When you first decide to bring a guinea pig into your home, you should be sure that there is a vet who specializes in small pet care in your immediate area. Many people may not consider the expense of veterinary care for other small pets like hamsters or gerbils who live an average of two years, but guinea pigs are not disposal pets. Because they can live on average 4-8 years, they should be considered long-term members of your family, just like a dog or a cat.
Why should you find a vet this early? Because guinea pigs can become ill quickly and deteoriorate rapidly. If you wait to try to find a vet after your pet becomes ill and run into difficulties, it might be too late to save your guinea pig.
With dogs or cats, owners generally take them in for a check-up when its time to renew their shots. Since guinea pigs don’t need shots, it can be easy to take their good health for granted. Your guinea pig should see his or her vet at least once a year as well.
Not all vets will treat guinea pigs, so if you have a vet already who treats your other pets, you may want to ask him or her first about whether or not they will be able to care for the new addition to your family. If they don’t, ask them to recommend a vet who does.
If you don’t already have a vet, then you can check with your local yellow pages to find one. Most advertise that whether or not they accept small pets. Another option is to use an online vet finder, such as the one available at http://www.aracnet.com/cgi-usr/seagull/vetfinder.cgi. You simply enter your state, and a list of vets who work with guinea pigs will appear. This particular service is not comprehensive, but it will serve as a good starting point for your search for a vet.
Once you purchase your new family member, it might be a good idea to take him or her to your vet for a thorough check-up, especially if you will be bringing it home to other guinea pigs or pets.
As I mentioned above, a guinea pig can become sick quickly and things can go from bad to worse before you realize it. For that reason, it is important to always keep a watchful eye on your cavy because there are a few signs that should immediately alert you that your guinea pig may be sick.