Mostly an archive of Facebook posts that we think you might like easy access to.
Why do we put such an emphasis on spaying our girls?
The short answer is that it not only eliminates any chance of reproduction, but a host of other health issues as well.
It comes as a surprise to many first time and veteran guinea pig parents that rates of uterine cancer, uterine infections, cystic ovaries and mammary tumors in guinea pigs are quite high. It’s true that many people will have had female guinea pigs live long and healthy lives; however, with these pets it is better to be safe than sorry. And it’s much easier for a young sow to recover from surgery than a more senior pig.
Guinea pigs are beautiful, delicate, and, when compared to a cat or dog friend, oddly built. The ovaries of the guinea pig are way up back behind some of her other organs. (Soon we’ll have photos on our blog if you’re interested in seeing what a healthy system looks like compared to ones riddled with growths, masses, and tumors.) This is why it is so important to have a cavy savvy surgeon. In Portland we are lucky to have two of the best doctors regularly available to perform spays. NEVER let a doctor who does not have a long and successful history with guinea pigs operate on your animals.
Unfortunately, there are many vets who, for whatever reason, say that they are cavy savvy when they aren’t. This is when we see cases of botched surgeries, deadly advice, or the prescription of medicine contraindicative to guinea pig health.
Don’t choose your vet because of convenience or price – go to the most legitimately experienced cavy veterinarian.
Back to spaying. In older females once trouble in the reproductive system starts it can lead to aggressive behavior, such as fighting, biting, and mounting cagemates. Female pigs can be buddies for years, until there is a hormonal disruption. At that point surgery is necessary, but might be riskier than ever.
When you have your girls spayed plan on spending $250 - $400 per pig. That’s not a typo. Two Hundred and Fifty to Four Hundred Dollars.
At the Rescue, we pay $180 out of our medical fund or out of our pockets for each spay. That female’s adoption fee then becomes $125. We eat the $65 difference because we believe so strongly in sending healthy, vetted pigs into new homes. Unfortunately at this time we can’t have every single girl spayed, so we trust that adopters will get their girls altered if they adopt in-tact sows.
Spaying also allows us to pair adoptable females with adoptable, unaltered males. We have a lot of success pairing and finding homes for spayed girls and unaltered boar couples. Much more success than we have in finding homes for single boys!
There you have it! Please feel free to contact us or your cavy savvy veterinarian with questions about altering your guinea pigs.
P.S. We don’t often alter boys, because with our limited funds we need to emphasize sow health. Neutering boys is helpful for cutting down on their special cologne smell, and can help with impaction issues but if it’s not done then they aren’t as likely likely to suffer from reproductive organ complications. They can get mammary tumors or testicular tumors. Ideally, everyone would receive an alteration surgery, but financially we are not there yet. Someday! You can always help by donating.
She was all alone in a tiny tub, a small water bottle duct-taped to the side. There wasn’t a single piece of hay in sight, no place to hide, not even a soft piece of fleece to lay on. This young guinea pig was for sale, the ad said, because they bought it for their daughter but she “soon lost interest.” Her life could have gotten much worse, but instead the best thing happened.
Guinea pig friends/mom-and-daughter duo Bonnie and Christina Perry saw the ad and contacted PGPR for help. Unfortunately our foster homes are full and our wait list has a months-long lead time, so we were unable to jump in as we have in the past. A PGPR volunteer told Perry that if she was able to foster for a little while then we would add this guinea pig to the surrender list. “I do have a single neutered male,” Bonnie Perry said, “but I told myself no more pigs.”
Regardless of her resolution, the Perrys knew they had to help. They picked up the little pig later that night. If the guinea pig, now call Pixie, got along with her altered male, Skunk, then they'd keep her. If the new girl upset the current herd dynamics, PGPR promised to take her as soon as possible.
Pixie spent a few days settling into her new foster home, getting used to her big C&C cage, and enjoying delicious piles of hay, as well as finally being able to hear and smell other guinea pigs. In just a few days her life had completely transformed. When she seemed acclimated Christina let Skunk walk around her cage and Pixie “popped out of her shell. He slept next to her cage for an hour; something tells me they will be friends for life.”
It looks like foster will become forever!
If you'd like to see more of Pixie and her new herd (including PGPR grads Piper and Penelope), follow @thebestofpetz on Instagram.
At PGPR we want to help as many pigs as possible and it’s wrenching to say “No” to a pig or person in need. Thankfully this time Bonnie and Christina stepped in and took on the cost of rescuing, housing, feeding, and getting medical care from a cavy-savvy veterinarian for Pixie. Not everyone is able to, but the need is ever-present. Help us help pigs and people by donating to our medical fund. We can’t do this without you.
The long short: Cuy are a type of guinea pig that are bred for consumption. They are much larger than a regular pig, usually at least 4 pounds, but sometimes 7 or more pounds. Coloration and features vary, but mostly they're orange and white with smooth coats.
The long long: Poor cuy. People adopt these mostly-feral livestock pigs while they're young thinking they're mature guinea pigs and become dismayed when they (A) don't become tame and (B) grow to the size of small Tonka trucks. Who wants a pet that produces sooo much waste and triples your feeding costs, all while hiding and screaming when you are near?
Maybe some people, sure, but it takes a special breed to love a special breed, and most folks just want to share their home with a normal and even affectionate pet.
That's why when we take in cuy they're immediately granted sanctuary status. So few people are prepared to love and nurture a pet that, with a lot of patience on your part, might grow to come outside their pigloo and look blandly at you.
But if you lower your expectations and give them regular treats and lap time you will be rewarded with...not love exactly, but they'll be easier to catch and scoop up for hugs and kisses.
We cherish our cuy because it's an exercise in loving someone for all that they are and only what they are; for giving not what we want to give, but what they need to receive.
We think it's a good lesson overall.