How long can you leave guinea pigs alone?
At the latest when the first short vacation is on the plan, the question inevitably arises:
How long can you leave a guinea pig alone and how long can they possibly go without food and drink?
It’s important to know the answer to this question, because it will tell you if you can leave your housemates alone for a short weekend trip or if you need to look into vacation care.
We’ll teach you what’s important and give you tried-and-true tips.
How long can I leave my guinea pig alone?
How long you can leave guinea pigs alone depends on the appropriate preparation. Because without food and water the animals do not get along for a long time.
Already after one or two days at the latest, severe health damage or even intestinal failure can be expected.
If you prepare everything correctly, however, a short absence is unproblematic.
Problem stuffed stomach: the special digestion of guinea pigs
Unlike most other pets, guinea pigs have a so-called stuffing stomach.
This means that new food has to be fed again and again. Otherwise, the food remains in the stomach and intestines and begins to ferment. This can cause severe organ damage. Complete intestinal failure or intestinal obstruction is also possible.
One day without food is enough for these extreme health risks to occur. Because guinea pigs take up to 80 small meals per day. So eating determines their life.
Therefore, you should always provide more than enough of it. The same goes for water.
Possible dangers of leaving them alone
Even if you prepare everything perfectly and provide enough food and liquid, there are still potential dangers.
These include, but are not limited to:
Abrupt onset of disease
Of course, these cases can also occur while you are at work or shopping. However, you will then find the animals much faster and can act and intervene accordingly.
In any case, it is safer to have family, friends or a trusted neighbor check on the animals at least once a day if you are going to be present for a longer period of time.
For emergency situations – for example, if you have to go to the hospital unexpectedly – a spare key should be left with the selected person.
Leaving guinea pigs alone: prepare properly in five steps
Step 1: Ensure sufficient space
The guinea pigs should have a sufficiently large run available, in which they are safe and can move around enough.
Of course, this always applies and not only when you leave the animals alone.
However, it is especially important when you cannot offer them a free run in the room during your absence. Check the barrier in advance so that your animals can’t escape from their run.
Step 2: Provide water
If you’ll be away from home for a day or two, provide at least one gallon per pet per day.
More is better!
However, don’t set up water bowls for this purpose. Litter or hay scraped in can contaminate the water. In addition, the bowls can tip over and take up a lot of space.
Spill-proof drinkers that can be hung solve these problems. They do not soil, do not take up floor space, and can be placed in a variety of sizes as well as in larger numbers.
Step 3: Have durable food on reserve
Hay, dried herbs, leaves and twigs with bark do not spoil and are therefore ideal reserve food. They should always be available in larger quantities anyway, since guinea pigs feed mainly on them.
In addition, you can also offer dried fruits and vegetables in the form of chips, provide some grain food and choose fruits and vegetables that do not spoil quickly. These include apples and carrots.
Provide enough ready food that it would easily last for another day.
For flakes and grains you can also use automatic feeders. These can also be hung up or placed in a space-saving way. Alternatively, you can distribute nibble sticks, which also provide employment.
Step 4: Look for sources of danger
You have already examined the run for escape possibilities, but now you should take another close look at the interior.
Could a piece of furniture tip or fall over?
Is the wood splintering on the sleeping house?
Is one of the toys broken or wobbly?
This will greatly reduce the risk of injury while you’re away.
Step 5: Attach the camera
If you want to be on the safe side, you can install a camera and monitor the run at all times via your smartphone.
Should an emergency arise, you can act quickly. The equipment is now cheap to buy and can also be used in other situations. For example, if you are worried that one of your guinea pigs might be sick or you want to see how a new member of the family is settling in.
Installation and assembly are also simple, so you can easily do it without much effort or experience with technology.
Alternatives to leaving alone
Vacation, illness, a business trip or simply a short trip over the weekend – of course, as a pet owner, you don’t have to do without. However, it’s best to have options for outside care before you buy your pet. There are several options for this.
Option 1: Family and friends
The easiest and most convenient solution is, of course, if a family member or friend can take care of your animals while you are away. It is even better if the care can be provided directly in the familiar environment. This causes less stress for the guinea pigs.
One or two visits per day are sufficient to check that everything is in order and to replenish water and food.
So as long as the distance is not too great, the care is easily possible. Alternatively, a smaller cage can be brought to the respective person. This is especially useful for longer absences and additionally reduces the effort.
Option 2: Other pet owners
Other pet owners often have a lot of understanding when it comes to a bottleneck in the outside care. In addition, they are familiar with guinea pigs. Ideal conditions, therefore, for you to keep your pets safe.
But where can you find other guinea pig owners?
You can look for forums online, post notices in a veterinarian’s office or – if your pelt noses came from a breeder – inquire directly with the breeder. Some offer this possibility directly with the purchase.
Tip: If you also offer other pet owners the care of their four-legged friends, you are both secured and many agree faster.
Option 3: Veterinarian
Not every veterinarian offers care in addition to medical treatment.
However, some practices have a small boarding facility where they can implement short-term care. This can be useful whenever you have no other option or one of your animals needs special attention.
Option 4: Boarding facilities
Dog boarding facilities and cat boarding facilities are now common. However, hardly anyone has heard of boarding kennels for guinea pigs and rabbits.
But they already exist in several cities and towns!
So do some occasional research to see if this is a possibility in your area.
Option 5: Professional care by pet sitters
Care by pet sitters can be done either at their place or at your home – depending on what you feel more comfortable with. Just as with a vet or boarding kennel, you will have to pay for this, but you won’t have to leave your animals alone.
Through advertisements online, in forums, at the vet or in the pet shop you can often find someone comparatively quickly.
Option 6: Take guinea pigs with you on your travels
Conclusion: Leaving guinea pigs alone works – but not for too long!
While you can leave your guinea pigs alone for one to two days. However, this requires the appropriate preparation.
If you can’t do this, you should have an emergency care plan ready.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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