Should I Bathe My Guinea Pig? And How Often?

Guinea pigs are small, delicate animals, and therefore, it is understandable to be concerned about giving them baths. An untimely bath can spell bad news for larger animals like cats and dogs so naturally, you have to be quite careful with tiny critters like guinea pigs.

So, should you bathe your guinea pig? And how often? To be very frank, you should not be presented with the need to bathe your guinea pig for the entirety of its life except for on special occasions or for medical reasons. For the most part, guinea pigs are naturals at grooming themselves.

In this article, we will be discussing different reasons why you should or should not bathe your little guinea pig. Hopefully, you will have a clearer mind at the end of it.

What We Need To Know About Guinea Pigs?

One thing everyone needs to know about guinea pigs is that they are naturally very clean creatures. If you have more than one guinea pig in your house, you will probably see them groom each other quite often. This is one of the reasons why it is said that you should keep more than one guinea pig as a pet.

Not only do they keep each other company and play with each other, but they also spend a large part of their day grooming each other.

They enjoy being groomed by their owners as well, which is why there is so much emphasis on brushing their coats and petting them gently.

In fact, guinea pigs like to remain at their physical best at any given time. You will notice that if you keep your guinea pigs in a dirty environment for a long time, they will begin to get uncomfortable there.

Of course, we do not recommend that you do that at all!

Guinea pigs prefer to be groomed rather than bathed. So keep that in mind whenever you consider the hygienic status of your guinea pigs.

Why And When Should You Not Bathe Your Guinea Pig?

Generally speaking, guinea pigs are very efficient at keeping themselves clean and well-groomed..

Keeping this in mind, you don’t really need to give your guinea pig a bath at all. Sometimes you can even leave them to groom themselves for their entire lifetime.

Keep in mind that guinea pigs are small, delicate creatures and are therefore get easily mishandle. If you give them a bath during cold or otherwise compromising weather, they can get sick. Also, do not bathe your guinea pig if it primarily remains outdoors. This is also especially true if you live in an area that is cold most of the year.

Similarly, if you bathe your guinea pig when it seems sick or lethargic, this could also take a toll on its health. This is especially true if the guinea pig has a respiratory issue.

In fact, even a simple cold or flu could prove to be fatal if you bathe the guinea pig at this time. So, try to make sure you check the little one’s breathing and activity level before taking this step.

Other than that, make sure you inspect your guinea pig for any skin conditions as well. If it seems like there is redness, a rash, a swelling, or any such area of concern on the guinea pig, do not bathe it.

The water and the chemicals in the soap can worsen its condition, and that could spell major trouble.

Making a wrong move in for the sake of extra cleanliness could cost them their health or even their life.

If you must bathe your guinea pig, make sure you do not do it more than once a month. In fact, giving them a bath once every three to four months is more than enough in this regard.

Of course, if you are unsure about the move you are going to make, it is best to consult your vet.

Keep in mind that baths generally stress out guinea pigs. If you unnecessarily decide to wash the little critter too often, it can take a toll on its physical and mental health.

Instead of a bath:

You can try focusing on other ways to care for your guinea pig, like grooming.

For example, both long and short hair cavies need to be brushed, long hair more than short hair.

Even though guinea pigs can brush themselves and they do a pretty spectacular job with it, you can chip in as well since they actually enjoy the brushing process.

Go ahead and brush your guinea pig’s coat at least once a week. Keep a soft brush at hand for this purpose. It is also a great way to bond with the little animal.

When is it Necessary to Bathe Your Guinea Pig?

Keep in mind that there are times when it is necessary to bathe the little guinea pig.

At these times its own self-care methods are more or less futile, and you have to step in with some thorough cleaning.

Show Guinea Pigs

If you are breeding show guinea pigs then, by all means, you should give them baths at their scheduled times.

These guinea pigs need to be bathed and groomed by the owner at least once a month if they are a longhair breed.

For shorthair cavies, you can be a little more prudent and bathe them once every two months at the most.

Of course:

You need to take precautions.

Use water that is of an appropriate temperature, do not use any harsh chemicals on the piggy, etc. Only use products that are approved by your vet for use on the guinea pig.

And bath time is only one of the necessities for show pigs.

You need to trim and groom their hair and also look after other body parts like nails, teeth, feet, eyes, and ears.

Even the smallest amount of carelessness and neglect can strip them of their prestige as show guinea pigs.

Illnesses

Now, we did mention previously that bathing your guinea pig during an illness is not recommended.

However, you might find that your vet recommends a bath in case of an infection or other such conditions.

This is because you need to wash the guinea pig and keep it sterile to get rid of the infection and to prevent it from spreading. You will need to be extra careful for this, though.

Make it a point:

Always check if your guinea pig is at the best of its health by inspecting it once a week or so.

For example, you will want to schedule an appointment with the vet if you see any of the following:

  • Unnecessary discharge from the pig’s eyes, ears, or other body parts.
  • Redness or soreness in any area.
  • Your guinea pig being unusually irritable.
  • Your guinea pig being lethargic.
  • Any other signs that may concern you.

Fleas and Ticks

Like larger animals with long hair, guinea pigs are also susceptible to fleas and ticks, as unfortunate as it may be.

If you notice the infestation, it becomes almost crucial to give your guinea pig a bath.

You will need to use a special flea and tick shampoo, preferably the kind that is only for small animals.

Many times one bath is not enough. You will have to give it multiple baths over the course of a few weeks till you are sure that the infestation has ended.

Giving your guinea pig, multiple baths will almost certainly stress it out and take a toll on its skin. So keep in mind that in these cases, prevention is definitely better than the cure.

Other than that, you will need to do follow-up checkups as often as possible to make sure you got rid of the threat entirely.

Type of Guinea Pig

The number of baths your guinea pigs get in their lifetime also depends on the breed that you own.

For example, long hair cavies are much more susceptible to collecting dirt and particles in their coats than short hair breeds.

Naturally, this means that long hair guinea pigs often demand baths more frequently than short hair variety.

Even so, their main requirement is still grooming and not bathing. So make sure you don’t bathe your long hair guinea pig more than three to four times a year unless it is absolutely necessary.

Other Times It May Be Necessary

There may still be other times when bathing the guinea pig might seem like a good idea.

For example, if you live in an area with a hot, humid climate, you might want to bathe your guinea pig around once in two months.

Other than that, if your guinea pigs play a lot outdoors and accumulate dirt and dust on their fur coats, it may be a good idea to give them a little rinsing.

You can also give the little piggy a bath if it smells very bad. This can sometimes happen if its cage is not cleaned too often.

Essentially you should use your better judgment.

You know your guinea pigs, and you know their lifestyle so ultimately you can make the right decision if you educate yourself enough.

Tips For A Successful Bath Time For Your Guinea Pigs

Even so, you must keep certain tips in your mind when you are planning to bathe your guinea pigs so that they stay out of harm’s way:

  • Make sure you use a special shampoo for small animals only. Do not use the same shampoo on your guinea pigs that you do on dogs and cats.
  • Guinea pigs are small and much more fragile than larger animals, so keep in mind to not use any harsh chemicals on their fur and bodies. These harsh chemicals can irritate their skin and may develop dermatological conditions in them.
  • Always bathe your guinea pigs with lukewarm water so that they do not get shocked by the temperature difference.
  • Do not spray your guinea pigs with water, use washing bowls for their bath time. Two bowls are ideal. Use one bowl to shampoo the guinea pig and the other to wash it off.
  • Never let the level of water in the bowl reach above the piggy’s chin. Remember that the guinea pig should be able to stand in the water comfortably, so it is best if the water does not reach above its belly.
  • Besides, you really don’t need a lot of water to wash your guinea pig as is since it is so small.
  • Keep a piece of cloth or bath math near the bowl to keep the guinea pig from slipping and hurting itself.
  • If you have more than one guinea pig, do not make the mistake of bathing them all at once. Only reach for the second one after the first has been washed and dried.
  • Gently dry off the guinea pig with a soft towel before letting it run free.
  • After bath time is over, keep your guinea pig indoors where it is warm and dry.
  • You can use a blow dryer on your guinea pig. Make sure that it is not emitting high heat that can damage the little one in any way.
  • It is always a good idea to consult your vet regarding the products that you will use on the little critter. They can advise you better regarding anything that can irritate him.
  • Before giving your guinea pig a bath, make sure you inspect their body for any issues. If you see an unusual discharge, a swelling, a mass, redness, soreness, or inflammation, halt the bathing process there and then. In fact, remember to check for lethargy, breathing issues, and any other health condition first as well.

Related Questions:

What can I use for bathing my guinea pig?

You don’t need a lot of things to bathe your guinea pig. Keep a shampoo for small animals at hand, along with two washing bowls, a small makeshift bath mat, and a soft towel to dry them off.

Make sure that the soap you use to wash your guinea pig is unscented. Guinea pigs have a very potent sense of smell, and they might be sensitive to the fragrances in soaps. Do not use too many products on the guinea pig since the chemicals they contain may have an adverse effect on their skin.

How often do you have to bathe a guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are generally stressed out when you bathe them. So if your little ones are a long hair breed and get dirty very easily, you will want to bathe them once a month at most. In most cases, even that is too much.

Short hair cavies need to be washed even less often. On an average, though, you should only bathe your guinea pigs about twice a year.

In many cases, you don’t even have to bathe them even once in their lifetime since guinea pigs are generally clean creatures. Just make sure you keep them in clean spaces, so the surrounding areas do not make them dirty.

Can you bathe a guinea pig with soap?

If your guinea pig is very dirty, you will want to use some kind of shampoo on it. Just make sure that you use a shampoo made especially for small animals since they are gentler.

Shampoos made for large animals can irritate the skin of your guinea pig and give them skin diseases. Also, try to make sure that the soap you use is unscented so that the guinea pigs do not react adversely to the fragrance.

It is a good idea to consult your vet before you use any kind of chemicals on your guinea pig.

Are guinea pigs clean?

Guinea pigs are generally clean creatures. They enjoy grooming each other and do it quite often.

Because guinea pigs are so clean on their own, it is not recommended that you put extra stress on their bodies by bathing them often.

To ensure that your guinea pigs remain clean, you need to make sure that the place they live in is clean as well. So, clean out their cages as often as you can and do not let them play around in dirt and dust too often.

Do guinea pigs like to swim?

Guinea pigs do not like to swim. However, if you decide to put one in a bathtub, you would see that it does swim or dog paddle in the water. This response is more of a survival instinct that prevents them from drowning rather than be something they actively enjoy.

In fact, research has shown that swimming puts a lot of stress on a guinea pig’s body and hey can become depressed and stressed out afterward as well. So, make sure that you do not let your guinea pig swim, especially if there is no reason for it.

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