As guinea pig owners, our number one job is always to keep our pets safe and comfortable.
Because of their sensitivity to temperature changes, you have to be careful about how hot or cold their habitat gets.
With summer starting, it’s essential to know how hot your pet can safely get.
Anything higher than 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C) is TOO HOT for guinea pigs. Your small pet could suffer heat stroke or even death from the heat in these higher temperatures. Knowing what temperatures are unsafe for your animal friend is only the first step.
Read on for tips on keeping guinea pigs cool and recognizing signs of heat stroke or illness.
What’s A Good Environment For Your Guinea Pig?
We know how unsafe it is to let your pet get too hot.
But let’s think about what the ideal temperature range is.
A cooler environment is dangerous as well.
So, the best way to keep your pet safe is to keep their environment between 60-85° degrees Fahrenheit (16-29° C).
This particular job is challenging during the summertime.
Take note of the average summer temperature in your area, and be ready to protect your pet from exposure to extreme heat.
We suggest keeping a thermometer near your guinea’s cage to watch the heat.
If things begin to look unsafe, we have some tricks for you to use to keep your animal’s living environment cool.
- Keep their water cool and fresh
- Use fans and air-conditioning
- Don’t expose the cage, and thus your guinea pig, to direct sunlight
- Offer them shade
Giving your guinea pig cool water will help them regulate their body and keep their core temperature down.
Make sure you’re changing their water frequently so it doesn’t have time to get warm.
When using fans and air-conditioning units, it’s essential to make sure your pet is close enough to benefit from these tools.
But don’t blow them directly at the guinea pig cage.
Direct airflow at them will make them uncomfortable and possibly scare them.
Make sure the cage you’re using is placed well in your home.
Don’t put it in a spot that gets direct sunlight or is close to a radiator.
The goal is to keep as much heat as possible out of your animal’s habitat and maintain a cool environment.
Find the coolest area possible to put your guinea.
But make sure you check the temperature in this area before moving the cage.
Remember: extreme cold is also bad for your small pets.
The temperature needs to be above 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C).
If it’s warm outside and you have an outdoor area where you let your little friend run and play, make sure they have access to shade.
And again, give them plenty of cool water.
Keep your guinea indoors when it’s higher than the recommended 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C) outside.
Signs Your Guinea Pig Is Getting Too Hot
The goal is to keep your pet’s environment cool enough so they aren’t at risk of any heat-related illness.
But if you’re worried your pet may be getting too hot, here are some signs to watch out for:
- Panting and shortness of breath
- Stretching out or laying on their side
- Increased heart rate
- Red ears*
*Red ears on a guinea pig are interesting and often a sign of overheating.
Read more details at the link above if your cavy ears are red.
Some of these are efforts your guinea pig makes to cool themselves down and get relief from the extreme temperatures in their environment.
For example, panting and stretching out are both attempts by your piggie to expel heat from their little body.
If you’re seeing more than one of these things, you must take action.
Your pet may be suffering from heat stroke.
Looking for ways to cool your overheated friend down?
We’ve got you covered.
What To Do If Your Pet Overheats
It takes time for guinea pigs to develop a severe illness or die even from extreme heat.
While the signs we mentioned mean your pet is starting to feel the effects of the heat, they aren’t in imminent danger of dying unless they’re having seizures or have become unresponsive.
Be sure to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we have some tips from guinea pig owners on how to cool down an overheated small pet:
- Use a spray bottle of cool water
- Give them cold water to drink
- Wrap them in a damp, cold towel
- Give them a cool (NOT ice cold) bath
If you decide to spritz your guinea with cool water using a spray bottle, make sure you do this frequently enough to keep them cool, but not so frequently you’re soaking them completely.
Avoid spraying them directly in the face.
It’s essential to always ensure your animals have constant access to cool, clean water to drink when it’s hot outside.
Drinking plenty of cold liquids is one of the ways our pets know to regulate their bodies.
If your piggie is already starting to exhibit signs of heat stroke, offer them cold water.
If they refuse to drink, work on cooling them down in another way.
But continue offering them cold water.
They will likely be willing to drink it as they feel a little better.
Wrapping your small pet in a cool, damp towel is a great way to cool them down quickly.
But you need to be careful.
Don’t get the towel sopping wet.
Sopping towels are heavy, and they won’t feel good to your guinea pig.
Don’t use freezing cold water.
The thermal shock might make your friend sick.
Further reading: Giving guinea pigs cold water.
Finally, if you want to give your animal a cold bath, this is a great solution.
But be sure to, again, use cool, not freezing cold, water.
When you submerge them in the water, do not let it cover their head.
The water mustn’t get in their eyes, ears, or noses.
Get their body covered but be careful around the head.
Extreme heat is hazardous for guinea pigs.
Take all these steps to keep them cool if necessary, and don’t hesitate to take them to the veterinarian when they start acting very sick.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Wear Garments?