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Find a Qualified Guinea Pig Vet 
BEFORE You Need One

This is HUGELY important to the life and health of your guinea pig! If you are really lucky, you may never have to go hysterically rushing to a vet with a sick guinea pig. But give yourself the peace of mind of knowing where to go if you do. Also, figure out what you will do in the event of an after hours emergency. You MUST do this ahead of time. Many vets and many after hours clinics will NOT SEE GUINEA PIGS--even in an emergency! And you really want to make sure you are going to one that is as experienced with cavies as possible.

Also, at Cavy Spirit, we recommend taking your new guinea pig to the vet for a wellness check so that the vet has a baseline for the future. That way you also establish a relationship with the vet prior to an emergency, you are a "patient" and phone calls with concerns are more welcome, and you know more about what to expect at your vet. Like you, your cavy would do well with an annual check up.

Searching for a Vet and How to Find a QUALIFIED Vet

For great advice on how to find a good guinea pig vet and links to sites that list some vets, please visit Guinea Lynx' How to Find a Veterinarian. Also try this list of Vet Databases to Search. In addition, the rabbit people have a some good suggestions for care, vets, and finding vets. While it is not a guarantee, it is highly likely that a rabbit vet or clinic will also see guinea pigs. See this Rabbit Reference site for additional information as well as the House Rabbit Society Vet Information page.

Pet Insurance

You may want to look into the possibility of pet insurance: Veterinary Pet Insurance 

Veterinary Insurance for the UK

Vets in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area

Important legal disclaimer: It is your responsibility to verify that the vet in question is still practicing, licensed and competent in the treatment of guinea pigs. There are absolutely no warranties, expressed or implied, with this information, and the accuracy of this information is not guaranteed. We accept no responsibility for any actions or events related to the use of this information. In short: use at your own risk.

That said, this is a list of vets of which we have personal knowledge, or are recommendations by others whom we generally trust when it comes to cavies. This is not a substitute for doing your own homework, perhaps just a helpful starting point. Feel free to email us with comments or suggestions of additional vets. The listing is not in any particular order.

Dr. Curt Nakamura
Adobe Animal Hospital
396 First Street
Los Altos, CA
If Dr. Nakamura is not available, they usually have other exotic vets available. In addition, they have extended hours which can usually cover emergencies. Our experience is that care is excellent and prices are moderate. We HIGHLY recommend Dr. Nakamura. He used to breed cavies (but doesn't any longer!) and sees a lot of them and has performed almost all of our neutering procedures.

Additional exotic vets at Adobe
(alphabetical order):

Dr. Nancy Clifton
Dr. Christi Derenzi
Dr. Jane Johnson
Dr. Jennifer Koga
Dr. Nancy O'Day
Dr. Elizabeth Rogers
Dr. Sara Skiwski
Dr. Sharon Zweiter

(If you go to Adobe, please tell them Teresa Murphy at Cavy Spirit sent you. They give our rescue a $25 referral credit and it helps us pay for our very ongoing vet bills for cavies in need! Thanks.)

Dr. Alex Herman
All Pets Hospital
269 South Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA

From a cavy person: "Dr. Alex Herman (Dr. Herman is a SHE) has taken care of several of our pigs. I highly recommend her and several other vets I use (I have multiple pets) all recommend her. Many of them who knew her at UC Davis all comment she was always the one who liked to attend to exotics. Every guinea pig problem I have had has always been immediately diagnosed by her very quickly. She is also great with birds!"

Dr. Herman is also highly recommended by a recent cavy slave adopter who raves about Dr. Herman, and we value his opinion. We have heard of All Pets being recommended by other vets as well for guinea pigs.

Current hours (2/10/01) are: M and F 7:30 am - 6 pm; T, W, Th 7 am to 7 pm; Sat 8 am - 4 pm. They are closed from 12pm - 2 pm M-F. For emergency guinea pig care when they are closed, they refer you to:

All Animals Emergency
1333 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 
between Irving and Judah

Dr. Ava Ackerman
Belmont Pet Hospital
Harbor Blvd.,
Belmont, CA
Only normal business hours. Our experience is that while the care is good, the prices are extremely high and "by the book." Dr. Ackerman was available for a house call for our piggie herd and that was excellent and helped us a lot. However, the practice is owned and managed by Dr. Machado. While his technical surgical skills are excellent, his "bedside manner" is not, which for some people may not matter in the slightest.

Dr. Larry Herbert
Aragon Vet Clinic
819 South B Street
San Mateo, CA

Normal business hours, maybe Saturdays, call to confirm. Our experience is that care while the care is just adequate, the prices can be high. Mixed reviews on care and handling. 

South Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic
3045 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA
24 hours a day, emergency clinic only. Our experience is that emergency care can be excellent and prices are moderate. Triage rules prevail--whoever has the most serious problem gets treated first, so you could be waiting quite a while. Call ahead to see if they have an exotic vet on duty. Our experience has been that they do, but we recently had someone with an emergency who said they didn't have one on staff at that time.

Dr. Diana Welsh
Wildwood Veterinary Hospital
1115 Luchessi Drive
San Jose, CA 95118
Recommended by a cavy person
Dr. Ruth Adams
Dr. Leslie Garrow
Cottage Veterinary Clinic
1590 Boulevard Way
Walnut Creek, CA

8-6 M-F, 8-12 Sat. This clinic was recommended to us by Sharlene Scheffer, a registered vet tech and a guinea pig rescue person in Hayward. 

The clinic refers people to the Contra Cost Veterinary Emergency Clinic for off hour emergencies (see below).

Dr. James Harris
Montclair Veterinary Hospital
1961 Mountain Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94611

8-6 M-F, 8-12 Sat. This clinic was recommended to us by Sharlene Scheffer, a registered vet tech and a guinea pig rescue person in Hayward. One of our foster homes also recommends Dr. Harris. Reasonable prices.

For emergency guinea pig care when they are closed, they refer you to:

Bay Area Veterinary Emergency Clinic
14790 Washington Ave
Oakland, CA 

Dr. Lisa Abbott
Contra Costa Veterinary Emergency Clinic
1410 Monument Blvd
Concord, CA

Only Open from 6 pm to 8 am on Weekday Evenings, 24 hours on Weekends and Holidays.

Dr. Jeffery Bryan
San Francisco, CA

Recommended by a cavy person


Dr. Michael J. Murray
Avian and Exotic Clinic of the Monterey Peninsula
2 Harris Court, Suite A-1
Monterey, CA

Recommended by two good cavy people. He is a staff vet at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the founder of his clinic. He also speaks at various veterinary conferences .
Do guinea pigs need shots?
  No. Guinea pigs do not need shots like cats and dogs do.
 Cat and Dog Vets do not a Guinea Pig Vet Make! 
  Most vets who usually see cats and dogs are not qualified by practice or experience to see guinea pigs. Some may tell you they will, but don't be fooled! Be sure to check out the information under "Searching for a Vet . . ."
 What about neutering? 
  First, neutering a guinea pig does not significantly change their behavior. If you have an aggressive male now, you will have an aggressive male after he is neutered. The only reason to neuter a male is if he needs to be put with a female.

Second, EVEN if you have a GOOD CAVY vet, you may not have a GOOD ENOUGH cavy vet to do a cavy neuter. It is a RISKY procedure. You MUST find a vet who has done a number of cavy neuters with a very high success rate. You won't want your cavy to be a statistic on one of those lost. Please visit our neutering page for more information.

Third, your guinea pig MUST be separated from any females for an additional 3 weeks to 30 days following surgery. You should follow the advice of your vet for how long to keep him separated.

Guinea pigs can be neutered (if healthy) at 12 weeks of age or approximately 650 g of body weight. Some vets prefer to wait until the cavy is 4 months old.
 What about spaying? 
  Spaying is a much more intrusive procedure which fewer vets will have experience with. Some people spay to prevent tumors as a female guinea pig ages. We at Cavy Spirit choose not to have any elective or preventative surgery done. 

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