Although guinea pigs or cavies are popular small pets, not all veterinarians know how to treat them. Horror stories abound of clueless vets, such as the one who gave a guinea pig penicillin – an antibiotic that guinea pigs are highly allergic to.
The time to find a vet is before an emergency – not after one has occurred. And emergencies will happen sooner or later to every guinea pig owner. Here are some tips on how to find the right vet for your guinea pigs.
Ask Around for an Exotic Pet
You may be used to seeing guinea pigs as pets, but they are still classified as exotics by the veterinary industry. Ask every local guinea pig owner you know for a vet recommendation, including wherever you bought or adopted your guinea pig. If that doesn’t work, ask the local animal shelter. Go online to a cavy community and ask for vet recommendations. Those in the United States can try contacting the American Cavy Breeders Association. Those in or outside of America can try the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians for recommendations.
Worse comes to worse, pull out the phone book and call of the vets nearest your home to see if they are familiar with treating guinea pigs. See if these vets have websites where you can quickly email your questions.
Questions to Ask
It is not rude to interview a vet before handing over your precious piggy. GuineaLynx.com, the premier guinea pig health care site on the Internet, recommends that you ask your veterinary candidates these questions:
- · How often do you treat guinea pigs?
- · Have you treated a lot of guinea pigs in the past?
- · Do you do surgeries on guinea pigs? (Some will not and will often be able to point you to a surgeon.)
- · What antibiotics do you use for guinea pigs? (If they say penicillin or anything from the penicillin family, move on to another candidate)
- · Do you do emergencies when your office is not open or do I have to go to another vet for that?
- · Do I have to pay for treatment all at once or can a payment plan be worked out?
- · Do I have to pay anything before emergency treatment starts? (This happens often at veterinary offices open 24 hours for emergencies before they will accept an animal patient.)
Visit the Office
Make sure you visit the office before bringing your pet there. You need to be familiar with how to get there and where the parking is before you are under the stress of a medical emergency. The staff should also treat you with respect and keep the place clean. They also should have a leash policy for dogs.
- · The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs. Peter Gurney. TFH Publications; 1999
- · The Guinea Pig Handbook. Sharon L. Vanderlip, DVM. Barron’s; 2003.
- · Guinea Pigs. Audrey Pavia, et al. Bow Tie Press; 2005.