Did you know that guinea pig grooming has many benefits for both short and long-haired breeds? It’s not just about detangling and de-matting those long locks! Travel Vet’s Nurses have some advice on why you should, and how to groom your guinea pig.
We always love hearing from our clients and the wider guinea pig owning community. Head over to our Facebook page and ask us any grooming and small furry pet questions and we’ll be happy to help. Ask us questions on Facebook.
Why do guinea pigs need to be groomed?
Guinea pigs usually do a great job of grooming themselves to get clean. However, there are many benefits that come with regular grooming by their favourite human, such as:
- Keeping your guinea pig free from tangles and dirt
- Checking for skin lumps and bumps, hair loss, dental problems, and pests
- Bonding time with your tiny companion
- Help staying clean if they are elderly or unwell
How to groom your guinea pig
If you are wondering how often you need to groom your guinea pig and what’s involved, our Staines-upon-Thames nursing team have some helpful advice for you below.
- Short-haired guinea pig breeds like the American Cavy only need brushing once a week to minimise shedding and keep them clean. Any more could result in loss of hair density and quality.
- Long-haired guinea pig breeds such as Peruvians and Abyssinians generally need brushing 2-3 times a week to prevent matting and dirt build-up, which can lead to infection and parasitic ‘invasion’.
Depending on your pet’s breed and hair type, you can use the palm of your hand (add water if your guinea pig is shedding) or a metal narrow-toothed pet-flea comb. Be gentle, and brush in the same direction as your pet’s hair grows.
Not all guinea pigs will enjoy being brushed, however, it is an essential part of keeping them healthy. Try altering the frequency to avoid stressing them out. You could also gently stroke them from head to toe whilst brushing and feeling for anything unusual.
There is a little more to guinea pig grooming than just brushing – they will also need:
- Monthly or bi-monthly nail trims
- An occasional ‘butt’ bath
- Weekly dental check & ear clean
- Regular grease gland ‘clean-up’
Learn more about each of these tasks in our handy downloadable guide.
You’re doing an excellent job caring for your rabbit, but there’s no harm in discovering ways to do better by your pet, your pocket, and the planet. Our Head Vet Emma, has come up with some interesting ideas to get your new year off to a great start.
Read our top tips for rabbit owners
1. Get your rabbit vaccinated
If your rabbit’s booster is overdue or they’ve never been vaccinated we recommend making this a top priority. Rabbit vaccinations protect against deadly diseases – Myxomatosis and both strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD-1 & RVHD-2). Our Vets will give your rabbit a nose-to-tail health check at the same time, getting them ready for the year ahead.
2. Switch to loose fruit & veg at the shops
Ditch the plastic packaging and opt for fresh food items that are sold loose. You can always take your own food containers and those re-usable material fruit & veg bags.
3. Choose local, seasonal produce or grow your own
Buy in-season produce grown in the UK and reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding imported goods. Go one step further and visit your local farm shop in Middlesex – most grow produce on-site or nearby and use local suppliers. Alternatively, why not grow your own and save money too? Your rabbit will thank you for the fresh ‘garden-to-bowl’ goodies.
4. Make DIY rabbit toys out of eco-friendly materials
Save money and be more eco-friendly by making toys for your rabbits – Emma asked Travel Vet’s nursing team to share their ideas:
- Foraging trays: cardboard, scrunched up newspaper, hay, and rabbit food/treats.
- Digging box: large cardboard box, soil, rabbit-friendly plants and treats.
- Treat roll: toilet/kitchen roll cardboard tube, timothy hay, rabbit treats to hide inside.
- Veggie kabob: metal hanging treat holder (search ‘rabbit kabob’ on Amazon), rabbit-safe vegetables cut into chunks – go steady on the carrots as these are sugary.
5. Get an eco-friendly rabbit hutch by choosing pre-loved
Check freecycle, Facebook market place, Shpock, eBay, and other places offering pre-loved a.k.a. second-hand goods. You’ll extend the life of a rabbit hutch or run that would otherwise be thrown away, and you could even upcycle your new item into a 5-star rabbit retreat!
6. Adopt rather than buy a companion for your bunny
Did you know that some animal rescue shelters rehome rabbits? Adopting a pet rabbit is a wonderful option as you get to give an abandoned pet a second chance in life. As rabbits need to live in pairs, why not contact your local animal shelter first? The Blue Cross also rehome rabbits – learn more.
We hope you enjoyed reading Emma’s top tips for rabbit owners and are ready to put your new year plan into action. Here’s a quick reminder to;
You could help other rabbit owners in Middlesex too by sharing this post on your social media profiles. Just hit the share buttons in this article or copy the link.
Rabbits are experts at hiding illness, so daily and weekly checks at home should be backed up with regular visits to our Spout Lane North surgery. Whilst the exact frequency of your furry friend’s vet visits will depend on a number of factors, we normally remind owners in spring and autumn. Ideally, we’ll get to see your rabbit at least once a year and just before winter is an ideal time to make sure they’re prepared for the colder months ahead.
Typical vet visits for your rabbit may involve annual vaccinations and dental check-ups, and we may recommend other types of treatments. Emma Fisher, our head vet, thinks it’s useful to remind owners what they should be looking for in between vet visits.
Below is a list of the essential areas we check when you bring your pet rabbit to our Staines-upon-Thames surgery. We’re sharing this because rabbits are generally pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so if you spot anything mentioned in this list, it really is worth bringing them in.
Seven essential things for your rabbit health check list
- Eyes – Your rabbit’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of discharge. Pull up the eyelid and the eye tissue should be pink. If it’s red or pale, or there is discharge from the eyes, call us.
- Ears – The inside of your rabbit’s ears should be clean and clear of wax/dirt. Check inside the ear with a penlight. Ask us to show you how to clean your rabbit’s ears on your next visit.
- Nose – This is really simple; your rabbit’s nose should be free of any discharge whatsoever. If you do see discharge from the nose, call us on 01753 316081.
- Teeth – These are really important. Check your rabbit’s teeth by carefully pulling the upper and lower lips back. You should see the upper front teeth aligning with the lowers and a slight overbite. If the teeth are too long or the bite isn’t good, we may need to trim them, and we’ll probably need to talk to you about their diet.
- Feet – The most common problem with a rabbit’s feet is sore hocks or heels. If you see foot sores, especially open sores, call us.
- Nails – Nails shouldn’t be too long. If they are, then it’s a simple job to clip them at home. Ask us to show you how to safely clip your rabbit’s nails on your next visit.
- Fur & Skin – Your rabbit’s coat should be soft, shiny, and free of matted hair. If you back-brush the coat with your hand, the skin should be clear of dust and flakes.
As well as the essential list above, if you bring your rabbit in for a pre-winter health check-up we’ll be looking at areas such as their glands, their mobility, and talking to you about their eating and toileting behaviours. If you’re not sure when they were last seen, or, if you know it was over a year ago due to the disruption in 2020/21, then please do book an appointment.
Your pet’s companionship needs depend on a number of factors and getting those right are important to your small furry’s general wellbeing. To help you understand the basics, here’s the Travel Vet’ quick guide to the basic social needs of a few popular small furries.
If your pet looks to be under the weather and you’re already following the advice below (and satisfying their feeding grooming and shelter needs), then they may have a medical or a more complicated social issue. In either case please don’t delay, bring them in for a check-up and to get some advice.
Some animals need company more than others
Some small animals prefer to be alone, or find that human attention is enough, while others adore company from their own species. Read the basic advice below and if you’re still unsure whether you’re getting it right, you can always ask Helen or any of our vet nurses for advice. Our team can advise you on your particular pet, or if you’re thinking of getting one.
It’s essential for rabbits to be kept in pairs, as a minimum, as they are sociable animals who need friendship to thrive. Opposite genders tend to get on best, but don’t forget to neuter both, unless you want lots of baby bunnies. Neutering will also make for a more relaxed friendship on both sides. Rabbits appreciate human owners, but some dislike being handled. Figure out what your rabbit likes and always supervise children when they handle your rabbits.
Like rabbits, guinea pigs get lonely if they are kept alone, so you should try to find them a compatible friend. If you have two that tend to fight, they will still appreciate each other’s company. You could split their home with some mesh to avoid physical contact, rather than separate them completely. Guinea pigs are gentle, sociable animals that get on well with humans, which makes them ideal pets for children (again, with supervision please).
Hamsters and rats
Whether or not hamsters need company depends on their breed, as dwarf hamsters enjoy socialising, while Syrian hamsters need to live alone. It’s also important to remember that hamsters are nocturnal, so you may not see the benefits of their friendship during daytime hours. Meanwhile, rats get depressed without attention, so it’s important that they get companionship from both other rats and their human owners.
Call our vet nurses for advice
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what’s wrong if a small pet seems unhappy. It’s definitely worth getting some advice if you’re about to buy new rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rates, mice, gerbils or any other small furry creatures. Either way, if you have a poorly pet or are about to get a new one, then please do give us a call on 01753 316081 and one of our team will be able to offer advice.