Guinea pigs do not need regular baths as a dog might. They typically groom themselves well and often enough to keep their fur, paws, and faces clean. Bathing your guinea pig with soap and water can dry out their skin and fur. Also, most guinea pigs are not big fans of being wet. They can get shivers and stay uncomfortable for hours after a bath.
However, there may come a time when your guinea pig needs a bath after an activity or when you have slacked when it comes to keeping their cage clean. Your guinea pig may get muddy while playing outside with you, or they might get covered in applesauce the first time that they try it. Whatever the reason, your guinea pig will make it through a bath like a champ if you know how to bathe them properly. Here is a step-by-step guinea pig bathing guide that will help you get your pet clean without problems.
Gather Necessary Equipment
Before you even turn on the bathwater, you should gather everything that you will need to bathe your guinea pig so they are readily available and easily accessible. You do not need much, but every item is important and should not be overlooked. These include:
- Shampoo that is made specifically for small animals, not humans, dogs, or cats
- A washcloth to gently scrub your guinea pig’s fur
- A grooming comb or glove to help get rid of dirt, debris, and loose hair
- A towel to thoroughly dry off your guinea pig
- A blow dryer (optional)
Dilute the shampoo with water if it is the first time that you are bathing your guinea pig, just in case they have sensitive skin and negatively react to the shampoo. If they do fine with diluted shampoo the first time, they should be able to handle full-strength shampoo during future baths.
Choose a Warm-Weather Day
Most guinea pigs do not enjoy getting wet because they have a hard time drying off, and they feel cold until they do get fully dry. You can help make your pet’s bathing experience more enjoyable by choosing a warm-weather day to bathe them. Consider bathing them outside where they can get warmed by the sun during the bath and immediately afterward. If bathing your guinea pig on a warm, sunny day is not possible, bathe them in the bathroom with a space heater running to provide extra warmth.
Create a Calm Environment
To keep your guinea pig from freaking out during bath time, it is important to create a calm environment to bathe in by lowering the lights and maybe even putting on gentle, soothing music. Talking to your guinea pig and reassuring them with hugs and cuddles is also a good idea. Wait until your pet feels calm and relaxed before attempting to bathe them in water. Otherwise, they may end up fighting you any time that you try to bathe them. Be patient, and do not push your pet to get wet until they are ready. Your first bath time together may take a while! But once your guinea pig gets through their first bath unscathed, consequent bathing sessions should go much more smoothly.
Fill a Tub or Sink
If you are bathing your guinea pig outside, fill a tub that is at least 12 inches wide and long and no more than 12 inches deep about a quarter full of lukewarm water. If bath time is taking place inside, fill a bathroom sink about a quarter full of water. Check the water with your fingers to make sure that it is not too hot or too cold. Keep in mind that your pet likely cannot handle water as hot as you can when you shower. The water should be slightly warm to the touch, nothing more and nothing less. Next, put a small amount of shampoo in the bathwater or dab the shampoo on your washcloth.
Introduce Your Guinea Pig
Place your guinea pig in the tub or sink of water while reassuring them with loving pets. Once they’re in the water, give them a minute to check out their surroundings and get accustomed to the water. When they seem comfortable, gently scoop water from the bucket or sink onto their bodies, being careful to avoid their head and eyes. Use the washcloth to gently rub their fur to clean it. You can offer your pet treats during this process to keep them calm and their mind off the bathing.
Rinse Your Guinea Pig Clean
Remove your guinea pig from the tub or sink that you are bathing them in and quickly drain the dirty water and replace it with clean, lukewarm water. You may need to have a reserve bucket of warm water on the ready if you are bathing your pet outside. Once refilled, dip your pet into the tub or sink, and gently rinse them by rubbing the clean water over and into their fur. Your guinea pig is done being rinsed when you no longer see soap dripping off their fur.
Thoroughly Dry Your Guinea Pig
The most important step you can take when bathing your guinea pig is thoroughly drying them. If you do not take the time to make sure that your pet is dry before putting them back in their habitat, it could result in an uncomfortable pet and maybe even problems like shivering and literally freezing. As soon as your guinea pig is done bathing, they should be wrapped in a large dry towel and gently rubbed to remove the water from their fur.
Use only half of the towel at a time so you can switch to a dry side when the other gets too wet. If your pet is still damp after thoroughly drying them with a towel, you can use a blow dryer on its lowest setting to dry them further. Just make sure that the blow dryer remains several inches away from your guinea pig’s body. It is not a good idea to put your guinea pig back in their habitat until they are completely dry.
If a good bath does not get rid of the smell that your guinea pig is emitting, it could be due to a health problem, and you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep in mind that not all smells are “bad.” For example, if your guinea pig smells like hay, it is because of their bedding or food, not due to rotting or foulness in any way. Whenever you are in doubt about why your guinea pig smells bad, give your vet a call for expert advice and guidance. It is always a good idea to make sure that your guinea pig goes back to a completely clean habitat after their bath to optimize results.
Featured Image Credit: Ase, Shutterstock