Guinea pigs are considered clean animals that don’t require much maintenance. You only need to bathe them if they are filthy (such as if they roll in mud). If possible, clean their cage at least once per week and spot clean it every day.
What You'll Learn
There are a few things you can do to make sure your guinea pig stays healthy, happy, and smells fresh.
In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of guinea pig hygiene and tips for keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean.
Guinea Pig Hygiene
The first thing you should know about your guinea pig’s hygiene is that it doesn’t require much effort on your part. Guinea pigs groom themselves regularly and instinctively remove food particles or bedding from their fur.
There is rarely a need to bathe them, and brushing doesn’t need to be a constant chore.
Let’s discuss the details.
Long-haired piggies will need to be brushed daily and bathed quarterly. Brush short-haired piggies out about once a week. Groom your piggy by brushing in the direction of their fur growth, which will help remove any dead hairs and keep your fur-baby looking fresh.
You should only bathe your short-haired guinea pig if your cavy is filthy. Usually, this only happens on the rear end of short-haired piggies. In that case, there is no need for a full bath. Just bathe their derriére.
Often, short-haired guinea pigs will only require a washcloth bath or being spritzed with clean water and then brushed out gently.
A full bath will be necessary for long-haired piggies or short-haired pigs who are extra dirty. In that case, fill a large bowl, or a small basin or sink, with about an inch of warm water. Gently place your guinea pig in the water. Never submerge your guinea pig!
Use a cup to pour water over your fur-baby’s back, being careful to keep the water out of their ears and away from their face. Have a towel on your lap, and place your wet cavy on it. Wash them thoroughly with guinea pig shampoo or gentle baby shampoo, then place them gently back into the water.
Rinse the shampoo off thoroughly, then wrap them snugly in the towel. Blot your piggy, then use the low or cool setting on a blow dryer to dry them.
Since guinea pigs are susceptible to cold and wetness, it’s best to bathe them on warm days. Always ensure they are completely dry before putting them back in their enclosure.
Long-haired piggies will often benefit from a haircut. Keeping their hair short enough that it doesn’t drag helps to prevent bacteria from causing infections. Also, a haircut can help to keep your cavy comfortable during the hot summer months.
All guinea pigs have a grease gland directly above their tailbone that you should check weekly and clean when needed. For some piggies, that will be once a week, while others will only require their gland cleaned once a month.
By checking this gland regularly, you can prevent a buildup of grease that is much harder to remove and could cause an infection.
If there is an accumulation, apply coconut oil to help break down the waxy gunk. Once it’s softened, give your piggy’s hind end a gentle bath to clean their hair and the gland.
If your cavy is long-haired, you may have to trim the hair above the gland to see and wash it.
Nail trimming is an integral part of your cavy’s grooming needs. Guinea pigs have long nails, which can grow into their footpads and create open wounds on their feet if not kept trimmed.
Pododermatitis (or bumblefoot) can then develop in the damaged footpad. The resulting inflammation can become so serious as to threaten your piggy’s life.
You should trim your piggy’s nails at least once a month. Guinea pig nail trimmers are available at pet stores, or you may use standard nail clippers. Styptic powder in case you trim them too short, and treats for rewarding or distracting your cavy, should be kept close as well.
Dental care is probably the most critical aspect of caring for your fur-baby’s hygiene. Guinea pigs have teeth that never stop growing, so neglecting their oral health can lead to painful cuts or abscesses in addition to interfering with eating.
Fortunately, a good diet of hay and grasses is abrasive enough to keep your piggy’s chompers just the right length.
If you’re worried that diet isn’t enough to keep your cavy’s teeth short, you can add untreated wood blocks or sticks to their home to encourage gnawing.
Check your piggy’s front teeth weekly and have your vet check their molars if any problems arise.
Essential Guinea Pig Enclosure Maintenance
Basic guinea pig hygiene includes complete bedding changes in your guinea pig’s cage at least once a week and spot cleaning daily.
Having a regular cleaning schedule will keep your guinea pig’s home cleaner and smelling fresh, which means a more pleasant and healthy experience for everyone.
You’ll need to remove everything from your cavy’s cage and wash the bottom with a weak bleach solution about once a month. This keeps bacterial growth at bay.
The crusties in the bottom of the enclosure are calcium deposits from your fur-baby’s urine. Remove the calcium deposits by pouring a bit of vinegar over them and allowing it to sit. A couple of vinegar treatments should be enough to break the deposits down with minimal scrubbing. Don’t forget to clean water bottles, bowls, and hay containers regularly as well.
Guinea Pigs Are Low Maintenance Pets
Guinea pigs may be small and furry, but they take their personal hygiene seriously. Keeping their cage clean, checking their teeth and nails, brushing them, and bathing them every so often is all it takes to keep your guinea pig looking and smelling great.
So if you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet that still loves to cuddle with you, a guinea pig is the perfect companion!
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