How to build a basic guinea pig emergency kit.
When I first brought home my guinea pigs, I did a ton of research. I wanted to be as prepared as possible so I could keep them as healthy and healthy as I could. One of the things I found that people were doing is putting together an emergency kit or health kit for their guinea pigs in case they showed signs of illness or injury. I thought this was a great idea because it helps you be prepared when a medical situation happens unexpectedly.
Today I’m going to walk you through exactly what I would put in my guinea pig health kit if I was starting from scratch AND on a budget. All of the items on this list you could pick up for around $100 total.
I am not a vet – if you think your pet is sick, get them to an exotic vet as soon as possible!
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Why Do I Need a Guinea Pig Health Kit?
A guinea pig health kit is not meant to replace taking your guinea pigs to the vet if they are sick or injured. The items in your health kit are meant to help you keep your guinea pig comfortable and support their health until you can get them in to see the vet. I also keep things on hand to treat very minor issues that may not need a vet visit to take care of.
If you are new to owning guinea pigs, I wouldn’t run out and get every single thing you see people keeping in their health kit – especially if you don’t know how or when to use some of the items. Over time, you’ll figure out what items you generally need for your specific piggies.
However, there are some basic items I think everyone should keep on hand if they keep pet guinea pigs.
I’m going to break this post down into a few tiers of items that you can fit within your budget. The first tier will be the 3 things I think you NEED to have on hand. The two tiers after that will be for increased budget levels. Let’s get started!
Essentials for Your Guinea Pig Health Kit
These first three items are things that I believe everyone should have in their guinea pig care kit. In total, these three items will cost you around $40.
A kitchen scale is important for any guinea pig owner to have. Weighing your pets on a weekly basis is important because weight loss is often the first sign that something might be wrong with your guinea pigs. They hide their illnesses as long as they can since they are prey animals – but they can’t hide weight loss.
Weigh your guinea pigs on a regular basis and track their weight each time. I usually do this weekly when I do my pets’ normal health checks. Any major changes from week to week should be a sign to you that you could need to get your pet into the vet.
You want to use a kitchen scale that weighs in grams – I like this one and have used it for years.
Having critical care on hand can be the difference between life and death if your pet stops eating. Critical care (or recovery food as it’s sometimes called) is a powder that you mix with water and feed to your guinea pigs through a syringe. It’s very useful for helping a guinea pig put on more weight, supporting them after surgery, or keeping their digestive system moving if they are sick.
I really like the Oxbow brand of critical care, but Sherwood Pet health has a great version as well. You can also buy some oral syringes if you want to keep them on hand, but most vets will also give you a few for free if you ask.
I have used critical care many times over the years, and I am always glad to have it on hand in an emergency. If you have a pig that suddenly stops eating, you don’t want to be waiting for your critical care to come in the mail. Often, when guinea pigs finally show they are sick, they need to be syringe fed immediately in the time until you can get them into the emergency vet.
Nail Clippers & Styptic Powder
All guinea pig owners should have nail clippers on hand because all guinea pigs will need their nails clipped. The only exception to this would be if you take your guinea pigs to the vet to have their nails trimmed instead. Check out this article I wrote about how to clip your guinea pigs’ nails yourself!
Styptic powder is nice to have on hand as well. If you accidentally cut the quick, you can dip the nail in styptic powder to immediately stop the bleeding. It’s pretty handy and keeps things from turning into a mess if you do accidentally cut the quick.
Recommended Guinea Pig Health Kit Items
This next section includes three items that I would highly recommend picking up for your health kit if you have a little bit more money to add to your kit. These items cost about $30 in total.
Appetite Restore Powder
I don’t see a ton of people talking about this online, but I swear by this stuff. Sherwood Pet Health Appetite Restore is a powder that you mix with water and syringe-feed to your piggy that is intended to provide electrolytes and vitamins and encourage them to start eating again. It also helps with hydration since it’s mixed with water. Plus, it’s banana flavored so I have yet to have any of my pets refuse it.
I have given this to both my guinea pigs and rabbits after surgeries or if they aren’t feeling well and have had pretty great results. I even explained the powder and its ingredients to an emergency vet we visited, and she said it’s pretty much the same makeup as the fluids they provide – so to me that is pretty much vet-approved!
Infant Gas Drops
These are simethicone drops meant for babies that you can actually find at any grocery or drug store. They are meant to break up gas in a baby’s digestive system – and that is exactly what they can do for guinea pigs as well.
Bloat is a condition that can be extremely dangerous for guinea pigs. It is basically when their digestive system starts filling up with air, making them extremely uncomfortable and unwilling to eat. Giving these gas drops at the first sign of bloat can help break up the gas and move it through your piggy.
You can find these online or at your local store.
Vitamin C Supplements
Guinea pigs’ bodies can’t produce their own vitamin c, so it’s important that we make sure they get enough of this important vitamin through their diet. Not enough vitamin c can lead to health issues and scurvy. The main way guinea pigs should be getting vitamin c is through the veggies in their diet, but I also like to provide a supplement just to be on the safe side.
The way I choose to provide extra vitamin c is through vitamin tabs. These are basically a treat to your guinea pigs and provide the vitamin c they need. You don’t have to worry about over-feeding vitamin c because any extra will just come out in their urine.
You don’t want to use the water drops sold in pet stores to supplement vitamin c. It is only effective for about 20 minutes in their water, and it can make them drink a lot less since it changes the flavor of the water. You don’t want to end up dehydrating your guinea pig for a vitamin drop that doesn’t actually work that well.
Additional Guinea Pig Health Kit Items
Finally, these last few items are going to be really nice to have in your kit, but they aren’t absolutely essential. Picking up these items will cost about $30 to add to your kit.
Bene-Bac is a probiotic that will help keep your guinea pig’s digestive system regulated. I use this most often when one of my guinea pigs is on antibiotics because they can cause tummy issues with guinea pigs. You can also give it if you notice one of your guinea pigs has soft poops or other signs of their digestive system being a little out of wack.
It’s basically a paste in a little tube that you can squirt right into your pet’s mouth. I will sometimes also mix it in with critical care or organic baby food to make it taste a bit better. You can order Bene-Bac online, and I have also occasionally seen it in pet stores.
Terramycin Antibiotic Ointment
Terramycin in an antibiotic ointment meant for eyes. This is something I keep on hand now that I have experience with hay pokes in the eyes – but it’s not something I would recommend having if you are a brand new owner with no experience with eye issues.
You can actually get this over the counter online now, which is great. Hay pokes are one of the most common issues I have with my guinea pigs so I have gotten pretty good at realizing when an eye issue needs a vet visit and when it can be treated with this ointment. Eyes are nothing to mess with though – if you’re not sure, always head to the vet!
Other Vitamin Supplements
Besides vitamin C supplements, there are a lot of other vitamin tabs you can find on the market for your guinea pigs for a variety of different things.
The ones I feed the most often to my own pigs are the urinary support tablets and the digestive support tabs. There are a lot of others you can explore as well depending on what kind of health issues your guinea pigs might have. Oxbow has vitamin tabs and so does Sherwood Pet health.
I usually just keep these on hand and feed them once or twice a week as a treat for my pets. They just give me a bit extra piece of mind that I am doing what I can to keep my pets healthy.
Final Thoughts on Guinea Pig Health Kits
Starting a guinea pig emergency kit is a great idea for any owner. It will ensure you have what you need on hand during an emergency and will result in a lot less stress on you. Pick up a few of these items every few months and you’ll soon have everything you need to support your piggy on the way to the vet!
Learn More About Guinea Pig Care:
- All About Guinea Pig Teeth
- How to Bond Guinea Pigs the Right Way
- How to Bathe Guinea Pigs (the easy way!)
- 4 Simple Steps to Finding the Right Guinea Pig Vet