Top Tips for your First Visit

Have you booked your guineas’ first groom with us, or got them booked in for a holiday in the near future? Here are a few pieces of advice I can give after seeing the same things come up repeatedly over the past 6 years…

Get yourself a proper travel carrier

Wilbur used to adore travelling!

Ok, not for yourself. But you will need a hard-sided travel carrier in which to transport your pigs. This is not only easier for you, as you can free up your hands if you need to, but it’s much safer and more comforting for the pigs. Travelling in a car and being carried around in your arms outdoors isn’t ideal in terms of safety, and it’s actually more likely to worry your pigs than popping them into a carrier. Cardboard boxes are okay as a one-off, if they’re really well sealed, but bear in mind they’re not structurally sound, and as soon as the pigs wee in the box it’s only a matter of time before the integrity of the cardboard is a serious safety risk.

Don’t have a carrier but want one? I stock a selection of suitable second-hand carriers for £5 each – the price I buy them for from a local animal charity. If you bring your pigs to me without a carrier, please don’t be offended if I offer to sell you one. I’m not making any profit out of it. My only interest is in making your lives easier and your pigs safer. Believe me when I say having a proper carrier is a gamechanger.

Use disposable bedding in your carrier – or bring a spare set of bedding (towels, fleece, Vetbed) for the carrier

The reasoning behind this is simple: I can’t put a clean guinea pig into an unclean carrier. Even if they’ve only weed on the bedding once, that can be enough to undo all my good work in getting them free from wee stains and completely dry!

If you use disposable bedding, I am able to get rid of the bedding your pigs came in with and replenish it with fresh newspaper, Aubiose and hay. If your pigs have come in a carrier with fleece or towel, or some kind of snuggle sack, I will have to remove these and bag them up to return to you when you collect your pigs. If you haven’t given me a fresh set of fabric bedding, then I will instead fill the carrier with newspaper, Aubiose and hay, as it is the only fresh bedding I can provide free of charge, and unfortunately it isn’t feasible right now for me to stock fabric carrier liners for you to buy.

There is no need to bring water or attach a water bottle to the carrier

Even if you’re travelling 2 hours to see me. Well over 90% of pigs (just a rough estimate) will not touch a water bottle once, either while in the carrier or while sitting around here waiting to dry off or to be groomed or collected. All a water bottle on a carrier achieves is to drench the bedding and often the pig, as the movement of the car continually breaks the vacuum inside the spout/sipper leading to constant leakage. Pigs often won’t want to even eat while travelling, let alone drink, and that’s okay. Don’t be concerned about your piggies going without. Give them hay and cucumber in their carrier – they’ll often ignore both, but it’s the solution to the food and water dilemma. If they are coming here to board then I already have water bottles and bowls, and all the food they need, ready for them. If they are coming for a groom, I can offer them hay and cucumber, and if they’ll be here for a few hours or for the day then they’ll get a bottle of water and any food they’re interested in.

Clean the cage either before you bring the pigs or while the pigs are here

It saves a lot of time and energy cleaning the cage out when the piggies aren’t under your feet (or hands). Clean piggies need to go back into clean cages, otherwise everything I’ve done to make them nice and hygienic and fresh will be a little pointless if the first thing they do is burrow into a snuggle sack that is 4 days old and full of poop, dried wee stains, hairballs and hay!

Keep on top of grooming needs/appointments

When it comes to short haired pigs, the important thing is to routinely check their skin and coat, check their ears, grease gland and boys bits, and to clip their nails. Bathing is something I will recommend if I believe it can be beneficial and if I can provide good reasoning for it. Otherwise, I will let you as owner decide if you would like your short-haired pig to be bathed or not. Keeping on top of all the little things, like ears and nails, is key to a happy, healthy, hygienic piggy though, so don’t be tempted to skip the basic groom every 2-3 months even if you don’t believe in bathing routinely.

Long-haired pigs really do need to be well maintained; this should be prioritised in your diary like any other appointment. Get into a routine: at the beginning of every other month, book them in, get them sorted while their coats can be “maintained” rather than “fixed”. The longer they are left, the more uncomfortable they will be, the more matted they’ll get, the more likelihood of skin drying out and of parasitic or fungal infections, the shorter I’ll have to trim the coat overall…which all in turn makes the grooming process drawn out and a bit uncomfortable. Preventing matts from occurring in the first place is better – and cheaper – than cutting them out, and the best prevention is to keep up with getting their hair trimmed.

Is there anything you want to know that I haven’t covered here? Let me know by commenting or messaging me, and I’ll continue to keep this updated!

Last Updated: 30 March 2024

Nigel knew exactly where he was going when he got into his carrier. He’d be ready to get out before he’d even got through the front door!
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