Well, maybe not. Summer's hot, humid weather can make the best of us feel a bit wilted. The following tips will help keep your cavy more comfortable and cool. This article was originally written for my Minnesota-based newsletter, but the hot weather tips should be helpful for other parts of the country as well.

Cold Beverages

Cavies usually drink much more water when they are hot. Water must always be available, and as fresh as possible.


I recommend changing water at least twice daily during hot weather. Bottles get slimy quicker when it's hot, so keep a bottle and tube brush handy for weekly cleaning. If your cavy is playfully emptying water from his bottle onto the cage floor (the brat!), try putting a 4"-5" diameter ceramic crock under the drinking tube. This will save bedding from extra soaking. The crock will need to be dumped out a couple times daily. If you are putting a vitamin C supplement in the water, it may be weakening faster. Light, heat and minerals in the water weaken vitamin C. You might want to mix up fresh vitamin C water twice daily. Multi-vitamin supplements are not recommended.

Summer 'Salad'

Wild South American cavy cousins dine chiefly on grass. Fresh grass and dandelion leaves are great for our pampered cavies -- but only if it is completely chemical-free.

No fertilizer, no weed-killer, no nothin'! Cavies are extremely sensitive to these chemicals and can be poisoned by them.

Bad Hair Day

Some cavies shed profusely during the summer months.


Frequent combing or brushing will remove loose hair. I prefer to use a metal "greyhound comb" with medium and fine teeth. Longhaired cavies may appreciate a haircut.

Bathing every few weeks with a mild pet shampoo will also help your cavy feel more comfortable by removing loose hair and debris, plus cleaning and conditioning the skin. Skin and fur bugs may be more active during hot weather. While grooming your cavy watch for signs of skin irritation or coat damage. If problems are noted you may need your cavy examined by a veterinarian to determine the cause and treat as necessary.


While making vacation plans, don't forget your cavy. Do you have somebody reliable to keep your pet comfortable and safe while you are gone? Your veterinarian may be able to board your cavy, or refer you to a professional petsitter. Petsitters will visit your home once or twice daily to care for your pet as per your instructions. They can also water your plants, take in your mail, etc.

Boarding kennels are an option if they can house your cavy away from the noise and stress of the dog/cat area, and can guarantee holding/cuddling time.

Trusted friends or relatives can prove invaluable as pigsitters. For additional leads check the yellow pages, local want ads under "Pets" or "Services", nearby veterinary clinics or groomers, and referrals from friends or acquaintances.

Whoever you choose, be sure to leave detailed written care instructions, adequate supplies, your veterinarian's phone number and location, and a phone number where you can be reached - or arrange times you will call the sitter. Ask your sitter to be very aware of whether your cavy is eating and drinking, and to let you know if he isn't. Be sure your veterinarian knows you will be out of town and they may have to deal with your petsitter in the event of a pet emergency.


Heat, humidity, increased water consumption and urination all contribute to making your cavy's cage noticeably more pungent than usual. Cleaning the cage more often will keep your cavy's life, and your home, comfortable and pleasant.

If you find tiny flying bugs (like fruit flies) lurking in the corners of the cage pan, don't panic. Nobody wants bugs in the house, but these are harmless and short-lived.


Here in Minnesota anyway, they are generally active only during the most hot, humid part of the summer. Warm moist areas - like soggy parts of the bathroom, over-ripe fruit or overwatered plants, and wet cage corners - attract them. Rinsing out cage pans after each cleaning helps.

Outdoor Activities

Many cavy owners enjoy letting their pet picnic outside on the lawn. If well supervised and protected this can be a lot of fun. Beware of domestic and wild predators ("hmmm, what is this tasty morsel?"), unsafe weather conditions (heat, rain, strong wind), toxins on the lawn, poisonous or hard to digest plants and weeds, escapes, and any other danger just waiting to befall an unsuspecting cavy. Also watch that your cavy doesn't "pig out" excessively on grass. Too much when he isn't used to it can cause diarrhea.

Danger Zone


When temperatures are up around 80°F and higher, cavies are at risk for heat stress or heat stroke.

Putting a sock covered can of cold soda or "blue ice" in the cage provides something to cool off against on especially hot or humid days. A fan will help circulate and cool the air, but don't aim it directly on the cage.

Cavies may become less active during a heat wave and nap more (wish I could do that). That's OK. Signs that a cavy is uncomfortably hot are: rapid breathing, eats much less - drinks much more, restlessly flops around in the cage trying to find a "good spot". For this, offer the cavy fresh cold water immediately, maybe even in a shallow bowl. Spray him lightly with cool (not cold) water, perhaps rinse his feet in cool water. Try offering refrigerated pellets or fresh food that has been rinsed in cold water. Move him to a cooler part of the house. If he doesn't perk up quickly call a veterinarian for advice.

A cavy that is drooling profusely or has pale mucus membranes (check inside the mouth for color) is dangerously heat stressed. A cavy that is limp, unresponsive and feels hot to the touch is in critical danger and suffering heat stroke. The body temperature must be lowered by carefully holding the cavy in a tub or bowl of cool (not cold) water. Call a veterinarian or animal emergency clinic immediately for further instructions.

Beat the Heat

If your pampered pet lives in a home that is air conditioned most of the summer, many of these summer problems will not apply. Air conditioning is a wonderful invention, but avoid blowing that wonderful cool air directly on the cavy. His cage should not be close to, or in front of, wall or window units - or air vents if you have central air. A towel placed over the top and side of the cage facing the air conditioner will help block out too much of a good thing.


Summer is short (well, here in the Midwest anyway) - so enjoy, be careful, have fun!

This article and the JPGPR.com logo are © 1993-2003 Vicki Palmer Nielsen - Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue. No copyright is asserted herein regarding the illustrations accompanying the article; copyrights, if any, of the illustrations are retained by the original holders. If you would like to reproduce anything from the website, please first e-mail Vicki for permission at :

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