Guinea pigs are such sweet, docile furry friends that are incredibly empathetic and bring so many people joy. To us, guinea pigs would be wonderful emotional support animals without question, but what does that entail?
What is an emotional support animal?
According to the UMass Medical School, an emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides therapeutic benefits and support to a person with mental health or psychiatric disability. These therapeutic benefits can be emotional support, comfort, and companionship.
However, an ESA is not considered a service animal, but they are also not considered a pet! Pretty much any domesticated animal can be considered an ESA (cats, dogs, mice, etc.), but they must be manageable in public.
ESA’s don’t perform tasks like service animals do, but instead it is their presence that helps with the symptoms that come with a person’s mental health condition. What makes an animal an ESA is a letter from a mental health professional certifying them and stating that they are necessary to you and your mental health.
Why would guinea pigs be good emotional support animals?
There are several qualities about guinea pigs that would make them great emotional support animals! Those of you who are already piggy parents know that our furry friends are little bundles of joy and can make us so happy, and it makes sense that they could make others happy as well and help them out in that way.
Guinea pigs are overall extremely sweet and docile animals, and they have a great capacity for love and compassion. Once they’re familiar with their owners and are comfortable around them, guinea pigs show their affections! They’ve even been known to greet their piggy parents when they come home, which always brings a smile to their faces. Of course, it helps when you have treats and fresh vegetables on hand, and it doesn’t hurt to use those for a little encouragement!
Guinea pigs also have their own personalities! Not all piggies are the same, and that’s part of what makes them so fun to watch and have. For example, our girls Ru and Mi are opposites of each other, but seeing them get along and watching the way their personalities mesh is lots of fun.
Even just watching guinea pigs run around back and forth in their cages can be so relaxing. Piggies love exploring their cages and running from hidey to hidey, dark corner to corner, and it’s especially fun when they have the zoomies!
Taking care of guinea pigs can be very beneficial for those who need ESA’s as well. The time and attention that these animals need can be helpful for those who need something to focus on for prolonged periods of time. It can be therapeutic doing daily spot cleanings of guinea pig cages, as it gives people a chance to focus solely on the task at hand.
In general, making an animal happy and making sure they live a safe and healthy life can be super fulfilling and can have therapeutic effects. Seeing guinea pigs live happily and display the behaviors and make sounds that signal they’re happy can help so much.
Why would guinea pigs not be good emotional support animals?
Unfortunately, guinea pigs are quite easily scared by their surroundings. They wouldn’t be able to be the kind of ESA that can go around in public with you when you’re out and about, whether it’s running errands or going to public gatherings in crowded places. The stress would be too much for them!
Guinea pigs also wouldn’t like traveling in a plane with you, especially since they wouldn’t be able to be in the cabin with you in most cases. They’d have to be put in a carrier in the cargo hold, and that is less than ideal—in fact, it could be dangerous. The movements of the plane always jostles not only the passengers, but the cargo. This means the carrier that an ESA guinea pig would be tossed around and it could seriously injure or even kill them.
If you’re wanting a guinea pig to be your ESA you’d have to be OK with them only being with you at home! Some people who require ESA’s need their animals to be out and about with them, so this is something important to consider when thinking about having a guinea pig as one.
How to take care of an emotional support guinea pig
The care required of guinea pigs doesn’t change! They still need ample space to run around, and they still need piggy companionship. This means if you’d like a guinea pig ESA, you’d actually end up having two, which could never be a bad thing. Guinea pigs require a healthy and balanced diet, consisting of hay, water, pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Guinea pigs will also need proper bedding, and the best bedding for guinea pigs, without a doubt, are fleece guinea pig cage liners. GuineaDad Premium Liners and GuineaDad Liners are your best choice for this!
Just as much as your guinea pig is taking care of you and helping you out, you should be putting in the work to take care of them as well! This ensures that both you and your guinea pigs can live happy and healthy lives.