During the summer months, high temperatures can put you at risk of heatstroke, a severe form of heat illness that occurs when your body temperature reaches dangerous levels. However, you're not the only one who can get heatstroke. If you're playing outdoors with your guinea pig, your furry friend is also in danger. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to heatstroke, and if it's too warm for you, it's too warm for your pig, too. Here are six things that guinea pig owners need to know about heatstroke.
Why are guinea pigs susceptible to heatstroke?
When you get too warm on a hot day, your body produces sweat to cool you down. Other types of pets, such as dogs, can pant to cool down their bodies, while rabbits send their hot blood to their oversized ears to rapidly cool their blood. Guinea pigs can't do any of these things. They can't sweat, they can't pant, and their ears are too small to be an effective cooling system. If your pigs are in a hot environment, they're completely helpless.
What are the signs of heatstroke?
Guinea pigs tend to hide signs that they're not feeling well. In the wild, this helps them avoid getting picked off by predators, but for domesticated pigs, this is a problem. Your pig can suffer from heatstroke and show only minor signs, so you need to pay close attention. If your pig is playing outdoors in the sun and stops playing or lies down, you may think your pig is just tired, but these behavioral changes can be signs of heatstroke. You may also notice that your pig isn't eating or drinking.
Is heat stroke dangerous?
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and it needs to be taken very seriously. Extremely high body temperatures can damage your pet's organs, like their heart, kidneys, or muscles. This damage can lead to organ failure and even death.
What should you do if your guinea pig has heatstroke?
If you think your guinea pig has heatstroke, the very first thing you need to do is get your pet out of the hot environment. If your pet is outside in the sun, take him or her back into your house if it has air conditioning or seek shelter under the shade of a tree. Once your pet is out of the heat, wet a towel with cold water and wrap it around your pig. This will help to cool your pet down quickly. Once you've performed these basic first aid steps, take your pet to an emergency vet immediately.
How do vets treat heatstroke?
Your vet will re-hydrate your pet and replace their electrolytes. The vet can do this by giving your pig fluids intravenously or by squeezing fluids into your pig's mouth with a syringe.
Your vet will then monitor your guinea pig to make sure he or she starts to feel better. About two hours after receiving electrolytes and fluids, your pig should be able to stand up by themselves, but it can take as long as 48 hours for your guinea pig to feel well enough to come back home.
How can you prevent heatstroke?
You can prevent heatstroke by keeping your guinea pig out of hot environments. On hot, sunny days, don't take your pig outside to play, and if you do, stay in a shady place. If you don't have air conditioning in your house, put a fan near your pig's cage and give them a frozen water bottle to lie against. Avoid using plastic pigloos on hot days since they trap heat inside them; this is just as dangerous as leaving your dog in a hot car.
Guinea pigs are susceptible to heat stroke, but if you're careful, your pig can avoid heatstroke this summer. If you think your pet has heatstroke, make sure to visit a local animal hospital right away.