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How To Bathe A Guinea Pig | 10 Step Definitive Guide

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Tim Rhodes

If you are wondering how to bathe a guinea pig, then you have to keep reading.

Any guinea pig owner should have adequate knowledge of the pet’s care, including how to bathe or involve a vet to perform the exercise.

Guinea pigs, also referred to as piggies or cavies, are adorable animals that are attractive to be kept as pets because of their considerable low breeding and maintenance costs yet a relatively long lifespan at a decade.

Several breeds and varieties of Guinea pigs exist, ranging from long-haired, short-haired, and furless breeds.

10 Step Definitive Guide On How To Bathe A Guinea Pig

This article provides insight into the necessary steps to be followed while bathing guinea pigs.

Bathing Guinea Pigs

Long-haired breeds include Sheba, Alpaca, Merino, Texel, Angola, Peruvian, Coronet, Lunkarya, Silkie.

Short-haired breeds are; American, Himalayan, Teddy, Red, Crested, Abyssinian, Ridgeback, while short-haired breeds are the Skinny and Baldwin Guinea pigs.

Although guinea pigs’ bathing is not a regular exercise, the owner should pay attention to their uniqueness, unlike the other domestic pets, and should not use similar bathing procedures and bathing products for other pets.

Regular and routine grooming and cleaning of these pets are necessary, and thus, Guinea pig owners may lack adequate knowledge on how to bathe guinea pigs.

Step 1: Preparation Of Wash Area And Equipment

Before bathing a guinea pig, it should not be stressed or anxious, and thus the owner should ensure and try to calm the pet.

The necessary materials for guinea pig baths include: bathtub or sink, brush, clean towels, blow drier and clean water.

Hot water should be avoided as it can cause damage to the skin of the pet.

Coldwater should also be avoided as it will cause a drop in body temperature.

Step 2: Preliminary Examination Of Guinea Pig

The health and age of the guinea pig should be considered before bathing is done.

Determine and ensure that the guinea pig is in good health before undertaking the bathing procedure.

In case of sickness, physical injury, or parasite infestation, a vet should advise on the necessary precaution measures to be adopted.

In case more than one guinea pigs are fit to be bathed, only one at a time should be bathed.

It is advisable not to bathe infant guinea pigs of less than three months.

Step 3: Moving And Transferring Guinea Pig To Bathing Area

For multiple guinea pigs, bathing should be done to all of them since a new scent to some individuals due to bathing may cause fights, unlike when all are bathed and acquire the fresh scent together.

Guinea pigs can be anxious, especially if being moved out of their cages, and thus before moving them, one may require having a small carry box or travel cage to move them.

The crouching position is the preferred handling position of guinea pigs.

To lift a guinea pig, one may place hands on its shoulders and the other hand beneath its abdomen.

Step 4: Pre-bath Cleansing And Calming Of Guinea Pig

Before giving the guinea pig a full bath, one should inspect the fur for visible dirt marks or soiling.

If the guinea pig exhibits soiling or dirt patches on fur, a damp cloth should wipe off the dirt.

The guinea pigs may become curious and anxious after being moved from their cage or hutch and thus need to be regularly calmed down.

Younger guinea pigs will tend to become more nervous if it’s their first bathing experience and should be calmed down by stroking their fur or by vegetable treats.

Step 5: Placing Guinea Pig In Bathing Area

A guinea pig can be bathed in a container, sink, or bathtub.

The washing area is then filled with water which should not exceed two inches in depth.

A piece of paper can be placed at the bottom of the container to avoid slipping.

Bathtubs provide the best option since guinea pigs can’t climb out.

The guinea pig is gently lowered into the water with hind legs first.

Guinea pig is allowed time to adjust to the water, and if it’s in distress, calming and offering treats should be followed.

Step 6: Pouring Water Over The Guinea Pig

A small cup is used to scoop and spread water onto the guinea pig’s fur until it becomes wet.

Showerheads can also be used to spray water onto the fur, but the water jet’s temperature must be favorable.

When wetting the body, avoid pouring the water onto the head region.

Water contact with the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose should be avoided.

One hand can be used to shield the head from getting wet.

A towel can also be placed on the washing container’s side to avoid water from directly splashing onto the guinea pig’s face.

After the whole body has been wet, fingertips can be used to wet the head’s areas with a fur coat carefully.

A wet washcloth can also be used to rub off the dirt from the guinea pig’s face, especially if the head region is exceptionally filthy.

After the guinea pig’s entire body is wet, it is lifted from the water and placed onto dry towels.

Step 7: Applying Shampoo And Lathering

Only special guinea pig shampoo should be used, while other pet shampoo or human shampoo should be avoided.

In case the bathing was intended to eradicate parasites by using complementary medication with the shampoo, mixing and applying instructions should be followed.

The instructions also on the amount of shampoo to be applied should also be strictly adhered to.

Few drops should be put onto the hand and gently rubbed onto the fur of the guinea pig.

Massage motion of the hand and fingertips should be used to ensure that the shampoo penetrates the fur.

The massage hand motion will also make the guinea pig calm and become less jumpy during the lathering process.

Caution should be taken to avoid the shampoo from getting onto the head region as it may cause irritation or poising if ingested.

The shampoo is gently rubbed onto the fur until the coat is entirely lathered with shampoo.

Fingertips can be used to apply shampoo onto the fur within the head region.

Step 8: Rinsing

The guinea pig is returned to the washing area, and warm water is gently poured or sprayed all over its body.

Care should be taken to avoid contact of the head with the shampoo foam.

The pet should be rinsed two to three times until all the shampoo remains have been washed off from the fur.

The water level should be closely monitored to ensure that the pet doesn’t drown.

After rinsing the shampoo off the fur, the pet is gently lifted off the bathing area and placed onto dry towels.

Step 9: Drying

After bathing the guinea pig, dry and clean towels made of soft material should dry the coat fur.

Absorbent paper towels or tissue paper can also be used as towel subtitles.

Drying involves gently wrapping the towels over the body.

Tight grips should be avoided to prevent suffocation or fracture accidents.

Repeated and gentle pressing of towels onto the fur will absorb all dampness from the coat.

In case the towel becomes excessively damp or wet, another clean and dry towel should be used to continue the drying process.

The head should not be wrapped or rubbed to avoid making the pig restless or causing injury to the eyes, nose, and ears.

However, if dirt is visible on the head region, a damp towel may clear off the earth.

Shivering may be witnessed while drying the guinea pig due to exposure to cold conditions.

A hair drier is discouraged from being used in drying a guinea pig since they are sensitive to heat and noise.

However, if bathing long fur guinea pig breeds, cautious use of a hair drier with minimal noise and a calm setting to dry the fur may be recommended.

This is because the long-haired breeds’ extreme rubbing may cause the hairs to become tangled and fastens the drying process, preventing the pet from catching a cold and pneumonia.

When a hairdryer is being used on the long-haired breeds, the owner should hold it as far as possible from the body, and the focus of the airstream on one spot should be avoided.

The airstream should also not be directed onto one patch of the body, the head region of the ears.

Step 10: After-bathe Care

Once the guinea pig has been bathed and dried, grooming is needed before returning to its cage.

Brushing and examination of the fur, especially for long-haired breeds, is necessary.

A brush with soft bristles should be used to comb and straighten tangled hairs.

A vitamin spray or conditioner can also be applied to the fur.

Grooming tools and conditioners can be purchased from small pet shops.

Use of human or other pet hair and body sprays or conditioners should be avoided as it may lead to irritation or harm the pets.

Vitamin spray makes the hair may soft and ensure that combing doesn’t cause discomfort to the guinea pig.

Vitamin sprays also prevent matting and tangling of the hair in addition to preventing it from picking dirt.

A final physical examination underneath the coat is also advised, whereby if lumps or bumps are felt, a vet should be contacted for further examination.

After Bath Care Routines

In addition to bathing and grooming a guinea pig, a checkup and maintenance of specific body parts and cleaning their cage, hutch, and play areas, is essential.

Eyes, Nails, And Teeth Care

Like all wild and domestic rodents, the guinea pigs have continuously growing teeth.

Overgrown teeth may prevent a guinea pig from feeding naturally or unable to feed on some food, which may cause malnutrition or poor health.

After bathing a guinea pig, the teeth should be inspected, and in case they are overgrown, a vet should be consulted to chisel down their size.

However, a qualified vet trimming of the teeth should also be done to recommend a unique guinea pig wood to be placed in their cage for them to gnaw on to avoid teeth overgrowth.

Guinea pigs can self-clean their eyes through regularly removal crusty build-up at the eye corners.

An examination of the eyes reveals an abnormality of eye shape or eye color; a vet should be consulted immediately for further diagnosis and treatment.

Normal guinea pig eyes are perfectly rounded, shiny, and bright.

Eye protrusions, cloudiness, dull color, and extreme discharge, as well as a runny nose, should be considered as signs of illness, and a vet should be consulted immediately.

The guinea pigs’ nails also need to be trimmed since they may grow long and likely to inflict injury to the handlers, children, or other cavies.

Cage Cleanliness

After bathing a guinea pig, it has to be returned to its cage, and thus the living area has also to be clean; otherwise, the bathing would be useless.

After bathing, it is recommended to place guinea pigs in a comfortable and warm cage for several hours or overnight.

The overall cleanliness of a guinea pig will depend on the cleanliness of its living surrounding.

A well-maintained guinea pig cage-free from dirt will ensure that the pet remains clean and bathing will be less frequent.

High levels of cage cleanliness are advised for the overall health of the guinea pig.

It is essential to have a substitute housing for the guinea pigs, such as a travel cage, where they can be placed while the cage is being cleaned since it’s impossible to clean while they are still housed within.

Cage/Hutch Setting

Guinea pigs’ living enclosures are called cages or hutches of guinea pigs, which can be made or modified depending on the owners’ preference.

Some cages may lack their floor but provide the enclosure and are set on the ground or onto other surfaces.

Bottomless cages or open bottom hutch should be set out on clean surfaces or immediately moved to a new setting if the previous one becomes soiled.

Enclosures set on the open ground may cause the guinea pigs’ soiling, especially during colder and wet months.

It is advisable to move enclosures to carpeted surfaces such as pavements or grass.

Bedding Cleaning

The beddings used to line the cage or hutch surface should be clean, comfortable, and dirt-free.

The bedding should be changed at least once daily.

Fine material beddings such as sawdust shouldn’t be used as bedding material as they are likely to get stuck on the guinea pig’s fur.

Acceptable materials are also hazardous since a guinea pig can accidentally inhale or ingest the fine particles leading to respiratory or digestive problems.

Wood shavings should also be avoided since they may contain oils that can irritate the pet.

Wood shaving may also cause a piercing effect on the guinea pig’s skin, causing it to be uncomfortable.

The recommended and most conventional bedding involves laying a newspaper and then spreading hay, newspaper pellets, or old towel pieces over it.

Other comfortable bedding materials include washable materials such as cloth pieces, fleece, or diapers.

Washable beddings should, however, be cleaned using mild detergent and thoroughly rinsed.

Disinfecting The Cage/Hutch

Spot cleaning is recommended to clean dirt patches within the cage enclosure.

Regular removal of the pet droppings is necessary to get rid of bad smells and avoid the droppings getting in contact with the fur.

Thorough cleaning of food dishes and water bottles is necessary to prevent food poisoning.

Since it is difficult to clean the water bottle with a brush, soaking the bottle with rice and hot water can clean it.

In case of illness or parasite infestation, the cage should be disinfected using bleach.

However, the surfaces should be rinsed off the bleach and the cage allowed to completely dry since bleach can affect the guinea pig’s legs.

Vets commonly prescribe the D-128 disinfectant to disinfect guinea pig cages.

Guinea pig housing’s recommended homemade bleaching solution involves mixing 30 ml of bleach with 0.95 liters of water.

A mixture of equal vinegar and water parts is also a good disinfectant in guinea pig cages since it also removes urine stains and prevents odor.

Powder Bathing Alternative

Guinea pigs dislike being wet, and also wet bathing makes them shiver, with the risk of catching a cold-related infection.

Powder bathing can be used to clean Guinea pigs since it can also be used on small animal pets.

Powder bathing involves applying bathing powder onto the fur and then using a stiff bristle brush to clean it.

Before powder bathing a Guinea pig, a Vet should be consulted to prescribe the appropriate powder product to be used.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pigs are social, playful, and vocal pets making them have strong bonds with men, and therefore we should learn how to bathe a guinea pig. 

Guinea pigs groom themselves, and thus the bathing frequency should be regulated depending on the guinea pig breed to avoid causing stress or ailment such as pneumonia to the pet.

The recommended bathing depends on the pet’s needs, such as injury or the prevailing weather conditions.

During winter, bathing can be conducted once or twice within a month or two due to minimal atmospheric soiling effect and a high likelihood of cold infection.

In summer, bathing can be conducted once per month.

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