Guinea pigs are clean animals that like living in tidy environments. Sometimes though, they get their environment dirty by strewing hay and food all over the cage.
This makes them get quite dirty more-so if things get stuck on their hair. For this reason, some people tend to think that guinea pigs are stinky dirty animals.
That is not true because guinea pigs like grooming themselves. They will often clean themselves and if they are two or more, they will spend a good amount of time grooming each other.
If you are at a fix on whether you need to bathe your guinea pig or not, read along.
How often should I bathe my guinea pig?
You should bathe your guinea pig only when it’s necessary. Instances like bathing to take your guinea pig to a guinea pig show or giving a parasite bath are the kind of scenarios where baths are required. Long-haired guinea pigs get their hair tangled up and dirty fast compared to short-haired guinea pigs. This often makes short-haired breeds not require a bathe that often.
Guinea pigs can stay their whole life without needing to bathe and they’ll be just fine. Grooming is always enough to keep them clean.
When should you give your guinea pig a bath
As stated, guinea pig baths are not necessary. However, some circumstances could make them a necessity.
Show guinea pigs
If your guinea pig is going to be attending a guinea pig show event, then you have to groom and bathe it. The event organizers should give you the guidelines on how to do it correctly and what to use.
This occasion is a great excuse to indulge your guinea pig in that bathe you have been dying to give.
A guinea pig can have a bad odor if you don’t usually clean their cage appropriately. Guinea pig cages should be cleaned very often with spot cleaning done every day and deep cleaning done every week.
Guinea pigs will self groom but they can still pee and sit on the pee or pee in their food. When the pee soaks their hair and food particles get stuck on the hair, then your pet is going to have one terrible stench.
Always clean their cage regularly to avoid this.
Long-haired guinea pigs
Long-haired guinea pigs have hair that will grow literally to the ground if not trimmed. This makes the hair drag dirt along which could bring bacteria and infections to your pet.
Long-haired guinea pigs are prone to getting themselves dirty and they can be bathed once in a while to prevent the piggie from getting sick or looking unkempt.
Sometimes guinea pigs could have an infestation of fleas, ticks, or mites. These parasites are dangerous as they bring infections to your guinea pig.
In times like this, a parasite bath is recommended. Your vet should advise you on the right products to use e.g the type of parasite shampoo you need.
Parasite baths are done several times to make sure that all parasites are gone. These baths may make your guinea pig’s skin dry so much and that’s why it’s advised that prevention is better than cure.
Sometimes your vet can recommend that you bathe your guinea pig more often. This can be due to infections on their skin.
Your guinea pig could be having symptoms like discharge from the eyes or ears, redness & soreness, easily irritable, and lethargy. This could be due to a skin infection.
Vets usually advice giving bathes to disinfect the wounds.
When not to give guinea pigs a bath
Sometimes you could feel that your guinea pig is just too dirty or is having a bad odor that you should wash away. However, no matter what, there are times when you should never bathe a guinea pig like:
- When they are pregnant.
- If they are too young (below 6 months.
- When they are sick e.g having a cold or respiratory infection.
How to give your guinea pig a bathe
First, pick up and hold your guinea pig to make them relax.
Use a little amount of water in a shallow bowl or pan. Make sure the water is warm and the temperatures are warm too.
Use a small-animal shampoo for your guinea pig. Avoid human shampoos or conditioners as they can cause allergic reactions and harm their skin.
Also, avoid dish soap and anything with strong scents because strong smells affect guinea pigs.
Take care not to get water into their eyes and ears. For the head, you can use a wet towel to wipe clean.
Have a towel or bath mat at your pet’s feet to avoid sliding and make sure you are holding them firmly to prevent accidents.
Rinse your pet thoroughly and towel dry them. The first towel will be too wet so have another one at hand to dry them again.
You can let your pet air-dry or you can blow dry them if they are comfortable with it. Do not take them outdoors after the bath, let them dry indoors to avoid the cold.
Effects of frequent baths
Guinea pigs do not like being in the water. Giving them frequent baths will stress them out and make them unhappy.
Just like us, guinea pigs are prone to colds if exposed to water and cold temperatures. Bathing guinea pigs now and then will give them colds.
Water dries out the natural oils in guinea pigs’ hair. If you keep bathing them, they could develop dry skin and skin infections.
Instead of going full mode bathing routines, you can give your pets a break and use other ways to keep them clean without stressing them.
- Dry baths – you can give dry baths using dust powder.
- Wipe – instead of giving a real bath, you can pour a little hydrogen peroxide in water, dip in a cloth, wring it and wipe your pet. This helps to get rid of stains and stuck dirt.
Spend enough time around your guinea pig to learn more about them. Remember that grooming is just as effective a method of cleaning until it’s not.
Groom your pets regularly. Short-haired guinea pigs can be groomed once a week while long-haired guinea pigs need daily grooming.
If they need a bath even after grooming, go ahead and give them one. Just make sure that it’s not a daily routine.