With temperatures dropping here in the Northeast (and elsewhere) -- apparently for good this time -- it's a good time to review the cold weather care needs of our piggie friends.
- Move cages away from windows and doors. More cold air slips in around the frames than most folks realize. And once the glass in windows gets cold, the immediate area around the windows feels chilly as well.
- Keep cages away from heating vents, fireplaces, and wood stoves, so piggies don't get too warm. And for other obvious (fire hazard) reasons.
- Cover cages at night with a large towel, fleece blanket/throw, or light blanket. For folks with C&C cages, you can use medium-sized binder clips to hold the cover in place and prevent it from dropping into the cage. Keep one side of the cage uncovered to allow for good ventilation.
- Monitor the temperature in your home. Guinea pigs are easily chilled, and you need to be extra vigilant when you have very young piggies or seniors. Guinea pigs' optimum temperature range is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit; during the winter months, keeping the temperature around 66 or 67 can help keep pigs from catching cold.
- Consider running a humidifier to keep some moisture in the air and keep everyone's skin from feeling dry and itchy.
Diet & Grooming
- Check water bottles frequently. Heating systems dry out a home, making animals and humans feel the need to drink more water.
- Serve a chunk of sweet bell pepper daily, for the boost in essential Vitamin C. Crunchy, juicy vegetables also provide a little extra fluid.
- Brush your guinea pigs weekly to help manage any itchies.
And, finally, watch your pigs carefully for signs of developing colds and respiratory illness, including sneezing and runny nose. If you see them, waste no time getting to a vet.