A lot of new guinea pig owners are convinced that they need to bathe their pets regularly. But there really is no need for this. Guinea pigs actually bathe themselves regularly so you don’t need to give them a weekly bath. We recommend that you bathe your guinea pig on a monthly basis and it can be a longer period.
Some experienced guinea pig owners will bathe their pigs every month during summer and every two months during winter. Guinea pigs are fastidious about cleanliness and will continuously wash themselves so in theory they never need a bath.
If you bathe your guinea pig more frequently than once a month you can put them at risk of infection. Your guinea pig doesn’t like the cold and this will really stress them out. Inspect the coat of your guinea pig and see how soiled it is. If there is a lot of soiling then a bath is necessary. Some ailments will also make a bath necessary.
Sometimes guinea pigs can get lice and your vet may recommend that you bathe your pet to get rid of this problem. Unless a vet advises you to bathe your guinea pig more often then don’t do it.
How to Bathe a Guinea Pig
The first thing to say hear is that your guinea pig will not want to have a bath. It can really make them stressed so you need to take great care when you are bathing them. Do everything that you can to keep your beloved pet calm.
Make your Guinea Pig calm first
In fact the first step to bathing your guinea pig is to calm them down. Don’t just put your guinea pig into the water as they will be afraid of this and it will make them anxious. Pick up your guinea pig and hold then close. Speak to your pet in a very soothing voice and gently stroke their fur.
Something that will normally calm your guinea pig down is a treat. A piece of cucumber or lettuce will do the trick. If you need to bathe a number of guinea pigs then bathe them separately. Don’t place more than one guinea pig in the water at the same time as they can aggravate or even hurt each other.
It is important that you focus all of your attention on one guinea pig at a time. If you feel that your guinea pig is tense and jumpy before the bath then place them in a box and carry them to the bath in this box.
Give your Guinea Pig’s Fur a wipe down
The next step is to use a damp cloth to wipe down the fur of your guinea pig. Do this before placing them in a bath. This will help to get rid of any dirt on the surface of the coat. Just put the cloth in some warm water and then wring the excess water out. Pay particular attention to any soiled patches of fur.
You may have seen dust treatments advertised that are supposed to keep your guinea pig clean. We strongly recommend that you avoid these. Using dust to clean a guinea pig can actually lead them to suffer from respiratory issues especially if they breathe the dust in.
Use a suitable Container filled with 2 Inches of water
You need to have a suitable container ready to bathe your guinea pig. It is a good idea to place a cloth at the bottom of this container so that you prevent your guinea pig from slipping. After this add around 2 inches of warm water to the container. Don’t add too much water. Your guinea pig must be able to comfortably stand in the water.
The water must always be warm and never hot or cold. Hot water can be an irritant for their skin and cold water will significantly lower their body temperature which will make them stressed.
Gently Lower your Guinea Pig in
Now it is time to gently lower your guinea pig into the bath making sure that its hindquarters reach the water first. You need to give your guinea pig a bit of time to adjust to being in the water. They need to get used to the feel of it and the temperature. Always stay with your guinea pig when they are in the bath – never leave them unattended in water.
You need to be next to your guinea pig when they are in the bath so that you can comfort and reassure them if they are tense and afraid. Even a guinea pig that has had a number of baths can feel this way. A good tip is to give them a treat while they are in the water so that you create a positive association for your guinea pig.
Give your Guinea Pig a Rinse
After your guinea pig is calm in the water use your hands or a cup to rinse their coat in warm water. Avoid the water coming into contact with their face and their ears. Continue with the rinsing until their fur is wet.
Guinea pigs really don’t like water on their face so use your hand and protect their face from any running water from the rinsing. They will not appreciate any water getting into their mouth or eyes. If your guinea pig has a dirty face then get rid of the dirt with a damp cloth. Keep the cloth away from their mouth, nose, eyes and ears though.
Use a Shampoo safe for Guinea Pigs
You need to purchase a special shampoo that’s safe for your guinea pig. Add a few drops of the shampoo to your hands and then gently massage their fur, working the shampoo in. It is essential that you do this as gently as possible because guinea pigs have sensitive skin and you don’t want them to become agitated here.
Whatever you do don’t get the shampoo anywhere near their face and their ears. Be sure to buy shampoo that is safe for guinea pigs, and don’t be tempted to use dog shampoo or even human shampoo as these will be too strong for them and are likely to irritate their skin.
Finally use Warm Water to Rinse
After you have shampooed your guinea pig you will need to rinse all of the shampoo away with warm water. It is best to use your hands here to scoop up the water and protect their faces as well. Keep rinsing until all of the shampoo is gone. You do not want any shampoo residue left as this can be a skin irritant.
Time to Dry your Guinea Pig
Have a clean towel handy so that you can place your guinea pig in it after bathing. Slowly wrap the towel around your pet to absorb as much moisture as possible and to keep your pig warm. Your guinea pig may start to shiver at this point and this is no cause for alarm. It is a natural reaction and will stop when they are totally dry.
You may need more than one towel here. Once a towel is damp from absorbing the moisture from your guinea pig it is time for you to use another dry towel. If you keep your guinea pig wrapped in a damp towel for too long they will start to get cold. Use a dry towel to blot all of the moisture away from their body until they are completely dry.
How to Clean a Guinea Pig’s Eyes and Ears
The eyes and ears of a guinea pig are very sensitive. You need to take extreme care when cleaning. Never use shampoo to clean a guinea pig’s eyes. It will sting their eyes and they will become very distressed.
Sometimes the eyes and ears of your guinea pig will have gunk in or around them. You need to gently wipe this gunk away. It is possible to clean the eyes of your guinea pig using gauze and a saline solution. Using a soft ear stick will help here too.
If you find that the ears of your guinea pig have general dirt on them then you can use a little guinea pig shampoo to wash them. Add the shampoo to your hands and lather it and then just gently apply to the ears as well as underneath. You do not want to get any shampoo into the ear canal so be extremely careful here. Dry with a soft ear stick.
Brushing a Guinea Pig
You should brush your guinea pig more often than you give them a bath. We suggest that you perform this grooming on a weekly basis. The amount of grooming that is necessary will depend on the length of your guinea pig’s coat.
The reason that you need to brush your guinea pig more often is that it prevents their fur from matting. It also helps with their overall skin health. When you brush your guinea pig properly they will have a real luster and sheen to their coat.
Brushing your Guinea Pig with Short Hair
Short haired guinea pigs do not require as much brushing as long haired ones do. Check to see how dirty their coat is on a regular basis. If there are things stuck to their coat then it is time to brush.
Get a warm towel and place your guinea pig on it. Use your fingers to run through their coat beginning at the back so that you can identify any matted areas or lesions. Use a soft bristled brush and begin at the back of the head and work your way down their body. Be sure to brush in the same direction as the fur growth.
Brushing your Guinea Pig with Long Hair
You should brush a long haired guinea pig much more often perhaps daily or every two days. Use the same preparation steps above for a short haired guinea pig. Get rid of any hay pieces, loose hair and dirt first. Then use a slicker or pin brush which has stiffer bristles. This will help to get through knots.