoid that.
In cold weather whee are equally susceptible to ill health. Guinea pigs can, and do, freeze to death in cold temperatures with inadequate heating. Here are our top tips to caring for your piggy during a cold spell.
- If it’s too cold for you outside then it is too cold for your piggies. You have the option to put a coat or jumper on to keep warm. The piggies do not.
- Bring outdoor piggies indoors during cold spells. Not only does this protect them from the fluctuating and extreme temperatures but you will also be able to spot illness or adverse reactions to the weather more easily. If you cannot bring them into your home they should at least be moved into a shed, garage or porch where they can avoid the worst of a frost.
- The best tool you can have is a snugglesafe heat pad. Our hooman swears by them. For older piggies, arthritic piggies or piggies recovering from illness these are the perfect way to keep them warm. Alternatively if you don’t have one and need something to warm a piggy urgently – don’t risk using a hot water bottle – you can warm a small cold animal, by putting them on your bare warm abdomen. This transfers heat and if you put a blanket over the top of them too, should help warm them. If a piggy or any animal is seriously cold and showing signs of listlessness, weakness, or anything abnormal you should always call your vet for advice.
- Cozy cups and fleece beds are brilliant! They are warm and cuddly for piggies and the perfect place to huddle for warmth.
- Extra hay. Though they need lots of hay all year round with it being 70% of their diet putting extra in for bedding is a great way for them to hide and keep warm. Hay nests!
- Wooden hidey houses are better than plastic. Try touching each in the cold weather and decide which you would prefer to cuddle up in!
- Bottle snugs. If your piggies are outdoors in a shed of some sort a bottle snug will keep the water from getting too cold and some of them are also adapted to stop them getting too hot too. Whee have never used them but they are available in most pet shops.
- Hutch snugs. Also something whee have not used but good for piggies kept in sheds or garages during cold weather. An extra layer of insulation to protect them! Alternatively you can put over the hutch a layer sheet of radiator reflector foil, (available from most DIY shops). This helps to insulate the hutch and reflects any heat back inside.
Those are the basics. A few little ideas you could try are
- Take an upturned cardboard box with a hole cut in the side and stuff it full of hay, then tuck the snugglesafe in there and put a fleece blanket cover over the whole thing. This creates a great hiding hole which is lovely and cozy.
- As a very occasional treat the hooman will mush half a wheat-a-bix with boiled water to make a thick mixture then let us eat small amounts off a spoon. This is warming but also fattening so only as very occasional treat.
Most of what whee have said under the basics is transferable to other species, hamsters, cats, dog, rabbits etc.
If your piggy is showing any signs of being unwell you should call a vet for advice immediately but the best thing to do is avoid letting your piggy get cold and unwell in the first place. If it is out of your normal vets hours you should contact your out-of-hours vet. If you don’t know one, call your normal vet and the answer message should tell you the details of the out-of-hours vet. Piggies go downhill very first so time is of the essence.