MH@H Mental Health

Pet Therapy Guinea Pig Style

My guinea pigs are my source of pet therapy, and they’re so important to my mental health.  Watching them play is an easy way to be mindful in the present moment.  They’re very interactive, so even though I live alone I never feel alone.  When my depression is so bad I can barely get out of bed, they’re a reason to force myself to get up.  And when things get so bad that I start to feel suicidal, my responsibility as their mom motivates me to keep hanging on.

guinea pig sitting beside mom

This is Squeaky, my grumpy old man.  His buddy died a few months ago, but he’s a trooper and keeps on going.

guinea pig sitting on top of hidey-house

Casper is the baby of the bunch, and she likes to play.  Of all the guinea pigs I’ve had, she’s the only one that jumps on top of the wooden hidey-house.

guinea pig eating grass while partly hidden under mom's skirt

Guinea pigs love to eat grass, but they’re not so into being exposed to the big bad world.  Oreo has found the perfect compromise being partly hidden under my skirt.

guinea pig curled up in a corner sleeping

They have a variety of cute sleeping positions,  Here’s Squeaky with his leg tucked up against the food bowl.

guinea pigs sticking their heads out the cage door begging for food
guinea pigs begging for food

The guinea pigs are very smart when it comes to knowing what sounds are associated with getting food, like the fridge door opening or the rustle of their food bag. Β And sometimes they just want to let mama know that they think they’re entitled to a treat. Β So they will put their front paws up on the cage door opening and stick their cute little faces out as far as they can, because they know they’ve got their mama wrapped around their little feet. Β Cookie (the all black one) is the biggest of the bunch so she tends to muscle the other two out of the way.

So that’s my little family.  Do you have pets, and if so, how do they benefit your mental health?

55 thoughts on “Pet Therapy Guinea Pig Style”

  1. They are so beautiful! Pets really are fantastic for mental health. My cats always know when I need extra cuddles. Lol and they know when they need extra cuddles.

  2. I have guinea pigs too – Flora and Twiglet! They are such characters and always make me smile. I also have two rabbits who are just brilliant. Having them has been so healing for me as I had rabbits when I was younger and my mum used to fly into a rage over them quite regularly. Having stress-free pets has really helped young parts of me to heal πŸ’•

  3. Awww. Thanks for sharing another posts of your guinea pigs. I bet you felt this post was needed after conversations coming out about your babies on another blog? Guinea pig cuteness overload in this post, so I enjoyed reading very much.

    Pets are brilliant.
    Mostly I have owned cats, the last one, Mikey being very overloading with love and got me wrapped around her paw.
    My previous cat to her, Lady, she liked a fuss now and again and knew when I wasn’t well. I think she sensed my deafness too, with a behaviour she did, once we were in a place of our own; letting me know the post came. (Once I knew what she was trying to tell me, with her body language.)

    I have owned a hamster once too and for a little thing, I felt tons of love from her.

    Years before all these pets, I have owned dogs, canaries, budgies and cockatiel’s.

  4. We have a tiny kitty who is ten years old but still weighs only six pounds. She was, sadly, severely abused and then abandoned early in life. This makes her an extraordinarily sensitive to my own mental health, but also resulted in her having a PTSD diagnosis of her own (given by a veterinarian who specialized in animal behavior. Living near a big university had its perks when I adopted her.) I actually was prescribed prozac for her when we first got her and told she had kitty nightmares. She also has a bunch of weird allergies, so she definitely is *my* cat. She is mostly okay now, but a couple of her few remaining, um, “triggers” are kind of embarrassing to explain to pet sitting agencies…

  5. I’ve been thinking about this recently, that I would like a pet to help with my depression. Maybe guinea pigs (I know you need to get more than one) or a kitten. But my parents aren’t keen and I’m worried about having to take care of another living thing when my own functionality is so variable.

  6. Aw, they’re so sweet and I love their names, especially Casper (I used to love that film as a kid). I think pets can hugely help with mental well-being. Sadly my cat doesn’t necessarily contribute positively very often, but when my dog was alive he did, and one day I’d love to have another, even though I doubt that’ll ever be possible. Pets are shown to have a range of positive benefits for their owners in a lot of cases. Have you had other pets before these cute little guys? xx

  7. Great post! My last dog, Abbie, definitely helped with my mental health, as she was often anxious. I felt like we were two of a kind. When she passed last year, I got my current dog. I haven’t quite bonded with him as I did my last dog but I suppose having a pet keeps you on a routine. I enjoyed the pictures in this post!

    1. It’s fascinating how variable animals can be in terms of bonding. Strangely, I’ve noticed that when I’ve had guinea pigs get sick in the past they became more bonded to me.

  8. Awwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!! How adorbz!! Oh, gushy. What cute little animals!! Snuggly little sweethearts!! It’s guinea love. πŸ™‚

    I have a kitty, Mr. Kitten; and a puppy, Sammy Samson. They keep me engaged in a very active way–Sammy Samson needs constant walks around the block, and he wakes me up every morning–AHEM, every afternoon. The kitty and the puppy are good friends and like to roughhouse, which is adorable (once we confirmed they weren’t trying to kill each other!). They bring a lot of excitement to our household.

    Great photo spread!!

      1. Sometimes Sammy Samson tramples Mr. Kitty in his excitement to get somewhere. I’m always saying, “Don’t trample your big brother! He has tiny parts.” (Mr. Kitty’s older, so he’s the big brother, even though he’s a petite nine pounds.)

  9. Oh Ashley, they are adorable ❀ I have a dog who brings me his toys to play with with him when I am down. I know that it to make me feel better because he does it at uncharacteristic times.

  10. My hedgehogs are so important for my mental health too! My first hedgie helped me so much a couple of years ago when I first got her! πŸ’– It’s unreal how much animals can help x

  11. They are the cutest little guys/gals, Ashley!! I want one now. I have a toy maltese who has gained two pounds this year alone. He has weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds his whole life, now weighing almost 9 pounds!! I think him aging may have something to do with it. I am glad that you have them babies to keep you going.

  12. Oh my goodness, so adorable! I think pets are great for mental health. Like you say, it’s the responsibility that keeps you going sometimes, but it’s worth it for their funny little ways ❀️

  13. Aww, they are beautiful little animals. I used to have guinea pigs called Toffee and Treacle and I loved them to bits. I’ve now got two miniature schnauzers and they are so loving. I think humans have a lot to learn from animals. No matter what type of day I’ve had my dogs are there to greet me at the door. No matter how i’m feeling they will always wag their tails and no matter what’s going on in life they are always there to give cuddles. Pets are wonderful for mental health. Thanks for sharing pics of your animals. πŸ™‚

  14. Guinea pigs are so cute, we’ve had Barley who lived with Hops the rabbit and then Benji-bunny after we lost Hops.
    Then we had Dylan the rabbit on his own.
    Then guinea-twinny-girls Fidget and Squeak, Squeak was the noisy one and Fidget followed her around everywhere. Poor Squeak managed to lacerate her own liver and died when she was only a few months old. Fidget was with us for many years, and later had Bouncer ‘the garden destroyer bunny’ for company. Fidget’s favourite place was under the shed and she liked to eat bamboo leaves.

  15. Oh, my God… They are all so precious! Have you always had guinea pigs your entire life?
    As you know, Peanut (Parrot) is my baby boy, and he officially became a therapy pet since April of 2017. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. He registers on my moods and knows just what to do to cheer me up. And when he knows my depression is peaking, he always asked, “Are you alright?” and, “It’s okay mommy.” Just recently, he’s been climbing out of his cage more for some lovin’. I think he got wind of me wanting to adopt a guinea pig. LOL! πŸ™‚

  16. I love your perspective on how you deal with your depression, normally my dog is there for me, but I absolutely love my guinea pig! Gizmo is a hoot and next time I get down, I am going to try spending some time with him. There is always something out there in your life that makes it worth hanging on. Always remember that πŸ™‚

  17. I used to have guinea pigs, too. Like you, I found pets keep me from feeling alone even when I’m the only one in the house. They are also great for getting me out of bed in the morning. I’m not a morning person, but I have to get up to walk the dog, and that helps me get my day started. Plus I love our time outside together.

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