Getting a Guinea Pig: 11 Things to Consider Beforehand

Dec. 23, 2015

Guinea pigs are cute and cuddly, but they aren't for everyone. Here are 11 questions to ask yourself before bringing home this type of furry friend.

It's undeniable that a guinea pig can make a great first pet. Although these lovable rodents require way less care and attention than a dog or cat, it's important to remember that choosing to add any pet to your family is a big decision.

If you're wondering if your kids are ready for a pet, check out the articles Best Pets for Kids at Every Age.

Here are 11 things you should consider before getting a guinea pig:

  1. Are You Prepared to Make a Substantial Investment?
    Though the initial cost of adopting a guinea pig is fairly low, you will accumulate various additional costs as time goes on. From food to bedding to veterinary care, you'll have a lot of little expenses that can add up rather quickly.
  2. Are You Able to Provide the Necessary Adult Supervision?
    Though guinea pigs are often thought to be great pets for kids, they are not recommended for children under six years old. These pets have very small bones that can break easily. As such, you should always supervise your little one when he is handling this type of pet. After all, some kids just don't know their own strength!
  3. Will Someone Be Able to Clean the Cage on a Regular Basis?
    Once a week, you'll need to clean out your guinea pig's cage. This process involves replacing the bedding and scrubbing down the cage as a whole. You need to be thorough to prevent disease and infection, so be prepared to invest some time in this chore.
  4. Will You Be Able to Fulfill the Pet's Specific Bedding Needs?
    The Animal Rights Coalition recommends that you use Carefresh or Aspen bedding for guinea pigs, as cedar bedding can cause various health problems.
  5. Will Someone Be Able to Supervise the Guinea Pig During His Time Spent Outside of His Cage?
    A guinea pig needs to spend some time out of his cage on a daily basis. During these hours, you'll need to watch over your furry friend to make sure he doesn't get himself into trouble.
  6. Are You Willing to Make the Time Commitment?
    Though guinea pigs certainly come with way less responsibility than other types of pets, they still require daily love and care.

  7. Would You Like to Get Your Pet a Pal?
    Guinea pigs are herd animals and they don't do particularly well in isolation. As such, you might want to consider getting a pair of these adorable rodents. They'll appreciate the company!
  8. Do You Have Any Other Pets That May Not Get Along Well With a Guinea Pig?
    Though most varieties of cats ignore these cute rodents, there are several breeds of dogs that are predisposed to attacking guinea pigs. If you have a dog at home, it may be a good idea to do a few test visits before fully integrating your new pet into your household.
  9. Will You Be Able to Provide Your Pet With Supplement Drops?
    Vitamin C is crucial for guinea pigs. Unfortunately, not all food pellets are fortified with this nutrient. To ensure that your pet lives a long and healthy life, you'll need to purchase supplement drops that can be added to his food.
  10. Do You Have a Local Veterinarian Who Treats Guinea Pigs?
    Though guinea pigs are generally healthy animals, it's always best to prepare for the worst. Not all veterinarians are equipped to treat guinea pigs, so it's crucial that you perform this search before bringing home your new pet.
  11. Do You Know a Pet Sitter Who Can Watch Your Guinea Pig While You're Away?
    Guinea pigs require daily care, so it's essential that you find someone who is willing to watch your pet if you plan on being gone for more than 24 hours at a time.

Check out Choose the Right Pet for Your Family for more on how make this decision. Do you have any other tips about what you should consider before getting a guinea pig? Let us know in the comments below!

Amanda Kondolojy is a full-time freelancer with over a decade of caregiving experience.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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