Folks, it's just too hot to mince words. This weather is the kind of weather in which outdoor livestock needs to be brought into shade with unlimited water, and domestic animals need to be inside with air conditioners running. Not just lots of fans running with all the shades drawn to keep out the hot sun. Air conditioning.
About a week ago, I not-entirely-diplomatically tweeted a correction to another organization's tweet that guinea pigs cannot tolerate temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Diplomacy went out the window in the face of the propagation of dangerous advice.
In actuality, guinea pigs' ideal temperature range is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (the species originated in the cool mountain regions of South America). My observation of middle-aged and senior pigs has repeatedly shown that the high end of the ideal range actually caps at about 72 degrees. The farther the thermometer climbs past 75 degrees, the greater the likelihood that a guinea pig will suffer from heat stress, heat exhaustion, and (usually fatal) heatstroke. I can't stress enough how quickly these conditions kick in, and how quickly they can take a guinea pig down. With all of the small exotics, little bodies quite often mean little time to conquer a dangerous illness.
I know there are people and care guides out there that try to put qualifiers on guinea pigs' temperature sensitivities, such as "Guinea pigs can't tolerate high temperatures unless XYZ is in place." I think it's a risky gamble to assume that people are going to remember all the if/then/however qualifiers. I'm not being pessimistic. Cindy and I have seen and heard too much over the years. We know that the 65-75 degree range has helped keep a lot of guinea pigs out of trouble, and we stand by the species' innate, genetic tolerances.
I've been in people's houses on 85+ degree days, with no air conditioning on, where the homeowners said their animals "do fine" in heat waves with the household's window fans, ceiling fans, attic fans, all shades and curtains drawn, and so on and so on. "Do fine" is relative. The animals might not have been showing signs of heatstroke, but their quality of life was debatable. Lying around all day, lethargy apparent in every step they took to their food and water, not visiting their water nearly as much as they should have been because they were too hot to move. Their owners chattered on, saying things like, "The pets come back to life when the sun goes down" -- and seemed oblivious to the volumes that the observation spoke.
I've written about hot weather care in previous years and have, admittedly, taken a softer hand in those posts. But this is dangerous weather this week, and it's mandating direct, straight talk. Our pets are counting on us!