Guinea Pig Owners- past and Present, Should I Let My Daughter Adopt One?

Updated on August 15, 2014
J.P. asks from Skokie, IL
17 answers

Hi everyone- My 12 year old daughter would like to adopt a 1 and a half year old guinea pig from animal control. She is a responsible girl who has enough money to pay for everything. She has outlined an area in her room to show me that a 30" by 36" cage will fit. She has made a chart on when she will take it outside of his cage to play with, etc.. She has figured out how much it will cost her per year for the bedding, hay, food, etc.. I know she will become even more responsible with taking care of the guinea pig. She knows the life span is 5 TO 7 years. I love animals too and I like the idea that she wants to rescue an unwanted one rather than going to pet store to get a "baby." (adoption fee is really about the same price as buying a "new" one from the pet store.... so I like that she cares so much about an unwanted one at the animal control center.)

My two concerns, however are: WILL MY HOUSE SMELL?? She says she'll clean the cage once a week. Is that enough cleaning or will my house smell? My mom says I'll become used to the smell but guests will come in and smell the odor. Is that true? She and my cousin say "Don't do it!' "You'll regret you let her have one."

My other concern is my "squirrel driven" dog. She LOVES chasing squirrels and I don't know if I should allow something similar in the house to live with us! My daughter says she'll be careful and make sure that her door is always closed, etc... I just don't know if my dog will constantly be barking by her door to get in. I guess it would mean more training if that happens. I don't think she'd intentionally hurt the guinea pig, but she'd want to "paw" at it to play. My dog is an Aussie Mix who weighs 30 lbs.

Okay.... please give me some advice. She REALLY wants the guinea pig. Hmmm.... will my dog be ok to the addition and will my house still smell clean? Thanks so much in advance for helping me make my decision.

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answers from Detroit on

We have 2 piggies.. I clean the cage every 2 or 3 days.. it takes 5-10 minutes.. not a big deal.

I use a mix of store bought bedding.. and shredded paper.. (I shred junk mail and newspaper)

my dog barked at the pigges for 2 days.. then she was super interested and always looking at them.. now she ignores them or licks them if they are out..

they are great pets..

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answers from Phoenix on

NO! Their cages need to be cleaned more than once a week. 2 years ago my son was in the class with the "Guinea Pig Cowboy", his teacher. They had about 20 cages in the class and were responsible for their care. Over the holidays, the kids could bring them home. We had one for 2 weeks over Christmas. NO WAY would we have one as a pet. You had to constantly clean the cages out or they smelled horrible. And when the kids took them out to play with, their shavings stuck to them so we had shavings all over the house. JMO but he wanted one so bad and after that even he said he couldn't handle it as a pet. Good luck.

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answers from Iowa City on

We have terriers. And guinea pigs. And cats. They all live in relative harmony. The dogs do bark at the pigs occasionally but by far and large they leave them alone. The cage can get stinky if it isn't cleaned often. If you get the higher priced bedding (care fresh I think is the brand) you won't have smell issues. Pigs are not nocturnal. They are diurnal. Our current guys are not noisy day or night. It is important to have at least two pigs. Also, it is important to feed them fresh veggies and fruits.

If it were me, I would allow it. Your daughter seems responsible and she has made a positive case for it. Why not reward her for her responsibility and initiative?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Years ago, our 2 youngest kids convinced us to let them get a guinea pig. It turned out to be a great choice. Like yours, they were very responsible -- well, reasonably responsible for kids.

We had two dogs and they were totally fine with Miss Tootsy. Note: When we first got her, she was in a small cage from the pet store which we kept first on a small side table in the dining room. Later, we moved the cage to the fireplace hearth in the living room. By this time, the dogs were used to having her around &, although periodically curious, it wasn't any big deal. Eventually, we felt the cage was too small for her and, consequently, too difficult to keep clean. Tootsy's new digs were in an under-the-bed type clear plastic box (obviously, without the lid). It was perfect! Since it was open, she was more accessible to the kids to play with or just stop & pat. Since she was a little pudgy, she could put her front legs up on the edge, but never, over a couple of years, managed to climb out (I think the slippery plastic surface helped with that!). The dogs (one black lab, the second a boxer/shepherd mix) were always very good with her. If she felt they got too close, she'd bite their nose & run into her little house. When we had parties or small children over, we just scooted her cage up to one of the bedrooms to keep her safe.

For cleaning, the girls did a quick scoop once during the middle of the week and a more thorough cleaning/washing of the cage on the weekend. As long as they were good about that, there was no odor.

We had her for almost 8 years. When she passed away she left a hole in our hearts. By the way, my husband was against getting her to start with -- but became her biggest fan. I think guinea pigs area awesome "introductory pets". And, unlike other rodents, they're diurnal for the most part, not nocturnal.

Have fun!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

We have cats, dogs, and a rabbit, and have done orphan baby squirrel and bird rescue. "Natural enemy" pets can be managed.

ALL rodents have a musky odor to them. I never found it objectionable, as long as it wasn't mixed with old pee from the litter needing to be changed.

We have had gerbils and a guinea pig - yes ONE guinea pig. She got lots of attention and didn't appear to suffer from not having another guinea pig around.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Make sure the cage will stand up to the dog trying to eat it until it gets over the invasion. Also, yes, your house will smell. It will smell like the cedar chips or what ever is in the bottom and it will smell if she doesn't take it out and change it daily.

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answers from Washington DC on

she sounds like a very sensible, mature tween and very ready for this responsibility.
of course your house won't smell if the cage is kept clean. if once a week isn't enough, your daughter will have to clean it more often. bam. solved.
presumably your piggie won't be out running around setting your dog off. it's the chase that triggers the instinct. if you're not stupid and don't let the pig loose where the dog is, you won't have the problem of the dog chasing or pawing at it.
if the dog barks, train the dog better.

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answers from New York on

Given the dog, I would say no. You would be putting her pet at risk.

Then again, my MIL has had improbable pet combinations - dogs, cats, birds and horses all at once (a veritable menagerie). Given enough space, the right temperments, and some sound barriers, or boundaires it can be done.

F. B.

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answers from Washington DC on

Can you put the pig up high on a card table, away from the dog? That would help a bit and she would have storage space under. We had the kinder pig for the summer and he and our setter, a field hunter, became good buddies. The dog would come in and say hi and the pig would make his little rumble purring sound like when he was around his 2nd grade class pig buddy. Your daughter sounds awesome. I say go for it!

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answers from Cincinnati on

We had one as kids, and I remember it was very loud lol
She banged her water bottle all the time, and chirped a lot. She was very cute and friendly. But I remember my sister despising cleaning out the cage, and if she didn't...yes it stunk!!!!!
Go with your gut. You says she's responsible, but I have seen the novelty of a pet wear off fast. If that happens, do you want to care for it? Does she help care for the dog without being prompted to?
Personally, and this is just personally. I will never have any member of the rodent family in my house. Most of them are nocturnal, and without routine cleaning they do stink.
We also had rabbits as kids, and I regretted begging my parents for it pretty quickly! Only you know your daughter well enough. But if it doesn't work out, what is the alternative then? That's what you really need to figure out!
Good luck!!

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answers from Norfolk on

Can't do just ONE guinea pig - you need at least 2 or more (same sex unless you want to be hip deep in guinea pig babies).
If you have a dog - no guinea pigs at all.
When you have a dog free house, then examine your future pet options.

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answers from Dallas on

HI J., You're smart to look into this before getting a Guinea Pig.
My son has had 3 of them and their cages do smell. We cleaned their cage once a week and I had to help because their cages were so big.
I enjoyed them as they love to eat and enjoyed feeding them their snacks (various vegetables). One of them would "squeal" when she heard the refrigerator door! Pretty smart little animal, as I used to feed her veggies from the refrigerator so when she heard the door open, I guess she assumed she was getting a treat!
They do need to have their nails trimmed. We tried to do it ourselves, but ended up taking her to the vet to do it. So that is an additional cost your daughter might have to consider.
As far as your dog goes, I think your daughter will have to keep them apart. My dog was interested in our guinea pigs and would go up to their cage and sometimes bark at them.
I personally don't recommend getting a guinea pig. I hated having to clean that cage. It was really gross to me, but it had to be done.
I wish you the best.

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answers from Anchorage on

I used to have guinea pigs as a girl, first off she won't want them in her room for long unless she is a very heavy sleeper, they are very active at night and noisy. They stink to high heaven as well, so unless she plans to clean the cage daily then yes, your house will smell.

I also agree with those that said it is better to get two, animals get lonely just like people do. They don't have to have other animals of the same kind (my cat and dog and rabbit all love to play together) but being a caged animal makes it hard for it to find companion ship with things outside its cage unless you allow it to run around most of the day (our rabbit was not caged, just ran around the house with the other animals and used a little box, but I am not sure Guinea pigs can be litter box trained)

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter got a guinea pig when she was 8, which proved to be too early for her. But your daughter is older, and of course every kid is different.

There was very little smell with our guinea pig. We changed the wood chips or newspaper strips once a week. It's the urine that will smell, not the poop.

We had a border collie who was manic about squirrels, and she never ever bothered the g. pig. We would let him run free around the house and she completely ignored him. In fact, it was the g. pig that harassed the dog! He would go up to her and nibble the dog's behind as she slept to try to engage her. Our dog would have none of it, except to be mildly annoyed--she never snapped at her, she'd just get up an move! But as you know, every dog is different.

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answers from Chattanooga on

Pigs are alright... But maybe a chinchilla would be a better fit for your family? The smell (MUCH) better, are lower maintainance, and are cute and cuddly. I have had both, and I really did like the chinchilla better. The smell to me was the biggest perk... They take dust baths daily, and I bought vanilla-scented dust... So it actually worked like an air fresheners in my room! Lol. (Cleaned the "potty" area every other day, and the entire cage once a week.)

As far as the dogs go... You might do well to make have your dd invest in a jumbo exercise ball, which the pet (even if you get the guinea pig) goes into if it isn't under her direct control. Then, even if the dog gets into her room/animal gets out, it at least has some protection from the dog.

Here's some chinchilla info. :)

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I thought about it. They are nocturnal and that was the reason I did not get one (or a hamster).

You already have a dog, so it is not like she is pet deprived.



answers from Chicago on

One is good.
Once upon a time we adopted two supposedly both girls. One begot children. The other was a boy. We were able to find homes for this set. Then my husband built a separation in the cage. We could hear squealing anyway.Pregnant again. You see, then one day we caught Papa Giorgio-he was able to jump the fence to the other side. In all Claudia the guinea pig had fourteen babies.
So just get one.

And Papa Giorgio died of a heart attack the same weekend my father died.

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