When you get a dog or cat, many new owners investigate getting their pets neutered or spayed.
This procedure can help with behavioral problems, prevent certain health issues, and keep your pets from experiencing an accidental pregnancy.
Can you do the same with small animals like guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs may be neutered and spayed to prevent pregnancies. It will not change their behavior or demeanor. Keep in mind any type of surgery might be risky for these small rodents, particularly when it comes to going under anesthesia. They will also need a few days for the recovery period.
If you want to learn more about neutering your guinea pig, this guide will help you to evaluate if the risk is worth it.
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Can You Neuter A Guinea Pig?
If you are interested in neutering your cavies, there is good news.
They can have successful surgery to eliminate a male’s ability to reproduce.
However, this procedure is not a necessity for their health.
Most veterinarians will consider this an elective procedure.
It does have some benefit for the male, though.
One of the major benefits of neutering is decreasing the risk of impaction later on down the road.
Neutering also reduces build-up in the waxy scent gland.
If you are thinking about neutering your cavies, you need to be aware this is a surgical procedure.
You will need to visit a veterinarian specializing in exotics, as many traditional small animal vets may not have the skills or instruments to perform surgery on these small rodents.
They are more geared toward dogs and cats.
What are the Risks of Neutering a Guinea Pig?
Because it is a surgical procedure, you need to be aware surgery poses some risks.
Like many small animals, guinea pigs are quite sensitive to anesthesia and the medications used to perform a surgical operation.
In particular, they have difficulty maintaining their body temperature while under anesthesia, so they will need to be properly monitored during the procedure.
Even after the surgery, they might have a hard time maintaining their body temperature.
Many owners find they need to keep the room a bit warmer in the next few days following the neuter.
This can help to keep their body temperature up.
Cavies also have a hard time with the medications used during and after the surgery.
It can reduce their appetite, which leads to less consumption of grass hay.
When they stop eating hay which is necessary for digestion, you are likely to experience digestive upset.
This is a dangerous side effect of surgery.
If your guinea pig does not eat like normal, you may have to syringe feed them for a few days.
This ensures they will get all of the nutrients they need, even if they do not elect to eat independently.
It is important to keep their strength up to help speed up their healing.
Why Neuter A Guinea Pig?
Many people like to keep more than one guinea pig because they are social animals.
They do better in a habitat with friends and cagemates.
Unfortunately, this can pose a problem if you have both males and females sharing cage space.
You might end up with an unwanted set of babies if your guinea pigs decide to mate.
This is the most common reason for people to consider neutering or spaying their guinea pigs.
Some think neutering a guinea pig will make them get along better with their companion animals.
Unfortunately, this is not true.
Dogs and cats may settle down and be more companionable following this type of procedure, but cavies don’t.
If they were struggling to get along with their cagemates before the surgery, they would still be antisocial afterward.
If you keep female guinea pigs, you might wonder whether you need to spay them instead of neutering your males.
Females may have more issues with their reproductive organs, such as cysts or tumors.
If your females experience any of the following symptoms, it may be better to spay them instead of neutering the male:
- Hair loss on the belly
- Sensitive stomach areas
- Incontinence or discharge
- Crusty nipples
Otherwise, neutering tends to be safer than spaying.
Neutering is a less invasive procedure as the male reproductive organs are located outside the body.
Your male will have to be under anesthesia for less time which is always beneficial.
Qualifying Your Veterinarian
Not all veterinarians are created equal.
You may not need to find someone who has performed this surgery on hundreds of guinea pigs, but you want someone who has some experience.
As mentioned, you need to find someone who specializes in exotics instead of just dogs and cats.
Ask them how often they have performed a neuter on guinea pigs to feel for how experienced they are.
It is also a good idea to ask about monitoring during surgery.
Who will be watching over your guinea pig?
You may also ask how they plan to handle complications.
Everyone hopes their surgery will be smooth sailing, but it helps to give you peace of mind to know your cavies will be well cared for if a problem arises.
Be sure to ask about what type of anesthesia they use.
Some veterinarians prefer gas, while others use injectables.
Cavies are quite sensitive to anesthesia.
It is generally recommended to use the gas form over the injectable for this type of animal.
Verify your veterinarian does not want them to fast before the surgery.
Unlike dogs and cats, guinea pigs can eat up to two hours before their procedure.
Fasting is not a requirement for a successful procedure.
Fasting for too long can lead to hypoglycemia.
Food should be available during the recovery period as well.
Yes, some vets do cost more and should be included in the cost of owning a guinea pig (click to see our breakdown), but it’s worth it.
What is the Recovery Period Like?
Directly after surgery, you still need to ensure your male and female remain in separate cages.
It can take three to four weeks for live sperm to get out of your male’s system.
During this time, he could still impregnate a female.
In avoiding an accidental pregnancy, this is an important step to follow.
For a few days following the surgery, you will need to administer pain medication and antibiotics.
Keep a close eye on the incision site.
The glue used post-surgery should be holding the wound closed.
However, you need to ensure it does not become infected by looking for pus, inflammation, or swelling.
It is best to keep your guinea pig on white towels following the procedure.
This allows you to monitor for bowel movements, urination, and excess bleeding from the incision.
If your cavies like to chew on towels, place some newspaper in the cage.
Make sure to use flat paper instead of shredded.
This should still help you to monitor them appropriately.
Keep an eye on their weight and behavior.
During the recovery period, they might need an increased dose of vitamin C.
Make sure they are consuming the food you put in their cage.
They should start eating within about two hours of their procedure.
If they are not eating or seem overly tired, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Related: Can guinea pigs wear cones?