Tag: Food

Guinea Pig Care

Guinea Pig Care


Guinea pigs are small, sociable, ‘chatty’ rodents and like living in pairs. They have a lifespan of around 5 years of age, and come in a variety of breeds, colours, and sizes. Once fully grown, guinea pigs average an adult size of  20-25 cm in length, and weigh approximately 1 kg.

Guinea pigs are a mammal, belonging to the species of rodent, and the family “cavy” (pronounced “kay-vee”). They are precocial species – meaning that they are born fully furred, with eyes and ears open, and walking within 30-60 minutes after birth. By 3 days old, baby guinea pigs (pups) are able to eat solid food, however still suckle from their mother.

General Care

The cage/ hutch should be cleaned out thoroughly at least once a week; if guinea pigs are left in an unclean environment for too long they can get foot problems, like bumble-foot. Ensure your guinea pigs have constant access to safe hiding places where they can escape if they feel afraid, tunnels and hides can be placed in cages/ hutches for your guinea pigs.

Guinea Pigs

Provide your guinea pigs with safe toys to play with and chew, this helps keep their minds stimulated and their teeth from overgrowing – check your guinea pigs teeth and nails weekly, as they are constantly growing, and may need to be clipped if they become overgrown – to prevent health problems (see my post on nail clipping).

Guinea pigs should have at least one hour interaction and handling, daily where possible, as this gets them more used to and more comfortable with their owners. Be quiet and gentle around your guinea pigs; never shout, they are very unlikely to understand and can become more nervous or scared. 

Make sure your guinea pigs have opportunities to exercise every day to stay fit and healthy – this can be running indoors (supervised!), ensuring they cannot escape anywhere or do themselves harm, or access electrical wires – or this can be free roaming outdoors (supervised from escape and local predatory pets) or safe in an enclosed run. Ensure there is shelter in outside runs, from both bad and sunny weather.

In warm weather you should check the fur and skin around your guinea pigs rear end daily, as urine staining or droppings that are stuck will attract flies, and can cause ‘fly strike’ (flies lay eggs in the dirty fur, the maggots hatch and eat away at your guinea pig), which is often fatal.

Provide fresh clean drinking water at all times. Check the water supply regularly, more so on hot days and during the summer; make sure the water does not freeze in winter – bottle covers help with this.

Hay should make up the most of your guinea pigs’ diet, and should be available at all times. A fresh portion of guinea pig pellets be available daily. Guinea pigs are grazers – they like to eat little and often – so food should be available as much as possible. Feeding your guinea pig the correct diet will help prevent a lot of common disease. One day a week off from feeding fruit and vegetables should be given as too much can make your guinea pig ill, although fresh grass, fruit and vegetables should be given on a regular basis.

Guinea Piggies

 Safe Foods to Feed

  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kale
  •  Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Apple (pips and core removed)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Dandelion leaves and flower
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes (NOT leaves and stalks)
  • Apricot
  • Celery (including leaves)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Mango
  • Pear (pips and core removed)
  • Watercress

Foodstuffs to Avoid

  • Lettuce (can cause a swollen tummy and the runs)
  • Lawnmower clippings (these can upset a guinea pigs tummy and make them ill)
  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Chiles
  • Coconut
  • Daffodils
  • Lemons
  • Ivy
  • Garlic
  • Buttercup
  • Watermelon
  • Foxgloves (flowers)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Grapes/ raisins
  • Privet (plant/ bush)
  • Rhubarb (including leaves)
  • Anything with artificial additives in it
  • Anything cooked
  • Anything sugary (including honey)
  • Anything stale, wilting, mouldy or otherwise ‘off’ vegetables or fruit

 

Dangerous “People-Food” for Dogs

Dangerous “People-Food” for Dogs


My 9 year old Bedlington Terrier has always been a good little dog; never being overly naughty – no interest in chasing cats, never chewed shoes or stole food… until this past Christmas season! Still generally a good little dog, however the temptation of all the tasty treats we had around the house apparently proved too much after 9 years of being a good boy! He got into various sweets and chocolates, thankfully vomiting afterwards and being okay, but it was still cause for concern until he had vomited and gotten back to his normal self.

All this got me thinking – there are plenty of human foodstuffs that are bad for our dogs, but what are some of the more serious foods to keep your dog away from?
Chocolate – an obvious and widely known human food to not feed your dog. Garlic and onions, grapes and raisins – not necessarily commonly known human foods to keep you dogs away from.

 

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Chocolate
Everyone knows not to feed chocolate to dogs, however a lot of us still do it! Feeding your chocolate may also encourage stealing chocolate too.
But what is it that makes chocolate toxic to dogs? Caffeine and theobromine. These are also found in more dangerous quantities the darker the chocolate, whereas white chocolate contains quite low quantities – so as a general rule; the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.
If your dog does ingest chocolate the affects may vary from vomiting and digestive discomfort, to seizures and death. A small amount of chocolate usually causes mild digestive discomfort, and often vomiting – which clears the digestive tract of the toxin. If this does not happen, and you dog has ingested a fair amount of chocolate, veterinary attention should immediately be sought!


OnionandGarlicOnions and Garlic
Garlic is more toxic to dogs than onions (gram for gram), but both garlic, onions and related foodtuufss are toxic enough to cause serious health problems in your dog.
Sulfoxides and disulfides can be found in these types of foodstuffs which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. It is quite uncommon for dogs to eat enough onion or garlic  for this to happen (raw is more toxic), although these foods should be kept well away from your hungry dog!

 

grapes-and-raisinsGrapes and Raisins
Vomiting, lethargy and diarrhoea can be caused by your dog eating grapes or raisins (and related foods), as well as more severe toxicosis causing kidney problems and possibly kidney failure (resulting in death).
It is unknown what exactly it is in grapes and raisins that causes these toxic effects. Some dogs can eat grapes and raisins with little or no ill effects, and others do not experience ill effects until a later date – so it is best to keep your dog clear of them!

My little Barney wouldn’t touch fruit or veg with a barge pole, so I don’t worry too much about that  (still keep them away from him though)! However, with his newly acquired sweet tooth I am having to be more mindful of where I leave my tasty treats so that they don’t end up being eaten by him! This means remembering to put chocolates and sweets back into cupboards or the fridge (preferably high up ones) so that he cannot reach them, and he cannot open any doors to get at any!

Bedlington Terrier

 

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