Living in a Garage?

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Post   » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:43 am

Ugh, I hate stress.

My husband and I have to relocate to Richland, WA from LA in August. He has a job that will start around then, but he won't see a decent paycheck until October. I haven't started my job hunt, yet, but I'm about to. Until we get on our feet there, we will be living with my parents. My mom has made it clear that our guinea pigs will not be allowed in the house, period, due to allergies (which, unfortunately, is fair). There's the back story. Here are our options, as I can see them, and they all suck:
  1. My mom suggested they live in the garage. The garage has absolutely no climate controls, and August is going to be hot.
  2. An outdoor hutch-type situation. Again, August is going to be hot. And neighborhood cats. And coyotes. Etc.
  3. We might be able to temporarily leave them with my in-laws here in LA, but they're planning on moving out of state around the same time we are.
  4. Rehoming (I'm only listing it because it's a logical option, but no. Just no. My boys are family. This would be an absolute last resort.)
So, after all that, anyone have constructive advice? I know outside is a no-no, and a hot garage is a no-no, but is there anything I could do to make either of those workable for 2-3 months? Ideas for creating a climate-controlled area, perhaps?

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Catie Cavy
Supporter 2011-2018

Post   » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:07 am

My first thoughts are -- can you address the source of allergies? Perhaps it's the hay and not the guinea pigs? Can they be kept in a closed room away from those with allergies? If not, how about boarding them with a rescue or sitter?

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Post   » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:25 am

Email Lisam who lives in Auburn, WA and may be able to advise you of how hot this is and what she does. I notice it is not particularly humid (at least this week). Humidity is big.

What is the lot like? Is it cool and tree shaded? I live kind of in a forest. Trees overhang my house and make it cooler.

If you go for outside, the space must be large enough and you must use hardware cloth (at least) to protect them. The garage should be ventilated. Ask them to monitor temp and humidity in the garage so you know what to expect and if it is a good choice. Lots of shade, moving air, safety. Cool water. adding something to Catie Cavy's advice, a room with one of those pollen removers (don't recall what they are called).

Are these short haired or long haired guinea pigs? What kind of health issues do they have? How many and how old are they?

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Post   » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:44 am

I don't know if the allergies are hay or pig-related, but we've tried suggesting keeping them in our room with an air purifier of some kind, and it was a no-go. My mom (kindly and tactfully) said we had two months to figure out how to make the garage work. I could look into the sitter thing, perhaps, but I'm not aware of any rescues in the Richland area. We have four pigs, so that could be a challenge.

Three of our pigs are flat-coated and short-haired, though one of those has longer rump fur that we trim. The fourth is a medium-haired abby with a long "butt flag" in the back (oh my goodness, I love it!). I'm already planning on getting a pig-designated trimmer to give him a shave if I need to. They are all 3-4 years old, and in fairly good health. We've only dealt with the rare URI, and Butterscotch has started getting mouth sores on occasion.

There is a large patio in the back yard that is shaded from late morning through the evening. That is probably where I would put them if we opted for outside. Richland is in the "armpit" of Washington in the southeast part of the state; it's a desert, so rarely gets humid at all. There is an old wood structure that used to have grapes growing in it. Maybe 15 x 8 feet? It's got a roof I could toss a tarp over to keep the occasional rain out, and corner posts I could attach hardware cloth, chicken wire, etc. to. I'm not sure about how to control the temp on 100+ degree days, though.

The garage has two windows; maybe a window AC unit and some kind of tent attached to the wall to keep the cool air in the area of the pigs? I'll definitely ask my family to start monitoring temp and humidity, especially on hot days. I don't know that leaving a heater in there in the winter would be fire-safe, but I'm optimistic we'll be into our own place by then.

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Post   » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:16 pm

Do not use chicken wire. It is thin and easily broken through. Only go with hardware cloth. If you really want to protect them, use 2X4' welded wire also (the hardware cloth is very strong but I hear there is at least one video of a dog biting through it). I have chickens so I know how to protect them.

Yes, a small AC in the garage might be a great option.

Do write Lisam.


Post   » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:01 am

I also live in Washington. I'm on the other side of the mountains in Seattle. This past week-end was beastly hot. If it's bad here, I know in Richland it's even worse.

I realize you are in a difficult spot but I would definitely not put them outside. There are far too many dangers in that.

If you do find it necessary to house them in the garage then I would absolutely suggest either a window AC or else a portable AC. Most of the homes here in Seattle do not have central AC so we bought two portable AC units. I have one in my pig room and at a setting of 74 it keeps the room very cool and comfortable for my pigs. The other unit is in our dining area and between the two of them our house is always very comfortable.

The nice thing about the portable units is that they can be pulled away from the window and put away when not in use. Here in Seattle we usually only need to use them a few times in the summer. Although last summer it was very hot for almost a two week period.

As a last resort could you board them at a veterinary clinic or even at a pet sitters house? I know this would be pretty costly but sometimes they might be willing to give you a discount for long term boarding.

I wish you the best of luck with your move. I hope you and your husband will be able to get your own place quickly.

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Post   » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:47 pm

Thank you all so much for your advice! We had a plan for an outdoor habitat forming (much to my chagrin), but today my cavy-related stress was lifted! My mom let me know she changed her mind after realizing there isn't really a good way to keep the pigs comfortable and safe in the garage or outside. As long as we keep the cage clean (read: as smell-free as humanly possible), store the hay in the garage, and perhaps get some kind of air purifier, we can keep them in our room. She'd still like them to have a nice, big "vacation home" in the garage, when the weather permits it, but they are not going to bake, drown, freeze, or become a tasty snack for a neighborhood critter. Hooray!

So, does anyone have any advice for keeping the smell/allergens at bay? Anti-boar-stank air freshener? Has anyone used a specific air purifier or other such contraption with good success? We currently use fleece flippers, but are willing to switch things up if there is something better.

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Post   » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:32 am

Oooh, boar stank! Air fresheners sound like a good idea!

And we all commend your mom for changing her mind. I think of pee being worse so you would change things often. Keep everything super clean. Maybe give them a bath, too.

Oh, wash your hands frequently and maybe even do "quarantine" (put on a cover when you hold them) so you don't track any potential allergens that would affect your mom.


Post   » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:28 pm

I'm so happy that your Mom changed her mind. What a relief for you.

As far as air purifiers are concerned. We bought one from Amazon. It is a Honeywell HPA 160 Hepa Tower Allergen Remover for 170 sq ft. In addition to our pigs, I also have three female rats in the pet room. Being female, our pigs don't seem to have any odor, but our rats do.

This particular air purifier immediately draws out any odors whatsoever. It was relatively expensive and I could have probably found one a little cheaper and it would still have worked well. But I am just so pleased with this particular brand.

Amazon does have a smaller unit that covers 75 sq ft for $50.00.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the Honeywell products. In the past, I've bought lesser brands and just were never pleased.

I also completely agree with Lynx on keeping everything clean. Since I'm home all day and have the time, I do change my cages every 2-3 days, I realize that is impractical for someone who has an outside job. But I do think the more you can change the bedding the less the odors have a change to develop and I just feel that it is healthier for the pigs. I use u-hauls pads and fleece with lots of pads in my cage. I can change out the pads whenever they are wet so it's very easy to keep everything nice and tidy.

I assume you are originally from Washington, so let me be the first to say welcome back!

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Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:17 am

Switch from timothy to bluegrass to help cut down on hay dust and allergies, since that is usually what most are allergic to.

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