Saturday, March 6, 2010

Healing Mental Trauma in Guinea Pigs

What happens when wounds heal, but an animal is left with mental and emotional scars from abusive or neglectful treatment? The number one key is to be patient. Indigo is a prime example of this. She spends most of the day in her igloo, placing it right over her food dish and near the water bottle. Until her wounds have healed 100 percent, I am keeping her on fleece so that she is comfortable, and I have started holding her in my lap. She will let me pet her just a little bit before squeaking and jumping, and she is very afraid of my dogs. I try not to do anything that will startle her, but I want her to get acclimated to life in our household, which can be busy and noisy at times. She needs her front nails trimmed, but right now she barely tolerates being touched, and I want to build up her trust a bit more before attempting to trim the nails. Right now, it would not be a pleasant experience for her, and could cause her further trauma.
One thing to remember is to NEVER force your guinea pig to do anything. Don't pick up its hideaway to "make" it come out; avoid making sudden movements and loud noises; keep it away from your other pets. Do try to feed it on a schedule to provide a sense of security. Despite her fears, Indigo is starting to come out to beg for food when she knows it is mealtime (and believe me, 27 guinea pigs all squeaking together for produce lets EVERYONE know it's mealtime!).

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