Hopefully you aren't accessing this page because you are forced with an emergency. I do have a list of cavy owner-recommended veterinarians for the US, Canada and throughout the UK. Please email me and I can give you what I have for your area.
Please understand, we are NOT veterinarians and cannot diagnose your pets illness without a physical exam. We can give suggestions as to what you may be able to do in the meantime, but if your pet is ill, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. The vet information that I can send you was given to me by other piggy owners in your area. I have not personally checked out each and every vet on the list. If you have a good or bad experience with the vet that is recommended for your area, please let me know so I can reflect that on this list.
What do you look for in a cavy veterinarian? Remember, most dog and cat veterinarians get about six weeks of instruction on the small laboratory animals and this will include mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, gpigs and rabbits. A very good option is to look for an exotics vet, one who spent more time on the unusual species. Ask your pet store who they would recommend, and check through the phone book. Ask around to other owners and see if they have a good vet they would recommend for you as well. Expect to probably pay a little more for an examination, because these smaller animals tend to hide symptoms more so than the dogs and cats and generally require a more thorough examination.
While making an appointment for your pet, don't ask the receptionist if the clinic will SEE your guinea pig. Of course they will, they'd love to receive another $30 for an exam! Rather, ask if the vet is experienced in exotic animal care, and how many gpigs they see per week. Be polite, if you don't feel comfortable with them, explain that you are looking for an exotic vet and who would they recommend. You wouldn't take your bird to a horse vet, or your horse to your dog/cat vet. As vets come through vet school, they receive four years of generalized medical instruction. They can choose to specialize even further, and take between two and six more years of instruction in the programs they choose. Remember, this is a service you are paying for, and often, paying a LOT of money for. You are also trusting the life of your pet to your vet. It is imperative then, that you have complete and utter faith in them. This is something that your vet will have to earn, not simply get because they are a veterinarian.
While in the exam, watch carefully how the vet handles your piggy. Are they careful and gentle? Some exams will require some prodding and depending on the piggy's problem, expect a squeal of discomfort or two, particularly if the piggy requires an injection. A good vet and technician will explain every single thing they are doing and tell you if what they find is good or bad and why. Be sure that somebody keeps a hand on the piggy at all times to prevent him or her from jumping off the exam table. If your vet gives you a diagnosis, ask about it. Ask what the symptoms are that encouraged them to suspect what they do, and ask what else it could be. Ask about the treatment they prescribe. How costly is it? What is the effectiveness of the treatment? Side effects of medication? Chance of relapse? Will this condition reoccur and if so, how often? At what point should the piggy undergo medication or treatment for the illness? Ask about medications. Ivermectin for mites, for example will not work with a single dose - mites have the same life cycle as a flea, they reproduce by laying eggs. Ivermectin will kill off adults when they eat it, but not eggs, hence the subsequent doses are necessary to break the cycle. If the vet insists one treatment will work, ask them why they think so. If your vet tries to give your piggy antibiotics, your vet should ALSO suggest a good probiotic. If they don't, ask about probiotics - something to replace the lost gut bacteria when the antibiotics start killing off all the bacteria in the body. Ask how long the medication will take to work, and what you should look out for as far as side effects, and interactions (will you need to supplement with vitamins? Will this drug leach calcium from the body or create a more alkaline environment in which Vit C cannot be absorbed as easily?).
Do NOT be lured into thinking you are a horrible piggy owner if you cannot (or won't) spend $500 on a simple treatment that may or may not work. Some vets admittedly don't know much about cavies but want to learn. Do not allow a vet to make you feel pressured into spending a small fortune on a treatment that may or may not make your piggy healthier or prolong his or her life. I had a vet go against my wishes, performing a dental procedure that I had requested to be put of until the next day - if the animal made it through the night after being stablized, then the procedure was to be performed. The vet went ahead and did the procedure, and consequently the compromised animal never awoke from the anesthesia. Later, I found out that the vet had a symposium that week at which he was to give a lecture on rodent dentition. He snapped photos of the piggy's dental procedure to use at that lecture. Needless to say, I refused to pay the bill, and by WA state law, I was in the right. Had the vet asked me if he could do the procedure and only charge me for cost on medication and supplies, I would have agreed to it in order to teach upcoming vets about the importance of dental surgeries in cavies, however, the vet went against my wishes.
Finally, ask the vet when they would want to see the piggy again for a follow up visit to ensure that whatever problem your piggy has is fully cured. They should want to see the pig within a week to two weeks, depending on the medication that they've prescribed and the nature of the illness. If you are facing an emergency situation and the piggy needs 24 hour very intensive care, an exemplary vet will refer you to the local emergency clinic. The staff there are trained for more intensive care and have the set up for one on one maintenance, where a smaller local clinic very well may not have the staff to spare for such care.
If you are facing a difficult decision with your piggy, the staff at the clinic should be supportive and kind. They should offer sympathy, support and allow you a few minutes alone with your companion if you so desire. They should understand that this is a very difficult decision and each person copes differently. The staff may be able to offer grief counselling as well as give you options of what you wish done with the remains of your beloved companion. Today we can have our companion cremated and the ashes returned to us, we can choose to lay our beloved to rest in a pet only cemetary, or we can choose to have future vets learn as much as they can to treat our companions by donating our companion's body to the vet department of a nearby college. These are all options your vet can discuss with you. Alternatively, you may also choose to bring your companion's remains home with you to lay to rest under a favourite bush, flower or tree. There are companies that also do pet memorials, etching their names, dates of life, and a brief message on a piece of granite or stone to use as a headstone. Your vet should be able to offer many options for you in a caring and supportive manner. They should almost always send out a sympathy card as well, expect this about a week after your pet's passing.
Map under construction. Please email Kirstin for any veterinarian suggestions for your area. Please include your closest large metropolis. I understand you may not feel comfortable posting your exact location, but by posting Washington state, you may get 30 listings, nowhere near you, most may be in the Seattle area. However, if you live in Spokane, maybe one or two may be appropriate for you. Thanks, and feel free to send in your favourite vet so they may be added to our list! :)