Imagine casually walking into your bedroom, just like any other day, and being met with a strange yet unpleasant odor you’ve never known. What on earth could be causing this?
Your eyes immediately fix on your guinea pig’s playpen in the corner of your room.
How Bad Do Guinea Pigs Smell?
These little piggies can indeed get pretty stinky, but this isn’t a normal occurrence. A healthy guinea pig usually shouldn’t smell, or the smell won’t come from him directly.
In most cases, the odor you’re picking up on is caused by one of three things; poor health, an unclean cage, or lack of care. Even then, it’s usually a dirty cage that’s offending your senses, not the guinea pig himself.
What do you do when your little one’s cage is clean and tidy, yet he or she is still stinking up the room?
Do Guinea Pigs Smell Up Room Badly?
Are your guinea pigs smelling up your room badly, and you just don’t know why? For that matter, how do you both get rid of and prevent this horrible odor?
It might help to know that this isn’t a normal occurrence and your little one shouldn’t smell. In most cases, you’ll just need to clean your piggy’s enclosure regularly.
However, bad guinea pig smells can result from either a nutritional issue or some other medical problem.
Because their digestive tracts function nearly the same way ours do, guinea pigs can indeed fart. Excessive guinea pig farting can be a sign you should consider a change in diet.
How Do You Keep Guinea Pigs From Smelling?
There are three big methods you can use to keep your piglet smelling on the sweet side, or rather not smelling badly. The first is so simple you’ve probably thought of it.
Make sure your pet’s enclosure is clean. Ensuring your guinea’s bedding and cage is cleaned regularly will go a long way to eliminating any possible causes of these odors.
Guinea pigs tend to easily collect urine in all of that fluff, especially long-haired pigs. The hairs can stick together and begin to give off a strong ammonia smell.
Fortunately, you might just need to set aside some time dedicated to grooming (which should be done anyway). Those long hairs might need to be trimmed, on top of your regularly scheduled guinea pig bath times (washings).
While you want to change out bedding and scoop up little messes regularly, once-a-week deep cleaning is a fantastic idea for that cage. This means you’ll want to change everything out, clean all of the surfaces, etc.
Do guinea pigs have scent glands?
You’ve probably guessed it; guinea pigs have scent glands on their bottoms just like many other animals. Also called a grease gland in males, these glands can create a sticky, oily substance that they use to mark their little territories.
You can gently wet your piggy’s rear with a towel soaked in luke-warm water, ensuring he is comfortable during the experience. Keep a hand on his back at all times, providing a feeling of security.
Make sure you always dry your guinea to avoid any chills later on.
Guinea Pig Urine & Poop Smell
Unusually strong-smelling or wet poop can point toward a nutritional issue. If your guinea pig’s urine or poop smell worse than they should, you might want to take a look at your cavy’s diet.
Fiber deficiency specifically can result in a number of health issues, including bloating, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal disorders, urinary tract disorders, etc. You’ll want to be sure your little one’s diet is rich in fiber and Vitamin C.
Make sure your pet has constant access to clean, fresh water. A good guinea pig diet should look something like:
- Plenty of hay
- 1 cup of fresh vegetables
- 1/8th cup pellets
- ‘Occasional’ treats
Then there is the question of a smelly, dirty cage. Have you cleaned your pet’s enclosure, and is the smell still there after you do?
If your little one is wet around the bottom, they might be having issues urinating. Besides a strong odor from that area indicating health issues, urinating on his or her own skin can lead to ‘urine scalding’.
Your little piglets could have either a UTI, or some other condition limiting their mobility, leading to urine scalding. Urine scalding causes red areas of swollen skin between the back legs, and possibly open sores.
Urinary tract infections arise when bacteria is allowed further up the urinary tract where it isn’t meant to be. If they aren’t taken care of, usually via your veterinarian, these infections can become much worse.
Homeopathic treatments might help ease the problem but won’t target the cause. Your piglet needs antibiotics from his veterinarian; anything else would be a little like treating pneumonia with cough drops and hoping it goes away.
Is Guinea Pig Poop Toxic to Humans?
Rodents and reptiles both are known carriers of salmonella, in addition to many other animals. Your guinea pig can pass this bacteria on to you via direct contact with his droppings, cage (which is why you should keep it clean) and even fur.
Generally, any feces is mostly composed of intestinal bacteria as much (or more) as digested food, bacteria not meant to enter your mucus membranes (eyes), mucosa or mouth.
Though you’ve probably seen your little one eat his own droppings, it isn’t exactly what you think it is and that certainly doesn’t mean you should.
The pellets your guinea pig might eat are unique, not regular feces. These are actually called cecel pellets and are actually nutritious for them (not you).
In the end, you should do your best to avoid putting anything into or around your mouth and face that came from your piggy’s body. Wash your hands frequently after touching your pet or anything in your pet’s cage.
What if I get sick?
In nearly all cases that you do in fact happen to get sick, you aren’t in dire trouble and a simple injection of antibiotics from the doctor will do the trick.
That said, no one who has ever had anything like salmonella or other types of food poisoning would ever wish the experience on anyone.
Remember, we humans like to touch our faces without realizing it, and most of us are constantly touching food before putting it into our mouths (also without thinking about it).
In some very rare cases, people have contracted things like Leptospirosis. There are also several tick borne diseases that can infect humans, and both of the above can become very serious if they impact our organs.
However, Leptospirosis is carried more by undomesticated rats, and your piglet has to brush against a waiting tick.
That means another animal would have to have carried the tick into your pet’s enclosure, which likely wouldn’t happen. You would definitely notice if a large mass of eggs had been deposited.
Can I Litter Box Train My Guinea Pig?
Believe it or not, guinea pigs can be trained to use their own little litter boxes. Just remember not to use any cat litter, as it can cause harm to our little friends.
How do you train a guinea pig to use a litter box, you ask?
Training a guinea pig to use the litter box is as simple as potty training a dog. Simply reward your piglet with a treat whenever he uses the box.
Eventually, he’ll begin to associate the box with the reward he’ll get. Unlike dogs, guinea pigs will go anywhere they feel like it (including where they sleep), so you’ll need to be very attentive.
Reward your guinea pig every time, immediately afterward. You’ll need to try and memorize a potty schedule for this to be easiest.
Guinea pigs, along with several other rodents, will often choose to use the same area for both bathroom and eating needs.
Create a dark/shaded or covered area for those bathroom duties. Guinea pigs will prefer to eliminate somewhere safe, so the more enclosed this area seems the more likely your piglet is to use it.
Try to think of creating a place in their cage they would feel outside predators wouldn’t be able to get to. The littles also tend to be cautious where they pee, since predatory animals might smell it and know where they’ve been.
Try to cover this ‘potty area’ on all sides, or mostly cover, so it seems dark and inaccessible to other animals.
On the flip side, you can try to keep the area where you don’t want your guinea eliminating bright and ‘open’.
Since your piggy likes to poop where he eats, a normal behavior for such creatures, try feeding them in this area.
Try setting up the little one’s bedding in or around this area too, if you use fleece as a cage flooring and not bedding over the entirety.