Time for a freshen up? 4 water tips for your piggie pal
There’s no doubt guinea pigs make great pets. When cared for and fed properly, these little animals can make excellent companions. Each cavy has a unique personality, they’re relatively quiet (unless there’s a wheekend play party!), soft, and cuddly. But there might come a time when your cavy’s fur becomes caked with urine. Or maybe that party went outdoors and your piggie got a little too dirty. That soft, flowy hair is matted. Enter water
The good news is guinea pigs are great with self-hygiene so you don’t have to worry about bathing them too often. When I first got Thelma and Louise, I was unsure. We do know they can drink from a bowl but can guinea pigs get wet? Yes, they can get wet and you can bathe a guinea pig. But there are some things to consider and be careful with. So when the time comes for your cavy to freshen up, here are some water tips.
Tip #1: Do not get water in your guinea pig’s ears
Under no circumstances should you ever submerge your guinea pig under the water when bathing. To ensure your guinea pig doesn’t get water into its ears and stays safe during the bathing process, be extra careful his head remains above the water.
When a bath is necessary for urine or dried feces, you may only need to bathe the back end of your guinea pig. In this case, consider putting water into a small bowl, setting your guinea pig’s bottom into the water, and then propping your guinea pig’s front legs on the rim. This will ensure your guinea pig doesn’t become exposed to any more water than necessary.
Tip #2: Use baby shampoo which is gentle on your guinea pig’s skin
You may also wish to consider giving your guinea pig a sponge bath with a damp cloth to clean the dirty area. Gentle baby shampoo can be used to wash away the dirty areas. Cavies have especially sensitive skin and washing then too frequently can cause painful itchiness and even hot spots.
If you don’t have baby shampoo, you can also use a specially formulated small animal shampoo which is less drying than dog shampoo. It should be gentle, hypoallergenic, emollient, soap-free shampoo when possible.
Don’t forget to rinse well and a gentle conditioner can help return the oils and natural sheen to your pet’s coat.
Guinea pigs are also quite susceptible to respiratory infections. As a result, they can easily come down with pneumonia. So make sure that you use lukewarm water and then thoroughly towel dry your guinea pig after his bathing session.
If you wish to use a hairdryer, be sure that you only use the cool/warm (not hot!) setting.
Blow-driers can cause severe burns unless you are especially careful. So, the best and safest method is to perform all washing in a warm room. Follow the bath with a thorough towel drying session. And, do not return your guinea pig to his cage until he is completely dry.
Since guinea pigs are so cuddly, you may enjoy this post-bath time as a great opportunity to get in a good snuggle.
Your body heat can help to keep your guinea pig warm and if you place your pet against your chest, he will likely snuggle happily. If you listen closely, you may even get to enjoy hearing your guinea pig purr, which they often do when they are feeling safe, content, and warm.
Tip #3: Bathing once per month should be enough for your guinea pig
As mentioned above, it shouldn’t be necessary to bathe your guinea pig all that often ????. In some cases, however, this may be unavoidable. In those situations, go ahead and provide a careful bath experience using the guidelines provided above.
And, keep in mind that a bath once per month should be more than enough for general cleanliness.
Tip #4: Different bathing habits for different guinea pigs
If your guinea pig has longer hair, you may need to provide a bath more often than you would with a short-hair guinea pig. Short-haired guinea pigs who live in a properly cleaned cage may never need a bath. But, long-haired breeds such as the Peruvian guinea pig have very long hair that can grow up to 20 inches long.
Just like people with long hair, these cavies should be groomed every day with a gentle soft-haired brush. These particular guinea pigs may also need a bath with shampoo and detangler every three to four months to prevent messy mats from around their bottoms.
Just like people, cavies have different personalities. If yours spends a lot of time outdoors having fun and kicking up the dust, baths might be more frequent.
Guinea pigs groom themselves quite well. So, as long as you do your part to keep their cage clean they do most of the work. If you do need to bathe a guinea pig (say if the litter training isn’t going great), keep the tips here in mind to ensure a safe, happy, and clean piggie.
Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue – Guinea Pig Care
The Guinea Pig Handbook – Sharon L. Vanderlip – Barron’s