Two guinea pigs are on a gray blanket.

Five Reasons to Adopt a Guinea Pig for Emotional Support

7 min read

They may not wag their tail when you come home from work, or immediately jump up on your lap to let you pet them, but it will certainly give you some comfort to feel their soft furry bodies in your palm. If you are suffering from any mental health disorder and looking for some support but are not ready to take on the commitment of an animal such as a dog or cat, then a guinea pig can be a great option for you.

Having an emotional support animal by your side can be quite helpful during difficult times. From depression to bipolar disorder, this new style of treatment is showing some very positive effects on patients who have different kinds of mental health issues. Regardless of shape or size, emotional support animals require no special training to help the patient. In fact, they can easily fit into our regular lifestyle.

Read on to figure out the key reasons why a guinea pig would be a great fit for you in case you do not want to go with a dog or cat.

Why a Guinea Pig?

A girl is holding a guinea pig in her hands.
You don't need to have any prior experience of adopting animals to own a guinea pig.

When people think about receiving emotional support from an animal, cats or dogs immediately come to mind. But if you are ready to think outside the box, and don’t feel ready for the challenge of a bigger pet, guinea pigs can be a better option for you. It’s true that these furry friends are still a very uncommon option in the world of pet owners; they are often considered exotic pets. However, here are 5 reasons for you to consider choosing a guinea pig as your emotional support animal:

  • They are great for inexperienced pet owners

It’s true that having a pet can be time-consuming, you have to take care of them, and some pets can require quite high maintenance. That can keep you busy at first but after some time of taking care of a pet it can become tiring, and not everyone is prepared for it. If you have never had a pet of your own before, guinea pigs can be a good starting point. 

Guinea pigs are easy to manage, and you don’t need to do a lot to keep them healthy and happy. For new pet owners, guinea pigs are great for learning to interact with animals in general. They are great companions who love to be around their owners. You don’t have to take them for walks or pet them when you are busy. In fact, you are the one who chooses when it is time to play.

  • Guinea Pigs are low maintenance

Compared to other animals, guinea pigs are relatively low maintenance. You don’t have to clean up after them constantly or be alert to the threat of them trying to escape all the time. If you simply get a cage or hutch big enough for them to roam around in and keep their food, and water bowls filled at all times, you are good to go. If you don’t want the cage to stink, be sure to clean it two days a week. Like rabbits, guinea pigs also need to get out of their cage for exercise on a daily basis, yet most of the time they are just happy to observe their surroundings. Guinea pigs also love to keep themselves clean – they dedicate a lot of time to grooming themselves. However, if you don’t want to give them a bath frequently, you can brush them every day. This brushing time can also be a relaxing time for bonding with them.

How to properly maintain the nutrition of your ESA guinea pig

A guinea pig is eating grass.
There are just a few simple rules regarding feeding guinea pigs.

Usually, two meals a day are enough for guinea pigs. More frequent nutrition (3-4 times a day) is needed only during the first months of their growth. At the same time, you need to feed your guinea pig with quite big portions since these pets do not tolerate fasting. Let's briefly consider how to feed a guinea pig at home:

  1. Grain – should be about 30% of the diet, this includes oats, barley, corn, sunflower seeds, millet, peas, and other cereals. Such solid food is also important for pigs’ teeth.
  2. Hay – 20% of the diet, it has a lot of vitamins and nutrients. Hay can be prepared independently, so that maintenance of your ESA guinea pig becomes even cheaper.
  3. Greens – a natural food for these rodents; you can use clover, alfalfa, dill, spinach, chamomile, dandelion, beet and carrot tops, plantain, green salad, sprouted grains, yarrow or tansy to feed your pet.
  4. Vegetables and fruit – you should feed your pet with carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, pumpkin, zucchini, apples. The daily portion consists up to 30% of the body weight of the pet. At the same time, vegetables should be alternated, and it is better to give fruit only as a treat.
  • Guinea pigs are healthy and have a long life span

A guinea pig is in a cage.
Proper nutrition can prevent common illnesses of guinea pigs.

These small fur balls will not cause you to stress by becoming sick if you care for them properly. However, some common animal diseases like dental problems, diarrhea, or mites can slow your little friend sometimes. But these can be prevented with proper care and nutrition. Usually guinea pigs come from colder climates so keeping them indoors is not a problem.

  • A good travel companion

Traveling or moving places can be a hard decision (and also costly) when you have pets. Even if you take your pet dog or cat on a plane with you, most of the time they will have to travel alone in cargo without seeing their owner for hours. This can be stressful for them as well as for you. In that case a guinea pig is a good choice. Guinea pigs are small enough to move from one place to another. Due to how low maintenance they are, you can easily leave them with a trusted friend or relative for a few days even if they are inexperienced. Or you can simply take them with you wherever you go. As a perk of their ESA status, you can keep them with you in your airplane cabin as well.

  • They are good for children and for you

Guinea pigs are very gentle by nature. They rarely get stressed or become aggressive. And that’s another reason why many schools have guinea pigs as class pets. Children who suffer from stress and anxiety can be helped greatly by having a pair of guinea pigs as their ESA pets. Stroking their soft furry bodies can make young people as well as older people calmer and more focused. It is also a good way to teach children responsibility. But keep in mind that leaving children alone with any pet for a long time is not a good idea. An adult’s supervision is necessary for them to learn new duties and keep them calm while taking care of their pets. Guinea pigs have unique personalities; like any other pet they can also understand their owners in their own way. They love to be held and petted, they know when you need them, and once you get to know them, they will support you whenever you ask. If you are ever feeling down, just get your fluffy buddies out of their cages and watch them do everything in the cutest and funniest way possible!

The Bottom Line

A woman is laying on the floor and looking into the guinea pig's eyes.
A guinea pig may become a great companion to support you during hard days.

Sometimes when medication doesn’t work for those suffering from severe mental illness, simple pet therapy can be a real savior. Having a guinea pig as an emotional support animal can be an unusual decision, but for some people they are the best companions. As a low maintenance yet sweet and funny friend, a guinea pig can make a good companion animal. It depends entirely on you as long as the animal provides you with a sense of peace and calmness. Ultimately, the main purpose of an emotional support animal is to improve your mental health and allow you to live a happy life. Regardless of the breed or species, an emotional support animal will be that friend who won’t judge you and who will love you no matter what. So, if you think that a pair of guinea pigs can be the friends you are looking for, then seriously consider making them your ESAs.

by GetESA

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ESA 101: Educational