Here's what it takes to care for a pet guinea pig

Dear Heloise: Recently, I read an article in your column about guinea pigs and would like to add to it, since I owned a guinea pig for five years. Her name was Ashley -- she was black, with long hair.
Please tell your readers that having a guinea pig is a big responsibility. It does require daily grooming and even a bath once a month. Dry it with a blow-dryer on low heat and not too close.
A guinea pig needs to be fed hard foods like carrots, celery and apples, along with lettuce, food pellets and plenty of fresh water. This requires you to feed it fresh food and water every day.
There is one thing that I didn't find out until my guinea pig was 4 years old. Guinea pigs need to go to the vet at least once a year. They eat hard foods to get their teeth to wear down, but sometimes the vet will have to cut them down. Guinea pigs' teeth keep growing throughout their lifetime, and the incisor teeth will grow just like a fingernail.
If this is not checked by your vet, your guinea pig might starve from not being able to chew. Renee Cates, Jacksonville, Fla.
Thanks for the warning! My veterinarian, Dr. Tom Vice, agrees with you! All guinea-pig owners should know this, and it's most important for potential owners. Heloise
Dear Readers: Jacquie Derborn of West Campton, N.H., has a beautiful gray tiger cat, Fred. The photo she sent shows Fred sleeping in one room of a dollhouse, which sits on top of a cabinet. He loves high places.
Visit my Web site,, and click on This Week's Pet to see Fred in his own "room." Heloise
Dear Readers: What's in a name? Mountain lions, cougars, pumas and panthers are all the same species of cat!
As more and more residential and agricultural areas are being developed, these cats are being forced out of their land and are getting closer to housing areas.
If you live near them, it's a good idea to take extra precautions when hiking, walking and playing, and try not to do these things at dusk and dawn -- it's the time when these cats are out hunting. Heloise
Dear Heloise: This is just a helpful hint for feeding pills to your pet. We recently had to start giving our cat pills daily, and this is the first cat for which it was impossible for me to get the pills down her throat.
We tried everything, and then I thought I would use a mortar and pestle, crush the pill and mix it with about a tablespoon of baby food. It worked well. Ken and Elaine Peterson, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Giving a pill to a cat can be a real challenge. You must ask your veterinarian if the pill can be crushed -- many cannot and, in fact, doing so could be dangerous. Heloise
Do you want to keep your cats from jumping up on your couch or chairs? Put some aluminum foil or blown-up balloons on the cushions. Cats don't like the feel of the foil, and popping balloons should keep them away. Heloise
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to
King Features Syndicate

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