Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

12 Essential Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

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Guinea pigs are considered exotic animals requiring specific care and attention. And that includes veterinary visits too. When visiting a vet for the first time with your guinea pig, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure your pet’s health. But how do you know if the vet has the expertise to treat guinea pigs? Well, here are ten essential questions to ask your vet on your first visit.

How often should you take your guinea pig to the vet?

It’s recommended to take your guinea pig to the vet at least once a year.

During these annual visits, the vet can assess your guinea pig’s overall health, check for any potential issues, and give you expert advice on caring tips. 

Regular check-ups can help in the early detection of any health concerns too.

Now, let’s move on to the questions you should ask your vet about your guinea pig. 

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

1. Is my guinea pig’s weight healthy?

Regular weight checks are vital as sudden weight gain or loss can indicate health issues. 

And even though we as guinea pig owners should weigh them once a week, it’s good to check with your vet if your piggy’s weight is in a healthy range. 

Some guinea pigs are different than others and the ideal weight for them may be different. 

For instance, there’s a particular breed of guinea pigs, Cuy Criollo, who are dubbed the giant guinea pigs. 

That’s because they typically weigh between 4-8 pounds as an adult, which is 2 to 4 times the weight of a typical pet guinea pig. 

So obviously their weight range will be different. And that’s a very distinct example, but you get the point.

The thing is, usually the sign you should be looking for is sudden weight gain or loss. If that happens, you have to tell your vet.

2. Is my guinea pig’s behaviour normal?

   If you’ve noticed any unusual behaviour in your guinea pig, discussing this with your vet is important. Changes in behaviour are the first sign of illness or injury. 

This question is especially important to ask if you’re a first-time guinea pig owner because your vet can explain why your piggy is behaving a certain way and whether or not that’s normal. 

Sometimes guinea pigs can suffer from mental illness too, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, notably in single guinea pigs or piggies who have lost a buddy. 

And if this happens, Tell your vet about this and they’ll most likely give you advice, tips, or treatment plans. 

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

3. Should I spay or neuter my guinea pig?

Guinea pigs don’t need to be routinely spayed and neutered unless there is an underlying reason – the most obvious being to prevent pregnancy. It’s called an elective surgery, meaning it’s not essential.

On the other hand, spaying or neutering can prevent certain health issues. For instance, female guinea pigs have an elevated risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cysts, mammary tumours, and other reproductive organ tumours as they age.

But neutering female guinea pigs can be very risky, so do with that what you will.

The general advice is to only neuter male guinea pigs if they cannot be paired with a male due to fighting, and need to be paired with a female. Adding to that, neutering female guinea pigs can be risky.

That being said, this article isn’t about spaying or neutering your guinea pigs. I personally wouldn’t, but it’s good to ask your vet this just in case. 

guinea pig

4. Is there a more suitable food option that I could offer?

   The Humane Society of the United States recommends that guinea pigs should consume approximately 80% hay, 15% fresh vegetables, and 5% high-quality pellets as part of their daily diet.

However, they didn’t say what vegetables, what kind of hay, and what kinds of pellets. 

For example, a guinea pig in different stages of life needs different amounts of nutrition. For some piggies, adjusting the amount of calcium and sugar in their diets is the way to go to keep them healthy. 

That means changing from alfalfa hay to Timothy hay and giving more vegetables with a little less calcium (to prevent bladder stones) and sugar (to prevent obesity and diabetes).

Tell your vet what you usually feed your guinea pigs, especially which vegetables and pellets. This way, they can give you advice on any improvements you can make and how. Not all pellets are made the same, and some are very unhealthy.

This is also a great opportunity to seek an expert’s advice if guinea pigs can eat certain vegetables, fruits, and even flowers. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of safe flowers for guinea pigs in case you need them.

5. Are there any specific health concerns I should watch out for?

 Certain health issues are more common in guinea pigs than others, and your vet may have noticed some signs of a potential illness. Now here are several scenarios that you should 100% ask this question.

The first scenario is if you know your guinea pig’s family history. This is a very good thing because it can help you be aware of any potential health concerns. 

Some conditions can be passed down from parents to offspring, while others may increase the risk if a parent had them. Bladder stones are an example of this.

The second is if your guinea pig isn’t that common. This means if they are a specific breed that’s more prone to diseases, or other traits that would put them at a disadvantage.

Some other scenarios include if your new vet doesn’t have your guinea pig’s current medical history for whatever reason. Or if your piggy has had surgery.

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask this question.

best guinea pig nail clippers

6. How can I properly trim my guinea pig’s nails?

Whether you’re new to guinea pig parenting or you’ve been around the block, nail trimming can be a bit daunting. It’s totally normal to feel hesitant, especially if your potato-shaped furball is on the skittish side. 

That’s why it’s a great idea to ask your vet for some hands-on guidance. They can walk you through the process step-by-step, share some insider tips, and even demonstrate on your guinea pig. 

This way, you’ll gain the confidence to keep those nails neat and tidy, and your guinea pig happy and comfortable.

That being said, a guinea pig’s nails should be clipped every month. So here’s how to clip your piggy’s nails even if they’re scared. 

7. Who would you recommend for an after-hours emergency?

According to a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 10% of guinea pig owners reported having to seek emergency veterinary care for their pets at least once in the past year.

Most exotic vet clinics aren’t open 24/7, but your guinea pig can have an emergency anytime. So, ask your vet for resources and recommendations on vet clinics or emergency vet hospitals that are always open and also treat guinea pigs.

This can potentially save your guinea pig’s life, so make sure you know it.

8. How old do you think my guinea pig is?

This is an excellent question, even if you already know or have an estimate. 

Even if you have a rough idea of your guinea pig’s age, it’s wise to get your vet’s perspective. They’re trained to spot age-related signs that might not be obvious at first glance. 

This question isn’t just about pinpointing a number—it’s a chance to see your vet’s expertise with guinea pigs. 

I asked this question to my vet about almost all my guinea pigs because even though I vaguely know their ages, they were adopted and rescuers could only guess. 

And I’m not saying the animal shelter is incompetent, the vet guessed the same as them, but a vet’s confirmation can provide that extra assurance.

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

9. Can you explain my bill to me, please?

 Understanding the breakdown of your vet bill ensures that you know exactly what you’re paying for, and gives you an idea of the costs associated with different services and procedures.

Feel free to chat with your vet about any worries you have regarding the bill. They’re there to help you figure out the best care for your guinea pig without breaking the bank. Together, you can consider various options that might be easier on your wallet.

If you have pet insurance, understanding your bill can help you determine what will be covered and what you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket too.

How do you know if my vet is good at treating guinea pigs?

As I said before, guinea pigs are considered exotic pets and finding a vet who only treats dogs and cats is no use. 

Besides choosing an exotic pet vet, here are some questions you can ask them to get an insight into their expertise.

11. How many guinea pigs do you see and treat every week?

a vet who regularly sees at least 5-10 guinea pigs per week could be considered experienced in treating them. 

That being said, the number of guinea pigs a vet should see in a week to be considered experienced with treating them can vary depending on several factors, including the size and type of veterinary practice, the local demand for guinea pig care, and the vet’s personal experience and expertise with exotic animals.

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However, there’s no strict rule or specific threshold for the number of guinea pigs a vet needs to see to be considered experienced. Instead, it’s more about the vet’s overall knowledge, and familiarity with guinea pig health issues, and their ability to provide quality care to these animals.

A vet who sees a smaller number of guinea pigs but has extensive training and experience in exotic animal medicine, including guinea pig-specific issues, may still be very capable of providing excellent care. 

On the other hand, a vet who sees a high volume of guinea pigs but lacks specialized training or knowledge may not necessarily be the best choice.

Ultimately, when assessing a vet’s experience with treating guinea pigs, it’s essential to consider factors such as their training, track record with guinea pig patients, willingness to stay updated on current best practices, and overall approach to exotic animal care.

12. Have you performed surgeries on guinea pigs before?

This question can give you an idea of your vet’s experience level with more complex guinea pig health issues.

Some vets who treat guinea pigs may not be comfortable with performing surgery on them, and that’s okay. It’s good that they know their limits instead of forcing it. If that’s the case, your vet will most likely refer you to a vet who does have that expertise if your piggy happens to need surgery.

That being said, if your vet has done surgeries on guinea pigs, that’s a good sign.

what to do on your first vet visit for your guinea pig

Conclusion and Resources

So, these are some of the questions you should ask the vet about your exotic pet.

Remember, your vet is there to help you provide the best care for your guinea pig. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have about your pet’s health and well-being.

Here are some more resources to find a vet suitable for your guinea pig:

Guinea Lynx – Finding a Good Vet

Oxbow Vet Connect

New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care – Questions for Vets

American Veterinary Medical Association – Finding a Veterinarian

Well, I hope your guinea pig is healthy, and don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Guinea Pig

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33 Comments

  1. This compilation of information is really valuable to any guinea pig owner. I highly recommend it.

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