Bathing your guinea pig can feel stressful, a hassle, and even scary, especially if it’s your first time. And that’s completely normal – I felt the same way the first time too. So in this article, you’ll learn how to give a guinea pig a bath for the first time, step by step with tons of tips and tricks.
Do guinea pigs clean themselves?
Yes, Guinea pigs clean themselves by grooming and licking their buddies and themselves. The way they clean is very similar to cats, and Guinea pigs are generally clean and well-groomed.
Do guinea pigs need baths?
Usually, Guinea pigs don’t need baths, because they clean themselves regularly. However, there are exceptions. For example, Guinea pigs with long fur. In that case, it’s best to give them baths 2-3 times a year to keep their fur clean and free from dangles.
Sometimes, when your Guinea pig gets dirty, such as playing outdoors, the mud and grass clippings may stick to their bottoms. Those are also good times to bath your piggy, so they will be clean (especially their paws and private areas) and reduce the risk of getting contaminated by bacteria.
Another example is piggies who are incapable of grooming themselves, because of old age, injuries or other causes. If your Guinea pig is unable to groom themselves, please take them to the vet.
Lastly, short-haired Guinea pigs may benefit from a bath about once a year too. I like to think of it as a “deep clean”. And let me tell you, Mochi’s fur coat looks amazing after a bath! I’m not saying you should give your potatoes baths often because they can keep themselves clean, but a bath about once a year is ok too. Besides, bathing your potato can be a good bonding experience with your guinea pig too.
How often should I bathe my guinea pigs?
There is no exact number of times you should bath your guinea pig, because it depends on their fur coat length, if their coat is particularly oily, and more. But in general, 2-3 times a year is enough. You shouldn’t bathe your guinea pig more than 4 times a year or once every 3 months unless your vet says so. That’s because bathing your guinea pig too often can result in dry fur coats and skin.
What is the best time to bathe your Guinea pigs?
The ideal time to bathe your Guinea pigs is in the morning or early afternoon when they are generally more active and alert. This ensures they are not too tired or stressed, providing a smoother bathing experience for both you and your furry piggy.
Choosing a mild, room-temperature day is also best for bathing Guinea pigs. Avoid extreme heat or cold, as it can be uncomfortable for them. Aim for a cozy indoor environment, ensuring the room is comfortably warm without any drafts. This way, your Guinea pigs will feel secure and relaxed during their bath.
Now that we have the basics down, let’s start getting the materials to bathe your guinea pigs, shall we?
Step 1 – Get your materials
This is particularly important – you don’t want to rush around getting towels while your potato is dripping wet and cold. Gather all the materials needed in an area that you can reach within arm’s reach.
What do I need?
- Wash basin
- warm water
- blow dryer
- optional: guinea pig first aid kit (here’s how to make one yourself on a budget)
You’ll need a wash basin if you’re bathing your guinea pig in a sink or not, since sinks are quite slippery, and the strainer can be dangerous for your piggy. A plastic one does the trick, but just make sure it’s high enough so that your guinea pig can’t jump out easily. The wash basin should be able to fit your guinea pig in comfortably as well.
The towels serve a few purposes: to put underneath the wash basin to catch the water that will spill out, to wipe your hands, and to dry your piggy. So, in total, I recommend having 3 towels when you’re bathing your guinea pig.
Your guinea pig will need warm water. I’ll say it again, WARM water. Not your regular room temperature tap water, not hot water. Most people decide if the water temperature is right for their guinea pig by comparing it with how warm the water is when you shower. Everyone showers at a different temperature. If we’re going with that logic, your guinea pig might be dropped in ice-cold water or hot boiling water.
So, the general guideline temperature is between 32°C and 35°C (90°F and 95°F). I’ll be detailing about the water more in a minute.
The cup is for spooning water and gently pouring it onto your guinea pig’s fur coat. That way, you don’t have to use your hands and splash water on your potato, or to use a towel. Additionally, a cup can rinse the soap off your potato’s body easily.
This is to, well, dry your guinea pig. When you’re using the blow dryer, remember not to turn on the cold air function when you’re drying your piggy. The best way to dry your potato-shaped furball using a hair dryer is to turn the power to low but keep the heat on. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.
Guinea pigs’ skin and fur are incredibly sensitive to shampoos or any chemicals of any kind. Even though some websites say that using baby shampoo is safe for guinea pigs, scentless, odourless natural baby shampoo should be used as a last resort.
It’s best to use shampoo designed for guinea pigs. These guinea pig shampoos are like a spa day bottled up, minus any harsh chemicals or funky fragrances that might bug their sensitive skin. Trust me, your guinea pigs will thank you for the extra care.
Shampoo for guinea pigs isn’t a great thing to cut back on to save money. However, here are 5 things you can do to save $1000 on your guinea pigs.
How to Bath a guinea pig for beginners
In this guide, we will go over the step-by-step procedure on how to bathe your guinea pig for beginners. Now that we have all the materials set up, let’s begin!
Step 1: Add water and shampoo to your water basin
First, add lukewarm water mixed little bit of guinea pig shampoo to the water bucket or basin. The water temperature should be the warmth of a bath for a human bay, or about between 32°C and 35°C (90°F and 95°F). Make sure the water level is not too high or low, because when you put your piggy in the tub, the water should be about just above its tummy. That way, your potato’s head and neck won’t be in contact with water but their little feet will be.
Step 2: Gently lower your guinea pig to the basin
Gently lift your guinea pig and place it slowly into the bathtub. It’s normal for some piggies to get scared, especially if it’s their first time. You can keep some chopped veggies or pea flakes nearby to offer them once they’re in the water, which can help to calm them down. This is what I did when clipping my guinea pig’s nails too.
Step 3: Slowly Pour water onto its body using a cup
Now comes the bathing moment! With a cup in hand, delicately scoop the soapy water and let it cascade over your guinea pig’s body. It’s crucial to show you mean no harm in this process, ensuring that the water flow is gentle and steady. I like to gently talk to my guinea pig while doing this because it keeps him from getting stressed.
Be particularly cautious around the face, ears and eyes – these sensitive areas can be uncomfortable for your furry friend if soap happens to come into contact. To avoid any stinging sensations, make sure to keep the soapy solution away from the eyes.
Step 4: Scrub, scrub, scrub
Using your hands, scrub your potato softly. Massage the shampoo water onto your potato’s fur, bottom, tummy, and paws. The goal is to provide a thorough but gentle cleanse. Using your fingertips, work through the fur, ensuring you reach all the nooks and crannies where dirt might be hiding.
Remember to take extra care around the bottom and tummy, areas that might require a bit more attention. Again, remember to avoid washing or making contact with your guinea pig’s eyes and face. You can also use this moment to take a look at your piggy for a quick health check.
Step 5: Rinse your pig
After massaging, carefully remove your guinea pig from the shampoo water tub and transfer it to either another tub, the same tub with different water, or the sink. There should be warm water. You can also place your potato in a safe, warm place like on another person’s lap on a towel while you change out the water.
Rinse your piggy several times to wash out any soap, and take a moment to gently clean your piggy’s ears with your fingertips. Remember the water should be fresh and lukewarm.
Step 6: Towel Dry your piggy
Once all the soap is washed off, it’s time to dry your wet potato. Quickly and carefully put your guinea pig on a towel in a safe place, like on your lap or a table with very careful supervision.
First, wrap your piggy in the towel like a burrito with its little head poked out and gently dap its wet fur. Make sure to give them a quick treat for behaving during the bath.
Step 6.5: Blow Dry
After your guinea pig is towel-dried, you can start bow-drying. Turn your hair dryer to the lowest setting, but keep in mind that the wind should still be warm and not cold. Hold the dryer at a good distance that won’t be too close to your piggy’s fur and not too far that it can barely dry your guinea pig. Some guinea pigs are more skittish to wind than others, and that’s okay. Giving them veggies to eat while drying helps too.
When you’re drying your potato, it’s a good idea to brush its fur too. Most of the time, a guinea pig’s bottom and tummy take the longest to dry, but these areas are very important to have been dried before putting them back in their cages because it can cause infections if a guinea pig’s tummy and bottom are wet.
When your guinea pig’s fur is all dried and fluffy, congratulations, you just successfully bathed your piggy!
So there you have it, a step-by-step guide to bathing your Guinea pig for beginners. It’s not that scary now, is it? Although the process can be stressful, over time it may be a fun and rewarding experience to have. Plus, just the look of your piggy’s clean, fluffy fur will increase their already sky-high cute levels.
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You may also like: How to make your own Guinea Pig First Aid Kit and what to put in it.