Keeping a pet is an easy and enjoyable thing, but it comes with certain obligations. The pet is happy with feeding, housing and bedding, playtime and similar things, but hygiene is the factor neglected by most pet owners. And sometimes it is even overdone, so we must know whether guinea pigs needs or likes taking baths. Of course, they can enjoy the bath time, but you as the owner must know when to give a bath and how.
How to give guinea pigs a bath? Everything must be prepared before the bath time. Gather the right cosmetics for the fur of the guinea pig, ensure you have water at the right temperature and have a few towels nearby, and a pouring cup. Also, make sure the sink or tub where you bathe the guinea pig is clean before and after its bath time.
Bathing your guinea pig is an enjoyable activity, but there are some tips and tricks for the hygiene of the guinea pig – for example, whether bathing should be done often or rarely, or how does bathing affect the health of the cavy, or even which cosmetics are suitable for its fur. It is not always as easy as putting the cavy in the water and washing it whenever you feel like it, or with products that you use personally.
How to Bathe the Guinea Pig Properly?
First, you need to remember that guinea pigs do not need excessive bathing, especially since they bathe themselves, similar to cats licking their own fur. A clean cage for the cavy is the first and biggest step for their hygiene – this means less bathing times if the cage and bedding are clean.
Then, set everything and prepare all items. You need to gather the right shampoos for the guinea pig, human shampoos must not be used. Your veterinarian can give you tips and recommendations for the right products and where to purchase them.
Get one pouring cup and two towels, one small and one larger. Choose whether you will bathe the cavy in the sink or the bath tub, but the latter one is much better because the cavy cannot climb upwards or try to escape. Fill the tub with warm water, around 1.5 to 2 inches tops, depending on the size of your guinea pig.
Gently take the guinea pig and transfer it to the water area. Slowly, introduce it to the water, and gently let It lay down as you hold it gently. See its reactions toward the water and adjust your grasp according to the cavy’s reaction. Let it adjust in this new environment that is wet and different from its dry bedding cage.
With the cup, slowly pour a bit of the water on the guinea pig, close to its body and back, and not its head and eyes. Lather the fur and coat of the cavy, gently, and with the cup, rinse the foam of its body. You can even keep a few bites of food or treats nearby, to calm down the cavy if it’s a bit disturbed or fidgety after you rinse it.
Gently take the cavy in your arms, wrap it gently in a towel and try to clean its face by slowly wiping it. when you wipe the face of the guinea pig, dampen the towel slightly for better results. Then, with the dry towel, pat the fur of the cavy well until the moist is almost gone. When the cavy is fully dry, comb it a bit and return it to its cage.
Remember, after bath time, you have to return the cavy in a clean cage, with clean bedding, and fresh food and water.
Do Guinea Pigs Need Baths and How Often?
Guinea pigs always clean themselves, as cats do, with the licking of their own fur. Some illnesses may require bathing often, but in other cases, the cavies must be bathed if their long furs are oily or soiled, or too dirty.
In general, it is risky to bathe rodents, especially often. As a rule of thumb, if you like to keep your rodent pet clean, once a month is enough for baths. Some owners bathe the cavies more in the summer, and rarely in winter. It can be more often of course, but only on some occasions, like the veterinarian recommended frequent baths to remove parasites from the fur or for a similar reason.
If cavies are bathed too often, or more than once per month, they get more prone to infections of the skin and can get cold often as well.
When Do Guinea Pigs Need a Bath and When They Don’t Need One?
When a guinea pig needs a bath, it can be due to several reasons:
- The coat is long and the cavy has lots of fur that needs combing or maintenance. This type of fur gets greasier more often, and dirtier, so based on the breed you have, long-hair guinea pigs would probably make use of baths more than other breeds.
- You intend to show off the guinea pig on exhibits for pets or similar appearances. In this case, it is justified to give the cavy a proper bath.
- The veterinarian recommended baths for removing certain issues, like a parasite or fungal infection of the cavy’s skin and fur.
- Once parasite infection is removed, baths are taking good care of the skin and fur of the cavy, to ensure parasites won’t come back.
When the guinea pig doesn’t need a bath, it is for these reasons:
- It suffers from a respiratory infection or illness.
- The cavy is quite sick, nauseous, or has some obvious health problem which seeks medical attention.
- You keep the guinea pig in outdoor spaces, like a balcony, yard, patio – especially in the fall and winter times!
Can Guinea Pigs Swim During Bath Time?
Guinea pigs are completely capable of swimming, of course, due to the instinct of survival when in water, which is not their natural environment.
In general, guinea pigs dislike being bathed, but rarely, when relaxed and not stressed, you can see them enjoying the warm water briefly. Think of cavies as cats; they dislike wet environment and would prefer to clean themselves whenever possible.
If the cavy is stressed, it will be fidgety and moving around in the water, trying to avoid the bath. If it’s relaxed and even tries to stay calm or swim a little bit, it is a good sign. Overall, they do not swim and they don’t love being in the water, so try to make bath time extra relaxed for them.
Can Human Body-Care Products Be Used for Bathing a Guinea Pig? If Not, Which Are the Right Products?
Products used by humans for bathing and washing hair are definitely not good for rodents, in this case for guinea pigs. Our skin, scalp and hair are different than the cavy’s, so suitable cosmetics must be used.
Some products specially designed for guinea pigs are quite pricey, as most products made for pets. You can choose between shampoos for guinea pigs, or a more economical option is a soap made out of all- natural ingredients and almost no scents – if possible, no scent and no chemical soap, all organic and natural. You can find such items in specialized pet stores, or supermarkets, or even pharmacies and stores online. Organic supermarkets or shops are a good option too if you have them nearby where you live.
Often, owners mistakenly use baby shampoos, thinking that if the baby’s hair benefits from such a shampoo, it must be good for the guinea pig’s hair as well. This is a wrong statement and you must always use shampoos for that pet in particular, or mild and all organic soaps. Still, there is another risk with soaps as well – if they are not tested on animals, you won’t know if they are good for the cavy. So, try to browse well to find the perfect product for the cavy; a product that does not promote animal cruelty, nor is harmful to the cavy’s fur.
As a guideline, such soaps can be made of goat milk together with some oils, like vegetable oils. Even though they are not tested on animals, their ingredients should be good enough for both humans and guinea pigs.
The Rules for Proper Grooming of the Guinea Pig:
- Purchase organic soaps or special shampoos for guinea pigs
- Lather shortly and rinse well
- Dry the cavy with a warm, dry towel
- Avoid water and foam on their face or eyes
- Bathe them just once per month, not more
- Check their eyes, ears, mouth, nose; look for discharge or any outer changes
- Check the feet and nails; look for red patches, soreness, look for nail changes
- Check the rear end and rinse it with just lukewarm water to avoid illnesses from feces remains
- Offer snacks and treats right after the bath time – surprise the cavy with fruits or veggies it loves!
Bathe it once a month tops, dry it well and gently, brush the fur, offer snacks and treats and make bath time as enjoyable and relaxed as possible – you will have a happy, healthy, and a clean cavy!