Although guinea pigs don’t need to be bathed frequently, there might come a time when they will require one. In general, guinea pigs remain fairly clean, but if they roll in something gross or become too dirty, they’ll need to be washed.
You’ve had your guinea pig for a while, and perhaps you’ve started to wonder what type of maintenance they need in the cleanliness department.
Dogs get baths every so often, so do guinea pigs need an occasional bath too? And if the answer is yes, do you need to fashion a makeshift mini tub and give them a good shampoo and rinse?
Keep reading to find out the answer!
What You'll Learn
A Couple of Things About Their Coat
Guinea pigs can be short-haired, long-haired, or even hairless. The ones kept as pets are typically the short-haired variety, but the long-haired and hairless guinea pigs can be kept as well.
In any case, each type of coat (or lack thereof) requires some type of maintenance to keep them clean.
Thankfully, the upkeep for short-haired guinea pigs is simple, as they can be combed with a soft brush once a week.
Guinea pigs with long hair require a bit more care, as they should be brushed a few times a week. This is to minimize tangling and hair ingestion.
It should come as no surprise that hairless guinea pigs do not require the same type of grooming, but the next section covers bathing needs for every type.
Do Guinea Pigs Need A Bath?
Aside from brushing their coat, guinea pigs rarely need to be bathed. One pro of guinea pigs is that they are pretty good at grooming themselves. They are self-care experts!
If they need to be cleaned, using a damp washcloth to target a specific spot is a good method. Unmedicated, gentle soap or unscented baby wipes should be used.
For hairless guinea pigs, massaging a bit of nontoxic aloe lotion onto their skin helps keep it in good condition.
Even though guinea pigs do not need to be washed consistently, it is not out of the question to bathe them occasionally, if necessary. For example, if they made a habit of sleeping on soiled hay in their cage, a bath could be called for.
One thing to be cautious of is that excessive bathing could lead to skin itching and dryness. This is partly because bathing can remove natural oils from their skin. If you have to give your guinea pig a bath, do so sparingly.
The next section outlines what to do and what not to do when giving a guinea pig a bath.
Bath Time Do’s and Don’ts
You’ll need a tub of some sort and shampoo that is safe for your guinea pig. Sinks make a good “bathtub,” as the size of a sink is a good match for the size of a guinea pig.
Baby shampoo or shampoo made specifically for small animals should be used to wash guinea pigs. Dish soaps (including gentle ones), soaps, essential oils, and shampoos for humans should not be used.
Fill the Tub
The tub should be filled with only a small amount of water, just enough to cover their feet but not past their tummy.
It is helpful to give them something for their feet to grip in the tub, so laying down a mat or even a washcloth gives the guinea pig a little extra support.
Make sure you are with them for the entire duration of the bath. You don’t want to leave them unattended in a stressful situation.
To start, pour a small amount of water over their little body, enough to cover their whole coat. Do not pour water on their face, as it is important to keep their head dry.
Gently shampoo them, and once again pour a small amount of water over their body, a little bit at a time, to remove the suds.
Time to Dry
When all the shampoo has been removed, it’s now time to dry them off. It helps to turn up the heat a bit just before starting the bath, so the temperature will be slightly warmer for them by the time it’s over.
Have a towel nearby to bundle them in right after the bath. You can also use a blow dryer on the lowest setting to get them dry, making sure not to burn them in any way.
The main thing is that the guinea pig should be as dry as possible before returning to their cage. Guinea pigs are greatly affected by changes in temperature, so going from warm and dry to cold and wet does more harm than good.
If they stay chilly and damp for too long after a bath, they could catch some type of upper respiratory infection.
The next section discusses some things to keep in mind about overall grooming and cleanliness habits.
Final Thoughts About Grooming and Cleanliness…
Just by their nature, guinea pigs could accidentally get urine on their fur, resulting in an unpleasant smell after some time.
Doing a spot cleaning in their rear end region will help eliminate that type of odor. Also, keeping their hair brushed and trimmed, especially with long-haired guinea pigs, can prevent less than desirable smells from becoming a problem.
However, if there is a detectable smell coming from your guinea pig that is not from urine, it’s not necessarily a sign that they need a good scrub. It could actually mean there is a possible underlying issue going on. In this case, calling the veterinarian to determine the source of the odor would be the best course of action.
Also, when brushing or grooming their coat, take that time to check for fleas and mites. If you see your guinea pig has those types of parasites, that is an issue a veterinarian should address.
Guinea Pigs Rarely Require Baths
Do guinea pigs need baths? While they do not need to be washed consistently, if the need for a bath arises, guinea pigs can be given a good shampoo and rinse with the proper safeguards in place.