What to Expect When Adopting a Guinea Pig

What an exciting time! Adopting a new friend can be a big responsibility and we want to help ensure each animal is set up for success in their new home. We encourage you to keep the following tips in mind when you bring home your new guinea pig.

Veterinary Visits After Adoption

A check-in with your family veterinarian within the first week after adoption is critical to ensure continuity of care for your new friend, and to create a preventative health care plan tailored to their specific needs and to your lifestyle. The goal is to prevent future disease and illness, which will ideally also help reduce future costs of care.

Preventative care includes important measures such as a physical exam, oral health care, dietary recommendations, behavioural support and parasite prevention. Any known medical or behavioural concerns will be disclosed prior to adoption, but there can be no guarantees of health. Therefore, this veterinary check will also be important to address any ongoing needs or pre-existing concerns to ensure your new family member has the specific support required to thrive. A copy of your new guinea pig friend’s medical history can be shared with your veterinarian.

Medical Considerations
  • Regular veterinary visits are recommended to prevent illness and to keep your new guinea pig as comfortable as possible. Because many veterinarians do not treat guinea pigs, it is highly recommended to find a suitable veterinarian before care is needed.
  • The Ontario SPCA does not spay or neuter guinea pigs due to the relatively high risk of mortality during surgery. Surgery can successfully be performed, but it is best done through a veterinarian that has guinea pig surgical experience.
  • Your guinea pig requires vitamin c in their diet to prevent scurvy, which can cause issues like anemia and/or pain or swelling in the limbs/body. However, most high-quality guinea pig diets are fortified with vitamin c.
  • As a rodent, your guinea pig’s teeth will grow continuously throughout their life. To help wear down their ever-growing front teeth, provide your guinea pigs with chewing items such as cardboard and wooden toys.
  • Your guinea pig’s nails will need to be trimmed regularly.

When selecting a cage for a guinea pig, bigger is always best. This will allow your guinea pig to express natural behaviors, which will decrease stress.

Your guinea pig friend is highly social and typically will enjoy human interaction. Because they are social, another guinea pig companion would be beneficial. Having another guinea pig of the same sex is strongly encouraged. In general, females tend to get along well. Males can sometimes be more difficult to bond, but it is possible. Mixed sex pairings are not advised due to breeding likelihood.

Wire flooring must be avoided. Enclosures should have solid bottoms. They can be covered to prevent foot injuries with shredded newspaper, grass hay, aspen or hardwood shavings. Avoid using wood shavings made from pine or cedar, as these can be irritating to their respiratory systems. Guinea pigs will usually choose one area as the toilet area. Once they have selected this area, don’t put food, water or toys in the space.

As guinea pigs are startled easily, a hiding place must be provided. They should have access to a hiding place at all times for when they need some quiet time.

Enclosures should remain off the floor to decrease stress.

For more information on housing click here


Like rabbits, the majority of a guinea pig’s diet is Timothy hay, which should always be available. Pelleted diets made specifically for guinea pigs, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit account for the rest of a guinea pig’s dietary needs. Guinea pigs are unable to create vitamin C on their own, so this needs to come from their diet. Quality guinea pig pellets are fortified with vitamin C, but it degrades quickly. As a result, in general, pellets should be used within 3 months of manufacture. Vitamin C supplements are available, but it is generally recommended to provide vegetables with high levels of vitamin C to meet your guinea pig’s needs.

Failure to provide sufficient vitamin C can lead to a variety of problematic conditions including scurvy. This can potentially occur within days of inadequate intake, so the quality and freshness of their diet is of paramount importance.


Your guinea pig enjoys activities that allow them to express their natural behaviours, such as hiding, climbing, constructing and chewing. Enrichment is very important to help keep your guinea pig happy and healthy. For enrichment ideas, click here



We are here to support you! For any pre-adoption questions or concerns, contact our adoption staff at your local SPCA here.