If you have ever thought about adding a guinea pig to your family you have probably had some questions about how to take care of them.
What do they eat? Can you hold them? Can they swim? We are going to answer one of those questions for you here today.
Whenever you adopt a new pet, it’s best to do all of your research rather than assuming you know the answer off the bat.
Are Guinea Pigs Afraid of Water?
For the most part, guinea pigs do not like water. They may not be actively scared of it if they have never had a bad experience with it, but they usually will not seek it out.
Guinea pigs will usually be okay in a shallow amount of water, as long as they are not fully submerged.
Before guinea pigs were domesticated, they lived in the wild. When they were surrounded by nature they would interact with water strictly for drinking purposes.
They didn’t have any reason to learn how to swim or interact with water.
Sometimes they don’t even need to drink water as much as other animals because they get the water they need from their meals. The main foods that contain the most liquid in a guinea pig’s diet are vegetables.
Guinea pigs are usually somewhat skittish when they are first introduced to a new home.
Because of this, it’s important to not try to force a stressful environment (such as putting them in water) right away. This can lead to damaging the bond between you and your guinea pig.
Is it Good for Guinea Pigs to Swim?
No, it is not considered good practice for guinea pigs to swim. Guinea pigs are not natural swimmers and will likely get extremely anxious.
As a pet parent, you do not want to cause extra anxiety for your pet for any reason.
If you force your guinea pig to swim (by putting them in a bathtub or pool), there are a few outcomes that can happen.
All of which will be tough on your furry friend, which is why we advise against swimming lessons for your guinea pig.
First of all, as we mentioned above, swimming will cause your guinea pig to be anxious and stressed.
Of course, this is not what you want for your furry friend. You want them to feel comfortable with their surroundings especially when they are in your care.
Second, guinea pigs have a unique way of regulating their body temperatures because they do not sweat.
Submerging your pet into the water makes regulating their body temperature more difficult. If they get too wet they can even become sick or get pneumonia.
In addition to these outcomes, your guinea pig can just get tired. If you remember back to when you first learned how to swim, you’ll recall that it takes a lot of your energy.
Between the stress and the physical exertion, this activity will leave your guinea pig feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
Avoid leaving your guinea pig alone when they are in or near water. This can be very dangerous and can increase the probability of them drowning.
Like we mentioned in the sections above, your guinea pig can get sick if it gets too wet.
In addition to this, they can develop conditions such as ear infections and infections on their skin due to possible chemicals or bacteria in pools or other water bodies.
That brings us to our next section about having your guinea pig submerged in a chlorine pool.
Can Guinea Pigs Swim in a Chlorine Pool?
Guinea pigs should not swim in a chlorine pool. This is because their skin is very sensitive and they are subject to various skin problems.
Chlorine is a harsh chemical that can hurt your guinea pig’s skin. It even dries out human skin and for the most part, human skin is much less sensitive than a guinea pig’s skin.
Your guinea pig also can’t tell you if the chlorine in the water irritated their skin. They could potentially be in pain after being submerged in a pool but wouldn’t have any way to alert you of this.
Another concern with having guinea pigs in a large chlorine pool is that this water is very deep and broad compared to the size of your guinea pig.
You will have an extremely hard time keeping an eye on them compared to if they were in a bathtub or sink.
If you did want to cuddle your guinea pig while you are in the pool, you could try holding them while floating in the pool.
There isn’t a lot of certainty that your guinea pig would enjoy this, but it is likely they would prefer this to them being submerged in the water alone.
If you live in a hot area and bring your guinea pig outdoors to spend time with you, you can try spraying them with water and see if they enjoy the process.
Like we mentioned earlier, they have a unique way of regulating their body temperature, so this is not 100% necessary.
But with that being said, your guinea pig might enjoy a little spritz of water on a hot summer day. The key is to try introducing water gradually (regardless of the setting) in very small amounts.
Can Guinea Pigs Drown?
All animals technically have the possibility of being able to drown. With this being said, it is possible for guinea pigs to drown.
If your guinea pig is forced to be submerged in water, they can panic and not be able to keep themselves afloat. This can be very dangerous for your guinea pig and can unfortunately lead to death.
The best way to avoid your guinea pig drowning is to keep them away from water altogether.
Do Guinea Pigs Need to Be Bathed?
Guinea pigs are able to bathe themselves (similar to cats) and don’t require baths to keep clean. There is really no reason your guinea pig should be submerged in water at any point.
If you think that your guinea pig needs to be bathed for any reason, you can try giving them a version of a sponge bath. For this, you can use a damp washcloth and some soap.
Have a look at our guinea pig bathing guide for more tips and tricks.
You can even use a cup to pour water and rinse off your furry friend. This is a much better way to clean them (even though it is not usually needed).
This also helps reduce the risk of them drowning or just being anxious being submerged in water.
How To Teach Your Guinea Pig To Swim
If you would like to teach your guinea pig to swim or be comfortable in the water, there is something you can do.
You can introduce your guinea pig to water if you would like to and if they are interested in it. The best way to do this is to give your guinea pig the option to hang out in shallow water.
You can put some water on a plate or bowl and see if they are interested in playing in it. Like we mentioned above, they usually will not be interested.
If you put your guinea pig in water and find out they actually like it, you can try teaching them to swim.
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be forcing them to learn to swim. If you allow them to spend a lot of time in water (in shallow water), you can try encouraging them to try swimming in water.
It’s extremely important to not force swimming or spending time in the water on your guinea pig. This will only lead to unnecessary stress for your furry friend.
You could also try allowing your guinea pig to float in the water (on some sort of raft) to see if they are comfortable with this.
Guinea Pigs and Online Fame
There have been a variety of videos of pet parents forcing their guinea pigs to swim because they think it is cute or playful. This is a very dangerous practice as it hints at the idea that guinea pigs enjoy swimming or should be swimming.
These pet parents probably did not want to harm their guinea pigs, but when you post videos or photos like this online, it can encourage other people that may not be as educated in guinea pig care to partake in these activities.
This can lead to various dangerous infections or diseases. It can also result in more accidents of guinea pigs drowning.
Of course, this is not what the guinea pig community wants to share. It’s the responsibility of every member of the community to not post this kind of content online.
Guinea pigs are wonderful pets to have and can be great companions. In order for them to live the happiest and healthiest life possible, you have to make sure that they are not put into situations that may harm them.
This means that you shouldn’t force them to swim if they are scared of it. Being the best pet parent possible means protecting your pet from physical risks but also mental ones as well.
This includes putting them in situations where they will be unnecessarily anxious.
Guinea pigs are playful and kind creatures. There are many ways that you can play with them instead of having them in water.
You can purchase a playpen for them, a ball for them to roll in, or a tunnel system for them to explore. Your fluffy friend will thank you for protecting him and having him be a part of your fur-ever family.