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Can You Give Guinea Pigs a Bath & How Often? (Here’s the Answer)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: Aug 1, 2022

New guinea pig owners have many questions, of which one of the most frequently asked is: Can you give guinea pigs a bath, and how often?

You can bath guinea pigs, but bathing your pets unless it is necessary is not a good idea. Guinea pigs are extremely clean and frequently groom themselves. Besides, as these small animals do not sweat, you will rarely need to bathe them. Keep in mind that frequent baths lead to dry fur coats and itchy skin which can cause skin infections.

However, it is important to do so carefully and with caution, as guinea pigs can easily get scared or injured. Make sure the water is not too hot or cold, and that the tub or sink is not too deep.

You also want to use a pet-safe shampoo. Always supervise your guinea pig during the bath, and be prepared to towel dry them and blow dry them.

If you’re unsure whether you should bathe your guinea pig, consult your exotic vet. 

Should You Bathe Your Guinea Pigs?

The answer to this question is a little tricky, as some people seem to think that you should never bathe a guinea pig, while others believe that they need a bath at least once a month.

However, long-haired breeds may require a bath every now and then, but never more than 2-3 times a year.

The truth is that most guinea pigs don’t need regular baths, but there are a few cases when it can be helpful to give them one.

For example, if your guinea pig has gotten dirty or is starting to smell bad, then a bath can help get rid of the dirt and bacteria.

It can also be helpful if your guinea pig has gotten into something sticky or greasy, as baths can help loosen the dirt and make it easier to clean off.

However, you should never bath your guinea pig if they are sick, as this can make them even more ill.

Likewise, never bathe pregnant guinea pigs, those that are under six months old, guinea pigs with cold, or those suffering from a respiratory infection.

If you do decide to bath your guinea pig, make sure to use warm water and mild guinea pig pet shampoo.

Avoid using any chemicals or detergents, dish soaps, and most human shampoos, as these can be harmful to your guinea pig’s sensitive skin.

It’s also important to dry your guinea pig off completely after the bath, as damp fur can lead to fungal infection.

You should thoroughly towel dry them first and then use a blow dryer on a low setting.

The air coming out from the blowdryer shouldn’t be hot on your skin.

Do Guinea Pigs Smell Bad?

Whether guinea pigs smell bad is a question that many people ask when considering adopting a guinea pig as a pet.

Guinea pigs don’t smell bad on their own.

As a matter of fact, guinea pigs are clean animals, and they tend to groom themselves very well and often.

For that reason, many guinea pig owners believe that guinea pig bath is completely unnecessary.

What does smell bad, however, is their cage, urine, and feces that create the odor that you don’t want in your surroundings.

Cages that don’t have proper cleaning will leave an impression that guinea pigs are smelly creatures, but that’s not true.

Whether you will have to fight odor depends on their diet and how well they are cared for.

Guinea pigs that are fed a healthy diet, have access to clean water, and live in an environment that’s regularly cleaned will typically have less of an odor compared to other guinea pigs.

Likewise, guinea pigs that are regularly groomed and have their bedding changed regularly will also tend to be less smelly. 

So, if you’re wondering whether or not guinea pigs smell bad, the answer is: it depends. But, in general, guinea pigs that are well cared for and have a healthy diet will not smell as bad as those that do not. 

So, what’s a healthy guinea pig diet?

Your guinea pig has to eat enough fiber (must have access to an unlimited amount of fresh hay) and must not eat too much sugary fruits or vegetables.

If you’re giving your guinea pig all the right stuff to eat, another reason for the bad smell coming from your guinea pig’s cage can be that you’re not cleaning the cage often and thoroughly.

You need to spot clean once or twice a day, as thoroughly as possible.

You also must do laundry as often as you can, typically once a week. Make sure to deep clean your guinea pig’s cage liners and/or fleece bedding at least once a month.

Finally, your guinea pig might be ill.

If the guinea pig has a urinary infection, their urine could smell more.

If your guinea pigs have unhealthy poop, they could also have more smell. You should visit your local exotic vet as soon as possible.

How Often Should a Healthy Guinea Pig Get a Bath?

Most people recommend bathing a guinea pig once every three months or more, but some people say that if the guinea pig is kept clean and has a good diet, they may not need a bath as often, or even ever.

If your guinea pig lives in a dusty environment, then they might need more baths than one per year. On the other hand, if your guinea pig is mostly indoors and doesn’t get dirty very often, they might only need a bath once or twice a year.

It just depends on how your guinea pig is doing and what you think is best.

While you won’t cause any harm to your guinea pigs if you never give them a bath, bathing guinea pigs often can cause them harm.

Each time you bathe your pet, you are removing the natural oils from its skin, which leaves it dry and vulnerable to infections.

So, if you decide to bathe your piggies, always use a guinea pig shampoo or a shampoo recommended by a vet.

Is It Okay To Bathe Guinea Pigs with Human Shampoo?

Never bath your guinea pig using a shampoo meant for humans only use a guinea pig shampoo.

The quality of our hair differs from your guinea pig’s fur.

Our skins are not the same.

Human shampoo is not safe for guinea pigs as it’s too harsh for the sensitive skin of a guinea pig.

Is It Okay To Bathe Guinea Pigs with Baby Shampoo?

You should never bathe your guinea pigs with baby shampoo.

Shampoos created for humans (including baby shampoo for human babies) are not safe for guinea pigs.

Use only shampoos for guinea pigs or another recommended by an experienced guinea pig owner or vet.

Can I Use Dish Soap To Bathe a Guinea Pig?

Never use dish soap to bathe your guinea pigs.

Dish soap is too harsh for the skin and fur of your guinea pig and you may cause harm to this small animal.

Use only shampoos for guinea pigs or another recommended by an experienced guinea pig owner or vet.

How To Give a Bath To a Guinea Pig?

This is your first time bathing a guinea pig and you’re unsure whether you’ll do something wrong.

Of course, you don’t want to hurt your pet so you need guidance

Here are the instructions for bathing your guinea pig:

  1. Prepare all you need to bathe your guinea pig: fill a tub (sink) with 1 inch (2-3 cm) of warm water, which is just enough to submerge your guinea pig’s feet. Grab a large towel and a guinea pig safe shampoo. Have a hair dryer ready.
  2. Soothe your guinea pig before placing it gently into the water: baths are extremely distressing for them.
  3. Dip your guinea pig’s toes in first so that this small animal gets accustomed to it.
  4. Hold your pet gently with one hand, while using the other to dab a cloth over their body and pour little shampoo in the water and on your piggy’s fur.
  5. Dab a damp cloth over their body and slowly pour the water from the sink over it. Just gently wet their ears and face but don’t let any water get into the ears and eyes of your pet.
  6. Lather the guinea pig shampoo all over its body. Use only little shampoo. Massage it into your pet’s fur. Rinse the guinea pig two to three times to remove all the shampoo completely from its fur and body.
  7. Wrap the piggy in a towel and blow dry it on a low setting (the air coming from the blow dryer should not be hot on your hand)
  8. Make sure to dry your piggy completely before putting it back into the cage.

Can You Blow Dry Your Guinea Pig?

Now that you’ve decided to bathe your guinea pig, not only you can blow dry your guinea pig but should do it!

All responsible guinea pig owners will recommend that you fully dry guinea pigs with a hair dryer (in a specific low blow dryer setting).

However, start by drying the guinea pigs with a towel, and then blow-dry the pet using the low setting to avoid overheating your guinea pig.

If possible, use one of the silent blow dryers so you wouldn’t scare your pet and submit it to unnecessary stress.

Can Guinea Pigs Swim?

You can see some videos online that guinea pigs can swim, but we don’t recommend teaching your piggy to swim.

Guinea pigs are not swimmers nor do they love water that much.

However, you can let your piggy soak in shallow warm water for a few minutes.

By doing so, you will prepare this small animal for what’s coming: a real bath with bubbles!

Final Thoughts

Can you give guinea pigs a bath?

You can bathe your guinea pigs, but don’t do it often and use only guinea pig safe shampoo or some other small animal shampoo that’s also acceptable for guinea pigs.

Frequent bathing is not a good idea, as it can cause skin problems to your pet.

Before bathing your guinea pig, prepare all you need for that undertaking. Be gentle and patient.

Prevent water and shampoo from getting in your pet’s eyes and ears!

Right after bathing it, thoroughly dry your furry friend with a towel. 

Then set the blow dryer to low heat and blow-dry your piggy. 

You will know when your pet is completely dry by the fluffiness of its fur.

Author

Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API