Guinea pigs are generally clean animals, but it is not uncommon for them to get a little smelly or look dirty from time to time. You may be wondering if it’s okay to bathe them on occasion. Do guinea pigs need baths at all?
Though guinea pigs generally clean themselves, it is safe to bathe them in shallow water. Avoid getting any water in their eyes or ears and dry them off promptly afterwards. It’s recommended to bathe your guinea pig no more than once every month or two to preserve the natural oils in their coat.
Want to know the benefits and drawbacks of bathing your cavy? Read on to learn more about when and how to wash them. We also will let you know the impact bathing too often can have on their health and well-being.
Why Should I Wash My Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs generally do a great job of cleaning themselves, so why should you bother bathing them? There are a couple of reasons why an occasional bath may be necessary for your guinea pig.
They Are Dirty or Smelly
Some guinea pigs are messier than others and can start to smell. This can be caused by laying in litter boxes or peeing where they sleep. Male guinea pigs also have a more active grease gland and may get a build-up of grease and hair that can start to smell.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a good idea to give a smelly or dirty guinea pig a quick bath to clean them up and keep them comfortable.
There are a couple of conditions that can benefit from baths. First of all, if your guinea pig contracts fleas or mites, bathing thoroughly with a shampoo recommended by your vet can help to give them relief and get rid of some of these pests.
Additionally, if your guinea pig has a dirty or wet belly, it can increase the risk of urinary tract infections. Guinea pigs are very low to the ground and pick up bacteria on their lower body very easily. Bathing when necessary can help keep them clean and reduce this risk.
Senior Guinea Pigs May Have Difficulty Keeping Themselves Clean
As your guinea pig gets older, their mobility and energy decrease. Some senior piggies may have difficulty grooming their full body and may start to get dirty or smell as a result. If this happens, it’s a good idea to give them an occasional bath to help keep them clean and prevent any related health issues from lack of cleanliness.
How Often Should I Bath My Guinea Pig?
Ideally, you should not bathe your guinea pig more than once a month. Too often can deplete the natural oils in their coat and cause their fur to get greasy and itchy.
However, if your guinea pig is older or smellier than most, you can give them a quick bum bath more often to clean them up. Try not to get them fully soaked and only shampoo the area that needs it the most. If your guinea pig has parasites and needs a more frequent bathing schedule, this is fine as long as it’s temporary.
If your guinea pig is clean and otherwise healthy, bathing is not necessary at all. Many piggies do fine with just a couple of baths in their lifetime or even none at all.
What Do I Need for Bathing a Guinea Pig?
Preparing everything in advance will minimize the stress your cavies might experience at bath time. Here are the standard items you will need to make it a more relaxed and fun experience:
- Basin or container (you can also use a sink or bathtub filled with shallow water)
- Non-slip matting. You can use a towel as a substitute for the matting
- Towel for drying
- Blow dryer (optional)
- Shampoo suitable for guinea pigs
- Favorite veggie treats for snacking afterward while they dry off
Now that everything has been gathered up, it’s time to bathe your cavies.
How To Wash Your Guinea Pigs
Your guinea pig may feel a little stressed about bath time. Remember to go slow and speak to them in a soft, soothing tone.
1. Get the bath ready
Place your non-slip mat or towel at the bottom of your basin or sink. This prevents the guinea pig from sliding around as you wash them.
Add an inch or two of lukewarm water (the temperature should be between 32°C/90°F and 35°C/95°F). Guinea pigs are not built for swimming, so it’s crucial not to place them in water that is too deep.
2. Place your guinea pig into the water
Take your time when introducing the guinea pig to the water. You may find that they want to hop out or offer some resistance. Patience and understanding are paramount. Slowly lower the animal into the water.
You can also offer some small treats if your guinea pig wants them. Avoid making any movements that could startle your piggy.
3. Time for the bath
When washing your cavy, you want to focus primarily on their underside and bum. These are the areas that get dirty the most.
Scoop the water gently onto your guinea pig. Avoid getting water in the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. If your cavy inhales or swallows the water, it can lead to respiratory issues like infections.
Don’t rush the process. Take your time and carefully bathe your guinea pig.
4. Shampooing the fur
Use the same care and precautions you did when washing your guinea pig. Pour a small amount of shampoo into your hand. Gently lift your guinea pig’s front end so that you have access to the underside.
Massage in the shampoo with small circular motions creating a nice lather.
What shampoo can I use on my guinea pig?
Not all animal shampoo is created equal. Using the wrong kind of shampoo on your guinea pig can damage their sensitive skin. Only wash the fur with a product made for small animals or guinea pigs.
5. Rinse time
After bathing and shampooing, it’s time to rinse your cavy. Change out the water with a fresh supply. This ensures that you aren’t washing off your pet with dirty water.
Place your guinea pig in a safe place while you empty the soiled water from the basin or sink. Once you have gotten rid of the water, place the guinea pig back into the basin.
Thoroughly rinse the fur to remove all traces of shampoo.
6. Drying off your guinea pig
Now that the bath time is completed, it’s time to dry your cavy. Carefully place them on a soft towel that you can wrap around them.
Lightly pat the guinea pig dry. You want to make sure that the fur is completely dry before returning them to their enclosure. A cold, damp guinea pig is more susceptible to catching pneumonia.
Monitor your guinea pig until they are completely dry to ensure they are not cold or shivering. Offer some veggie treats to occupy them while they air dry.
Can I dry my guinea pig with a hair dryer?
It is possible to dry your cavy with a blow dryer. If you want to try this method, have your dryer set at the lowest option possible, and hold it a safe distance from your guinea pig. You don’t want to dry out the fur and skin, nor do you want to burn your pet.
If your guinea pig gets too stressed or spooked by the noise of the hair dryer, turn it off and go back to drying by hand.
Guinea pigs generally do a good job of cleaning themselves, yet there are times when you may need to wash them. Even though you may only have to wash them once or twice a year, this is a general guideline.
Any piggy that is starting to smell or has a soiled bum should have a bath to minimize health risks. Wash your cavy with care and love as they can get stressed around water. Don’t forget to offer lots of treats at the end and throughout the bath to help keep them calm and relaxed.