Guinea pigs have become great family pets for people all over the world. If you’re reading this article, you probably own one or you’re thinking of activities you can do for when you get a guinea pig pet. As pet owners, we have the immense responsibility to make sure our pets are cared for properly. Guinea pigs are fluffy and adorable creatures that have dietary and living requirements. We need to make sure that they’re safe and avoid practices that can lead them to harm.
One of the most popular guinea pig videos circulating around the internet features one swimming in a garden pool that seems like it’s more than a foot deep. Millions of people have seen and continue to share it even though it’s been up for several years now. From that clip alone, you would know that guinea pigs can, in fact, swim.
If you just typed, “can guinea pigs swim?” on your search engine, chances are, you want to try it on your piggies too. Seeing other guinea pigs swimming can tempt you to try it on your piggies but just because it looks cute doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Good on you for doing your research before trying this activity out on your pets. Before letting any pet swim, it’s best to find out if this hobby is good for them. During the summer months, many pet parents like to take their guinea pigs to swim with them. Read on below to find out why experts don’t recommend swimming as a type of recreational activity for your guinea pig and why this can be harmful for your beloved pets.
Can guinea pigs swim for fun?
From the video, it seems like guinea pigs like to swim. The owner was cheering it on while it waddled away in a pool filled with water. It may even look like they enjoy swimming. Studies have shown that all mammals, including guinea pigs, have the capability to swim. But unlike their cousins, the capybaras, they don’t do it for leisure.
Can guinea pigs swim? Yes, but only as a safety measure. It’s a response they’re wired to have in order to survive. The same way humans have a fight and flight response, our piggies have swimming as part of theirs. When you see them paddle away in deep water, that’s not a cute sight. That’s is their desperate attempt to survive. To swim is a stressful reflex for guinea pigs that owners should avoid.
If a guinea pig cannot stand in a body of water with its feet touching the ground, they’re not having any bit of fun. Placing your guinea pig in a swimming pool or any body of water that’s more than a few centimeters deep can be considered animal cruelty and abuse. It is extremely stressful for them.
Guinea pigs do not swim for fun and games. They do not like to swim at all. You should know that piggies actually stay away from water. Always remember, if a guinea pig cannot stand properly for them to walk out of a body of water on their own, they should never have been placed there in the first place.
Do guinea pigs like to get wet?
Guinea pigs originally came from South America and their natural habitat would be forests and grasslands. In the wild, you’d see them living in burrows and not anywhere near water. You will never see one swimming in a river, they avoid it like a plague.
Guinea pigs like to stay dry because they naturally have a hard time maintaining their body’s temperature. If they get wet, it will be even harder to maintain their body temperature.
In truth, they stay away from water. Even when it comes to their daily water consumption, guinea pigs would get much of their hydration needs from fruits and vegetables rather than the water itself. That’s how much they don’t enjoy swimming, water, or simply, getting wet.
Guinea pigs are meticulously clean. Much like cats, they are excellent at self-grooming, and very rarely do they need a bath. Only bathe your guinea pig if it is soiled or if there are poop remnants on the genitalia area. It’s always best to ask a veterinarian how to go about the bathing process especially if it’s your first time doing it. For caked poop, they might just recommend that you wash the soiled area only instead of immersing your guinea pig in water. A good tip to prevent fecal matting is to keep the hair in that area short by trimming often.
For full baths, vets suggest using a small container with warm and shallow water to prevent your guinea pig from getting too cold. After the bath, dry them well and keep them in a warm area so they don’t get chills. Don’t put them back in their cage if they’re not fully dry especially if you keep them outdoors. They won’t be able to regulate their body temperature and may acquire pneumonia or other respiratory tract infections.
Can guinea pigs swim in a bathtub?
Now you may think, if you’re really careful, can guinea pigs swim in a bathtub? No. Guinea pigs don’t like to swim whether it is a pool, pond, or a bathtub. We cannot emphasize how much stress it gives them when they are forced to swim in any body of water, manmade or natural. Yes, we used the word force because you’d never see a guinea pig walk to a pool so it can swim. When guinea pigs swim, it’s because someone placed them there.
A filled bathtub is just as dangerous as a pool for your guinea pig. Their response will ultimately be to swim for their lives. If a tub bath is relaxing for humans, it’s completely the opposite experience for guinea pigs.
Say you need to give it a bath, although that would be extremely rare, can you do so in a bathtub? If that’s the case then, technically, yes, you can bathe them in a bathtub. You can do this only if you make sure that the tub is filled with water that will never go above your guinea pigs’ thighs. Any higher may cause them to inadvertently swim instead of walk.
The majority of guinea pigs have a default panic setting when it comes to water so you would need to plan out how to do it properly. Bathing them in a bathtub is harder because of the large area. If you have to, use a small container. It would be easier to measure the amount of water in it and it would take a shorter time to do the bath. The easier it is for you, the shorter time it will take for your guinea pig to stay in the water.
If they are groomed properly with trimmed fur, it’s possible for you not to bathe your guinea pig at all. One thing you can do instead us wipe them. You can use a cloth dampened with warm water and gently wipe them with that. Dry them carefully after and there you’ll have a clean, groomed, and happy piggy.
Can guinea pigs drown?
Guinea pigs are equipped with the ability to swim so they can stay alive. Anytime you see a guinea pig swim, that means the water is too deep for them to walk. That is a guinea pig trying to get out of that body of water so it can survive.
A guinea pig’s small arms and legs cannot swim for long amounts of time. They get tired very easily when they swim so they cannot paddle for a long time. The act makes them both physically and mentally tired which makes breathing harder. When this happens, they can swallow water and drown. They cannot be left to swim alone just because it looks like they can do it.
What can happen if a guinea pig goes swimming?
When placed in water, a guinea pig’s main goal is to get out of it the fastest way possible. Aside from drowning, there are a slew of other negative side effects that can happen when they swim, these include:
- Ear infections: When guinea pigs go swimming in water that’s too deep for them, two things can happen. Their head can either go under or their waddling can cause water to go inside their ears. Even they’re taken out, you can never be sure that their ears are completely dried. This can lead to potentially fatal and serious ear infections for piggies.
- Chills: a guinea pig cannot control or maintain its body temperature well. They can easily become cold especially when exposed to water. Anytime it gets wet, it should be dried properly and immediately. The longer it stays wet, the higher the chances are for it to get fever and chills.
- Pneumonia: when guinea pigs swim, they can definitely swallow water. Because they are in extreme stress, this water can go down to their lungs which can cause pneumonia or another respiratory infection.
- Cardiac arrest: When placed in cold water conditions, a guinea pig can get a cardiac arrest. The same can happen if they become extremely distressed. The stress caused by swimming can be fatal.
- Wet coat: your guinea pig has a natural oil coating in its skin. It serves as protection from any possible irritants. When they get wet from swimming, it washes off this coating which can lead to skin diseases.
- Skin infection: a guinea pig can have micro cuts under their fur from playtime or from when they scratch themselves. If they are exposed to dirty water, it can cause serious skin infections.
Having pets is fun and can be extremely fulfilling. It’s a friend that you can count on, anytime. But it’s not always fun and games. Being an owner means we are responsible for their health and safety. Please consider doing your own research before giving your guinea pigs new treats and introducing activities to them. Do not rely on the cuteness of a video to determine what to do.
Swimming may be fun for you and you may want to bring your pet along to enjoy it the same way you do. However, if you have a guinea pig, you must reconsider. Making them swim is cruelty to the animal. They may look cute because they are naturally adorable animals, but that doesn’t mean they like the act.
Do not cause unnecessary stress by subjecting them to water. Remember the complications and possible fatal consequences that swimming can cause to your piggies. There are a lot of other activities you and your guinea pig can do that doesn’t involve water. Keep them it happy by making sure it has another piggy to play with. You can get your guinea pigs tunnels so they can play with those.
They like to be stimulated with fun activities. You can play ball with them or have them play tug of war with each other. Aside from tunnels, they enjoy obstacle courses too. You can make them by using cardboard boxes or you can check your nearest pet store. Next playtime, try hosting a treat hunt for them. Many guinea pigs love fruit so you can place small pieces around a set area and they’ll go hunting around for their favorite food.
Now, can guinea pigs swim? Yes, they can. Should guinea pigs swim? No, they shouldn’t. Never put your pets through something that causes them distress and discomfort. They can do so many other things. Don’t jump into the internet hype for the likes. Safe is always the best and is the number one priority. When cared for properly your piggies can live long, full, and healthy lives.