A basic overview of guinea pig grooming.
If you’re new to owning guinea pigs you might be curious whether guinea pigs need any grooming. The answer is yes! Guinea pigs need their nails clipped, their fur brushed, and maybe even their hair cut! It might sound a little overwhelming, but guinea pig grooming isn’t too hard once you get the hang of it.
This guide will give you a great basic overview of how to get started grooming your guinea pig.
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Guinea Pig Grooming
Guinea pigs are self-groomers, which means for the most part they take care of their fur themselves. However, there are times where you may have to do some grooming to keep their nails and skin in good condition. Plus, the more time you spend grooming your guinea pigs on a regular basis, the more comfortable they will be with it.
One important part of guinea pig grooming is nail clipping. Guinea pigs need their nails clipped on a monthly basis or they can become overgrown and unhealthy for your pet. We’ll cover how to clip a guinea pig’s nails later in this article.
If you have a long-haired guinea pig, regular brushing and bum baths are probably going to be something you need to do on a regular basis.
How To Brush A Guinea Pig
If you have a short-haired guinea pig, they probably aren’t going to need to be brushed. However, if you have a long-haired breed, brushing is a very important part of grooming.
Brushing the hair of a long-haired guinea pig will help keep them clean and tangle-free. I like using a comb or a slicker brush for this because it does a good job of getting through the hair to work out tangles.
If you come across a large tangle or mat in your guinea pig’s hair that you can’t easily work through with a brush, usually the easiest thing to do is to very carefully cut it out using scissors. This keeps your piggy’s hair from being pulled – just be careful with the scissors around squirmy pigs!
We actually use dog grooming clippers on our texel guinea pigs. You have to be careful and have a second person helping you to do this (to hold squirmy pigs!), but it can make keeping their hair clean much easier. I like to keep their hair around their bums shorter and make sure they aren’t dragging or walking on it. This will help keep them cleaner and help them need bum baths less often.
Do Guinea Pigs Need Baths?
Speaking of baths, do guinea pigs need them?
Guinea pigs should only be given baths as needed. This means they don’t need to be on any type of regular schedule for bathing. Usually, my guinea pigs only get “bum baths.” I have several long-haired guinea pigs, so they are the ones that end up getting baths a little bit more often (along with hair trims!).
My general rule is I only give my pigs baths when I can visibly tell they are getting dirty – most often on my white and long-haired piglets.
I do also have three guinea pigs that are six years old, which means they are senior piggies. Belle in particular seems to have a bit of arthritis in her back end, which means she has a little bit of trouble keeping herself as clean as she used to. For her, we tend to get a damp washcloth and clean off her belly every week or so to keep her nice and dry. She does end up getting bum baths more often than the rest of the pigs because of this.
If you do need to give your guinea pig a bath, make sure to use a shampoo that is safe for them. I recommend Gorgeous Guineas products!
How To Clip A Guinea Pig’s Nails
Nail clipping is an extremely important part of guinea pig grooming and must be done for all piggies. If guinea pigs do not get regular nail trims their nails can become very overgrown. This is extremely uncomfortable for your piggy.
The easiest way to clip a guinea pig’s nails is to set them on your lap with their front feet supported up in one hand against your stomach. Use your other hand to hold the clippers. This position exposes your guinea pig’s feet for you to clip their nails. Then, use the clippers to snip off the end.
The most important thing to be aware of when clipping nails is that there is a “quick” or vein that runs through the center of their nails. You want to avoid cutting this or it will hurt and cause your pet to bleed. If you look closely, you can see the pink quick running through your pet’s nail. If your guinea pig has dark-colored nails, hold a flashlight behind the nail to see where the quick is.
Usually, you have to be pretty quick when cutting nails. If you need to, have someone else hold your guinea pig while you do the clipping. If you are really uncomfortable with doing this yourself, you can take your piggy to the vet to have it done or have the vet show you how to do it properly the first time.
What Are The Best Tools For Grooming Guinea Pigs?
There are a ton of different “small pet” grooming tools on the market. Not all of them are the best choice for guinea pigs. I’ve put together a list of my favorite tools that I use when grooming my guinea pigs:
A slicker brush is great for brushing through a guinea pig’s hair. I especially like using these on my long-haired piggies to make sure they don’t get any mats in their fur.
I use nail clippers specifically aimed at small pets to clip my guinea pigs’ nails. They are easy to use one-handed while holding onto a piggy. Make sure to replace them when they start getting dull to keep them from crushing your pet’s nails instead of clipping them.
A comb is great to use on long-haired piggies as well. It can help get out tangles or small mats that you can’t get through with a slicker brush.
Final Thoughts on Guinea Pig Grooming
Taking the time to clip your guinea pig’s nails and make sure their fur is in good shape will help keep your pet happy and healthy. The more you do these grooming tasks, the more comfortable both you and your pet will be with it.