Introduction by Jean Furs
After receiving a text message Sunday from a female customer of mine who needed the name of a veterinarian who cares for small animals I decided to share this story with you, with her permission. I was told that Rosie her guinea pig had a substantial amount of blood in her urine and my customer was close to tears and extremely worried, as she texted me for information so she could get her sweet Rosie some help. I know Rosie personally as I’ve cared for her many times over the years of service I’ve provided to this loving guinea pig, and her family. I quickly gave the owner the name of a veterinarian close by so she could call in the morning for an appointment.
Monday morning I received a text that Rosie had a 10:30 a.m. appointment with the local veterinarian that cares for small animals. My customer texted me thinking it might be a urinary track infection which is common in guinea pigs; a condition that is curable if treated but fatal if not.
This loving customer texted me every step of the way informing me what was happening with Rosie. I received a total of sixteen  text messages. I felt like I was right there next to her sitting in that office waiting for the results. I was happy to be supportive to such a loving pet owner who rushed her guinea pig to a veterinarian in order to save this little pets life.
Texting me back and forth I was told that Rosie was going in for an x-ray to rule out kidney stones. I could picture little Rosie on a large x-ray table with a large machine above her taking pictures of that small belly. I wondered if Rosie felt scared of her new surroundings and happy at the same time to be getting good care? Due to Rosie’s age having kidney stones would not have been in her favor because surgery would have been out of the question. Luckily the one text that cheered us both up was this one; “Hurray! No stones in x-ray.” What a relief to know Rosie just had a treatable urinary track infection. Another text “Rosie lives on” showed me just how valued and respected little Rosie was to this family.
A diet, check was in order so Rosie’s diet, bedding and toys were shared with the veterinarian who said ” For being over 5 years old she looks wonderful and sure has a lot of spunk.” Don’t change a thing the doctor said which made this pet owner even happier. I was so relieved and happy for the both of them.
Then the last text said ” It’s so cute, Rosie loves the antibiotic, it’s like candy to her. The veterinarian had prescribed 10 days of an antibiotic twice a day. Rosie was lucky they now have good tasting antibiotics for guinea pigs, so she could get better quickly.
Rosie we wish you a very long life. “Rosie Lives On!” “Yeah Rosie Lives On!”
I must add here: What made this story so special was the comparison of this kind family to another family who I knew years ago who had two guinea pigs who lived a much different life than Rosie. With little care and teenage owners that didn’t know really what a guinea pig was nor cared to learn about their needs, I found these two animals often without water and food. When I asked one of the sons why he hadn’t fed their guinea pigs his answer was shocking. “If I feed them then they poop and I have to clean their cage.” Such lack of empathy and care for another living being [species] was very upsetting to the point that I reported this family to the authorities then the Humane Society. When I spoke to the mother about her guinea pigs because her children had not properly cared for them she became defensive and made excuses for her children. I reported that family and then disassociated myself from that family.
Years after this incident I received a telephone call from that mother telling me that one of her guinea pigs was ill and she had asked a friend to come over and take that little life out into the back yard and end it so that she wouldn’t have to take it to a veterinarian for euthanasia. I was so upset and disappointed with this family, but mostly for that little guinea pig who deserved a better life and much love. All animals deserve love like Rosie and so let this story be a lesson to whomever is reading it. So please be kind, be selfless, be gentle with your small animals and give them the love, respect, empathy, and medical care they so deserve.
Below please find information on guinea pigs so you can learn about these social, personable individuals.
Guinea Pigs: The Right Pet for You?
It can be tempting to acquire a guinea pig on impulse. After all, these little guys have a lot of appealing qualities; they’re small, gentle, and personable, just to name a few.
A great starter pet, right? Not necessarily. Here are some important questions to consider before you dive headlong into a relationship.
Where should you get a guinea pig?
Instead of creating more demand for guinea pigs by purchasing one from a pet store, please visit your local animal shelter to adopt one … or more! Most shelters now accept small animals who need new homes, and you will have the satisfaction of saving a life.
How much time do you have?
Guinea pigs need time out of their cage every day. Whether this time is spent stretching their legs and exploring new environments or cuddling in your lap, daily interaction and attention are essential for a guinea pig’s well-being.
Guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly. Shorthaired breeds can be maintained with a once-a-week brushing while longhaired breeds require daily grooming.
A guinea pig’s cage should be thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis and spot-cleaned every few days. If you don’t appreciate the smell of a dirty cage, consider how your guinea pig—who spends nearly all of her waking hours just centimeters above her bedding—feels about stinky living quarters.
Is a guinea pig right for your family?
If you’re getting a guinea pig for your child, think carefully about how this animal’s care will fit into your family’s schedule over the long haul.
- Can your son or daughter incorporate pet ownership into a busy after-school schedule and evening and weekend commitments?
- Are you willing to shoulder responsibility for your pig’s care if your children drop the ball?
- If you have other pets, are you sure your guinea pig will get enough attention?
Do you have young children?
Young children often lack fine motor control and self-restraint, which means they may inadvertently drop a guinea pig, squeeze him, or scare him into biting. Guinea pigs require a gentle touch and may be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises.
What’s your budget?
The adoption fee or purchase price for a guinea pig is typically small, but there are significant startup costs and ongoing needs to anticipate. The initial purchase of equipment and supplies is likely to include:
- Large cage or modular enclosure
- Bedding material
- Hidey box
- Food dish
- Water bottle
- High-quality pellets
- Timothy hay
Are you prepared to spend at least several hundred dollars a year on your new friend (not including regular veterinary costs) if your guinea pig needs to be treated for a common condition like mites or requires emergency veterinary care?
Are you willing to hire a pet sitter or board your pig when you go on vacation?
Are you willing to consider adding a second guinea pig?
Guinea pigs are social animals who do best with the companionship of another pig. Preventing a solitary guinea pig from becoming lonely and bored is a tall order, even for someone committed to spending a significant amount of time with his animal every day.
Do you know if you’re allergic?
Some people are allergic to guinea pigs. These allergies are a reaction to proteins in the animal’s saliva and urine (contrary to popular belief, the culprit isn’t hair or dander, although they often transmit these allergens during handling and close contact). Hay and wood shavings can also cause allergies.
If you’ve never lived with a guinea pig, test the waters by visiting a household that includes one or spend time handling adoptable guinea pigs at your local humane society (you might meet your new best friend in the process). More about allergies to pets »
Guinea pigs live an average of five to seven years. This lifespan is longer than many other small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, or rats, all of whom live only a few years. If your life is in transition, a guinea pig may be more portable than a dog or a cat, but remember that five years or more is a significant period of time.