How To Bathe a Guinea Pig

I got my first Guinea Pig when I was 12. It didn’t take me too long to learn that hygiene was important. As a kid, it taught me responsibility. I learned a lot from cleaning “Nippy”s cage each week. I spent a lot of time caring for him and learned that keeping him clean was important. 

How To Bathe a Guinea Pig

  1. Understand that guinea pigs bathe themselves so in most cases a bath is not necessary
  2. To bathe a guinea pig you’ll need a washcloth, guinea pig or rabbit shampoo, a dry towel, a brush, and a sink or bucket
  3. Place the guinea pig in the sink/bucket and pour small amounts of warm water onto his fur
  4. Place a dab of shampoo and rub your fingers through his fur
  5. Rinse with warm water
  6. Wrap the Guinea Pig in a towel and dry
  7. Gently comb or brush

These are just the basics. It’s not too complicated. In many cases, a warm washcloth would do the trick. You don’t have to shampoo your Guinea Pigs fur unless you really want to.

Does My Guinea Pig Need a Bath?

Before you decide to bathe your guinea pigs you should first determine whether he needs a bath in the first place. Most guinea pigs hardly ever need to be bathed with water and shampoo. Most guinea pigs go their entire lives without being given a bath. Bathes aren’t necessary in most cases.

Guinea Pigs are very hygienic animals. They actually do a lot of self-grooming. When you see a Guinea Pig lick its fur that’s part of its grooming process. They can bathe themselves! The only time it would ever need a bath is if there was something messy on its fur that it couldn’t clean properly itself. Or if there was a bad odor.

©Omlet

In cases where there is a strong odor be sure to make sure it’s coming from the Guinea Pig and not the cage that it’s in. If the cage isn’t cleaned regularly the smell can permanently transfer onto the cage and it will smell, even after you clean it. Typically, with proper self-grooming, Guinea Pigs don’t have a bad odor but sometimes they can. If that’s the case a bath with warm water will do the trick!

There are a few different ways you can groom a guinea pig. Did you know that if you have more than one guinea pig they will actually groom each other? That’s right. It’s called Allogrooming. Guinea Pigs are very hygienic animals. They like their space and their fur to be clean.

What kind of Shampoo to Bathe a Guinea Pig With?

If you need to bathe your Guinea Pig with soap then you will want to buy a specific shampoo made for either Guinea Pigs or Rabbits. Their fur and skin are similar enough to use the same shampoo. With that said there are some alternatives to soap that you might want to consider.

Shampoo Alternatives For Guinea Pigs:

  1. Warm water
    1. In many cases, a simple rinse with water will do the trick. The shampoo is often unnecessary
  2. Unscented Baby Shampoo
    1. This should be diluted (watered down)
    2. A little goes a long way. A drop diluted in 1 cup of water should do the trick
  3. Oatmeal
    1. If the Guinea Pig either smells bad or seems to be itchy and good old-fashioned oatmeal bath might be in order. 
      1. You can use instant oats or buy a specially formulated oatmeal bath
      2. If using instant oats then just let the oats soak in warm water for a few minutes, strain, and then use for bathing
  4. Diluted Apple Cider vinegar
    1. I, personally, don’t like the smell of vinegar and you may find that your guinea pig doesn’t either.
    2. With that said it’s a safe alternative to shampoo just be sure it’s heavily diluted and take caution as to not get it in the guinea pig’s eyes.
  5. Hypoallergenic, Unscented, vegan, shampoo.
    1. Be sure it’s all 3
    2. These are, usually, safe for humans and most animals.

Guinea Pigs have very sensitive skin. Their skin can easily become irritated by using the wrong product. All-natural solutions are generally a safe way to go. If you notice your Guinea Pig itching after it’s dried after bath then that’s a good indication that its skin has become irritated. You might want to consider an alternative to what you used.

©Squeaks and Nibbles

Believe it or not, Guinea Pigs can’t tolerate certain chemicals and scents the way humans can. Our human shampoos are usually loaded up with unnatural scents that were formulated in a lab. You never want to use human products on your Guinea Pig.

What NOT To Bathe a Guinea Pig With

  1. Never body wash or soap meant for humans
  2. Never shampoo or conditioner meant for humans
  3. Never dish soap
  4. Never scented oils, perfumes, or lotions
  5. Never laundry detergent
  6. Never cleaning supplies
  7. Never bleach

Can I Use A Blow Drier On My Guinea Pig?

If you wanted to you could use a blow drier that has a COOL setting to blow dry the fur after bathing–but don’t ever use the warm or hot setting. The heat from the blow dryer could kill your Guinea pig. I know someone that did this and found out the hard way. Some blow driers have a COOL setting that blows the air at room temperature. Your guinea pig shouldn’t mind being blow-dried on the low setting. Some Guinea Pigs may be afraid of the noise. If that’s the case you should stop the blow drier immediately, as to not traumatize him/her.

How To Clean Guinea Pigs Water Bottle

It’s important to give your guinea pig fresh water and to keep the water bottle clean. Mold and bacteria can build up inside the water bottle over time. This could cause your guinea pig to become sick. Also, depending on the type of water your guinea pig is drinking, minerals can build up and begin to clog the water bottle. This is especially true if it’s drinking hard water, which isn’t recommended, but I understand in some cases is the only option.

To clean the water bottle

  1. Unscrew the lid and take it apart
  2. Soak in warm water and vinegar for 20-30 minutes
  3. Rub the inside and outside pieces with a wet cloth
    1. Be sure to remove any build-up
  4. Rinse with warm water
  5. You want to use enough vinegar to disinfect the water bottle but be sure to thoroughly rinse the vinegar water off

I recommend doing this at least once per week. This will keep the water bottle clean and prevent any algae or bacteria build-up. You can also place uncooked rice inside their water bottle. This will further help to prevent algae build-up. This is, especially, good to do if the cage is in the sun for part of the day. Cages that are exposed to sunlight can have greater levels of bacteria.

It’s important to regularly clean their cage as well.

How Often to Clean a Guinea Pig’s Cage?

Guinea Pigs like to be clean. It’s no secret that they spend half the day eating and pooping pebbles. Depending on the size of their cage they don’t have a way to escape from their feces and bathroom area. If it’s not cleaned regularly the odor builds up along with bacteria. This could cause a respiratory illness for your Guinea Pig, not to mention the torture of having to live in the smell.

A Guinea Pigs cage needs to be cleaned once per week without exception. Any longer than 1 week and the risk of bacteria, odor, and sickness doubles. This is a very serious thing! Any child that gets a Guinea Pig as a pet should be supervised and taught how to clean the cage regularly.

How To Clean A Guinea Pig’s Cage

Cleaning the cage isn’t rocket science. A child or an adult can do it.

  1. Find a safe place to put the Guinea Pig while the cage is being cleaned
  2. Collect the bedding, woodchips, or cage lining into the trash
  3. Use water and vinegar (or an animal-friendly unscented soap) to wash the interior of the cage. Be sure to wash the nooks and hideouts.
  4. Wash the water bottle (described above)
  5. Wash any bowls or other items inside the cage
  6. Wipe down the exterior of the cage
  7. Let dry
  8. Replace the begging, woodchips, or cage liner
  9. Place the Guinea Pig back into the cage
  10. Do this EVERY week without exception!

How To Bathe a Guinea Pig

Hopefully, now you understand the methods of bathing and grooming guinea pigs. You’ve learned that baths aren’t always necessary as they self-groom. In the case, you do bathe your guinea pig be sure to follow the precautions outlined in the article. Only use safe, natural, chemicals to bathe your guinea pig.

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