A guide to bathing a guinea pig.
If you are new to owning guinea pigs, you’ve probably asked yourself whether your pets will ever need a bath. Unlike other small pets like rabbits and chinchillas, it’s not dangerous for guinea pigs to get wet. But that doesn’t need that they need regular baths!
Let’s talk go over whether guinea pigs need baths – and how to give them one!
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Do guinea pigs need baths?
Do guinea pigs even need baths? The short answer is not really.
Guinea pigs should only be bathed as needed. They are generally pretty clean animals. This means they really only need baths when they are really dirty or smelly, or had a medical issue (like a fungal infection). Excessive bathing can cause dry skin and is stressful for the piggy. Guinea pigs are self-groomers, which means they take care of most of their “bathing” themselves.
They don’t need baths on a regular schedule or if they look perfectly normal and clean. Different guinea pigs are going to need baths at different times, and some pigs will need more baths than others. Long-haired guinea pigs are generally going to need more baths than short-haired breeds.
It’s also an option to just give a “bum bath.” I do this often with my long-haired pigs or a pig with a really dirty grease gland. This is when you only give a bath to the hind end area of the piggy. This reduces the stress a bit and limits how wet your pet is getting.
What shampoo should I use?
The main thing to think about when it comes to choosing a guinea pig shampoo is whether it’s actually safe to be used with guinea pigs. This can be a bit tricky, but there are a couple of great options you can use.
First, my absolute favorite grooming products, including shampoos, to use with my guinea pigs are from Gorgeous Guineas. This is a UK-based company that makes aromatherapy grooming and care products specifically for guinea pigs. they don’t cause any skin irritation and can actually help treat a range of skin problems in guinea pigs. The is the best option in my opinion.
There are also a couple of anti-fungal shampoos you can use. This is great to treat or prevent any skin issues as well. The best one to use is Miconazole shampoo.
Both of these options are totally safe to use and work great for guinea pig baths.
Do not use dish soap, human shampoo, pet store small animal shampoo, or baby shampoo. You don’t want to use anything with harsh chemicals or strong scents.
Preparing for Bath Time
Before you just turn on the water and dump your piggy in, you want to get prepared.
First, gather all the supplies you will need for the bathing and grooming process. Get your shampoo ready, grab a couple of old towels, and make sure you have a good setup around your sink or tub – I usually use the bathroom sink or kitchen sink. Take the cap off your shampoo and have it within easy reach. You want the bathing process to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
I like to put a washcloth in the bottom of the sink while bathing so the pig has something to stand on instead of just a slippery sink. Having someone else around to help can also be a good idea. Have a clean towel or two nearby as well.
You may also want to have a blow dryer handy for drying off your pig – we’ll talk about this in a minute! But if you have one and want to quickly dry your pig, have that ready nearby as well.
You also probably want to clean cages before giving baths so you are putting a clean piggy into a clean environment.
Once you have your bathing space set up and your supplies ready to go, then it’s time to get your piggy!
How to Bathe a Guinea Pig
So, you’ve decided your guinea pig needs a bath and you’ve prepared all your supplies. What next?
Make sure the water is at a safe temperature
You want to use lukewarm water – so slightly warmer than room temperature. You don’t want your pet to be getting cold during the bath, but you also don’t want the water to be too hot for them. Make sure to test the temperature of the water and make sure it’s safe and comfortable for your pet BEFORE you put your pet in the water.
Use careful handling
You probably know that guinea pigs are very skittish animals and their instinct is to run away in stressful situations. Bathing is a stressful situation – so make sure to have a firm grip on your pig!
My pigs regularly try to jump out of the sink while being bathed. You need to have one hand on your pig at all times. Make sure to keep a hand supporting your pig while washing and
Also NEVER put your guinea pig on its back. This is extremely dangerous and can very easily injure a guinea pig’s spine if they twist or struggle to get away.
Get your piggy in the water
Ok, now for the actual bathing steps.
Once you have a good water temperature, I like to hold my pig and put them in the sink under the running water, so that the water is only hitting their bum. You don’t want the water level in the sink to be too high. Wet your piggy and make sure to get down through the layers of their hair, to your guinea pig’s skin.
Avoid the face and ears when wetting your guinea pig. You don’t want water getting in your guinea pig’s ears or eyes! Focus on only getting the areas wet that you are going to wash. Make sure to get them nice and thoroughly wet so the shampoo will work well.
Shampoo your guinea pig
Once the areas you are wanting to wash are nice and wet, you can start in on your shampoo.
You’ll find what method works best for you, but I’ve found the best way to give a thorough wash is to take the pig out of the sink and turn off the water for the shampoo step. I set the pig on a towel (make sure to still keep a hand on them!) and shampoo them while they are on the towel. This is usually a bit easier for me because the pig is less likely to struggle when they have all four feet down on solid ground.
Use a small amount of shampoo, but enough to make sure you’re covering the areas you need to get clean. Work the shampoo through the fur and be as thorough as you can. With long-haired piggies, make sure to work the shampoo through all that fur!
Rinse, Rinse, Rinse
Once you have the pig all soaped up, it’s important to rinse them super well. You don’t want any soap left on the piggy when you’re done.
Turn the water back on and make sure the temperature is ok before putting the guinea pig back in the sink. I like to rinse my pig by holding them under the faucet, but the can be really tricky for someone not familiar with handling guinea pigs.
If you don’t want to hold your pig under the water, you can always use a cup to pour water over your piggy until the shampoo is all rinsed out. This is probably the better way to go for a beginner or someone new to guinea pigs.
Again, make sure to get ALL the shampoo rinsed out. You don’t want any of that soap staying on your pet. Take your time on this step and over rinse!
Wrapping it up
When you have all the shampoo rinsed off your pet, bath time is over!
Take your pig out of the sink and turn off the water. Wrap your guinea pig up in a clean, dry towel – and wrap them up well, like a burrito. The time after a bath is the most likely time a guinea pig can get too cold. You want to keep your pet wrapped up and in a warm place until they are completely dry. Try not to keep them in a wet towel. Do not put a wet guinea pig back into its cage!
Use the towel to gently rub your guinea pig’s fur to health them dry off a bit faster. This is the part of the bath that is going to take the longest – but you can use the drying time to have extended lap time and bond with your guinea pig.
Drying your guinea pig with a hairdryer
Yes, you can actually dry off your piggy with a hairdryer! Some guinea pigs will be more tolerant of this than others, but it works for quite a few of them. If you want to try using a hairdryer with your pet, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, make sure to use the lowest setting or coolest temperature so you don’t burn your pet. Hairdryer burns can absolutely happen with guinea pigs, so be very careful. You don’t want to raise the body temperature of your pet too quickly either. Don’t leave the dryer pointing directly at one point on your pig for longer than a couple of seconds. Keep the air moving over your pig so they aren’t getting direct beams of heat hitting them.
This is a much faster way to dry off your piggy and get them back into their cage quicker. However, the noise of the hairdryer can be more stressful for some guinea pigs. It’s worth a try to see if your guinea pig will tolerate the noise!
Final Thoughts on How to Bathe a Guinea Pig
Bathing your guinea pig shouldn’t be done often, but it is sometimes a necessary part of keeping your pet happy and healthy. Make sure to be prepared for bath time, have safe shampoo ready, and be careful when your piggy is in the water.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to successfully give your guinea pig a bath in a safe and efficient way!
More Information on Guinea Pigs:
- The Best Cages for Guinea Pigs
- How to Feed Guinea Pig Veggies (with printable list!)
- Easy Grooming for Guinea Pigs