One question that I am often asked is are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs to use? When you search the internet, you will find a host of answers, some will say yes, it is safe to give guinea pigs a salt wheel, while others say it is not. Why the mixed responses? Well, a lot of people that answer this type of question are not experts, nor are they using common sense. When it comes to the health of your guinea pig, you need to look at it from a human angle first, and then the guinea pig angle. So what does that mean?
When it comes to salt wheels for guinea pig, people buy them because they are in the small animal section of the pet shop, and are usually in pretty packaging. So if a pet shop is selling them, they must be safe then? No. They sell items to make a profit from the customer. Although the staff may care about your pet, the company accounts department couldn’t care less, as the only interest for them is profit.
So, look at the question are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs from this angle. You have a 1 year old guinea pig, and a 1 year old baby. You love them both, so you give them a salt wheel each to eat. Does this sound right to you? Of course not, who in the right mind would give a baby a big chunk of salt to eat? That would just be stupid wouldn’t it? So why would you want to give the same thing to a mammal that is many times smaller than a baby?
We all know the health risks associated with salt these days, it increases blood pressure, and that in turn can lead to stroke and heart disease. Now guinea pigs do not live as long as humans, but constant high blood pressure can still cause health issues. Although data is in short supply, salt wheels are likely to increase the risk of a heart attack in a guinea pig. Another problem caused by salt wheels is that it is impossible for the owner to know how much each guinea pig is consuming on a daily basis. If they are consuming a lot, and the weather is hot, then it will contribute towards dehydration, which can cause organ failure.
So if you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer to the question; are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs is no. Do not buy them, they are of no nutritional value. The only salt that they need is included in the fruit, veg and pellets you feed them. If you love your guinea pig, then avoid salt wheels like the plague. Also avoid mineral wheels, although they are a different color, they are mostly made of salt.