August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Are you and your pet outside hiking, swimming &  running all day? Please make sure your pet stays current with all their vaccinations. 

Vaccinations are beneficial to your family, not just your pet. Leptospirosis and Rabies are contagious to all family members. 

Call or stop by today for a free vaccination schedule. 

LW August Poster

Looking for ideas on mixing up your Guinea Pig’s diet? Here are some helpful feeding guidelines from the Humane Society site for your Guinea Pig pet.

Use variety to make your piggy’s plate nutritious and appealing

guinea pig with orangeIf you had to eat oatmeal every day, three times a day, you’d get sick of it in no time. Your guinea pig’s basic diet is made up of commercial pellets, but keep him coming back for more with a rotating mix of fruits and vegetables.

Pellets: building blocks of a balanced diet

To ensure that your guinea pig receives the proper balance of nutrients, choose a high-quality commercial guinea pig food.

Commercial feeds for small animals aren’t interchangeable. For example, only guinea pig pellets are supplemented with vitamin C, and rabbit pellets may contain small amounts of antibiotics that could be harmful to your pig. So don’t feed your guinea pig a chow meant for another species.

Go with timothy hay

Many guinea pig pellets are made from alfalfa hay, but your pig will do best with pellets made from timothy hay. If you’re having trouble finding this type of pellet, purchase online through suppliers like Oxbow Hay Company or Kleenmama’s Hayloft.

Give me a C

Choose pellets that have been fortified with vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The best option is to select pellets with stabilized vitamin C. It doesn’t degrade as quickly during storage and is released only after it’s been activated by enzymes in the guinea pig’s digestive system.

Keep it fresh, safe

Look for a recent milling date on the packaging. Because vitamin C in most pellets degrades quickly, guinea pig chow shouldn’t be used more than three months after the milling date. Store pellets in a dark, dry place at room temperature or slightly cooler. They can also be kept in the freezer and thawed as needed.

What to avoid

Avoid pellet mixes that include seeds or nuts (choking hazard) or dried fruit (unnecessary calories).

Avoid pellets that contain artificial colors and sweeteners, cheap fillers such as corn products or beet pulp, or preservatives (look for words like ethoxyquin, sodium nitrite or potassium sorbate).

Pellets should never contain animal by-products since guinea pigs are herbivores.

Learn more about how much and how often to feed your guinea pig »

Hay: the overlooked staple

Your guinea pig needs fresh hay at all times. Hay provides a critical source of fiber and roughage and serves as both a food source and bedding material. Because guinea pigs are herbivores, they require hay to aid their digestion and to provide necessary wear on their continually growing teeth.

Grass hay comes in many varieties; you want timothy hay. Orchard hay is also a good option. Pet stores usually carry small bags of timothy hay, although you can often find fresher supplies available in bulk through feed stores or directly from farms. You can also order timothy hay online from companies that specialize in small animal supplies.

Good-quality timothy hay smells fresh and sweet, feels dry and is free of mold, and has a green color. Hay should be stored in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at room temperature or slightly cooler. Too much sun or heat can leech nutrients, while moisture can cause mold.

A word about alfalfa

Avoid alfalfa hay, which is rich in calcium and protein but may cause diarrhea and can also lead to kidney and bladder stones. Alfalfa hay can be beneficial in small amounts for pregnant or nursing guinea pigs and for young pigs under four months old.

Your pig’s salad bowl

Vegetables are an important source of vitamin C and round out your guinea pig’s diet with additional nutrients. They also add diversity to your pig’s meal plan since pellets and hay can get pretty boring. Offer a variety of vegetables to prevent mineral imbalances and wash fresh produce well before serving it to your guinea pig.

Leafy greens: These veggies are a particularly good source of vitamin C and should comprise the bulk of your guinea pig’s supplemental calories. Here are some options:

  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

Fresh veggies: Your guinea pig will happily munch on a wide variety of fresh vegetables. Experiment to see what your pig likes best and don’t be afraid to mix it up. This list isn’t exhaustive but provides a good starting point.

  • Bell peppers (green, orange, red)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots (and carrot greens)
  • Celery (Cut into small pieces since the strings can be a choking hazard)
  • Cilantro
  • Corn on the cob (with husks and silk, cut into pieces since the silk can be a choking hazard)
  • Cucumbers
  • Escarole
  • Greens such as clover and dandelion; Harvest from a garden or purchase at a grocery store and wash well; don’t pick from roadsides
  • Lettuces (e.g. Arugula, Bibb, Boston, Butterhead, Romaine, dark green leaf)
  • Snow peas, sugar peas, snap peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnip greens

A word of caution

Some vegetables can cause gas build-up in the digestive tract and should only be fed occasionally in small quantities:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens

Fruits: the occasional treat

Many guinea pigs love fruit, and cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, and papaya are especially high in vitamin C. Offer this treat in moderation (several times a week) because of its relatively high sugar content.

  • Apples: Acids in apples occasionally cause allergic reactions; don’t feed if you notice any sores or scabs around your guinea pig’s mouth
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes (seedless)
  • Kiwi
  • Melon (e.g. cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon); Offer very sparingly because of high sugar and water content
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

Foods to avoid

Guinea pigs may have robust appetites but they don’t have iron stomachs, and the wrong type of food can wreak havoc on tiny digestive systems. Common signs that you’re feeding the wrong foods include soft stool or diarrhea.

Never feed chewy or sticky foods like peanut butter that can present a choking hazard or sharp-edged foods like potato chips that can puncture the delicate lining of your guinea pig’s mouth. Junk foods such as chocolate and sugary or salty snacks are also off-limits.

Here’s an overview of foods to avoid:

  • Beans (raw or dried)
  • Chocolate and candy
  • Dairy products
  • Garlic
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Lentils (raw or dried)
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Rhubarb
  • Seeds

Commercial treats and supplements

If you’re feeding your pig a balanced, high-quality diet, commercial treats and supplements are unnecessary. See feeding guidelines for more information »

Closeup of guinea pig noseThey’re not pigs and they’re not from New Guinea! Read on to find out what these South American natives need to stay happy and healthy.


Larger than hamsters, but smaller than rabbits, guinea pigs can weigh a couple of pounds and generally live for five to seven years. The three most common breeds of guinea pig are the Smooth-Coated, with short, glossy fur; the Abyssinian, whose hair grows in fluffy tufts all over the body, and the Peruvian, with long, silky hair that flows to the ground.

Guinea pigs make wonderful companions. These docile members of the rodent family rarely bite and are known for squeaking with delight when their favorite humans enter the room. Guinea pigs are excellent starter pets for older children who have mastered proper handling techniques.


When you first get your pet, you’ll need to spend about $35 for a cage. Food runs about $75 a year, plus $25 annually for toys and treats, $50 for an annual veterinary check-up and $400 per year for litter and bedding material. We recommend adopting your guinea pig from a shelter or small-animal rescue group.


Guinea pigs are social animals who prefer to live in small groups. If you keep two or more females together, they will become great friends. If you want two males, it’s smart to choose two babies from the same litter. Since guinea pigs, like all rodents, multiply rapidly, keeping males and females together is not recommended.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll need to provide a minimum of four square feet of cage space per guinea pig—but please try to get as large a cage as possible. You’ll need a solid-bottom cage—no wire floors, please, as they can irritate your pets’ feet. Plastic-bottom “tub cages” with wire tops also make great guinea pig homes. Never use a glass aquarium, due to the poor ventilation that it provides.

Always keep the cage indoors away from drafts and extreme temperatures, as guinea pigs are very susceptible to heatstroke. They’ll prefer an environment kept at 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line the bottom of the cage with aspen or hardwood shavings or some other form of safe bedding, such as grass hay. Do not use cedar or pine chips—the oils they contain can be dangerous to your pets. (P.S. Yes, you can train a guinea pig to use a litter box—but please note that this will require lots of time and patience!)

Guinea pigs love to hide when they play, so be sure to place cardboard tubes and/or empty coffee cans with smoothed edges in the enclosure for this purpose. Plastic pipes and flower pots are good, too, and bricks and rocks for climbing will be much appreciated. All guinea pigs need a cave for sleeping and resting, so please provide a medium-sized flower pot or covered sleeping box, readily available at pet supply stores.


Commercial guinea pig pellets should make up the bulk of your pet’s diet. Nutritionally complete, they’re available at pet supply stores, and are made from plants, seeds and veggies. Feed your guinea pigs twice daily, in the morning and in the evening.

The ASPCA recommends offering small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables to your guinea pigs every day. Try grapes, cucumbers, corn, peas, carrots and pears. Half a handful of veggies and a slice of fresh fruit per pig is plenty. Always make sure to clean up any leftover fresh food before it spoils. You’ll also need to make grass hay available to your pets at all times. It’s great for the digestive system, and will also satisfy your pet’s need to gnaw.

Unlike other animals, guinea pigs cannot manufacture Vitamin C, so you’ll need to ensure that your pets get enough of this essential nutrient every day. A quarter of an orange will do, but you can also include some fruits and veggies that are high in C to their daily ration of fresh foods, such as kale, dandelion greens and strawberries.

Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. Use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, and change the water daily.

General Care

Remove soiled bedding, droppings and stale food from the cage daily. Clean the cage completely once a week by replacing dirty bedding and scrubbing the bottom of the cage with warm water. Be sure everything’s dry before adding fresh bedding.

Did you know that guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously, just like those of other rodents? That’s why it is important that you provide yours with something to gnaw on at all times. Branches and twigs from untreated trees will work, as will any small piece of wood that hasn’t been treated with chemicals.

It’s crucial that you get your pets used to you—and used to being handled. Start by feeding them small treats. When they’re comfortable with that, you can carefully pick up one pig at a time, one hand supporting the bottom, the other over the back.

Once you have hand-tamed your piggies, you should let them run around in a small room or enclosed area to get some additional exercise every day. You will need to carefully check the room for any openings from which the guinea pigs can escape, get lost and possibly end up hurt. These animals must be supervised when they are loose because they will chew on anything in their paths—including electrical wires.

Guinea pigs are very conscientious about grooming themselves, but brushing them on a regular basis will help keep their coat clean and remove any loose hairs. Long-haired guinea pigs should be brushed daily in order to prevent tangles and knots from forming.

Veterinary Care

If you think one of your guinea pigs is sick, don’t delay—seek medical attention immediately. Common signs that something isn’t right include sneezing, coughing, diarrhea and lethargy. Guinea pigs are also susceptible to external parasites such as mites and lice. If you think your pet is infested, head to the vet for treatment.

Guinea Pig Supply Checklist

– Solid-bottom cage with wire cover or plastic-bottom “tub” cage (minimum four square feet of cage space per pig)
– Guinea pig pellets
– Aspen or hardwood shavings
– Grass hay
– Bricks, rocks, cardboard boxes, plastic pipes and other appropriate toys
– Medium flower pot or covered sleeping box
– Brush and comb for grooming
– Attachable water bottle with drinking tube
– Unpainted, untreated piece of wood or safe chew toy

Original Article