What to Do for an Overheated Guinea Pig
Guinea Pigs have one major problem that new guinea pig owners might not know about—they can get overheated very easily.
Signs and Symptoms of an Overheating Guinea Pig:
- Guinea pig goes "limp", or is laying down/lethargic
- Breathing becomes rapid, extremely slowed down or very shallow
- Heart-rate is increased
- Eyes are fixed or closed
- Drooling or slobbering excessively
If you notice these signs in your guinea pig, it is likely overheated and will require immediate care.
How to Care for an Overheated Guinea Pig
- Remove them from the heat source.
- Get them to a cool place.
- Cool them down.
- Hydrate them.
- Take them to the vet as soon as you can.
1. Remove Your Guinea Pig From the Heat Source
If your guinea pig has been in a hot place and is exhibiting one or more of the above symptoms, move them out of the heat immediately and continue to step two.
2. Get Them To a Cool Place Immediately
If your guinea pig is overheating, the first and most necessary thing to do is to remove them from the heat.
Get them to a cool place immediately:
- If they were outside, bring them into the AC indoors.
- If you can't go inside, get them into the shade.
- If they were in an exercise ball or a cage of any kind, pull them out of it.
3. Cool Them Down ASAP!
The next thing you'll want to do is to cool their body down with cool water. Be careful not to soak them in cold water as this could shock their system.
You'll want to gradually cool them down by massaging droplets of water into their fur and skin. You'll also want to wet some old washcloths or towels with cool water, wring the extra water out, and then wrap your guinea pig in the cool, wet towels.
These techniques will work to cool down their body without shocking their system and putting them into a worse state than what they're already in.
Once you've removed them from the source of heat and used moist cloths to cool them down, you can also put them under a fan. Put the fan on medium to high and make sure it's blowing directly on them. This will not hurt them; it will aid in cooling down their body temperature.
4. Hydrate Your Guinea Pig
In the midst of cooling your guinea pig down after he's overheated, you'll want to also think about re-hydrating him. When a guinea pig is overheated, his body's water supply becomes depleted so replacing it is an important part of keeping him/her from getting too dehydrated and going into shock.
You can hydrate your guinea pig by immediately doing the following:
- Offering your guinea pig his water bottle
- Feeding him/her water via an eyedropper or medicine dropper (if he/she is unable to drink on his/her own).
- Offering veggies that have high water content, i.e. cucumber, iceberg lettuce, melon.
5. Take Your Guinea Pig to the Vet ASAP
So you've rehydrated and cooled down your guinea pig, but he still isn't acting like himself. Perhaps he is acting tired, not moving around a lot and/or not eating or drinking on his own. Now is the time to think about taking him to the veterinarian's office. Sometimes this is a difficult thing if the incident occurs over a weekend, but remember: many towns/cities have emergency vet hospitals for incidents such as these. So get on google and look up a nearby vet hospital!
It is important that no matter your guinea pig's condition after the overheating episode that he or she is taken to the vet's office to be looked over. Often, if the guinea pig is thought to have a chance of survival, your vet will provide the guinea pig with fluids to rehydrate him. He might also provide something for any pain if he feels it is necessary for your guinea pig.
Even if your guinea pig snapped out of the overheating quickly, it is always smart to take him to the vet just to be sure.
Your vet will probably recommend that you monitor your guinea pig's recovery over the next 24–48 hours. This might require feeding your guinea pig a specific type of powdered food (provided by your vet) from an eyedropper until your guinea pig is eating on his/her own again. You might also want to think about monitoring your guinea pig's behavior. Is he going to the bathroom regularly? Is he drinking water on his own? Is he walking around without problems or is he still lethargic?
If your guinea pig's behaviors don't improve within 24–48 hours after overheating, you might want to consider calling your vet again.
Ways to Prevent Guinea Pigs from Overheating
Now that you are sadly aware that guinea pigs can overheat easily, is this something that can be prevented in the future? Can we prevent our darling pets from getting into this predicament? Yes, we can!
How to Prevent Overheating in Guinea Pigs
- Don't leave your guinea pig unattended in an exercise ball of any kind.
- Don't put your guinea pig outside or in a room that's temperature is over 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Be sure to keep your guinea pig hydrated during the summer months and if taking him outside is necessary.
- Keep him/her in the shade when outside, even on a cooler day.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Kitty Fields