If you're considering bathing your guinea pig, you're probably wondering what the benefits are and the risks involved. Within the guinea pig community, there’s a lot of discourse and debate around whether you should bathe your guinea pig. Some people will argue that it’s not necessary, while others will insist that it should be customary every once in a blue moon. Let’s get into the discourse and debunk all these myths and rumors surrounding bathing your guinea pig.
Long Story Short — It’s Okay to Bathe Your Guinea Pig
Yes, it is perfectly fine to bathe your guinea pig when it’s needed, so don’t let the discourse scare you off from it! Guinea pigs are known to have great personal hygiene, so baths, in most cases, are not necessary. It is typically recommended to give them a bath no more than 2 to 4 times a year, once every 4 to 6 months. This is because guinea pigs have sensitive skin, and bathing them strips the natural protective oils that keep their skin from becoming dry, cracked, and even infected.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if an older guinea pig or one with special needs requires a bath, or a vet recommends it. If the time has come for a guinea pig bath, there are important aspects to consider, such as the shampoo, water temperature, blowdry, and aftercare.
When You Should Bathe Your Guinea Pig
Generally, guinea pigs do not need to be regularly bathed, but when they become dirty, or their fur appears soggy (especially for long-haired guinea pigs), it may be time for a bath. Long-haired cavies are particularly susceptible to soiling, and, consequently, should have their fur checked and trimmed frequently.
If your piggy has any skin or fur issues such as parasites or fleas, baths or spot-on treatments can be used to treat the issue. If you need advice as to which treatment to use, it is best to speak to a vet. Moreover, elderly guinea pigs are more vulnerable to soiling due to their tendency to sleep in one place for extended periods, so you may want to consider reaching out to a professional if you find your senior pet is particularly messy.
What You Need to Properly Bathe Your Guinea Pig
There are certain things you may or may not opt to use when bathing your guinea pig. I personally decide to use a small tray or container to fill with water and keep it to that, though you may want to invest in guinea pig-specific shampoos or even a low-heat blow dryer to help speed up the drying process. You’ll typically need a sink with a flat surface (I normally just use my shower floor), a non-slip base such as a towel, guinea pig-friendly shampoo, a towel for drying afterward, and an optional bath thermometer should you want to test the water temp.
Once I’m done bathing my guinea pigs, I’ll usually just wrap them up in a towel and give them some treats while we hang out together. It’s a great opportunity for owner-piggie bonding, so I choose not to use a blow dryer.
Why You Need Guinea Pig-Friendly Shampoo
Guinea pigs’ skin is much more sensitive than that of human skin, which is why they need specialized and specific shampoo. This means using regular shampoo or even regular soap can be harmful to your guinea pig, so it’s best to invest in some of that instead of taking your chances with products that may harm their skin. If you have a skinny pig (a guinea pig that is hairless), bathing them too much can cause skin problems, so it’s best to use cold-pressed coconut oil and apply it to the skin when it’s noticeably oily or dry.
Remember to Be Patient
It’s important to remember that guinea pigs generally don’t like to be wet, so some pigs may completely freak out the moment they touch the water. Be slow and patient with them. Make sure the water is at a nice, comfortable, and lukewarm temperature, and ensure you have everything you’ll need on standby so you can give your full, undivided attention to your furry friend. The bath should go by quickly and easily once your pig is comfortable and calm, and then you can focus on some bonding and treat time afterward. This takes away a lot of unnecessary stress for them, which is always the main goal with prey animals like guinea pigs.
Bathing your guinea pig may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you follow the tips and advice outlined in this article, your guinea pig can have a safe and happy bath time (when needed)!