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Hot Weather Management And Heat Strokes

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Wiebke

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Domestic guinea pigs do not cope well with big jumps in temperatures and need time to adapt very gradually! They also struggle with hot weather.

Please keep in mind that anything above 25 C / 75 F is hot for piggies and that they need protection from the sun at all times.
That includes hutches, conservatories, hot indoors rooms and uninsulated sheds!
Please read this link, too: Sun-heated water bottle sparks hutch fire

Beware of patios that are heat traps and open lawns that are fully in the sun with no shade. Without additional double shade protection, plastic pigloos or hutches quickly turn into ovens. Unprotected water bottles in full sun become hot water taps!

Never leave any living creature in a car or in a conservatory in full sun, not even with a window cracked open; the temperature will soar to 40-50 C (well over 100 F) within minutes!



Symptoms and treatment of heat stroke

Symptoms: Lying flat on the belly; unable to move; shallow breathing; rapid and very weak pulse.

Please see a vet or out-of-hours vet immediately as an emergency if you notice any of these symptoms! Your guinea pig will require additional medical support to help get the stressed out body (especially the heart and the guts) going again after a heat stroke.
Contact details for an out-of-hours vet are usually available from your vet's answering machine or can be found by googling for local services.

On the spot treatment:
- Soak a towel in cool, but not ice cold water and wrap the piggy in it, loosely at first in order to not shock the system.
- Or get a bucket of cool, but not ice cold water and gently sponge the piggy down. Lower the body temperature gradually in order to not cause the heart to stop.
- If you have a fan, put it on full blast.

Recovery, if there is any, should be quick and pretty dramatic. Support the piggy as soon as it is trying to get back on its feet and stop the cooling down instantly to avoid the piggy from getting a chill instead.

DO NOT dunk an overheated guinea pig into cold water or it will go into cardiac arrest!
Peter Gurney Guinea Pig Health Guide – How to keep your guinea pig (cavy) healthy


Be aware of fly strike (flesh eating maggots)!
Please also be aware that hot weather increases the risk of fly strike especially in any frail and ill piggies that struggle to clean their genitalia. Some flies lay their eggs into living flesh for the maggot to emerge in a living larder; they are attracted over a remarkable distance by the scent. It is one of the more horrible deaths, but it can be avoided if seen by a vet in time as a life and death emergency at any time of the day/night.
Fly Strike


Cooling tips during a heat wave

- keep your piggies out of full sun at all times. This includes placing hutches and runs in the shade of a house or a large tree. Beware of the sun moving throughout the day and breezes carrying hot air even into shady spaces.

- In temperatures over 25 C / 75 F please bring your guinea pigs indoors and put them on the lawn only in the cooler evening or early morning hours. Have them camping in your bathtub or shower during the hottest hours of the day if you haven't got other options
Temporary Housing Solutions?

- move the hutch away from full sun and hot patios that throw the heat around. If that is not possible, move the piggies out of a hutch or hot shed to a cooler place or inside into the coolest room of the house for the duration of the heat wave.

- If they are on the lawn (NOT during the hottest hours in temperatures over 25 C/ 75 F, not even in full shade!) or in a hot indoors room over that temperature, place wet towels or fleece over the run or cage and keep these damp. The evaporating water will cool the surrounding air.

- move your indoors guinea pigs to the coolest room in your house or flat (north-facing/downstairs is best).
Air the room as much as safely possible during the cooler hours between late afternoon/evening until early morning so you can get it as cool as possible. Run a fan near window to help bring the cooler air inside.
Wetting your net curtains before you open all windows in the evening can additionally help to cool down your rooms provided air humidity is not already high, in which case it would add to the misery.

- During the hottest hours of the day, please close any windows and draw your curtains where the sun is going to shine on to keep the room cooler than outdoors. If you are at home, you can close and open windows as the sun moves round; if you are out working, please consider which windows will be impacted while you are away.
If you can, turn on your air conditioning or a fan, but please do not blast your guinea pigs with it directly.
Do NOT open all your windows wide with a fan running on full on very hot day - all you do is to fan the much hotter sun-warmed outdoors air inside!


- wrap a frozen bottle of water in a towel or a sock or use freezable gel cool bag or pods instead.
You can also improvise with freeable cool bag ice blocs if you have those or even by putting your microwaveable snugglesafe heat pads in the fridge (NOT the freezer!).
Please remember to leave room for the ice to expand when putting a water filled plastic bottle into the freezer, or you will get soaked bedding!

- place a ceramic tile in their cage/hutch for them to suck heat from their body. Alternatively, move your guinea pigs into a bath tub you have run cold water across. Please provide a towel to sit on at one end so they can get away whenever they start feeling cool.

- Wiping your piggies gently down with a cool but not ice cold damp rag can also help to lower the temperature in a guinea pig that is suffering in the heat. Don't cold-shock overheated animals to prevent cardiac arrest.

- watery veg like cucumber or melon is welcome but please don't overdo it; too much can cause diarrhea!
A larger piece of cucumber from the fridge stays cooler for longer at the core and is better if you have to leave your guinea pigs while at work. Guinea pigs don't sweat like humans, they regulate their body temperature via the blood flow through their ears. This means that they do NOT have to increase their water intake as much as humans do in hot weather.
The temptation to overfeed watery veg in hot weather!

- make sure that they have access to fresh, cool water at all times. You can use ice cubes or crushed ice if you are away during the heat of the day and need the water to stay cool for as long as possible. Sippy water bottles that open at the top will allow that. Otherwise, please refresh the water regularly. Keep any water bottles out of full sun whether that is outdoors or indoors! No piggy wants to drink hot water full of fast developing algae. Sun-heated water bottle sparks hutch fire

- give long-haired piggies a short haircut or at least cut the back and sides short and only leave a thin long top layer for show! They will feel a lot perkier without wearing the equivalent of skiing gear on a tropical beach. Their coats will grow back again for the cooler autumn and winter!

- Please DO NOT feed frozen treats! Piggies can badly injure their lips and tongues when nibbling to eagerly!
We have a forum member's first-hand account of this happening.

Here is a link to a good and comprehensive list from an Australian site (with the exception of frozen treats, as a member on here has reported a bad experience when trying it!)
http://guineapigsaustralia.com/summer heat management.htm


What being in a confined space (car, conservatory, hutch or run in full sun, indoors room in full sun) can do to your piggies as well as to any other pet!
40 C = ca. 100 F
50 C = ca. 120 F
 
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Mizzpigz

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I think I'm going to get a few floor tiles for them. Many thanks for this info x
 

Lone-Star 57

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Thank you so much for this I have been going mental with worry about the piggies in this heat.
 

Claire W

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My Eliza had a mild case of heat stroke a couple of weeks ago after falling asleep in a beam of sunlight :( I brought her inside and wiped her down with a cool but NOT cold flannel (vets advise) syringed her some water and left her quiet.

She was as right as rain again within an hour and the flannel helped to bring her temperature down.

Another tip to help keep piggies (and other animals) cool is to lightly spray a fine mist of water from a spray bottle above them but not directly at them. It will cool them down as it drops.
 
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karonus

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Having experienced heatstroke with Star a couple of years ago I know how deadly it can be. She was limp and lifeless so I used the same procedures as human first aid, wipe down with cool damp clothes etc. She was lucky and made a full recovery. As with humans the last thing you should do is place in a cold bath, this can cause shock and/or heart failure and is also dangerous for humans as well.
 

helen105281

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My Beanbag had heat stroke too a year or so ago, luckily we were on our way to piggy clinic and Karen who runs it showed us what to do and got loads of water into him.
 

Mizzpigz

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Mine don't drink a lot of water at all. I change the water bottle so its nice and cold and there is a bowl of water in their run aswell but they just don't drink that much. If anything they tend to drink more water once they are back in their cage at about 9pm.
 

gizmo01

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our pigs have all melted :) they love the wet towels ive put in their hutches Ice cubes in the water seems to be a winner
 

Stewybus

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I'm giving my piggies an hour on the lawn before 11 am. After that it's far too hot. I'm also putting an ice pack covered by fleece or a towel so they have something cool to lie near. Mine are kept in the conservatory which has all the roof blinds pulled down + all windows open + a pedestal fan & I'm just managing to keep it at about 25'C or just below. I'm also giving them chunks of cucumber out of the fridge. Luckily I work from home so can keep monitoring them.
 

Jerrybelly

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I hate to moan about the sun, but it is such a worry for the pigs! I'm checking them constantly to make sure they seem happy!
 

sazmatazz

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Bump - keep those piggies cool! I've been wetting the grass for them & covering the top of their run for full shade - out in cooler hours only after 4pm.
 

MargaretB

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Thanks for the info. Mine have not been outdoors because of the heat and I'm fortunate enough to have a portable air-con unit which is in the animal room keeping them lovely and cool. :)
 

Pebble

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I'm bumping this again - specifically for anyone with an animal that has a suspected/diagnosed heart condition..........Be they piggie/rabbit/cat/dog........they are now under extreme pressure from this heatwave.

Monitor regularly and make sure they have cooled conditions - eg fans, wipe with damp towels etc.....and plenty of water they are able to drink. I have had to changeover from bottles to bowls in this weather for my heart pigs...and up their diuretic med -fruseamaide-...and syringe feed them extra water.

Only put them outside when conditions are cool...i.e. late evening; keeping them in a "cooler" indoor environment during the day. Use blinds/curtains to stop the sun heating up the room during the day.
I'm staying up late to open doors and windows at night to get the room cooled down ready for the onslaught of sun/heat the next day....and to prevent ingress of foxes!

My heart pigs were really suffering - but having put all the above into practice last weekend..they are now pretty chipper!

HTH
x
 

helen105281

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I'm bumping this again - specifically for anyone with an animal that has a suspected/diagnosed heart condition..........Be they piggie/rabbit/cat/dog........they are now under extreme pressure from this heatwave.

Monitor regularly and make sure they have cooled conditions - eg fans, wipe with damp towels etc.....and plenty of water they are able to drink. I have had to changeover from bottles to bowls in this weather for my heart pigs...and up their diuretic med -fruseamaide-...and syringe feed them extra water.

Only put them outside when conditions are cool...i.e. late evening; keeping them in a "cooler" indoor environment during the day. Use blinds/curtains to stop the sun heating up the room during the day.
I'm staying up late to open doors and windows at night to get the room cooled down ready for the onslaught of sun/heat the next day....and to prevent ingress of foxes!

My heart pigs were really suffering - but having put all the above into practice last weekend..they are now pretty chipper!

HTH
x
That's pretty much what we are having to do, am on red alert with my heart pigs. Luckily none of them usually need diuretic on a regular basis thanks to Co-Enzyme Q10 but I have reintroduced it during the heatwave and they seem to be coping ok so far.
 

Piggielover1515

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thank you my merline died of a heat stroke cus some one waste watching him :(
 
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