Generally, guinea pigs don’t need baths. Much like cats, they keep themselves clean. But, sometimes a skin condition or extreme mess may be more than you pet can handle on its own. That’s when it is handy to know how to keep your guinea pig safe and healthy while getting it squeaky clean.
Out of all the pigs I’ve been fortunate enough to care for, only one ever spent any time in the tub. Player Pig, one of our boars, developed a skin issue that required bathing to clear it up. Surprisingly, he came to enjoy the process so much that he would run over to his “tub” and then sit there, watching us expectantly. If he could have managed it, he would have climbed in himself!
Guinea pigs are fast and hard to hold, especially if they are scared or upset. Bathing them is easier with two people, especially when you and your pig are first learning the process. Before picking up your pig, have everything ready so that you can keep your full attention on your pet.
- a basin big enough for you pig to sit in comfortably
- a hand towel to line the basin
- warm (not hot) water
- a cup to pour the water
- guinea pig shampoo
- 2 or 3 full-sized towels
First, prepare the “tub.” Put the basin on the floor and line the bottom of it with the hand towel. This makes the pig feel more secure by preventing slips on the smooth surface of the basin. Some people use a sink, but I felt safer using a basin on the floor. If Player Pig jumped out unexpectedly, there was nowhere for him to fall if he was already on the ground.
Next, place your furry friend in the basin. For safety, keep one hand on its back. Use a cup to pour warm water in slowly, wetting your pig’s fur. Try to avoid wetting your pig’s head and keep the water level low. Putting more than an inch or so of water in the basin may scare your pet.
Once your pig’s fur is wet, it is time to introduce the shampoo. Since guinea pigs don’t require regular baths, most pet stores don’t carry guinea pig shampoo. Shampoos labeled for small animals or kittens should be safe. If you prefer, you can order shampoos made especially for guinea pigs online, like these specialty shampoos from Gorgeous Guineas. Again, avoid your pet’s head. Using your fingertips, gently apply shampoo to your pigs back, sides and belly. Just a dab of shampoo will do the job. Using too much makes it difficult to rinse your pet’s fur.
Once your pig is shampooed, use the cup to rinse him off with fresh warm water. Remember to watch the water level. Don’t let it get too high for your pig’s comfort.
After the shampoo has been rinsed away, wrap your pig gently in a towel. Guinea pig fur holds an amazing amount of water so be prepared to use two to three towels to gently towel dry your pig. You can also use a blow dryer on the lowest setting as long as you keep it a safe distance from your pig. Getting a too-warm blow dryer too close to your pig’s delicate skin could actually cause burns.
Getting chilled can make a guinea pig very sick, so don’t put a damp pig back in its cage. Instead, snuggle your furry friend in a dry towel and hold it close enough to take advantage of your body heat.
Most guinea pigs won’t need baths. If yours does, do your best to make it a calm, relaxing experience to avoid stressing your pet. Our Player Pig was nervous at first, but quickly embraced bath time. He wasn’t crazy about being lathered in shampoo, but he enjoyed splashing in the water and loved getting his fur dried. He would dance happily and purr so loudly that we could hear him above the blow dryer.
Looking for more guinea pig tips? Click here.
“Grooming” — Cavy Madness
“Grooming” — Guinea Lynx
“Shampoos” — Gorgeous Guineas