Guinea pigs are clean pets… most of the time. The cute critters spend a lot of time looking after their fur and overall appearances, but they also poop a lot - as every piggy parent can tell you. No matter how hard the floofs try, they sometimes get messy. And that’s when cavy carers start to wonder, ‘Do guinea pigs need baths?’
Generally, our furry friends only need the odd guinea pig bath every couple of months. Bathing them too often could actually have negative effects on your floofs. So how often should you bathe a guinea pig? What kinds of shampoo can you use? And how can you make it a stress-free experience for them?
Let us take you through the steps of how to bathe a guinea pig safely!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BATHE MY GUINEA PIG?
When it comes to baths and showers, cute cavies have very different needs from their hoomans. Most people shower every day, but their furry friends wouldn’t like baths more than two to four times a year. That’s once every four to six months. Wondering why you shouldn’t wash their luscious locks more regularly? Lettuce tell you!
First of all, guinea pigs are great at taking care of their personal hygiene, so most of the time, they don’t really need to have a guinea pig bath. If you notice your precious pigs getting a bit smelly or soggy, however, you can give them a couple of baths a year without causing any problems.
Piggies have sensitive skin and bathing them puts their skin at risk of drying out. A wash strips their fur and skin of natural protective oils which makes dry, cracked, and even infected skin a real possibility. Sadly, there’s no piggy moisturiser available at the moment - and how would we get it under their fur, anyway? To keep your sweet floofs’ skin shiny and healthy, it’s best to limit the amount of times they’re in water. The exception to this rule are older guinea pigs and those with special care needs. Also, if a vet recommends a guinea pig bath, it’s important to follow their advice.
When the time comes for a guinea pig bath, there’s also a lot of factors piggy parents should look out for, from the right shampoo and water temperature, to the perfect blowdry and after-care.
So when’s the right time to give your floofs a wash? Let’s find out!
WHEN SHOULD I GIVE MY GUINEA PIG A BATH?
Generally, guinea pigs only need the odd bath when they get dirty. If your guinea pig starts to smell unpleasantly, or their bottom looks soggy, it may be time for a bath. Long-haired guinea pigs are particularly prone to soggy bottoms, so it’s worth checking (and cutting) their long locks regularly.
Other reasons for a wash can include skin or fur treatment, for example when a piggy carries fleas or mites. Some cavy carers prefer spot-on treatments over baths, so it’s a good idea to check your options. Your cavy-savvy vet can help you find the right treatment for your floofs and explain how to apply it properly. Soon, your guinea pigs should be back to their normal shiny selves!
Just like long-haired guinea pigs, senior piggies are also more likely to get their fur soiled. Older pigs tend to sleep more, so they sometimes stay in one place long enough to get themselves a little messy. Plus, some struggle with impaction and really benefit from a gentle bath. If you notice your senior sweeties being particularly messy, it’s a good idea to speak to a vet.
Overall, guinea pigs only rarely need a bath. If you do give your guinea pig a bath, make sure to have everything ready to turn their wash into a relaxing experience.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BATHE MY GUINEA PIG?
If you’ve decided it’s time to give your guinea pig a bath, you can get ready by getting everything together you’ll need for the bath:
- a sink or wash basin with a flat surface
- a non-slip base, like a towel
- guinea pig-friendly shampoo
- microfibre towel
- bath thermometer (optional)
- your piggy’s favourite snack
Once you’ve got all items in one place, make sure to follow our simple step-by-step guide to a safe and stress-free guinea pig bath!
It’s easiest to wash your piggy with an extra pair of hands nearby, so one person is supervising the pig while the other works away at washing them.
A WORD OF WARNING ON SHAMPOO
Guinea pig skin is very sensitive, much more so than their humans’. Using regular shampoo, soap, or even shampoo for other types of pets puts your floofs’ shiny skin and coat at risk. To be on the safe side, make sure to keep an eye out for small pet shampoo that’s specifically made for guinea pigs. Even better if it’s gentle enough for skinny pigs!
Although you may read about alternative shampoos you can use on your pig, like certain kinds of dish soap or dandruff shampoo, it’s best for your floofs’ wellbeing to be extra safe in your shampoo choice.
Kavee has come up with its own guinea pig-friendly shampoo, made from 100% natural ingredients to moisturise and soothe, respecting their skin’s pH balance. This way, you can bathe your piggy with total peace of mind - plus, you even get a microfibre towel to gently dry your piggy after their bath!
HOW TO BATHE A GUINEA PIG
STEP 1: PREPARE THE GUINEA PIG BATH
Once you’ve chosen a sink or basin for the piggy wash, place a non-slip base inside it. You can simply pop a towel at the bottom of the sink or basin. This stops your furry friend from slipping on the smooth surface, and it’ll make the bath much less stressful for them.
Next, you can add lukewarm water on top of the non-slip base. You can check the water temperature by running it over the sensitive skin on your wrist. If it feels hot to you, it’ll also feel hot to your piggy. A great alternative is a child-safe bath thermometer, to make sure the bath is between 32°C and 35°C (90°F and 95°F). There’s no need for large amounts of water - an inch or two are plenty - since you’ll mainly wash their bottom area.
Remember to set up the other items nearby, like the shampoo and snacks for your precious pig. You can also place the microfibre towel next to the sink or basin, so it’ll be easy to lift your piggy from the bath later.
Now, it’s time to add your guinea pig to the mix.
STEP 2: ADD YOUR GUINEA PIG
Now that everything’s set up and ready to go, you can bring your guinea pig to the washroom. It’s a good idea to create a calm, quiet environment, especially if it’s their first guinea pig bath, with plenty of snack breaks.
Gently place them in the water, and give them the time to adjust to the situation. Your guinea pig may not enjoy being in the water, and could even try to hop out - be prepared to watch them carefully.
STEP 3: WET THEIR FUR
When your piggy’s settled and calm in the water, you can use one hand to scoop water over your guinea pig’s bottom. Throughout the entire wash, you’ll want to avoid getting any area above their stomach wet. Normally, only your guinea pig’s underside gets dirty, so you don’t have to worry about washing their back or sides.
It’s important that the water doesn’t get near their eyes, ears, nose, or mouth at any point. Your piggy could breathe in water and develop breathing issues, as well as an infection. Stick to their underside and bottom to keep them safe!
STEP 4: SHAMPOOING YOUR PIG
You can follow the same path you’ve used to wet your floof’s fur for the shampoo. Add it to your hands and massage it gently into your piggy’s lower body until you’ve got a nice lather. By moving in slow, careful circles, you’ll give your piggy a nice massage as well as a much-needed bath.
If you want to wash their belly, you can place their front paws on one hand and lift it slightly, making sure the back legs stay firmly on the ground. Your other hand has access to the belly now, so you can use it to wash the area.
Remember: the shampoo has to be guinea pig-friendly!
STEP 5: RINSING YOUR FLOOF’S FUR
When you feel that your guinea pig is sufficiently shampooed and is ready for their rinse, you’ll want to get rid of the soap in their fur. Ideally, you could place your pet in a safe spot, like a carrier, on top of their towel while you change the water. Then you can place them back inside the sink or basin and rinse the shampooed areas carefully.
If you struggle to change the water while your pig is waiting, you can try to rinse their coat in the water you originally used. It’s important to get rid of any traces of the shampoo, so fresh water works best.
STEP 6: TIME TO TOWEL-DRY
Time to dry - for many piggies the favourite part of their guinea pig bath. If you have your microfibre towel ready, you can lift your guinea pig out of the water and onto the comfy towel straight away. Remember that they may try to escape, so it’s best to place the towel on a flat surface they can’t jump off of and to keep a close eye on your piggy at this stage.
You can wrap them fully in their towel, with their head poking out for fresh air. If you gently dab their wet fur and keep them on your lap for extra warmth, they’ll be completely dry in a few minutes. Microfibre towels are particularly great to dry your piggy’s fur quickly.
By towel-drying your cavy fully after their bath, you’re making sure they don’t get cold. A wet piggy can catch a cold easily, while a towel-dried piggy is getting a cosy cuddle at the end of bath time. Sounds like a total win, especially if you add in a few snacks!
Some cavy carers use hair dryers on the lowest setting on their pets, especially for long-haired pigs. While this normally doesn’t lead to issues, it’s easy to overheat or burn your piggy in the process, so we recommend sticking to towel-drying your pigs after a guinea pig bath.
STEP 6: DRY ‘N’ SNACK
After the excitement of their guinea pig bath, your precious piggy deserves some snacks while they’re drying. What a day!
Now you know how to bathe a guinea pig - well done!
GOING FROM BATHING YOUR GUINEA PIG TO GROOMING
Some piggy parents might take this as an opportunity to give their piggies’ fur, skin, and nails all the attention they need to be as tidy, shiny, and healthy as they should be. After the wash, they may cut their floof’s nails and trim their hair. Some even choose to follow the bath with a good brush.
It’s appealing to get all grooming done in one go, but remember your piggy is probably stressed from the guinea pig bath alone. If your pet seems distressed or scared at any point, it’s best to try grooming them another day. After all, we want our floofs to enjoy the process, right?
Unlike their humans, guinea pigs don’t need regular baths. If you’ve got the right equipment and shampoo, you can bathe your gorgeous guinea pig every three to four months if they need it. Happy piggy bath time!