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A healthy guinea pig is a clean guinea pig. If you notice any matting, foul smells, or dirty paws, it’s time for a vet visit. That’s right, put down this article and head out right now. Your guinea pig may have an infection, an illness, or any other kind of problem and we won’t be able to diagnose it.
However, if your guinea pig just seems like it could be a bit cleaner or it’s looking a smudgy and you’re wondering, do guinea pigs clean themselves, you’re in the right place! Great news – guinea pigs do clean themselves. You do have a role in grooming your piggie, however, particularly those with longer hair. Let’s dig into the cleaning details now!
Short hair piggies read here
The average short-haired guinea pig keeps itself clean very easily. A little lick, a little chewy, and they’re good as new!
Spritzing the guinea pig’s paws with water while on felt or carpet may help those with dry mouths stimulate salivary responses.
For the most part, if a short-haired guinea pig is dirty or looks as if its fur is dry or fraying, the poor cavy probably isn’t in good shape.
When kept on clean bedding, in a clean cage, guinea pigs should never present like their mud-wallowing
If your pet is not ill (guaranteed by a veterinarian) and it still seems to be making a mess, try litter training. This can help eliminate potty messes that your guinea pig may be walking through.
A litter box also helps your guinea pig when out of its cage, reminding it that it only potty in this spot.
Long hair piggies read here
Long-haired guinea pigs are a completely different situation!
These little guys are so low to the ground that they really can’t help but drag everything with them.
Whether they’re outside on a lawn or inside on your carpet, they’re going to find every little twig and bit of lint that’s available. Then it’s going to get stuck in their coat.
This shouldn’t dissuade you from getting a long-haired guinea pig.
They’re wonderful pets and absolutely gorgeous! But their coat does require a lot more maintenance than a short-haired guinea pig.
Especially dangerous can be when long-haired guinea pigs begin to gather hair around their molars. In addition to excellent cage care and brushing, you’ll need to make sure that your guinea pig can’t swallow so much fur that it twines around a tooth and causes gum injuries or tooth loss.
Unique hair piggies read here
Abyssinians, rex, texel, and other guinea pigs with breed-specific coats often require more care than your average short hair.
This may mean trimming the guinea pig, maintaining the careful length of coat, or even applying sunscreen in the case of skinny pigs!
While all of these guinea pigs can and do groom themselves, these human-made coat patterns and types will probably mean more time learning about grooming than some beginners may want.
This is why it seems like so many people who have been “in” guinea pigs with short-haired varieties may soon take the plunge and start exploring some of the more “exotic” guinea pigs. This is great! The “exotic” guinea pig world is always welcoming newcomers and is excited to teach them something new.
If you are a new or potential guinea pig owner and you want one of these less-common breeds, we recommend acquiring a guinea pig like this from a responsible breeder.
They can show you the ins and outs of keeping your guinea pig clean, as well as showing you how much fur to trim (if any) and helping you learn what to keep an eye out for!
A Little More on Grooming
Though guinea pigs are some of the cleanest rodents in the rodent world (a pro of guinea pig ownership), they are still rodents.
Boars in the presence of sows may develop a urine-y smell after some time.
Sows may overgroom their genitals upon meeting boars or during pregnancy.
Remember, the things that we aren’t excited about may be some of the most exciting (or romantic) ways for guinea pigs to communicate!
Wrapping it up
If you see your guinea pig frequently becoming matted or their coat isn’t as glossy as it once was, it doesn’t hurt to head to the vet anyway. There are so many little problems that can be fixed by a second pair of sharp eyes! And it’s an excellent way to establish a relationship with your veterinarian—and to help assure yourself that this veterinarian does take care of guinea pigs in a way you are comfortable with.
Try to keep up with your pet’s coat, but don’t stress if you can’t. A long-haired silky guinea pig doesn’t know its hair is long before or after you have to give it’s hip a trim for whatever reason. They won’t hold it against you!
Abyssinian Guinea Pig Tips – How to bathe a guinea pig
GuineaPigTube – Do guinea pigs need baths and do they enjoy them?