September 18, 2023 | Small Pet

A Guide To Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023

Across Britain, many families cherish the delightful presence of guinea pigs in their homes. Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023 is our chance to celebrate and better understand these adorable pets. In this guide, we'll explore what the week is all about, explore the key areas of guinea pig care, and share insights to ensure our little furry friends continue to thrive.

What is Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW)?

Guinea Pig Awareness Week, or GPAW, steps into the spotlight to enhance the well-being of these cherished pets. It's not just about celebrating their charm but more importantly, improving their health and welfare. 

The week is supported by esteemed associations such as the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, and also works alongside animal welfare charities including the Blue CrossRSPCAWood Green The Animals Charity, and the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare.

When is Guinea Pig Awareness Week?

The dates for Guinea Pig Awareness Week will change from year to year. In 2023, the week is being held between the 25th and 29th of September. In 2022, the week was held between the 26th and 30th of September. 

Who hosts Guinea Pig Awareness Week?

Guinea Pig Awareness Week is hosted by Burgess Pet Care. Burgess is a renowned, independent family-run business located in Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire, and stands as one of the UK's foremost animal food manufacturers. With a rich heritage that traces back to the 17th century as flour millers in North Yorkshire, the Burgess family has always been dedicated to producing top-quality food. Evolving over the years, by the 1980s, their focus shifted to small animal food.

Who are Burgess Excel?

Burgess Excel was launched by Burgess Pet Care in 1998 as a brand that produced food for small animals all over the world. In 2000, Burgess Excel launched its guinea pig food range. 

What is the theme of Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023?

The theme for Guinea Pig Awareness Week in 2023 is ‘Rescue & Rehome’. This theme has been chosen to shed light on the numerous guinea pigs currently residing in rescue centres, eagerly awaiting their new forever homes. This decision follows concerning data which reveals a spike in guinea pig abandonments post-pandemic, a trend exacerbated by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

According to data provided by the RSPCA they have received 235 guinea pigs from January to August 2023. This eight-month figure is nearly the same as the entirety of 2022 when the charity took in 253 guinea pigs. 

Which welfare needs will be covered for Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023?

Every year, Guinea Pig Awareness Week shines a light on what Burgess Pet Care calls the 5 welfare needs of guinea pigs. The 5 points made include:

  • Diet - “Guinea pigs are herbivores which means they are entirely vegetarian and need high levels of fibre in their diet. Fibre keeps their digestive systems healthy and their gut moving. Feeding lots of good quality hay is the best way to ensure your guinea pigs are getting enough fibre in their diet.”

  • Health - “A healthy guinea pig is alert and chatty, with bright eyes and a good coat. As with all healthcare, prevention is better than cure. Understanding the signs of ill health and knowing what to look out for can make all the difference between your pet enjoying a speedy recovery or becoming very poorly.”

  • Behaviour - “Guinea pigs might be small, but their personalities are not! Gentle and lively, and definitely full of life, understanding guinea pig behaviours will help you have a great relationship with them.”

  • Companionship - “Guinea pigs should not live alone as they love the company of other guinea pigs. Single-sex groups or pairs are ideal and littermates make the best companions. Male and female guinea pigs can live together but to avoid your guinea pigs mating, it is important to have the male neutered first.” 

  • Environment - Ensuring a guinea pig's environment aligns with their needs isn't just about physical space; it's about catering to their emotional, social, and physiological requirements. It's a central aspect of responsible pet ownership and ensures that these delightful creatures lead happy, healthy lives.

Which authorities endorse Guinea Pig Awareness Week?

Guinea Pig Awareness Week is endorsed by the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. These respected organisations play a significant role in advocating for the health and welfare of animals, making their endorsement vital for such an awareness campaign.

Which charities are supporting Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023?

For Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023, the supporting animal welfare charities are:

  • Blue Cross - Founded in 1897, Blue Cross is one of the UK's leading animal welfare charities dedicated to helping sick, injured, abandoned, and homeless pets.

  • RSPCA -  Established in 1824, the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the oldest and one of the largest animal welfare organisations in the UK.

  • Wood Green The Animals Charity - Since its foundation in 1924, Wood Green has been committed to supporting pets and their owners, ensuring that every pet has a home where they are loved and cared for.

  • Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare - Located in East Sussex, Raystede is dedicated to providing care and shelter to animals in need. They rescue, rehome, and provide sanctuary to over 2,000 animals annually, ranging from dogs and cats to birds and exotic creatures.

How to get involved with Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023?

There are several ways that you can get involved with Guinea Pig Awareness Week 2023. Here are the recommended ways to get involved, as given by Burgess Pet Care:

  1. Download the GPAW Pack: Head over to the GPAW website and sign up to receive a free downloadable pack. This pack is full of engaging guinea pig content, including:

  2. A comprehensive "How to Get Involved" guide

  3. Eye-catching posters

  4. Printable bunting for decoration

  5. Delightful colouring-in sheets

  6. Detailed information about the Perfect Piggies Programme.

  7. Connect on Social Media. Guinea Pig Awareness Week invites people to connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

  8. Participate in competitions. Throughout the week, GPAW will be hosting competitions that will give away guinea pig-based prizes.

Is rehoming guinea pigs a big problem in the UK?

Rehoming guinea pigs has indeed become a concern in the UK, especially in recent years. Following the pandemic, there was a noticeable increase in the number of guinea pigs being abandoned. As families faced the challenges of the pandemic aftermath and the cost-of-living crisis, some were unable to continue caring for their pets, leading to a rise in the number of guinea pigs needing new homes. This also led to a reduction in the number of guinea pigs finding new homes, as some people may not be able to financially support a guinea pig. 

Guinea pigs, due to their endearing nature and manageable size, are often bought on impulse, especially as gifts for children. However, potential owners sometimes underestimate the care, time, and commitment required. As a result, guinea pigs can end up neglected or given up for adoption.

Is rescuing guinea pigs a big problem in the UK?

Guinea pigs are one of the most popular pets in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 400,000 currently being owned. Despite this, the RSPCA has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of guinea pigs passing through their doors. According to an RSPCA statement published in 2022, the number of guinea pigs entering their care from January to August has witnessed a staggering 90% increase over the past two years. With the ongoing cost of living crisis, a significant 68% of pet owners have voiced concerns about escalating pet care expenses. Worryingly, 19% are apprehensive about their capability to provide for their pets' dietary needs. 

Which guinea pig medications and products are available at UK Pets?

At UK Pets we have a variety of different products and medications that your guinea pig may need. Our range includes oral suspension medications, treats such as Selective Naturals Garden Sticks and Woodland Loops, and toys, like a comfy tunnel and the Ancol Small Animal Treat Ball


Medically reviewed by:

Miss Joy Sarah Helen Howell

DipAVN(Surgical) RVN EA SQP