Guinea pigs have extremely sensitive skin, which makes choosing the correct soap crucial. You should use soap made specifically for guinea pigs. This means a soap that is natural and has no additives like scents or chemicals.
You’ve provided your guinea pig with plenty of food, plenty of water, and plenty of room to roam and play. But one day, you discover a strange odor emanating from your cavy companion.
You decide a bath in is order, but hold on!
It is important to use the right soap when bathing your guinea pig. Finding products with ingredients that are appropriate for their sensitive skin requires a bit of research on your part.
This article explains why guinea pig skin is sensitive and what cleansing ingredients are safest for them.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Have Such Sensitive Skin?
Guinea pigs are naturally susceptible to many skin diseases, including lice, mites, ticks, fungus, abscesses, and dermatitis (itchy, dry skin) that can cause major discomfort and a significant reduction in quality of life. Because of this, you may need to groom them regularly in addition to what they do themselves.
Guinea pigs do not do well in climates they are not naturally adapted to. Guinea pigs originated in the mountainous regions of South America, where the climate is consistently dry and warm.
Guinea pigs benefit from the warm air because it keeps their skin from becoming too dry. However, the skin must reach a certain dryness level to prevent it from becoming too moist and hosting fungal infections.
The mountain regions of South America provide the perfect balancing act not found in climates like in North America and Europe. North American and Europe alternate between cold and damp in the winter and hot and humid in the summer.
What Does All This Have to Do With Soap?
Since you probably do not live in a region with ideal weather conditions for guinea pigs, it is important to ensure their skin is kept hydrated when bathing and to look out for any dermatological problems.
You could even keep them in a room that mimics the warm, dry climate they thrive in. In the meantime, let’s talk about what cleaning products are best suited for their sensitive skin.
Look For Natural Products
“Natural” products contain gentle formulas (meaning less or no harsh chemicals) compared to what’s found in most local pet stores.
Most personal care items contain chemicals that preserve the integrity of their formula, but there is evidence that some additives can be harmful to the skin when used over time.
- Sulfates, which dry out the skin and hair.
- Parabens, which can be hormone disruptors
- Fragrances, which contain many irritating substances
As a side note, the term “fragrance” is a term manufacturers often use to disguise ingredients to avoid FDA regulation.
In the same way that humans are negatively affected by these things, guinea pigs will be affected too, and even more negatively.
If you choose to use any “natural” products, look for those that list things like paraben-free, non-toxic, unscented, and pH balanced (meaning it does not adversely affect the skin’s acidity level).
Check at a local reputable pet health store or even Amazon or Etsy (we will go over a few examples below).
However, as these products are rarely regulated, there is no standard quality indicator. Talk to your vet about what they would recommend and ask your fellow cavy owners about what they have used that has worked for them.
Avoid Products With Essential Oils
It’s best to avoid products with essential oils. These contain powerful scents and harsh formulas that are toxic to most animals, not just guinea pigs.
Only Use Soap Formulated For Guinea Pigs
Never use concentrated and scented dish soap, adult human soap, or insecticide soap. Always use a small amount of product, dilute it, and wash and remove suds with warm water to keep your pig comfortable.
The Best Soaps For Guinea Pigs
Here are some examples of bathing products that have guinea pig friendly formulas.
1. Kaytee Quick & Clean Critter Dry Shampoo
- Spray on solution for pigs who don’t enjoy getting wet
- Unscented fragrance
- Cleans and conditions
- Cheap (under $10)
2. Citrus Magic Pet Foaming Pet Cleanser
- Foam pump dispenser
- Cheap (under $10)
- Designed for small animals
- Made from vegetable enzymes
3. Piggy Poo and Crew All-Natural Lavender Scented Pig Shampoo
- Contains Water, Lavender, Lilac & Orchid Botanical Extracts, Infused With Coconut, Vitamins A, D, E, Aloe Vera, & a Proprietary Blend of Oils & Fragrance.
- Meant for use on any animal
- pH balanced
- Detergent, soap, alcohol, and paraben-free
- Expensive ($20)
- Lavender scent
4. Earthbath Fragrance-Free Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo
- Dilute with water for a more gentle cleansing
- Made with colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera
- Relieves dry, itchy skin
- No parabens, sulfates, soaps, or dyes
- Expensive ($15)
How to use Soap on Guinea Pigs
Now that you have your soap, how do you use the soap to clean your guinea pig?
It’s true that guinea pigs do not like getting wet. If they aren’t handled properly, they may squirm and squeal uncontrollably during bath time. However, if you remain calm, talk to your animal softly, and handle them gently and with ease, bath time will not become a struggle.
If your guinea pig responds adversely to water immersion, consider using waterless sprays instead.
Focus on hidden areas like the underbelly and the rear, which may become especially soiled. Try not to get water and soap in the eyes.
Because you want the piggie’s natural hair oils to moisturize on their own, avoid using conditioner. You may use a small amount of coconut oil to keep their hair smooth, shiny, and smelling great.
After cleaning, towel dry your pig but do not shake them vigorously in the process. Make sure they are completely dry before you let them go. You can even use a hairdryer and laugh at the way it blows your guinea pig’s long hair around!