March, for reputable guinea pig rescues.



Currently just about anyone (in the UK) can set themselves up as a guinea pig rescue . Whilst the intention is to help the current situation (countless homeless guinea pigs) it can add to the problem sometimes or not do the good that it should do, ie provide the all the information needed to make the guinea pigs’ life one that they deserve.

During March Guinea Pig Welfare will be looking at why adopting from a guinea pig rescue should be (and in lots of cases is) a positive one,  firstly for the guinea pigs and for the humans too!


March 1, 2015  Tags: , ,   Posted in: for reputable guinea pig rescues.  No Comments

Love Is Not Enough

Guineas are very cute, lovable looking creatures but they need a whole lot more than just love. They need that love expressed in the correct way, ie their basic and specific needs must be met.


bags of love

Give them Bags of Fun as well as Bags of Love…

love is in the hair

Loveis in the hair, show your love by using Gorgeous Guineas’ shampoo.


February 14, 2015   Posted in: Planet Guinea  No Comments

Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek 2014



Venus has previously had digestive issues, this was discussed at her health check, demonstartaing that her previous history notes had been read.


A weigh in is part of the basic health check.


Not impressed at being interrupted with a health check…



As well as listening to the heart with the stethoscope the lungs can be listened to for evidence of any fluid present.







goody bags

Guinea Pig Friendly goody bags with products from The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas.










2014 was our fifth Welfare Wheek, held at Active Vetcare . Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek is held in Reading so that local guinea pigs can benefit from a free health check with the added benefit of a free goody bag containg quality guinea pig supplies from The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas.  This year there were two varieties of hay, a food product and some Perfect Paws ointment (with info and instructions).

During the extended Wheek over 19 guinea pigs were seen. As well as healthy guinea pigs there were a few issues that were picked up on sooner rather than later. The most common being skin issues (these can be parasitic, fungal or hormonal etc), one condition could only be monitored and advice was given on how to monitor it and when further intervention may be needed, another condition, which in its current state was potentially life threatening, is undergoing improvement from a lifestyle change.

As well as guinea pigs benefiting from the health checks a new vet at the surgery needed to step up because another, more experienced vet, was absent. Feedback says that clients were more than happy with her and look forward to her gaining more experience with guineas. Her health checks also demonstrated that information about guinea pigs has been shared within the surgery. So, thank you to everyone who had their appointment with Caroline for giving her the experience with guineas!

Thanks to Sally Ward and everyone at Active Vetcare Tilehurst for accommodating the wheek once again. I think its worth it, Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek may not save lives but it has saved guinea pigs some suffering by catching things earlier.

We look forward to Welfare Wheek 2015!



Display board by Guinea Pig Welfare


Companionship poster by Guinea Pig Welfare



December 4, 2014   Posted in: Planet Guinea  No Comments

Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek 2014



Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek 2014 will be the fifth one we have held. They were born at the end of a Piggy PM when we discussing how we could take things further, senior vet, Jenny Towers (now Brown) agreed that a welfare wheek, along the lines of the Rabbit Welfare Week, would be a good idea and was something she would be happy to support.

The time could not have been better as I was planning on giving up rescue soon but still wished to contribute something worthwhile to the guinea pig community, particularly Jo Public as basic information that is accurate can be difficult to find.

The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas agreed at once to support me with goodies for goody bags and advertising for the event, so, Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek was born!

However this year has seen some changes at Active Vetcare with Jenny (Brown) on maternity leave but true to all things Active Vetcare Tilehurst the tradition of Welfare Wheek and sharing of information has continued. Sally Ward has been most helpful in helping with the organisation of this year’s Welfare Wheek.


November 10, 2014   Posted in: Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek  No Comments

Miss Gobby

2014-05-04 16.36.29

Plans were made for Mabel’s future wellbeing. It was agreed on adoption that she could return here when Cakey died as her humans wanted a break from keeping guineas and didnt want her to be on her own. However things dont always go to plan…

Read Miss Gobby’s story, part one

Queenie’s story part two

May 7, 2014   Posted in: One Is Not Enough, The Pig Issue  No Comments

March is for Rescue!

Guinea Pig Welfare is dedicating the month of March to the rescue cause. Somewhat timely as very recently a rescue needed to be “rescued” and the animals, including some guinea pigs, were relocated. This is by no means the first or last time this will happen and the public must decide whether they wish to rescue a guinea pig from such circumstances or support those who rescue responsibly and can be referred to as a reputable source. Reputable guinea pig rescues are working with their vets and guinea pig friendly businesses to try and promote quality care for guinea pigs. This is a massive step forward and it is good to see information being shared. It can only mean an improvement in the lives of our guinea pigs.  See for details of guinea pigs needing homes (UK).


There are also, of course, different schools of thought on what is “reputable”. Guinea Pig welfare believes that the majority of rescues, if not all, are doing a good deed by removing a guinea pig(s) from an inappropriate situation, it is what happens next that defines reputable….

* Is the rescue a guinea pig specific rescue? Being guinea pig specific doesnt make anyone reputable it does however show that there is likely to be a keen interest which should be backed up with experience in keeping guineas.

* Does the rescue have a sensible limit on how many guinea pigs they will take in? What is this limit based on? Amount of cages? How many guinea pigs can be rehomed to Animal Welfare Act friendly homes annually? Financial outlay?

* Does the rescue have a reliable income? In the real world guinea pigs are potentially expensive when they go wrong and whilst that rescue will be promoting vet care by providing lots of little customers and educating their vet, it all comes at quite a cost. It is heart wrenching to have to turn guinea pigs away that need your help but there comes a point when their quality of care declines as numbers increase.

* Does the rescue provide information for potential owners? A point of contact (email, Facebook page, etc) means that the guinea pig receives ongoing care for the rest of its life.

* Do the rescue homecheck you? This is a chance for you to ask questions and for the rescue to see where the guinea pigs are going to. You shouldn’t be told that you have “a lovely house and I’m sure you will look after them”. You should feel that you have earned the right to be responsible for these little lives and therefore you are proud to offer them a home knowing you have back up if needed.

* Will the rescue take back any guinea pigs should your circumstances change? What would happen if the rescue closed, could you still take them back? 

Maple, right, was born in rescue, one of 8 boars...

Maple, right, was born in rescue, one of 8 boars…

These are just a few points that can be considered. As the quantity of rescues varies greatly from area to area many people dont have the luxury of choice when going to a rescue…. Similarly the quantity of Animal Welfare Act compliant homes offered will vary  meaning, obviously, that rehoming figures will differ.


March 2, 2014   Posted in: March 4 Rescue Guineas, Planet Guinea  No Comments

Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek

In November 2013 we held our third Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek at Active Vetacare Tilehurst, Berkshire.

During the wheek guineas are entitled to a free health check from a vet and receive a free goody bag with goodys for the guineas. This year, as always, The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas donated the useful gifts; a BIG thank you to them as they are a BIG part of what makes the wheek not just possible but a reason to bring guineas along.

One of the vets at Tilehurst said the wheek was useful because it gave them (the vets) a chance to see guineas they might not normally see and often to pick up on issues in the early stages, issues such as fungal problems that might only be in the flaky skin phase.

It is not unusual for people to take in large groups of guineas (sometimes 7!) as guineas live well in large groups when matched correctly, this meant that the number of appointments was soon into well over double figures. This year over 20 guinea pigs were seen, some of them only a few days old.

The goody bags contained a shampoo sample, a Bag of Fun for playing in and some different hays, for example Green Oat, Timothy and Deans Farm meadow hay.

Every year I am “given” a display board and this year I concentrated on basic info regarding a guinea pig’s environment. The board went up in the third week of November and on 27/12 it is still up! It has even been moved to another board so that the Christmas display could go up.

Once again many thanks to Chrissie of Gorgeous Guineas and Lisa of The Hay Experts for their support, once again, and of course to Jenny and all the staff at the Tilehurst surgery for letting me hold the event.

display board

December 27, 2013   Posted in: Planet Guinea  No Comments

Diary of Samson’s Castrate

Samson was to be the next boar to live with the girls but first there was the little matter of having him castrated. Samson is already a Dad and two of his daughters are already living here.

Monday: The day before the castrate Samson has a Gorgeous Guineas‘ Spring Into Summer bath so  he is feeling and smelling fresh for his little op tomorrow.












Meanwhile the sows are leaving their scent on the piece of vetbed that Samson will travel on tomorrow and be on when he has woken up.

Breeze and Bee leave their scent on Samson's vetbed

Breeze and Bee leave their scent on Samson’s vetbed


After bathing and drying Sampson I prepare his Post Op meal which will go separately to him. Samson will have breakfast with him and plenty to munch on in case he isn’t operated on until later. Even schedules go out of the window if an emergency arrives.


Post Op Pignic


Travelling box prepared for early start

Travelling box prepared for early start

Tuesday: 8:10am Arrived in Tilehurst Active Vetcare Centre Reception with Samson, who had eaten some breakfast and had plenty to munch on in case he had to wait a while for his op. I handed him over to the nurse and gave her his food to be put in with him after the operation. Samson was on the vetbed that the sows had been on and was busy investigating the smells.

From here Jenny Towers BSc BVM&S, GPCert  (Feline Practice) MANZCVS, MCRVS takes up the story:

8.10am  See in with nurse and vet check by me- listen to heart/lungs to check ok for anaesthetic.  I also checked both testicles were present and in the normal location.

8.25am start oxygenating in anaesthetic chamber- I give them 10 minutes on oxygen before they have any anaesthetic.

8.35am start inducing anaesthesia with inhalation agent- Isoflurane.  Anaesthetic monitored by a nurse, she also suctioned out his mouth as guinea pigs tend to dribble a bit as we cannot intubate them to stop them inhaling the fluid- this is monitored throughout the surgery and repeated as needed.

8.45am anaesthesia induced so taken out of chamber and maintained on mask, given injection of Rimadyl as a painkiller.  Surgical area clipped and prepared with surgical scrub by nurse, meanwhile vet is scrubbing for surgery.

8.55am moved to theatre, surgery started

Post op Samson

Post op Samson

9.10am surgery finished, anaesthetic gas turned off, maintained on mask on oxygen for 5minutes until starting to wake up- starting to move legs and head.













9.15am moved to incubator in prep room to recover, monitored by nurse still at this point.

9.25am post-op photo in incubator taken- moving round but still a little groggy.

Samson postop

Still a little groggy…












9.50am eating on his own!

Samson eating his Post Op Pignic

Samson eating his Post Op Pignic















Would normally go home after 3pm but as such a good recovery would be happy to discharge him at 12.


Times are approximate


People involved:


One nurse did his see in appointment, then handed him over to another nurse who helped me induce anaesthetic, monitored his anaesthetic, clipped and prepped the surgical area and monitored his recovery.  She was entirely dedicated to him from 8.25 until 9.25 when he was up and moving, then kept a close eye for the next hour or so doing regular checks.  She would normally have syringe fed him but we didn’t need to as he was eating so quickly.

I did the surgery and keep an overall eye on the anaesthetic and recovery.

A nurse will do the see out later.


Drugs:  Rimadyl as a painkiller, Isoflurane as a volatile anaesthetic agent.

Suture material 4-0 Polysorb, used to tie ligatures round blood vessels to testicles and 2 layers of sutures each side- one in connective tissue and 1 layer of buried intradermal skin sutures.

Jenny has also been kind enough to provide me with the surgical procedure:

surgical kit

surgical kit


Surgical kit- the instruments I used to do the op!  Starting at the purple packet at the bottom and moving clockwise we have:

a.       Purple pack is the suture material

b.      4 towel clamps used to hold the drape in place on the piggy

c.      2 Allis tissue forceps, I didn’t use these but they can be used for holding tissue

d.      In the group of instruments at the top there is the scalpel blade holder, 2 pairs of scissors (Metzembaum fine scissors and Mayo which are larger) and a pair of dressing forceps

e.      Down the line of instruments on the right we have needle holders (Mayo-Hegar), rat tooth forceps and then 4 artery forceps (clamps).

Scalpel blade used to make incision over testis through skin and subcutaneous layer, then the testis and surrounding tunics are gently dissected free from the surrounding tissues using scissors and forceps.  Gentle traction is applied to exteriorise the testicle still in it’s tunic (so we call this a closed castration as the tunic is not entered).  A clamp is placed on the cord and tunics and then a ligature is placed into the crush where the clamp was.  Once the ligature is in place the cord can be cut above it removing the testicle.

Then 2 layers of sutures are placed- one to close the connective tissues and one in the skin.  A small bit of tissue glue is used to seal the incision.

Then repeat on the other side!

Samson came home at just after 12:00 and was seen out by a nurse who handed me a post op info sheet detailing his immediate after care.

I have had over seventy boars castrated at Active Vetcare Tilehurst, most of them rescues which for was different than having your own boar castrated. Big thanks to Jenny and all the team at Tilehurst for helping me write this article and for being good all round guinea pig vets.





May 29, 2013   Posted in: Health, Inside The Hutch, One Is Not Enough, Planet Guinea, The Pig Issue  No Comments