You may know that guinea pigs need bathing, but did you know that guinea pigs need their ears cleaned too? Like us, guinea pigs can suffer from a buildup of ear wax and dried skin. To prevent discomfort or mite infection, ears should be cleaned 2-3 times a year, depending on the needs of your little critters.
If you feel intimidated, follow these simple steps to help keep their ears nice and clean.
Why should I clean my guinea pig’s ears?
Guinea pigs often have dry ears that accumulate dead skin over time. Some guinea pig breeds, such as Rex or Peruvians, are more prone to this and will need their ears cleaned more often.
Not only are dirty ears are uncomfortable and itchy but ear mites can develop in the area too. By routinely cleaning their ears, you are protecting your piggy’s from unwanted pests and, generally speaking, keeping them happy and healthy.
How often should I clean my guinea pig’s ears?
Clean their ears a maximum of 2 to 3 times a year. You should keep an eye on your guinea pig to see if there is a real need. Earwax will often look similar to the colour of your piggy's ear, to the untrained eye, it may be tricky to spot! If you are ever unsure or are uncomfortable cleaning your guinea pig’s ears, don't hesitate to ask your vet for further help and advice.
What do I need to clean my guinea pig’s ears?
You will need:
- Cotton pads or compresses
- Cotton buds
- Oil (such as olive oil or mineral oil)
- A syringe without a needle or a pipette
And of course, your guinea pig!
Place your guinea pig on a fleece liner or soft towel: this will help keep them comfortable.
Take your syringe or pipette and draw up a small amount of oil (approximately 5ml).
Securely hold your guinea pig close to your body and apply a few drops of oil onto the folds of their ear. Do not apply oil directly into the ear canal. Oil can also be applied on the other side of the ear - where it connects to their head - to keep it moisturised.
Massage your guinea pig’s ear in order to gently spread the oil inside their ear folds.
Remove the oil by using a cotton pad to gently wipe their ear. The wax and dead skin will come with it.
Perfect the ear cleaning with a cotton bud dipped in oil by gently passing it through the folds of their ear to remove dirt. Only clean areas that you can visibly see. Never reach out to the ear canal.
Switch to your piggy’s other ear and repeat these steps!
What if my guinea pig is uncooperative during the cleaning?
If your guinea pig is uncooperative during an ear cleaning, ensure that you give your guinea pig plenty of moments of rest. Pause and let them relax. Trying to clean an uncooperative guinea pig can cause them too much stress. You can also try giving them food incentives to help reinforce that the experience can be also rewarding for them. You can also try wrapping your guinea pig up in an extra fleece or towel. If all fails, consult your vet.
As you can see, ear cleaning is an easy task to add to your guinea pig's care routine. By implementing this 2-3 times a year, you will be not only be keeping them cleaner, but be preventing them from attracting unwanted pests such as ear mites.