Usually, pets can get very smelly, especially if you don’t take good care of them. Even if they are small and cute, you still need to look after your guinea pigs. Also, they live in quite a limited space, so you are in charge, leaving them with no choice but for you to take care of them.
Are guinea pigs smelly? Yes, guinea pigs can get very smelly, mostly because of their hair locks, grease glands and sometimes their owner’s neglection (uncleaned cage). Guinea pigs are relatively clean pets that don’t smell but only if you regularly clean their cage and take care of them properly. They need a bath once every two or three months but their grease gland and the cage needs to be cleaned regularly. If you follow these tips your guinea pig most likely won’t smell. Their smell is directly proportional to how much you take care of them and their cage.
Don’t worry, in the sections below we have given you more information on how to prevent your guinea pig from getting smelly. Treat them with respect and you will have no regrets!
Reasons Your Guinea Pig Can Become Smelly
• Hair Locks
As I have already said, guinea pigs’ long lovely and silky locks are one of the main reasons. They can collect urine or number 2’s from the cage and you have to pay attention to this aspect. So if you keep their cage clean and their fur clean and dry, there should be no problem.
• Their Number 2’s
I think there is no surprise for none of you reading this. Of course, this is a reason we all think about it in the first place. It’s the poop that can smell bad but it can be thrown away. Actually, I’m not talking about the smell of their poop as I am going to talk a little about how to feed your guinea pig later on in order to prevent the nasty smell.
Related: Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Own Poop? (Coprophagy)
• Hormones and Pheromones (Especially Males)
A male guinea pig can be more smelly because of the hormones they produce. This process is normal especially when they are growing up and becoming adults as this is their way of establishing dominance in the cage.
Also, mainly in spring, male guinea pigs produce a substance that makes them available to other female guinea pigs. This substance can mat their hair and keep the bad smell for a longer period of time.
Their bad smell can be a result of an infection such as mold on the skin (as they live in a very moisturized environment because of their urine).
Pay attention: If they have some kind of an odor that doesn’t go away, there is a possibility that your little pet is sick. You should not wait, you should go to the vet immediately.
How to Clean a Smelly Guinea Pig?
1. Give It a Good Bath
What do you need:
In order to take good care of your pet, you need to give it a good bath twice a year or whenever he smells bad. You can wash him in the sink: put a washcloth on the bottom of the sink, fill it up with about 5 centimeters (2 inches) of warm water and gently massage him with guinea pig shampoo from the pet store (baby shampoo works just as well).
Also, read our other article and learn how to thoroughly and carefully give guinea pigs a bath.
Dry him before you put him back in the cage.
Be careful: Don’t over-wash your friend as it increases the risk of him becoming ill. Prevent this by keeping your guinea pig in a warm towel until his fur is dry.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Swim in a Bathtub?
Moreover, they are clean animals. They clean themselves up after they eat so you don’t have to bath if the dirt builds up, wait to see if they are still smelly after they eat and after they clean themselves up.
Also, don’t use dish detergent or human shampoo as they are too harsh chemicals for their sensitive skin and can cause irritation.
2. Keep Their Environment Odor-Free
• Scoop Their Cage Every Day – This Method Is Called Spot Cleaning
As I mentioned before, stinky stuff can build up in their cages. It can get in their fur and the whole cage can become a mess. Take everything smelly out of the cage every day and throw it away.
• Clean the Cage Thoroughly Weekly
You can transfer your guinea pig in another cage or let him run around while you scrub out the cage once a week. Even if you scoop it out daily, smells can still build up so you need to make sure that your little friend has a fresh home. You will need warm water and a mild detergent to scrub the bottom of the cage. After drying it out, you can move your buddy back.
• Brush His Fur Daily
Brush out his fur to remove fall out in the cage. Otherwise, it might build up and collect odors.
• Try to Train Them to Use the Litter Box
It will become easier to clean the cage if you train your pig to use a litter box. It’s not always going to work, but you can try placing a small litter box specifically made for small mammals in the corner they tend to poop a lot. Notice if they have a specific place where they eat; it’s most likely to be the area they use as a toilet too. Clean the litter box as often as needed.
• Use an Odor Control Bedding
There are specially formulated beddings that can keep the cage odor-free for a longer period of time. You still need to change it if it becomes wet or dirty (even if it smells good).
Tip: Don’t use baking soda known for odor-controlling; it can cause irritation.
Pay attention: Try using odor control beddings, and not bedding that smells good because your small creatures can eat it and it can make them sick.
• Sperm Rods
A strong fishy smell can come either from the grease glands or from the sperm rods. You need to take out the bedding that is moisturized and the smell will disappear (even if it was just a drop of sperm).
• Bonus Tip
You can put a little towel, a piece of fleece or a favorite toy of them. The thing you keep in the cage will have their scent over time so in this case, every time you wash it, your guinea pig won’t feel the need to mark it again because your buddy recognizes it.
A Healthy Diet Plays an Important Role
Beware: with the exception of the dandelions, these are high in calcium so feed them a limited amount of these.
Avoid: iceberg lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, kale, yogurt drops (as a treat) and citrus fruits (the acid can sometimes irritate your guinea pig’s mouth).
Good snacks: bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, and lettuce – foods that the guinea pig would actually eat in the wildness.
Treats: kiwi fruit, apples, strawberries, and a store-bought treat.
Males vs. Females (Odor Wise)
There is not too much to say, but some experts recommend buying a sow (female) than a boar (male) because females are producing less odor than the males. Unneutered males need to be cleaned out more frequently, depending on their behavior.
Moreover, guinea pigs have some grease glands very low down on their backs, above the anus. These glands are more active in males. These grease glands are called the anal sac. Things, such as hay, can get stuck in that sac and it builds up the smell. You need to clean the boars’ anal sacs to get rid of the odor.
What do you need:
- Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
You need to soften the fur in that area with coconut oil to brush it out. You can’t get through the tangles if the fur is dry. After that, you can clean out the accumulated mucks by using cold-pressed virgin coconut oil on a q-tip.
As they get older, they might need more often these butt baths.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Change Genders?
To sum it all up, there are a lot of reasons behind the bad smell coming from your guinea pigs’ home and there is an answer for everything. You manage their home, you need to keep it as clean as possible and you have to feed your buddy good snacks.
However, if you still can’t get rid of the odor, you certainly need to pay a visit to a vet. Don’t wait for your guinea pig to get worse.
Related: 50 Amazing Guinea Pig Facts You Need to Know
List of Sources
Richardson, V., Care of guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2011.
O’Malley, B., Intensive Care of Rodents, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2014.
Donnelly, T. M., Brown, C. J., Guinea pig and chinchilla care and husbandry., Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, 2004.
Donnelly, T. M., Rodent Husbandry and Care, Purdue University, 2007.
Hawkins, M. G., Graham, J. E., Emergency and Critical Care of Rodents, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, 2007.
NC State Veterinary Hospital, Caring for Your Pet Guinea Pig, Exotic Animal Medicine Department.
Quesenberry, E. K., Donnelly, M. T., Providing a Home for a Guinea Pig, MERCK MANUAL, Veterinary Manual.
Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals Bred, Supplied or Used for Scientific Purposes, Presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 21 (5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 2014.
RSPCA, Guinea pigs: Good practice for housing and care, Research Animals Department, RSPCA, 3rd edition, 2011.