Guinea pigs are not a fan of water—they hate swimming, even getting wet.
So, bathing a guinea pig becomes a challenging task, especially for novice guinea pig owners. But worry not, fortunately, like cats guinea pigs are known for their trademark self-grooming characteristic.
Given that guinea pigs are great at keeping themselves clean and tidy, they don’t smell unless their cage is dirty or they are too sick to self-groom. So, healthy guinea pigs housed in a clean cage rarely need a bath.
That said, there will come a time when you have to bathe your guinea pig. It could be that you slacked on cleaning the guinea pig cage, or your piggy is sick and unable to properly groom himself, or he got into the mud while playing outside.
Whatever the case may be, every guinea pig owner has to one day bathe their piglet. Bathing guinea pigs might sound daunting, but if you know how to bathe guinea pigs properly, it could be a great fun time.
Do You Need to Bathe Your Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs hate water for a reason—they are soaked to their skin and thus get chilled pretty easily. Therefore, you should only bathe your guinea pig if it is absolutely necessary. By keeping your guinea pig cage clean and brushing its coat regularly you can help your guinea pig stay tidy and not require any bath.
If it gets a bit dirty, instead of giving it a full bath you should try to spot-clean the dirty area. If it is the guinea pig’s bum area where the fur is getting matted, you should give your guinea pig a bum bathe.
Should I Bathe MY Guinea Pig?
You should only bathe your guinea pig if it is absolutely necessary. If your guinea pig is smelling real bad, before you rush to bathe him, you should know that it might be sick. So, take it to a vet to see if everything is alright, and then bathe your guinea pig in the vet’s direction. If you have not cleaned the guinea pig’s cage in a while, then before bathing your guinea pig, clean its cage.
Did You Know? Despite their hatred for water, guinea pigs are excellent swimmers. But they hate it. Sounds confusing? Read our post: Guinea Pig Swimming: Can Guinea Pigs Swim? Do Guinea Pigs Like Swimming?
How to Bathe a Guinea Pig?
Bathing your guinea for the first time could be an overwhelming experience. But a step-by-step guide to bathing guinea pigs could help make the process seamless. So, let’s dive into it.
1. Gather the Necessary Equipment
Before you even think of bathing your guinea pig, you should gather everything that you might need while bathing your guinea pig. You won’t be needing much, however, here is what is necessary:
- Shampoo that is specifically made for small pets like guinea pigs.
- Baby wipes or a washcloth
- A grooming brush
- Cotton towel to dry off the wet guinea pig
2. Choose a Nice Warm Weather Day
Guinea pigs get chilled pretty easily and have a hard time drying off. They will be feeling cold until they fully dry off. So, you should choose a warm day when the sun is out. You should bathe your guinea pig outside, where the sun will warm them up. If Sun is shying away behind the clouds, you should bathe your guinea pig inside the bathroom with the heater turned on to provide extra warmth to your piggy.
3. Calm Your Guinea Pig For the Bath
Guinea pigs hate water and would become anxious even at the sight of water. So if you place them in the water, they might lose their cool. Therefore, it is crucial that your guinea pig is fully calm and relaxed before you put him into the bathing tub. Here’s what you can do to calm your piglet:
- Put on a gentle soothing music for guinea pigs
- Dim the lights
- Talk to your furball and offer him cuddles
- Offer delicious treats to your guinea pig
- If you have more than one guinea pig, bathe them one at a time
4. Spot Clean Your Guinea Pig Before Giving a Full Bath
Before you put your guinea pig in a water-filled tank, try to spot-clean it. Remove the surface dirt and clean the matted spots with a damp cloth. Mostly the soiling occurs in the guinea pig bum area due to the grease gland. So you might have to just bum bathe your guinea pig.
Bum Bathe Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs have a grease gland just above their anus, which secretes a greasy material that has a stinky smell and makes guinea pig fur in that area matt. Though both male and female guinea pigs have this gland, it is more active in male guinea pigs. So, if you have a male guinea pig, you might find its bum matted and smelling sometimes. To get your piglet rid of that stink and matte, you will have to bum bathe guinea pigs.
A bum bath is only cleaning the guinea pig but with either a cloth, baby wipes, or cotton swab soaked in a cleaning agent. You just have to get the grease and stink out. This would help keep your guinea pig smelling good without having to bathe—wet—him.
5. Fill the Bathing Tub or Sink With Water
Before bringing your guinea pig to the bathtub, make sure that you have already filled it with water. Instead of filling the tub to the brim, fill it only up to 2 inches.
- Make sure that the water is neither too hot nor too cold for the guinea pig.
- Lay a cloth in the tub so that your piglet can stand comfortably in the water
Guinea pigs are sensitive to hot as well as cold! Guinea pigs have very sensitive skin, where hot water would irritate your piglet’s skin, and cold water would lower its body temperature. So only use lukewarm water to bathe your guinea pig.
6. Put Your Guinea Pig Into the Water
- Now that the water tub is all set, you can go ahead and slowly lower your guinea pig into the water tub.
- Put guinea pig hindquarters in the water first
- Keep petting your guinea pig to reassure him
- Stay by the side of your guinea pig as he takes a minute or two to get accustomed to the water
- If it seems a bit anxious, offer treats like spinach leaves or strawberries.
7. Pour Water From the Tub Over Guinea Pig Body
With your hand or by using a small cup, pour water from the tub over your guinea pig’s body until its fur gets fully wet.
- Avoid pouring water onto the guinea pig’s face and ears
- Try to use a damp washcloth to clean your piglet’s face if its face is dirty
- If your piglet seems uncomfortable, offer him treats
8. Massage a Few Drops of Shampoo Into Guinea Pig’s Fur
Get a guinea pig-safe shampoo, squirt a few drops onto your hand and gently massage it into your piglet’s fur. Keep in mind that guinea pigs have sensitive skin so be as gentle as you can.
- Never use human, dog, or cat shampoo
- If it’s the first-time shampooing a guinea pig, you may want to dilute it
- Make sure shampoo does not get near your piggy’s face, ears, and eyes
9. Rinse Your Guinea Pig With Warm Water
When you have fully massaged shampoo into your guinea pig’s skin, now it’s time to get it out.
- Remove your guinea pig from the tank that you are bathing them in
- Using a small cup, pour lukewarm water onto your guinea pig’s body
- While pouring water, work through the guinea pig fur to completely rinse away the water suds
- Keep rinsing until you are sure that not a minute trace of shampoo is left behind
10. Dry Your Guinea Pig
After rinsing out all the shampoo from the guinea pig’s skin, immediately get to dry your guinea pig skin.
- After rinsing, gently wrap your guinea pig with a dry towel.
- The towel would absorb the moisture. If it gets too damp, use another towel.
- Continue gently pressing the towel into the guinea pig’s fur until it gets completely dry.
- Do not put your piglet into its cage until it is completely dry. Otherwise, it may experience problems like shivering.
Avoid Using a Hair Dryer! Guinea pigs are sensitive to not only heat but also noise, so avoid using a hair dryer to dry guinea pig fur.
11. Brush Your Guinea Pig’s Fur
When your guinea pig’s fur is completely dried, you should brush it to remove tangles and prevent matting. This is especially important if you have a long-haired guinea pig like Merino or Lunkarya guinea pig.
- Use a guinea pig brush or a soft-bristled one to prevent matting and remove tangles, if any
- Guinea pigs like the soothing effect of brushing so take your time when brushing guinea pig
How Often You Should Bathe a Guinea Pig?
Getting wet is a nightmare for guinea pigs, therefore, it is crucial that you only bathe your guinea pig when it is absolutely necessary. Guinea pigs are fastidious creatures, so it is quite rare for them to require bathing.
Besides bathing your guinea pig, you should also clean the guinea pig cage regularly. Living in a clean environment, guinea pigs would require fewer baths.