Impulsive decisions with regard to family pets can be disastrous.
The prospective pet parent who does not take time to decide if a pet fits his or her lifestyle before taking one home may end up regretting it and/or returning the animal. That can be hard on pets and families alike.
Many people recognize the commitment that large pets like dogs require. But some may mistakenly believe that small pets, such as guinea pigs, are much easier to care for than cats or dogs. That false impression may compel them to adopt guinea pigs without fully exploring just what it takes to raise these small, personable pets.
Just because guinea pigs don’t need daily walks around the neighborhood doesn’t mean they don’t require a substantial commitment of time from their owners. According to the Humane Society of the United States, daily interaction with and attention from their owners is essential for the well-being of guinea pigs.
People considering getting guinea pigs as pets also should know they require regular grooming, including daily grooming for long-haired breeds.
Guinea pigs’ cages also must be meticulously maintained. The society recommends thorough weekly cleanings as well as spot-cleaning every few days.
Many parents presume guinea pigs will make great first pets for their children. While that may be true, the Humane Society points out that young children often lack self-restraint and fine motor control. That can make kids more likely to mishandle guinea pigs, increasing their risk of dropping or squeezing the animals. Some guinea pigs may respond to being mishandled with fear that leads them to bite their handlers. When considering guinea pigs as pets, parents should keep in mind that they respond most favorably to being gently held.
Guinea pigs are social animals, and the Humane Society advises that they do best with the companionship of another pig. Solitary guinea pigs can quickly grow lonely and bored, which can be problematic for pet parents whose time is already stretched thin.
Prospective owners also should confirm that they and members of their household are not allergic to the animals. Visit an animal shelter or the home of a friend with guinea pigs and spend time with the animal in the room where it spends most of its time. Handle the animals and take note of any potential indicators that you might be allergic. If you suspect you or a member of your household is allergic, contact an allergist for further testing or discussion.
Guinea pigs make great pets, but do your homework before bringing these lovable creatures home.