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How to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Cool In the Summer

Published: 7/26/2010 | Author: Hammy | Updated: 9/12/2013

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Hammy Resting By an Ice Pack Towel

The summer sure can be a lot of fun for Humans and guinea pigs alike!

But along with the fun in the sun and time to relax comes an extra responsibility for guinea pig keepers: keeping our guinea pigs happy and healthy during the long, warm days of summer.

Guinea pigs are sensitive creatures and they particularly enjoy a properly adjusted heat gauge that is set to temperatures between 67° and 77°F (19.4°C and 25°C respectively). So whether you think it’s cool enough in your house or not, imagine how much more uncomfortable your cavy may feel, all dressed up in that warm and fuzzy coat, lying on absorbent bedding. Agh. Ew. Itchy.

The HappyCavy Family is fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest USA, where the temperatures are mild and relatively free of super-high temps or freezing weather. But we sure do get our oppressively hot, too-sweaty-to-sleep heat waves from time to time.

It’s during these uncomfortable times that we break out an air conditioning unit and follow some of the advice we have collected below on how to helping your guinea pig stay cool in the summer heat.


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BUY AN INDOOR TEMPERATURE MONITOR

Buy an indoor digital display thermometer (like this one) to place near your guinea pig cage. If the temperature is above 78°F (25.5°C) you should turn on an air conditioning unit or use one of the heat management suggestions below.

Bring Your Guinea Pig Indoors

You can best help your guinea pig stay cool by keeping them indoors during the hottest months of summer. An indoor environment will provide the shelter and access to supplies your guinea pig needs to stay cool. Air conditioners, ice packs, and other cooling techniques can be more easily administered if your guinea pig is nearby, indoors, and outside the heat.

Access to Water

Your guinea pig can consume an excessive amount of water in high heat. Be sure to continuously check your guinea pig’s water level and fresh up their supply every so often: fresh, cooler water is much more refreshing than a warm and stale drinking supply. A word of advice: Don’t provide chilled water, as the change of temperature may shock your guinea pig’s body.

High-Water Snacks

A reasonable supply of vegetables and fruit with a high-water content, like cucumber or cool berries, can help ease the discomfort in moderate heat (it will do very little to alleviate extreme temperatures). While feeing a large amount of high-water content fruits and vegetables to your guinea pig is NOT recommend, providing a little more than usual during the summer isn’t a terrible idea.

Fans and Air Conditioners

We’ve received a lot of questions over the years about how to properly care for guinea pigs during the summer, and the question that comes up the most is, “Can I use a fan?” The answer is, “Yes, Yes, YES!”

Fans and air conditioners are invaluable tools for taking most of the burden off your guinea pig when it’s hot outside. When you can begin to feel the heat of the mid-day through the walls of your home, a properly placed fan of air conditioning unit (A/C) is quite effective.

IMPORTANT TIP:

When using a fan or air conditioner to cool your guinea pig’s room, make sure the air is blowing AWAY from your guinea pig’s cage. To avoid the change of an upper respiratory infection (URI), the unit should not be casting air in any part of your guinea pig’s living environment.

Ice Packs, Gel Cushions, Cool Tiles

Besides having a small air conditioning unit installed in our room, The Humans also give us ice packs, gel cushions, and chilled tiles bought from a hardware store.

DIY Guinea Pig Ice Pack

A simple DIY alternative to buying ice packs or hidey ice pads:

You will need

• Empty plastic bottle with lid, any will do
• Regular kitchen “dish towel”

Instructions

1. Clean the empty plastic bottle with a little soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly
2. Fill the cleaned bottle 3/4 full with clean water
3. Seal the lid on the bottle
4. Rinse the bottle again and pat dry, not too thoroughly as we want to keep the bottle a bit wet
5. Place the bottle in the freezer
6. Remove the bottle from your freezer in 2 to 3 days, or until solid
7. Wrap bottle in a towel and place in your guinea pig’s cage
8. Watch them explore and stay cool
*You can remove the towel after the bottle has cooled down, depending on your indoor temps

The Humans generally save any drink-sized bottle around and use them as on-the-fly cooling packs for summer. It’s super easy, doesn’t cost a dime, and can provide a quick fix to a really uncomfortable problem!

Frozen rocks and ice packs

Ice packs and rocks in the freezer

Cover Your Windows

I’m sorry, are my windows showing?

Not exactly, but close. By closing your window shades and drawing your curtains in the morning, you can prevent a lot of the sizzling summer heat from getting into your home. This means you’ll spend less money to cool your home and the risk of heat stroke or dehydration of your guinea pig can be significantly reduced.

And if you’re looking for a pro-top, you know we have one! Buy large sheets of dark, black fleece and hang them over your drawn curtains or shades before you leave for work in the morning. By providing an extra layer of heat protection to your home’s largest windows you can block even more dangerous heat from adversely effecting your sweet, fuzzy cavy babies.

Shout out to Guinea Pig Australia for an excellent article about how to handle guinea pig summer heat management along with some suggestions on first aid treatments for guinea pig heat stroke. Jump to the article.

How Do You Cool Off Your Guinea Pigs

How do you make sure your guinea pig stays cool during the summer heat? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

How to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Cool In the Summer, 4.3 out of 5 based on 26 ratings
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About Hammy

Hammy is the senior member of the HappyCavy Forever Home. Hammy loves blogging, Facebook, and running laps early in the morning!

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  • rowan haines

    Hi there
    In the summer months when the temp. is high, I check my guineas after the hottest part of the day and if they are uncomfortable, I use a sponge and sponge them down with cool water. They love it, especially my long haired Abysinnian who seems to suffer most when its hot.

  • Wizardgirl
  • http://twitter.com/happycavy Hammy

    Hi Kara,
    Guinea pigs can easily become overheated, so that’s a very good question.
    Along with a cool snack from time to time, the humans keep a small air conditioning unit in our room.

    We also get ice packs (the kind used for coolers and camping) wrapped in towels. This way we can sit our bums on it and keep them cool without getting wet. You can read about our other cooling ideas on our post: How to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Cool In the Summer

    I suggest you use the icepack/towel idea instead of wiping them down. If they don’t dry off completely they can catch an upper respiratory infection, even if it’s warm in the room.

    Also, we don’t suggest using juice in their water, unless it’s just a little bit. But this won’t cool them down anyway, and too much juice can cause bowel upset or other problems.

    Hope this helps, my friend! ~ Hammy

  • http://twitter.com/happycavy Hammy

    So sorry to hear about your piggy loss :(

    With those high of temps, there isn’t any better solution than keeping your guinea pigs indoors in an air conditioned space. Guinea pigs simply cannot survive for long in extreme temperatures.

    Two possible solutions:

    – Can you air condition the garage? This of course still leaves your pig outside during the day in hot temps, though. Not an ideal situation.

    – Can you have your guinea pig stay in your basement? The temps there should be cooler, as long as it isn’t damp.

    Avoid using fans and wrapping your cavy in cold, wet (or even damp) cloths. Doing so may cause respiratory infections and a lot of other serious issues that can lead to death.

    I encourage you to ask your mom to do some research about what appropriate temperatures are for guinea pigs. I hope that maybe this can help you start a dialogue with your mom about what is important for your guinea pigs to get through the summer.

    Let me know if you need any advice or I can help in any way, OK? By confronting your mom with the urgency of this situation, you are doing a good thing.

    Much love, Hammy

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    Hi, Debbie! Yes, having your guinea pig in air conditioning is fine, just make sure the AC fan isn’t flowing directly on your piggie and avoid having the temperature cool down too much or too fast, you don’t want to shock your guinea pig’s system. Hope you’ve been able to keep cool!

  • Sam

    I need your hair help so much!
    I’ve just become a guinea pig owner approximtley 7 months ago. I own two. Mitchy & Cocoa. Both I inherited from friends that were either unable to care for them or was sick of having them. Cocoa is quite the difficult little one. His previos owner had him drinking from a high bowl/mug looking object. I have gotten him a classic bottle that every rodent drink from, but he does not even acknowledge its existence. I have had him for about 5 months and from time to time hand give him water. I feed him lots of lettuce so he can get his water from that. But I don’t give him water as often as I should. Any tips for teaching him? Also, I am not privilaged to have an air conditioner, and i live in cali today is really the first hot day e have experienced since last summer. It is 85 in my house, the only thing I have done when i got home from school is moved them to the bathroom, it seems cooler. I also put some cool water on their backs and petted it in. I have no idea what to do.. I’m pretty desperate. Is it okay to take them baths everyday? And i will definitley try the waterbottle tip! I love them too much to see anything ever happen to them and I would never be abled to live with myself if I knew I didn’t protect them, and it wa my fault their lives were cut short…

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    Hi, Sam! I can tell you really care about your guinea pigs. As for how to get Cocoa to drink from the water bottle, how about you make a game of feeding him treats. Here’s my idea:

    Take off the water bottle and hold in one hand as you feed treats with another. After he gets a small piece of lettuce or other treat, and sniffs towards you for more, place the water bottle in front of him. See if he’ll drink from it. Be patient with this silly little game. Keep feeding a small bit of treat, then the water bottle. Even if he just sniffs it at first, he might eventually get the idea, and even associate treats/nourishment with the water bottle. Perhaps that will help?

    I’m glad you’re thinking about how to keep them cool. I think you’ll find that if you use the frozen water bottle idea, and even get a few camping “freeze” blocks (they’re really inexpensive, just a few bucks a piece and will last a long time) and place those on tops of pigloos, wrapped in towels. Buy a few blocks so you can rotate them throughout the day.

    I wouldn’t bathe everyday, it just seems excessive.

    Since you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can situate your guinea pigs’ on the western-facing part of your house. This will ensure that they won’t have to suffer through the day-time heat, and you can move them when you get home, right before the sun will begin to blast the western side. Not sure if that helps, it may not be possible for you, or your western-facing side may have lots of windows (like our house).

    I hope these answers help. Let me know what you try! I love hearing if my advice has helped :)
    ~ Hammy

  • Anna Stasek

    I hate wasting electricity and having the air on all day when i leave for work, and its only been the highest (with humidity) here in michigan at around 89 degrees this week;

    What I do is blast the air conditioning and turn fans on in my apartment during the morning… The day before, I freeze tupperwares full of water overnight, and recently I set up a mini cooler on its side (without the top) in Guino’s room. I wrapped the cooler in a blanket because he loves chewing on the cooler, plus the blanket covers most of the area where the top of the cooler would be, making a fashionable little entry way. I then put the frozen-water tupperwares in the cooler and put a towel on top… This is the first time doing this, I’m assuming the cooler will retain a lower temperature as the air conditioning escapes my apartment, leaving him his own little air conditioned room! Oh yeah, and when I leave, I make him pop corn a ton of give him tons of kisses and a TON of cold carrot tops to munch on until i get home ;)

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    That’s a really clever solution. Thanks for sharing!

  • kloverguineapig

    I heard that you should get a slab of marble and put it in the freezer. If you let the cavy lay on it, that will cool it down. (out of the freezer of course) We don’t have AC though and I’m getting my first guinea pig near the end of July. As you should know, Colorado has crazy summer weather, and I want to be prepared for the worst.

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    That’s a great idea. Humans should always prepare for the worst, as the warm summer months are nearly upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. Thanks for sharing, kloverguineapig!

  • Carissa

    Hi there! I am getting a pair of guinea pigs next week and have been doing a lot of research to make sure I am well prepared. I live in Singapore, a tropical country in Southeast Asia where it can get really hot in the afternoons.

    I plan on keeping my guinea pigs indoors in my living room. I do not have an A/C unit in my living room but I do have several fans. I wonder what you mean by making sure “the air is blowing AWAY from your guinea pig’s cage”. Which direction should I place my fan? If the fan faces away from the cage, will it still cool them down?

    Also, I have a couple of ice packs I plan to put in their cages. They are those plastic ice packs filled with blue gel. I am worried that the guinea pigs would chew the ice packs and that they might swallow the gel. In this case would it be better to just use the plastic bottles filled with water?

    Thank you very much! :)

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    Hi, Carissa!

    We live in the US Pacific Northwest: summers are generally dry, not humid. So using a fan to move air through a room can help cool it a great deal, as with keeping windows and doors shut and covered.

    We advise to blow AWAY, meaning you should point the air coming out of the fan away from your guinea pigs. In no place of your guinea pig’s cage should you feel the blowing air from the fan. If your guinea pig were to have air blown on them for extended periods of time (or even a short time, some say) it could lead to respiratory issues and other health complications.

    In a humid climate like yours, Humans cool themselves better by blowing a fan on themselves, to quickly cool their sweat and skin. But this isn’t possible with cavies anywhere in the world! So, still use fans, see if it helps, but don’t point it on your pigs.

    Use plenty of ice packs (A LOT), check on them regularly, ensure they are getting plenty of water, and have a vet you know is open to go to in case of heatstroke. Yep, they may definitely try to chew, especially if it’s thin plastic. Buy ice packs you can empty and fill it with water. Even used plastic containers will work. IMPORTANT: Wrap each pack in a towel before putting it in the cage. Laying on bare, super-cold plastic most certainly could cause problems for your guinea pigs.

    You may also want to point your question to the Guinea Lynx Forum: http://www.guinealynx.info/forums. There are many experienced (and notice) guinea pig owners there who live all over the world.

  • Carissa

    Thank you very much for the reply Hammy!

    I have been collecting empty drink bottles, filling them with water and freezing them. Before I put them in their cage I’ll slip each of the bottles into a sock and use another sock to cover up the other end of the bottles so they wont get to them.

    Also, I’m going to hunt for a small AC Unit just in case!

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog Hammy

    Sounds like you got a plan! Glad I could help!

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