The average life expectancy of a guinea pig is 5 to 7 years. So if you decide to adopt an older guinea pig, make sure you are there for the long haul! While rare, some guinea pigs have even lived over 10 years. Others have genetic predispositions or illnesses that shorten their lives.
The average guinea pig will live 5-7 years as stated above. Here is a break down of their ages in our opinion. Age 3-4 middle age, guinea pigs at this age are still young. Age 5-6 getting up there, guinea pigs at this age are starting to get up their in age and usually around this time you will really start to notice their age. Age 7 + pretty darn old, while its not too rare to have a guinea pig get this old, most guinea pigs wont make it past 7 years of age.
Much can be done to help guinea pigs reach ripe old ages. The number one thing is how well they are cared for. For example, if you feed run of the mill food, little hay and little veggies, keep them in a small cage, guinea pigs in this condition would be lucky to make it to 5. While a guinea pig who is fed good quality pellets, unlimited hay, fresh veggies daily and live in a nice large home, may live well over 7 years of age.
One thing that you have to keep in mind is that as a guinea pig gets older they will get health problems that come with age. Like us they can get things like cataracts and even arthritis. We recommend that you get a vet in your area that knows a lot about guinea pigs to help you and your guinea pig as they age. The number one thing is to weigh your guinea pig weekly. By doing this you will notice weight gain or loss in your guinea pig. But why is this important? Guinea pigs will only usually lose weight if there is something wrong and if a guinea pig doesn't eat it will die in a very short time. So catching a weight loss right away will send you red flags that there is something wrong and you can than head to your vet and get your guinea pig checked out
Another thing that some guinea pig owners have found is that some older guinea pigs get dry skin conditions. What I have found with my older sows is two different things.
1. You can order Marvellous Melts from Gorgeous Guineas :
Or 2. Buy your own coconut oil and "melt" your guinea pig yourself. I have "melted" my older sows many times. Not only has the coconut oil helped with the dry skin but it also leaves their fur soft and fluffy so you can do this on any age of guinea pig.
To "melt" your guinea pig with store bought coconut oil use about 1/2 a teaspoon melted and mixed into the shampoo. You can also use 1 teaspoon on the really troubled areas. REMEMBER: The more you use the oilier your pig will be, so it may take more then one washing to get it out.
If you are putting the coconut oil in with their shampoo, its all about trial and error, different lengths of fur need different amounts of coconut oil.
*IMPORTANT: Before you assume that your old guinea pig has just plain old dry skin and not a different problem like mites or fugal infections, please see your local guinea pig savvy vet.*
As a boar ages there are a few things that you will need to know. First there is a thing called a "grease gland", this is located about 1 inch above his butt. Some boars, and even some sows, have active grease glands that can be a challenge to clean with just regular bathing. What happens is a build up of this "grease", which if left alone it can cause irritation, sores and infections. The easiest way to clean a grease gland area is coconut oil (see isn't this stuff wonderful). Use 1 teaspoon on the build up, rub until it starts to break up. Keep rubbing until its completely loose and is no longer a lump of grease gland build up. Wash your guinea pig, it may take a few washes to get all the oil off. For a list of other things that work to get rid of the build up go to: http://www.guinealynx.info/grooming.html#grease_gland
The biggest thing boar owners have to deal with when it comes to aging is impaction in the anal sack. This means the muscles of the guinea pigs have weakened and they are no longer able to expel the soft caecal pellets that accumulate in the perineal sack causing a backup of poop in the sack. To find out more and to learn how to help your guinea pig with this problem go to:
Ovarian cysts are a reproductive problem that can develop in sows as they age. Accompanying the development of ovarian cysts are hormonal changes which result in hair loss, usually appearing first on the sides. Sometimes the vet can palpate cysts and sometimes they can be seen on an X-ray. An ultrasound, although more expensive than an x-ray, is an excellent diagnostic tools for determining the presence of cystic ovaries. If your vet uses an ultrasound, take a comparison pig of the same sex, size and age if possible. Because a cyst that is allowed to grow runs the risk of bursting - spaying is the standard recommended treatment. If it bursts, death is likely to follow as she will bleed internally.
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BE WARNED: There are some graphic photos that some people may find disturbing.