GPAW – the squeakquel!

Our survey said? It’s a big paws up for Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2022 The second Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW) was really well received by the UK’s piggy owners, with 100% of those who responded to the post-event survey stating that they believe GPAW will have a positive impact on guinea pig care. Burgess in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes, says:
Featured image for GPAW – the squeakquel!
9th January 2023

Our survey said? It’s a big paws up for Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2022

The second Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW) was really well received by the UK’s piggy owners, with 100% of those who responded to the post-event survey stating that they believe GPAW will have a positive impact on guinea pig care.

Burgess in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes, says: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive this feedback. At Burgess Pet Care, we strongly believe in responsible pet ownership and the aim of GPAW is to provide guinea pig owners with useful advice and practical tips that will enable them to enrich the lives of their pets. It’s great that so many cavy carers got involved this year.”

Led by Burgess Pet Care, GPAW is backed by some of the UK’s largest animal welfare organisations and charities, including RSPCA, Blue Cross and Wood Green, who were keen to share their guinea pig know-how and expert tips.

GPAW 2022, which took place in September, featured an array of guinea pig welfare promoting initiatives including videos, competitions and information packs (downloaded by 60% of survey respondents) featuring Perfect Piggies charts, colouring sheets and useful guides to keeping guinea pigs happy and healthy.

Home Squeak Home

This year’s GPAW focus – Home Squeak Home – was on guinea pig housing, and there was plenty of helpful information on how to create the perfect indoor and outdoor environments, as well as how to adapt guinea pigs’ environment for the changing seasons.

Dr Moyes adds: “We were really pleased to hear that 20% of respondents said they learnt something new about guinea pig housing, 44% said they will make new items for their guinea pigs and 37% will purchase boredom breakers. This should go a long way to providing the nation’s guinea pigs with enriching environments with lots of things to do and explore – which is really important for the health and wellbeing of these curious, intelligent little animals.”

From the range of content that was available during the week, just over a third of respondents – 34% – said that they enjoyed the informative posts most. In addition, ‘DIY day’ was the most useful (according to 27% of respondents) with information about creating indoor guinea pig habitats a close second (popular with 22% of respondents).

“We’re also grateful to the 43% of owners who shared the GPAW campaign on their own social media to help spread the word,” comments Dr Moyes, adding: “and we’re really happy to hear that 95% visited the GPAW website, which is a treasure trove of information for guinea pig owners who want to provide their pets with the best possible life.”

Guinea pig welfare is improving according to veterinary professionals

Along with a survey of guinea pig owners, Burgess Pet Care also sounded out vets, veterinary nurses and student vets who were involved in the event. This year’s focus on environment was welcomed as 38% of veterinary professionals surveyed believe that environment is the most neglected welfare need amongst pet guinea pigs.

On the positive side, 82% of veterinary professionals believe that guinea pig welfare in the UK is improving and a whopping 93% believe GPAW has had a positive impact on the care of guinea pigs in the UK.

Dr Moyes concludes: “There’s obviously more to do to enable guinea pig owners to understand the very specific welfare needs of these gorgeous, chatty pets and ensure they are met, but we’re really proud of the difference that GPAW is making. We’re already looking forward to GPAW 2023!”

Why ‘Home Squeak Home’ is so important

Whether your guinea pigs live outdoors or indoors, it’s essential they have enough space – think garden shed, rather than cramped hutch – a hutch is not enough – in housing that’s protected from the elements and is safe from predators or loud noises that could scare them, with a spacious, secure exercise area permanently attached to it.

When it comes to caring for your guinea pigs and providing them with the right environment, here are the essential things you need to know:

  • As social creatures, guinea pigs should always be kept in pairs or small groups.
  • Guinea pigs’ main housing should be draught-free, predator proof and as big as possible – an absolute minimum of 1.5 x 1m (length x width) as a minimum for a compatible pair or a trio. These dimensions include both a shelter and living area. Woodgreenadvises that the groups of four or more guinea pigs need a larger indoor set up or a converted shed or Wendy House.
  • If a ramp connects the hutch to a run, check it is wide enough and not too steep or your piggies may be too scared to use it. Provide separate toilet and sleeping areas, with plenty of guinea pig bedding hay and paper-based, non-expanding litter.
  • Their hutch should be permanently attached to a larger space within which they can exercise freely. This could be a safe guinea pig-proofed room indoors, or a large run outdoors. Your guinea pigs should also have full access to their exercise area at all times so they can run around as they would in the wild.
  • Guinea pigs are prey animals, so it’s important that they feel safe. Your guinea pigs’ housing should have safe hiding places so that they can escape if they feel scared. Make sure you have a secure shelter with plenty of soft, safe beddingand dust-free hay.
  • It’s important to provide enrichment toys for your guinea pigs. Tunnels, platforms, with plenty of places to hide. They love fleecy igloos!
  • As well as grass-based guinea pig nuggets, your guinea pigs should have a constant fresh supply of good-quality feeding hay, such as Excel Feeding Hay with Hedgerow Herbs, placed in hay racks and areas that are separate to the bedding area. 85-90% of your guinea pigs’ diet should be hay. There should also be fresh, clean water constantly available.

DISCOVER lots more advice on caring for your guinea pigs over on the GPAW website >>

FIND OUT about creating high welfare environments that are designed to meet the behavioural needs of small animals such as guinea pigs at Runaround >>

LET’S GET SOCIAL Sign up to the Excel Squeak Squad – a safe Facebook community for guinea pig guardians that are looking for advice and friendly discussions from likeminded owners – and there are lots of cute guinea pig photos and videos too! Also join us on the GPAW Instagram.

Are your guinea pigs Burgess guinea pigs? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards. You can also find lots of useful advice on looking after your guinea pigs from Burgess, the pet experts. Housing, health, feeding and more. It's all here >>

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