It’s costume season (also known as fancy dress in the UK) but here’s a word of caution if you’re considering getting your piggy involved….
Aaah, it’s that time of year again - the leaves are falling, the nights are drawing in, the pumpkin lattes are flowing and, yes, you’ve got it! The supermarket aisles are brimming with fancy dress costumes.
Whether you’re itching to slip into your Halloween witch’s cloak or you’re counting the days until you can legitimately wear a Christmas elf hat to work, this time of year is ideal for all you fancy dress fanatics out there. If the latter is more your cup of tea, you might be interested in our Christmas collection for guinea pigs and piggy parents!
You may have noticed that alongside all the human costumes, some online stores are also selling pet costumes, including outfits for guinea pigs. Tiny knitted pumpkin outfits, witch costumes and festive sweaters are some of the current offerings we’ve spotted on popular online outlets.
Super cute, right? Hmmm….actually, we’d have to disagree there. Because if you’re wondering whether your furry little pal can join the fancy dress fun, we’re afraid that we’re here to put a (toy) spanner in the works.
That’s because, really, there is only one answer to the question: ‘Can I dress up my guinea pig in a costume?’
And that would be a big fat NO from us here at Kavee. As a company we always advocate for animal rights, which is why we sell spacious C&C cages for guinea pigs and rabbits which are far bigger than the size guidelines issued by animal welfare organizations. Have a look at our blog post on cage sizes here as well as checking out our beautifully soft fleece liners, which fit our C&C cages.
Animal welfare is always at the forefront of everything we do here at Kavee. That’s why we agree with leading animal charities in the view that dressing guinea pigs up in full costumes is NOT the right thing to do.
Here are 7 reasons why.
1.Guinea pigs are not humans
Ever heard of ‘Anthropomorphism’? It’s the practice of giving human emotions to animals. In one way this can be a good thing because it means that you empathize with your pet and see them as a precious, living creature with feelings and needs. However, it’s important not to take this too far and mistakenly attribute human emotions to your guinea pigs. They’re not mini humans, after all - they’re rodents, who love burrowing in hay and don’t understand the concept of fancy dress! No matter how much you love and care for your piggy and see them as part of your family, never forget that they have different preferences and needs than you.
2.They’ll get stressed
Any piggy parent knows that our little ones are sensitive souls who are easily stressed. They’re prey animals, after all and their survival instinct is deep rooted. Every single guinea pig - yes, even your beloved piggy, living in your warm, cozy home - is constantly on the lookout for dangerous predators, ready to swoop down and gobble them up. And YOU there, looming over their cage brandishing a teeny pumpkin outfit - well, you’re as terrifying as a hawk to them! Being manhandled into a costume would seriously freak them out too. Sadly, stress can lead to dangerous respiratory infections for delicate little piggies and you don’t want to risk that do you?
3. They could get seriously injured
Trying to squeeze your piggy’s delicate body and limbs into a restrictive costume could do real damage. Guinea pigs have tiny bones and it doesn’t take much to break them. Then there’s the strangulation risk posed by outfits and headwear with ribbons or ties. Imagine your guinea pig getting caught up in a neck-tie as they burrow into their hay, gasping for breath because the cord is restricting their airways….it’s a horrifying thought isn’t it? So don’t put your guinea pig at risk by forcing them into daft and downright dangerous outfits. Guinea pigs are perfect as they are in all their portly, tubby, cuddly glory. They simply aren’t built for wearing clothes!
4. They won’t be able to groom themselves
You’ve probably noticed that guinea pigs like regular self-grooming sessions, secreting liquid from their eyes and brushing it through their fur with their paws. Grooming is an essential part of their routine, allowing them to stay clean and well and they will do it several times a day. Self-grooming is a sign that your piggy is healthy and well and they may even groom their cage mates if they’re very well bonded. But If you stick a dress or a cloak on your piggy, they won’t be able to groom themselves. This could lead to them getting dirty and stressed - and, well, we’re back to the risk of potentially fatal respiratory infections again, aren’t we? Play it safe and leave your guinea pig to enjoy life wearing nothing but their beautiful fur.
5.They won’t be able to poop properly
Guinea pigs do, erm, rather a lot of poos - an average of 100 per day per piggy, to be exact. They also eat their own poop - well, actually they only eat certain poos called caecotrophs (caecals) that are a mix of essential protein, fiber and vitamins that must be digested twice in order for the piggy to get their essential nutrients. You may have noticed your guinea bending over occasionally and pulling a poo straight from their bum (yummy). Well, they’re just eating their caecals, that’s all, and it’s essential for their health for them to be able to do it - for more details about caecals, check out our blog post 21 Fun Facts about Guinea Pigs But if they’re wearing a daft, restrictive costume they won’t be able to bend over and eat their caecals, which could seriously impact their health. So don’t dress up your guinea pig and let them eat their poop in peace.
6. Manmade fibers could cause them to overheat
Guinea pigs are very sensitive to extreme temperatures - either too cold or too hot. This is the reason why it’s safest for them to live in a spacious C&C cage indoors rather than in an old fashioned outdoor hutch, exposed to the elements. Did you know that guinea pigs can’t sweat? This makes it hard for them to moderate their body temperatures and they can easily overheat, which can cause potentially fatal heatstroke. For that reason, covering them up - especially with non-breathable manmade fibers - is a really bad idea because their body temperature will quickly rise. Along with avoiding dangerous costumes, you should ensure that your piggy’s living space is kept at a temperature between 17-20°C keep them safe and comfortable.
7. It’s for your gratification, not theirs!
Let’s get real now - guinea pigs have no concept of their appearance (which is a shame really considering they’re so darn gorgeous). They don’t wake up in the morning, munch on a tasty piece of hay and then gaze in the mirror and think ‘a tutu would look SO good on me today’. Guinea pigs - or any other animal for that matter - won’t get any joy from having a daft outfit wrestled onto them for a photo opportunity. So the only reason you’re dressing them up is for your own gratification - and your Insta followers, if you’re planning on posting the photos online. Your guinea pig will not benefit in any way whatsoever and, as we’ve already outlined above, might actually suffer….still think it seems like a good idea?
So what CAN I put on my guinea pig then?
If you’re intent on including your guinea pig in your fancy dress celebrations in some way, then how about choosing a tiny bow or hat (without strings or ties) that you can place gently on them for a quick photo and then take straight back off them so they can get on with their day? That way, you’ve had some fun and a cute photo to remember the moment and they can quickly return to doing what guinea pigs do best, which is, of course, burrowing though hay, foraging for tasty dandelions and settling down for a snooze in a cosy cuddle cup or sleep sack.
And how about these fun ideas?
If you want to have some light-hearted fun with your fluffballs - and let’s face it, we don’t blame you! - how about getting them a new toy or two to play with during floortime? Our super fun toy tank and van play set provides a cool, themed adventure playground for your little adventurers without the need for dangerous costumes.
Then there’s our brand new, exclusive collection of festive cuddle cups, pee pads and sleep sacks, which will bring all the joy of Christmas to your cavy in a safe way that suits them. Be sure to check out our complete guinea pig Christmas collection!
Also don’t forget that the way to your guinea pig’s heart is directly through its stomach. So why not celebrate this time of year with your very own homemade Christmas treat: check out our easy step-by-step guinea pig treat recipe. You’ll have a very happy piggy if you do!