Guinea pigs are generally good at keeping themselves clean. However, there are some circumstances where it makes sense to bathe your guinea pig. For example, if your piggy is suffering from an infection or abscess it’s critical to keep them as clean as possible.
They can also simply get dirty when playing outside of their cages or even going to the toilet. Bathing your guinea pig is therefore a good practice to maintain, although there are a few things to keep in mind.
Let’s discover what they are! And if you’re looking for another way to keep your piggy clean, check out our guide on how to litter train a guinea pig.
Can You Bathe A Guinea Pig?
Bathing a guinea pig is a relatively simple process and can be an easy routine to get into, while also providing a range of hygiene benefits for your pet. Despite this, some guinea pigs do not enjoy getting wet and baths can be somewhat stressful for them.
If your guinea pig seems to be stressed by the experience, a combination of stroking, treats and speaking in a soothing tone will help calm them down.
Guinea pigs are also very sensitive to temperature changes, meaning it can be dangerous for them to get wet in a cold environment. So keeping your piggy calm and warm throughout the bathing process is crucial.
However, if you follow these steps, you should have no problem whatsoever.
How To Bathe A Guinea Pig
To bathe a guinea pig, you will need the following items:
- Baby or guinea pig shampoo
- Sink or large bowl
- Hairdryer (optional)
Setting Things Up
First, gather the equipment you need and ensure that the room you will be bathing your guinea pig in is nice and warm.
Pour up to two inches of warm water into a sink or large container – just enough to reach your guinea pig’s belly. It is important that the water is the right temperature, so test it with your elbow. Ideally, it should feel warm but not hot.
Calm your guinea pig by stroking their fur and talking in a soothing voice, especially if they are particularly anxious around water. Consider offering them a few treats as well. Then, gently place them into the bowl, hind-legs first.
Once your guinea pig is in the water, keep an eye on them at all times. Even though the water is not deep enough for them to drown, you should never leave them alone.
Starting The Bath
To begin bathing, gently scoop a handful of water over their fur, making sure not to get any on their face or ears. Do this until the fur on their body is wet, then rub a few drops of guinea-pig safe shampoo onto their back with your hands.
Massage it in, being as gentle as possible and making sure not to get any in their eyes. Once the shampoo has lathered, scoop a few more handfuls of water onto your guinea pig’s fur so that all of the soap residue is removed.
After The Bath
Finally, towel-dry your guinea pig to remove as much moisture from their fur as possible. Leaving them with wet fur is dangerous and can give them chills, so consider gently using a blow dryer after towel-drying. Use the lowest heat setting where possible.
What Soap Can You Use?
When it comes to soap, it’s best to use a shampoo that has been specifically designed for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs tend to have quite sensitive skin, so human shampoos and definitely dish soap can irritate them.
Some types of baby shampoo can work, but it’s also not the best option. Which brings us to the next section.
Can You Bathe A Guinea Pig With Baby Shampoo?
Baby shampoo tends to be gentler on the skin than regular shampoos, making it more acceptable for bathing your guinea pig with. However, it is not as well formulated for guinea pigs as guinea pig shampoo, so should be used as a backup option.
If you do use baby shampoo, try not to bathe your guinea pig too often, as it might result in dry skin. Additionally, make sure the baby shampoo is organic and fragrance-free.
Can You Bathe A Guinea Pig With Dawn?
You should never use Dawn dish soap or any other detergents to bathe your guinea pig. These products are designed to cut through grease and oil, meaning they will ruin your guinea pig’s natural oils.
Under all that fur, piggies have sensitive skin, dish soaps such as Dawn are too harsh to bathe them in and you risk severely damaging your guinea pig’s skin and fur.
Pet wipes, shampoo formulated for guinea pigs, or a simple damp towel are all much safer alternatives for your piggy.
How To Bathe Without Shampoo
If you don’t feel like your guinea pig is dirty enough for a full bath but you still want to clean them up a bit, there are alternatives.
To remove small patches of dirt from your guinea pig’s fur, use a damp cloth or towel to gently massage the desired area. Then, use a guinea pig brush afterwards to the remaining bits out, making sure to dry your piggy with a dry towel to finish.
Pet wipes are another option. While these may not be as effective at removing ingrained dirt, they can be a very simple solution to keeping your pet’s coat clear and fresh. To use a pet wipe, simply wipe your guinea pig’s fur while keeping them still, being as gentle as possible.
Can You Use A Blow Dryer To Dry A Guinea Pig?
Drying your guinea pig’s fur after bathing is a crucial step and a blow dryer is an excellent way of doing so. This method can also help to warm your guinea pig up, ensuring they don’t get chills.
However, most blow dryers are noisy which can easily scare your piggy. To minimise this, turn the blow dryer on while holding it away from your pet, then gradually move it closer.
Be sure to use the coldest setting on the machine so that it does not burn your guinea pig or cause them to overheat.
How Often Should You Bathe A Guinea Pig?
As guinea pigs keep themselves clean in a similar way to cats, it is not necessary to bathe them often. In fact, giving your guinea pig too many baths can remove the natural oils from their coat and end up drying out their skin.
The general rule of thumb is to bathe them once every two months, or once a month if your piggy is particularly dirty. You can sometimes increase your guinea pig’s bathing frequency if they’re suffering from a skin problem or similar condition which requires them to be kept clean.
How To Bathe A Guinea Pig For The First Time
If you have never bathed your guinea pig before, you may be unsure of how your pet will react. Most guinea pigs do not enjoy getting wet in their first bath experience, so aim to keep your pet as calm as possible during the process.
You can do this by:
- Giving them treats.
- Speaking in a soothing tone.
- Introducing them to the water gradually.
Treats in particular will ease your guinea pig’s nerves and help them develop a positive association with bath-time. Speaking in a soothing tone will further ease their nerves. And introducing them to the water gradually will prevent a stress reaction.
When you place your guinea pig in water for the first time, they might get spooked and try to jump out. For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a large container on the floor instead of a sink – that way, there’s no chance your guinea pig will get hurt.
Should I Even Bathe My Guinea Pig?
Finally, this is something many people wonder, should you even bathe your guinea pig?
Well, although most piggies will live perfectly healthy lives just by cleaning themselves, there are many benefits to bathing your guinea pig.
- Great bonding time (if they like water).
- Helps in case of an infection or abscess.
- Keeps them super fresh, smelling and feeling better.
- Prevents potential infections in case of a wound.
If you notice that your guinea pig is smellier than usual, first check to see whether it’s their bedding that needs to be cleaned before deciding to bathe them.
Also, never give them a bath if they’re suffering from a medical condition that might worsen by them getting wet. If in doubt, consult your vet.