Once your guinea pig has settled in and is used to being handled, its a great time to introduce grooming into part of their daily routine. Guinea pigs are very clean animals and can often be seen licking themselves and even nibbling on patches of their fur. Guinea pigs are very good at spotting when dirt and grime appear on their fur and make every attempt to clean it off, if you have close cage mates you may even see them helping each other out on those hard to reach areas!
Guinea pigs (like cats) have a natural instinct to clean themselves and keep their fur tidy and free of debris. Have you ever seen your guinea pig clean its face? its definitely one of the cutest things they do! If you watch them regularly, you will notice before the face cleaning begins that a white milky substance builds up in the eyes first. Guinea pigs then take this liquid from their eyes and wash their face with it! Whilst guinea pigs are great at cleaning themselves, grooming should still form part of your daily routine since it gives you time to bond, check for signs of ill health and helps ensure their fur remains clean and mat free.
The first and often easiest step for grooming is brushing. How often you groom your piggie is determined by their breed and how comfortable your guinea pig is with being handled. An anxious guinea should still be groomed it will just take a little longer to get them used to the process. In our experience most guinea pigs love to be brushed once you’ve pushed through the early grumpiness your guinea pig will have with you the first few times.
Whatever frequency you decide upon its important to ensure you brush them regularly and using specially designed brushes . The shorter haired breeds of guinea pig do not require as much brushing as the long haired breeds. Typically guinea pigs need to be brushed only once or twice a week for the short haired breeds whilst long haired piggies should be brushed daily. Remember that guinea pigs are seasonal hair shredders so they will need more brushing during their shedding phase.
To brush a guinea pig, use a small soft brush designed for guinea pigs and brush in the direction that your guinea pigs fur is growing in. The first few times you brush your guinea pig, they may freeze or wriggle, simply stop and give them a fuss. Once they’ve settled down, you can start to brush them again. Ensure you don’t put any pressure when you brush your guinea pigs fur and allow the brush to run from head (between the ears) right down to the bottom. Most guinea pigs don’t like having their bottoms touched so expect a slight jolt to show you they don’t like it! Regular brushing helps to keep your guinea pig’s coat in good condition and tangle free. Longer haired guinea pigs may require a small silver wide tooth comb to ensure all the tangles can be removed.
How to deal with tangles and matted fur
Short haired guinea pigs rarely have matted fur or tangles so this only really applies to long haired breeds. It can be rather frustrating to find a matted piece of fur or tangle that wont come out with the usual gentle brushing. Really want to remove it so it doesn’t make your guinea pig poorly but you also don’t want to cause any pain to your piggie. The best approach is to try your best to brush it out using a little gentle pressure but not hurting or causing the guinea pig distress.
If this doesn’t remove the matted fur or tangle, then take some special guinea pig scissors and gentle cut the mat or tangle out. If the matted fur is too close to the guinea pigs skin, then try to smooth it out as best you can with your fingers and do this daily. Eventually the piece of fur will be long enough to remove with scissors.
The best way to prevent tangles is to detangle your guinea pig daily. Matted fur can also be deterred this way but it wont prevent them completely since its common due to long haired piggies fur to drag along the ground and pick up debris and urine.
Giving your guinea pig a fur cut
If your guinea pig is suffering with multiple tangles or frequently mattered fur then it might be a good idea to give them a fur cut. This will stop long hair from touching the floor and picking up debris and urine. In order to trim a guinea pigs fur take the hair and place it between your two fingers.
This protects the guinea pig from being hurt accidentally with the scissors. You should also use ball scissors which are rounded at the tip opposed to pointed. This stops your guinea pig from getting injured when they are wriggling around.
The best place to start trimming your guinea pigs fur is the bum as this is the most difficult. If your guinea pig has thick hair then it may be useful to use some soft grip hair clips to move the top layer out the way so its easier to access the fur underneath. Then you can release the top layer and trim that also. If your guinea pig is wriggling or squirming then offer them a tasty treat as a distraction.
Remember if your trimming your boar (male) guinea pig then be careful of their genital area as any nicks or cuts here would be extremely painful.
Giving your guinea pig a bath
Guinea pigs rarely need baths unless they become stinky from poor cage hygiene, or if it has mites (check with your vet on how to care for your piggie) Guinea pigs are naturally very good swimmers however the average domestic guinea pig wont be a fan of bath time!
Preparation is key to the successful bathing of your guinea pig so ensure you have several thick towels, special shampoo and scissors handy (cutting guinea pig hair is easier when its wet.) Place one of the towels in the bottom of your guinea pig bath tub and fill the container with lukewarm water. Place the guinea pigs bottom half into the water first and set them down on the towel.
Carefully pour water over the guinea pig avoiding its head from getting wet. Add a small amount of shampoo and then rinse off thoroughly.
After the bath, carefully remove your guinea pig from the water and dry off with a thick towel. Ensure you guinea pig is thoroughly dry before placing back into a clean cage.
What to do with a smelly guinea pig that hates bath time
If your guinea pig really hates bath time but is a big smelly then simply use a water less shampoo like this one that we use. It has a leave in formula that cares for the piggies coat whilst also nourishes the skin. Its the perfect item for piggies who don’t like getting wet. You can also spot clean your guinea pig opposed to giving them a full bath, just use a warm wet washcloth or sponge to remove the grease or grime. Ensure the shampoo is thoroughly rinsed out afterwards.