FINDING A VET
Find a Good Vet Before You Need One
Locating a veterinarian soon after you get your guinea pig means you have someone to turn to in an emergency. For rural pig owners, who may live many miles from a vet, finding and getting to know a vet who can help is essential. The Rural Emergency Guide describes how it may be possible to save valuable treatment time when getting to a vet is difficult.
Try to find a vet who specializes in exotics (guinea pigs are considered exotics). Your local ASPCA may have a suggestion. Or try calling 5-10 vets who don't practice on exotics to find out who they would recommend for a guinea pig. One veterinarian may stand out. If you're still not sure, ask the two or three you've narrowed it down to:
How many cavies do you see and treat each month?
What is the extent of your medical training regarding cavies?
Who would you recommend for an after hours emergency?
Kleenmama suggests asking specific questions that you know the answers to, rather than generic questions. Write down the questions you choose to ask and be armed with the answers. A sample of those she has asked:
What antibiotic do you prefer to use on adult guinea pigs with a URI (upper respiratory infection)? (Baytril, Doxycycline, and Chloramphenicol are good choices. If they list any penicillin based drugs, hang up the phone -- after pointing them toward some of the fine reference books listed below.)
Have you used Critical Care or recommended it for your rodent patients?
("A no answer did not signify ignorance, but if they were not interested in hearing about it, I would not stay on the phone with them.")
Can Baytril be used on young pigs? ("We know the answer is that it is not recommended, there are safer alternatives for young pigs.")
What types of foods do you recommend feeding a guinea pig? ("I can't tell you how many vets told me to feed alfalfa on a daily basis!")
If you have any difficulty getting a chance to talk to the vet, tell the staff you would not consider a visit until you personally talk with the vet. Kleenmama asked each of the vets she screened to get back to her between patients. She felt this system helped her weed out those vets less knowledgeable about cavies.
Check these vet lists to see if there is a recommended vet in your area:
GL Vet list -- Forum Member recommendations with comments sent by email.
Good rabbit vets are often good guinea pig vets. Check this list too:
The House Rabbit Society
You may also wish to see if any members of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) are located in your area. Use the "Member Veterinarians" search to locate veterinarians in your state.
HOW TO CHOOSE A VET -- MORE TIPS AND HINTS
offers advice on finding a surgeon. The surgery discussed is neutering but any surgery will have risks and requires you to do your homework to find a competent vet.
FIND A VET WILLING TO LEARN
If you can't find an exotics specialist, you need to find a vet who will never assume guinea pigs will react like other animals he has treated and who is willing to consult with other exotics vets, hit the books and internet to get the answers you need. Encourage your vet to join a veterinary subscriber site like www.vin.com which will enable him/her to share information with other vets.
HOW DO I PAY FOR TREATMENT?
Your guinea pig is depending on you for food, shelter and medical care. In an emergency, a timely vet visit can save its life.
Most vets are unwilling to work out payment plans so do not assume a vet will work with you in an emergency. Plan now how you will pay for their treatment. In some cities vet clinics run the by the SPCA charge less or a local vet school may offer clinics open to the public.
If you are a child, explain to your parents how important the health of your pet is. Tell them that if you were the one sick, they wouldn't think twice about getting care. And think of ways you yourself can pay for or contribute to the cost of seeing a vet, by doing extra chores around the house or for your neighbors, getting a paper route or skipping one or more birthday/Christmas presents to instead pay for its care. Your parents might be willing to chip in half the cost or deduct half of your allowance until the bill is paid.
Medical Reference Books => LINK
Guinea Pigs are for Life