Guinea pigs are friendly and sociable home pets that have grown to be quite popular. They have a tad of accessories like toys, blankets, tunnels, hideys, etc.
Another accessory that draws owners is the collar. Just like with other common pets like dogs, guinea pigs have collars that are sold everywhere from pet stores to online shops.
The collars are lovely and colourful, not to mention how guinea pigs look with them in all the pictures posted online. This could draw your attention making you jump on the bandwagon to buy one for your furry friend.
But before you do that, let’s look at how safe they really are, if they are at all.
Can guinea pigs wear collars?
Guinea pigs should never be made to wear collars. Collars are put on their necks either as a decorative accessory, like the way you would have a necklace on, or to be connected to a leash to control their movements. Collars are hazardous for guinea pigs because they bring about serious injuries to their delicate neck bones and spine. They are also stressful to them in addition to being a choking hazard if connected to a leash.
Why guinea pig owners use collars
As a general rule, collars are not safe for guinea pigs. However, some owners will still go ahead and purchase them.
Mostly it’s usually because:
- They are sold in pet stores where one would expect everything sold there to be pet-safe.
- They have seen many pictures of guinea pigs with collars and figured that it’s okay to get one for their pets too.
- They are new owners who do not know the dangers of collars.
- The collars are usually so colourful and they may consider them to be a cute addition to their pet’s clothing.
These being the reasons why one would buy a collar, the accessory could be useful because:
- The collared pet will not run off. A collar is easily attached to a leash which makes it easy to hold your pet nearby and keep them from wandering far and away. This will prevent them from getting lost.
- The collar is a great way of including your contact information and your pet’s details. This is especially helpful if your pet gets lost. Someone will be able to read that information and assist in reconnecting you with your lost furry ball.
Why collars are bad for guinea pigs?
Collars may present a few useful uses, but their effects outweigh their good. Below are some of the reasons why you should not put a collar on your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs have delicate bones and spines. Putting a collar around them will hurt them and gradually bring about serious injury.
Having a collar on them will mean occasional tugging. Just like exercise balls and wheels, collars are unsafe for small pets.
If a collar is attached on a leash they could easily tangle themselves up and choke.
Guinea pigs get easily stressed out. They are prey animals and cannot fight predators.
Their survival instinct is to run away and hide. Putting a collar on their necks will make them uneasy and uncomfortable.
They will feel even more vulnerable having a foreign object around their necks that could hinder their efforts of getting to safety if they sensed danger. Trying to take it off will make them stressed out if they are unable to do so.
Collars will cause injury to guinea pigs that may get serious with constant use and tug. This is dangerous as it could lead to fatality in your pet.
Signs that a collar is hurting your guinea pig
If you still decide to buy a collar for your pet nonetheless, the following are signs that your pet has been hurt or injured by it:
Getting scared when you go nearby
If your pet was friendly then they become scared of you all of a sudden after you begin using a collar on them, then that is a clear sign that your pet is hurt. They may try to get away from you if you try to touch them due to pain caused by the collar or because they are scared that you will put the collar on them.
Seem anxious and restless
If your pet becomes anxious and restless, then they could have been injured by the collar. You may notice that they are more nervous than they usually are.
This shows that your pet is stressed out by the alien accessory you are putting on their neck.
Hair loss around the neck
A collar may lead to hair loss on your guinea pig’s neck. This could be due to constant use.
If you realize that your guinea pig is lacking hair around the place where the collar comes in contact with their skin, then it means that the collar is hurting your pet.
Can guinea pigs wear harnesses and leashes?
Harnesses and leashes are safer compared to collars but you should not make your pet wear them either. This is because of the delicate bones of guinea pigs that can get easily injured by the harness or leash.
Can guinea pigs be walked?
Guinea pigs cannot be walked. They cannot be lead on like dogs because that’s just not how they are.
Walking guinea pigs is unnecessary and may be dangerous. Collars are usually attached to leashes for a good outdoor walk.
Doing this for your guinea pig will stress them out. This is because guinea pigs will get afraid while out in unfamiliar territories where they’ll likely come across strangers, dogs, birds, and loud noises that will distress them.
It’s not safe to walk your guinea pig. Instead of walking them, you can opt for better alternatives like:
- Exercise – it can be indoors as long as you put away any hazards like electric cables and human foods. This is a good time for floor time where you can bring out their toys.
- Outdoor games – if you have a big space outdoors, you can let out your guinea pig for some air. Make sure it’s fenced to prevent them from escaping. You can play using small balls, mazes, or teach them tricks.
Guinea pigs should never wear collars because they are harmful to them and could lead to spine injuries. Collars also stress them out and present them with a choking hazard.
Walking guinea pigs is not necessary as long as you let them out of the cage often to roam around your home under your supervision.