How to Keep Guinea Pigs Cool in a Heatwave

August 18, 2020 in Lifestyle
Tara the Guinea Pig - Keeping Guinea Pigs Cool in a Heatwave

We can all agree that heatwaves suck, right? Now imagine being covered in a thick coat of fur. Yet that’s the reality for many of our adorable little fur babies. We’ve been guinea pig parents now for a little over four years, have four gorgeous girls and have dealt with our fair share of heatwaves in that time. So today I wanted to share how we keep our guinea pigs as cool as possible during a heatwave.

DISCLAIMER:
This content is intended to share my personal experience for entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice. I am not a guinea pig care expert/professional nor do I claim to be. Therefore I accept no liability if you choose to take action based on information found here as this is done entirely at your own risk. Always consult your vet for medical advice.

Bring Outdoor Piggies Indoors

It goes without saying that it gets ridiculously hot outside in a heatwave. So if you have outdoor guinea pigs, it’s worth bringing them inside for a few days. If this isn’t possible, move hutches into the shade and keep a close eye on your piggies.

Cold Bottles of Water

Our girls love nothing more than to snuggle up next to a cool bottle of water. This can be a water bottle cooled in a freezer or a fridge, if like us your freezer is full. If you go down the frozen route, make sure you cover it with a (clean) old t-shirt or towel.

Paddling Pool

This is something we tried during our first summer as guinea pig parents and we only had the two piggies. (This isn’t a practical option now we have four!)

Basically we filled a litter corner with a teeny amount of water (no more than 2cm deep) and let them play. It wasn’t the best idea in the world. They mostly used it as a toilet so lots of cleaning/refilling during the day. But I do think they appreciated it.

Luna the Guinea Pig

Ice Packs

One of the best investments we made for our guinea pigs was to buy large flat ice packs. These are a bit more sturdy than pet-friendly cooling pads. You just stick them in your freezer, take them out, cover them with a towel or blanket and you’re done! Tara loves lounging on ice packs when she’s feeling a bit hot and bothered.

We don’t currently have any which isn’t ideal but hey, this is our reminder to get some in ASAP.

Consider Alternative Bedding

During the last heatwave, we noticed that our girls had started bedding their hay. Now we don’t normally use hay for bedding so we thought maybe the bedding we do use (Megazorb) just isn’t cool enough for their little paws in the heat. So we’ll continue to do this ourselves while it’s still hot.

Fans

Fans can be very helpful to regulate our piggies’ body temperatures but there are a few things to know before you do.

Never direct a fan at your guinea pig enclosure.

Make sure your guineas have somewhere they can go to escape the airflow if they don’t like it.

Heidi the Guinea Pig

Water

Keep water bottles filled and switch the water for fresh cool water as often as you can. We usually do one change in the morning, one in the afternoon and another one before we go to bed.

Veggies

One of the easiest ways to keep your piggies cool is to serve them their veggies straight out of the fridge. (But never frozen!) Make sure they have lovely leafy greens like kale to munch on. And of course cucumbers are great for hydration – just remember to feed these in moderation as they can cause digestive problems if they eat too much.

Provide Shade

Even indoors, it gets pretty hot in direct sunlight so it’s super important to provide shade. It takes a little bit of work to get the perfect balance between coverage and airflow but it’s a worthwhile endeavour. Lighter fabrics tend to be better for airflow so we might cut up an old t-shirt or two to create little areas for them to lounge in.

Sunny the Guinea Pig

No Snuggles!

I don’t know about you but I get very irritable in the heat. And so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for our furry friends to be forced into physical contact when they’re already hot and bothered. It’s probably worth just letting them get on with it for a few days – obviously while still keeping an eye on them for signs of heatstroke and providing specific care (e.g. grooming and medicine).

Fly Screens

Okay this one is less heatwave and more summer specific. But basically flies pose huge risks to guinea pig health. Their bites can be fatal. They can lay eggs into guinea pig bedding that then ends up in their hair and skin which again, can result in death. 

So fly screens are a great option. They’re generally inexpensive but are invaluable. We have screens on all of our windows and yes we see the odd fly but it could be so much worse!


In addition to these tips, please do familiarise yourself with the symptoms of heatstroke in guinea pigs and seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your piggy is suffering from heatstroke.

Additionally if you’re heading off on holiday soon, please find a suitable carer for your guineas. They might be small animals but they are still dependent on you for care and provisions. So it’s important that you don’t just leave them unattended for a few days.

Do you have any pets? What do you do to keep them cool in a heatwave? Let me know in the comments below.

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16 Comments

  • Kelly Diane August 18, 2020 at 9:52 am

    These are some great tips. Summertime can be so difficult for our fury friends. We used to have a marble style slab which we used to put in the enclosure so they could lie on it and keep cool.

    • Hayley August 18, 2020 at 10:26 am

      That’s a great idea, will have to get hold of one before it inevitably heats up again. Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Jenny in Neverland August 18, 2020 at 10:31 am

    They’re so cute! I used to have 2 Guinea Pigs when I was little. My Mum mostly took care of them though because I was too young so I can imagine she had to do most of this when it was Summer. Great tips!

    • Hayley August 19, 2020 at 10:57 am

      Thanks Jenny! 🙂

  • Mehsi August 18, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Great tips, and great post. Your guinea pigs are adorable! My hammies are also suffering in the heat, so I have also done some precautions to get them through this heatwave (like give them plenty of fresh bathsand as it seems to cool them down, have a ventilator in the room they are in, and some others). I definitely want to try out the ice packs, maybe I should order a couple in various sizes.

    • Hayley August 19, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Oh no, I hope they’re coping okay! Yeah definitely – we normally buy the ones that are about the same width and height of a paperback book but are mostly flat. They’re really handy and don’t take up too much space! 🙂

  • Charity August 18, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Awe look at those cuties! I have never had Guinea Pigs before. I’ve only had dogs and cats as pets, but this was so interesting to read to learn more about them!

    • Hayley August 19, 2020 at 11:06 am

      Thank you so much Charity! 🙂

  • Fadima Mooneira August 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Auwww……cute post. I never had a guinea pig as a pet. And I also have 0 knowledge about these cuties. Reading your post makes me learned about guinea pigs. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hayley August 20, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you’ve found it informative! 🙂

  • Lisa Marie Alioto August 19, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    They are adorabe! Great tips- I love how much you care for them.

    • Hayley August 20, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Thank you so much Lisa! 🙂

  • Carolyn August 19, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Oh my gosh, your guinea pigs are SO CUTE! What a helpful post! One of my jobs is as a pet care-taker, and while I mostly deal with cats and dogs, I occasionally take care of smaller animals like bunnies, hamsters, and guinea pigs. I’m so glad I know this information now! If I have a client with guinea pigs, I now know what to do when things get too hot. Thanks!

    • Hayley August 20, 2020 at 9:43 am

      Thank you so much Carolyn, they are little cuties! I’m really glad to have been able to help! 🙂

  • Lucy August 19, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Your guinea pigs are so cute Hayley! These are great tips, I think we all focus on how to keep dogs and cats cool during the warmer weather, but we forget the pets like guinea pigs, rabbits and even hamsters as they suffer with the heat too! x

    Lucy | lucymary.co.uk

    • Hayley August 20, 2020 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Lucy! You’re so right, even wildlife in general seems to get forgotten but the heat affects them too.

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    I'm Hayley - a 30 year old book blogger from the UK. Also: chronic overthinker, introvert, homebody and mum.

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