When looking to get a small animal for a pet, one might wonder what the life expectancy is. More specifically speaking, guinea pigs. You want to make sure to plan on how long you are going to be able to cuddle and play with them or want to make sure you budget out for their food and living arrangements.
That said, what is the life expectancy of a guinea pig? Unlike many small rodents, a guinea pig can live anywhere between 5 to 7 years. However, it is not uncommon for a pig to live 8+ years as well. This is determined by their environment, diet, and genetics. If a guinea pig has some health problem, it can come to an end a lot sooner than anticipated.
There might be a lot to think about when it comes to your domestic cavy, such as how you can keep them alive for the majority of their lifespan, what type of signs to look out for when their life is nearing an end, and what common health issues they have. These are all of the things to consider when getting a little fur baby addition to your family.
How To Make My Guinea Pig Live Longer
One of your main goals as a pet owner is to try to have them live the most extended life possible. There are many ways you can allow your cavy to live longer. Here they are down below:
Provide The Proper Diet
There are many foods you can give to your guinea pig that will help them live much longer. Each cavy will need approximately one cup of fresh fruits and veggies every day to remain extremely healthy. Make sure to give them a diet that is rich in vitamin C. Here are all of the types of food they can have:
- Pellets: Which are specifically designed to provide enough vitamin C, fiber, protein, and fats. Be careful about giving too many, but providing around 1/8th of a cup per day for each pig should be more than plenty.
- Timothy hay: This will give your pig enough fiber throughout the day without making fattening them up, as the grass has little calorie content. It is crucial to provide your pig with hay all day long for better digestion and limit their tooth growth, which we will cover momentarily.
- Vegetables: The recommended vegetables provide vitamins and minerals necessary to a guinea pig’s health. Make sure to wash any fresh produce off thoroughly before giving it to them. Here is a small list of some veggies they can eat:
- Romaine lettuce
- Tomatoes in small amounts.
- Fruit: Just like humans, the fruit is an essential part of their eating. Many fruit guinea pigs will provide vitamin C, which is necessary for their everyday lives. Some fruits they can eat are:
- Chews: The teeth of a guinea pig are continually growing, so they will need to have many chews provided to them. This includes toys such as wooden balls, sticks, blocks, other toys, and different sorts of treats made for your guinea pig.
Something to keep in mind is that salt licks are not recommended for domestic cavies unless they eat mineral deficient hay. Always check the ingredients of any chews available to make sure there are no harmful ingredients within them.
- Their feces: Guinea pigs are allowed to eat their poop. It is disgusting, but because plants don’t always break down in their systems, it will provide them nutrients.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the many things you can do to keep your pig living longer is continuously checking its weight. A guinea pig weighs anywhere between 1.5 to 2.6 pounds. This can be done once a week, twice a month, or every month. It all depends on how diligent you wish to be. In checking their pounds, it can tell if something is wrong with them or not.
Find An Exotic Veterinarian
Not every single vet treats guinea pigs, so it is imperative to find one that specializes in exotic animals. In this case, guinea pigs. They can help tell you what the problem is. Make sure not to wait until they get sick before finding someplace to go, as you will want to get them established before anything else.
Do Not Allow Their Teeth & Nails to Get So Big
Keeping an eye on their teeth and nails is a must. Make sure their nails are trimmed every 4 to 8 weeks, and as mentioned above, since guinea pig’s teeth are continually growing, chew toys will help keep their teeth trimmed. Here is a great video showing how to cut your pig’s nails properly:
Keep Their Environment Clean & Comfortable
Lastly, you want to keep their environment clean and comfy. Check to ensure the temperature is okay wherever your guinea pigs are, which is anywhere between 65 and 75 degrees. This should be no problem with many pet owners, as the average temperature many homeowners keep their houses at is around 70 degrees, give or take a few. Having these temperatures ensures your pig will not have a heat stroke or any problems related to the cold.
Common Health Issues In a Guinea Pig
Overall, your domestic cavy is going to be extremely easy to care for. If you provide your pig with food, they are going to be your best friend. However, although your fur baby will be overall healthy, there are some conditions they may acquire over the years.
- Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy): Many animals can produce vitamin C themselves, but unfortunately, guinea pigs cannot. They need ascorbic acid to thrive. They will need anywhere between 10 to 50 mg each day.
- Tumors: If you suspect your fur baby has growth in their bodies, then make sure to always check with your vet. This is relatively common in the breast tissue area.
- Skin problems: Guinea pigs are susceptible to skin problems, mainly if you chose to wash them every week or so. If you are doing this, know that it is best to wash them every month during the summer and every two months for winter unless you give them a parasite bath.
Another leading cause is parasites. Small guinea pigs are prone to ringworm, and at any age, can get fleas or lice. As mentioned before, this is treated with an anti-parasite medicine that your vet will provide for you.
- Respiratory infections: Pneumonia is one of the most significant health issues in a guinea pig. This can be caused by many things, such as overcrowding or stimulation, pregnancy, stress, or other illnesses that go on.
- Diarrhea: Digestion and poor diet can cause diarrhea. Other issues, such as bacteria, viral, and parasite infections, can also be doing this.
- Abscesses: This is where pus and bacteria build-up. It can affect many areas in their bodies, such as their lymph nodes, teeth, bones, skin, and internal organs. It will require surgery to remove this, followed by antibiotics.
- Urinary issues: Domestic cavies can have urinary calculi or bladder stones. Although typically formed in the bladder, it can be created in the kidneys as well. Stones can be lodged into the urethra, which can be life-threatening.
Another less frequent urinary issue is a bladder infection or cystitis. It is most common in females than males. Signs of this include blood in the urine, not eating, having a hard time peeing, or doing so in small and frequent doses.
What Are the Signs Of a Guinea Pig Dying?
No one ever wants to see their little fur animal pass away, especially when they have had them for so long. However, there are a few things to look out for when they are passing away.
- Loss of appetite.
- Not as playful as usual.
- Lack of bladder control.
- Is not very active or slow in movement.
- Having a difficult time breathing.
When any of these indications happen, try to comfort them as much as you and keep them warm. Since they are social animals, they do not want to be alone. If they have a companion, avoid separating them during this time. This ensures both comfort over themselves and keeps them from feeling cold and alone.
Knowing these signs will help you to prepare yourself for what is about to happen mentally and spend as much time with them as possible. Alternatively, if they are not yet 5 to 7 years old, they may have something wrong with them, and if this is the case, then make sure to bring them to the veterinarian.
In general, a guinea pig’s life expectancy is substantial compared to other small rodents. With the proper care and diet, you can ensure longevity over your pig’s life. Just know that you are an excellent domestic cavy owner, and you got this no matter what!