Neutering Your Guinea Pig


December 11th, 2012

Today, I’m going to write about neutering male guinea pigs, when it should be considered, what to expect from the surgery, and how to keep him comfortable during the recovery period.

The age at which a guinea pig should be neutered is debatable, as some people, such as myself, prefer not to neuter over the age of around 2.5 years old, while others feel okay with having their guinea pigs neutered anywhere up to 4 and 5 years of age. The general health of the guinea pig should be considered, along with the reasons for neutering and whether surgery is the most suitable option.

Why neuter?

Neutering is done to prevent a male guinea pig from fathering offspring. This could be because:

He’s lost a male companion and is now living with a single female, or a herd of females.

He doesn’t enjoy the company of other males and the only other alternative for company of his own species is to neuter him to allow him female company.

Unlike dogs, neutering a guinea pig isn’t an automatic recommendation to prevent testicular cancer as guinea pigs aren’t nearly as prone to it. It is largely an elective procedure.

Many people are under the impression that neutering a male will change his personality and make him able to get along with other males – this is a myth as it doesn’t change his personality, and if he dislikes another guinea pig, putting him through surgery won’t make him like that particular guinea pig any better!

What to expect

He may be a bit drowsy and wobbly after surgery, but this is completely normal. These days anesthetic is usually administered in the form of gas as it can be gently breathed out after surgery, a kinder alternative to the previously popular method of using heavier injectable anesthetic.

Your vet may use stitches below the skin to hold the wound together with a spot of skin glue on top. Both glue and stitches tend to be dissolvable, and will disappear naturally. The area will be shaved and may look very sore, however try not to worry – it often looks worse than it is!

Upon going home, your vet should give you some antibiotics to ward off infection, and you should ask for some probiotics to settle the tummy (as antibiotics can upset the flora in the gut and put them off their food – something we really don’t want during a period of convalescence).

Recovery

Your guinea pig should ideally be kept on his own for a minimum of 6 weeks to allow any leftover sperm to die. If he is introduced to a female any sooner than this, the risk of pregnancy increases.

Don’t worry if your guinea pig doesn’t particularly touch his food or water for a day or two after surgery, he probably won’t feel like eating right away and his appetite should gradually return.

Keep him in the house, in a nice comfy cage (the Ferplast Cavie 15 is ideal for short periods of convalescence), on soft clean bedding such as Vetbed. Never bed a freshly neutered male on woodshavings or other similar substrate as it may poke the wound and cause discomfort, pain and infection. Wash and replace the bedding daily.

You can use some water boiled in the kettle (and then cooled!!) with some cotton wool pads (not cotton wool balls as the fibres can get stuck in the wound) to gently clean the wound once every day or two until healed.