Heat Stroke In Guinea Pigs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

While guinea pigs are some of the sturdiest small animals you could own, they also happen to be one of the most affected by heat. Below are the basics on heat stroke in guinea pigs and what you should do if you suspect heat stroke.

What Causes Heat Stroke in Guinea Pigs?

Heat stroke is commonly associated with being outside for long periods of time in hot, sunny weather, but heat stroke in guinea pigs (and many other animals) can occur even indoors and in the shade.

Guinea pigs are especially susceptible to heat stroke, and their ideal temperature (both indoors and outdoors) is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 24 degrees Celsius). Any temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) can be fatal to your guinea pig and should be avoided at all costs.

What are Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Guinea Pigs?

When temperatures are hot, it's important to keep an eye on your guinea pig. If your guinea pig is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned below, immediate intervention is necessary.

The first sign of heat stroke (which can easily go unnoticed) is dehydration. If left untreated, your guinea pig will likely become lethargic and eventually, may lie on its side. Panting and mouth breathing are usually the most noticeable signs and should be treated as an emergency. If untreated, seizures aren't uncommon in the end stages of heat stroke, and seizures can easily progress to coma and death.

How Can Heat Stroke Be Treated and Prevented?

While prevention is best, if you notice signs of heat stroke in your guinea pig, it's important that you cool him down immediately and visit a veterinarian if heat stroke is in the advanced stages (panting, lethargy, seizures) or if your cannot get your guinea pig to rehydrate.

It's important that you cool your guinea pig down gradually, as a shock to the system isn't healthy, either. If you decide to bathe your guinea pig, or wipe her down with a cool cloth, go with water that's cool to the touch but not freezing. If your guinea pig is too weak, you may need to syringe-feed him water. To prevent further overheating, provide your guinea pig with ice packs (covered with a thin towel) to lie on, and move them to a cooler location (air conditioned room, shady area, etc.).

Heat stroke can be fatal, but when caught quickly, it can be treated. If you see signs of heat stroke in your guinea pig, begin the steps of cooling them down and seek emergency veterinary assistance.