Kitty has been around animals since she was a little girl. She lived on a farm for over fifteen years. She likes writing about animals.
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 Overheating
- 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
- Guinea pig drools or slobbers 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
Here is a quick overview of what to do if you suspect your pet is overheated. Read about these steps in greater detail below.
- 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
After removing your pet from the heat source, move them to a safe place that's much cooler. For example:
- 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 Immediately
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.
Consider Using a Fan
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, 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.
Monitor Your Pet After the Appointment
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 pet 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!
- 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.
Has This Happened to Your Pet?
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
Mackenzie Sage Wright on April 15, 2014:
Awww, poor babies. We live in the subtropics so we have to be very vigilant when we would let our cavi bask outside on the porch for a while, only in early morning hours for a couple of hours. Unfortunately our little guy recently died-- old age. I guess the best way to go if you gotta go. His boy was heartbroken but we're thinking of getting another one. This is good advice to keep in mind. Never know.
denden mangubat from liloan, cebu, philippines on April 08, 2014:
wow they are so cute but sensitive
Michelle Liew from Singapore on April 06, 2014:
This is so useful!!! Will forward to all the pet lovers out there.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2014:
I don't have guinea pig but enjoyed reading your valuable tips here. A useful hub indeed.
Eiddwen from Wales on March 29, 2014:
many years ago we kept Guinea Pigs and they were delightful. This very interesting read is also so useful.
Voting up and sharing.
Danette Watt from Illinois on March 29, 2014:
This hub brought back memories of the guinea pigs we had when my kids were growing up. We got a pair when our older son was about 8 and the last of the line didn't die out until he had graduated from High school! Early on, we bred them and sold them to a local pet store. They were very cute, especially when they were young. They were always very healthy until toward the end of the 10 year span we had them. Then the remaining few we had got some sort of mange-like disease. I ended up treating them with a flea treatment for small dogs. It worked.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 29, 2014:
heidi - Yes, I'm sure they can get overheated too! Thanks for posting. :)
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 29, 2014:
MysticMoonlight - Please be careful with them outside, especially in direct sunlight. Ours almost died from a heat stroke because we had her in an exercise ball outside in only 75 degree weather! I learned these things by experience, unfortunately. :) Congrats, though. Guinea Pigs are fun!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 28, 2014:
I can relate to the overheating issue with my dogs. When it's over 70 some outside, they really suffer. Usually they just want a cool surface like a tile floor. Thanks for sharing your tips with us pet lovers!
MysticMoonlight on March 28, 2014:
How handy this is, Kitty. Perfect timing, my daughter recently received a guinea pig and we were not aware of them being heat sensitive and prone to over heating. So glad you posted this! With Spring here and Summer on it's way, we will be outdoors with our pig so this information is most welcome and helpful!
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 28, 2014:
Thank you! Unfortunately I learned by experience. But fortunately, our guinea pig survived and is still happy and healthy!
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2014:
How cute these fellas are! I don't have one but I enjoyed the care and detail that you put into your hub on this important topic. I am pinning this to my Animals board, as there are some of my followers who are guinea pig lovers.