How to Bathe A Guinea Pig – Do They Even Need Baths?

Guinea pig with shampoo all over the body waiting to be bathed.

When faced with the question of whether or not it’s good to bathe our Guinea Pigs, many owners are struggling at the conceptional state – how do you bathe your little fellow?

Before asking how you can bathe your pet, you should ask yourself whether or not you even should.

Look, we all get it. Your Guinea Pig managed to lay in his own feces, has got grass all over himself after a proper session outside or carries a weird stench with him.

In short, we will cover everything you need to know about giving your guinea pig a bath.

How Often Should You Bathe a Guinea Pig?

Actually, in most cases guinea pigs don’t need a bath as it can strip their coat of essential oils and cause dry skin.

Bathing your guinea pig once or twice a year or after something happened is fine, but you really should avoid bathing them if it’s not necessary.

Most often, when we think our guinea pigs need a bath, it’s due to some external factor like dirt and grind that’s sticking to their coat and may give off a bad smell.

Try to remove any dirt on their coat without putting them through the actual bath. Bad guinea pig smell can have various causes:

  • Gut/digestive issues
  • Smudges on his butt if the poop is watery
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Other sicknesses that prevent your guinea pig from grooming himself

Did you know that guinea pigs are actually quite clean due to their grooming routine? Once your guinea pig stops grooming himself or becomes apathetic, it’s usually a sign that your pet is sick.

Please consult a vet if you think your smell problem has underlying medical reasons.

Similarly, you should see a vet if your guinea pig has serious skin issues that seem to be the root any strong odor.

How to Give a Guinea Pig a Bath

Now you’ve decided that a bath is really necessary or your vet ordered one. What’s the best way to bathe your guinea pig?

Giving your beloved pet a bath shouldn’t be an issue if done right. It’s important to be prepared and remain calm to avoid putting your guinea pig through unnecessary stress.

There are various preparation steps you can take to make sure the bathing goes as smoothly as possible. You’ll need the following:

  • Cloth
  • Container filled with water
  • One cloth/towel for your pet to stand on (anti-slip mats work great too)
  • Guinea pig shampoo
  • Dry towel
  • Blow dryer (optional)
  • Brush

You can easily wash your guinea pig with a warm cloth and add the appropriate shampoo if desired.

Guinea pig is bathing in a sink.

The container should be large enough for your guinea pig to turn around in, but not too big as it could cause them to panic once they splash around and the water runs loudly around them.

Choosing the right anti-slip mat can be quite important as many pets hate the feeling of losing traction and slipping around in a wet container.

If you are too concerned about the noises that are created when water hits plastic, you can also bathe them in your basin or in the bathtub if your guinea pig feels comfortable with that.

When it comes to shampoo, there are various options.

Be sure to opt for a shampoo that’s made for guinea pigs (these are mostly made for smaller pets in general, including chinchillas, ferrets, etc.) and don’t use human or even dog or cat shampoo as it could potentially cause skin irritations.

If you have mite problems or anything like that, I’ve got you covered below.

Many owners argue that it’s a good idea to blow-dry your guinea pig but if you’re towel-drying him and he’s not in the cold right after, you should be fine.

However, it’s up to you whether or not you want to get your guinea pig dry right away. Just be careful not to scare your guinea pig with the loud and startling sound and properly dry them with the towel if you decide against the hairdryer.

Be cautious when using a blow dryer as the hot air can burn them if used to close. If possible, choose the cool air option on your hairdryer for safer application plus the lowest setting. Discontinue the drying if the blow dryer causes your guinea pig stress.

Afterwards, it might be a good idea to thoroughly comb through your guinea pig’s coat.

Even though getting a brush for bathing is not necessary, you’ll most likely need it during your pet’s lifetime and being able to quickly comb through their fur can help a great deal.

Here are the steps on how you should bathe your guinea pig:

  • Remove debris and clean soiled fur with damp cloth
  • Place your calm guinea pig a water-filled container
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Apply shampoo
  • Rinse and repeat
  • Towel-dry your pet

Make sure you stay calm throughout the process. Otherwise, your guinea pig could get upset.

What can you do to calm your pet?

Much like dogs or even cats, talking to them in a soothing voice will definitely help, even though they probably won’t understand your exact words. Pet them and avoid hectic movements.

Be patient throughout the bathing process and it’ll definitely pay off.

If you have two of these little fellows make sure to wash them individually and ideally on the same day if a bath is necessary for both of them.

Can You Bathe a Guinea Pig with Baby Shampoo?

It is not advised to bathe your guinea pig with baby shampoo. Although baby shampoos have the most gentle formular compared to other human shampoos they are still far too harsh on such a small pet’s skin.

We recommend using the Kaytee Squeaky Critter Shampoo which is specifically designed for guinea pigs and other small pets. It’s pH neutral and helps eliminate the unpleasant smell.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Water?

If it’s your guinea pig’s first time in water, slowly introduce them to it without putting soap or shampoo on them or even before you try to rinse them with water.

Guinea pigs can swim and some are super chill in the water and have no problem with getting wet while others need a little longer. Depending on where you got yours from, they may have had bad experiences beforehand.

Be empathetic and don’t get upset if your pet poops while being in a daunting new situation. Don’t raise your voice and just try to calmly re-introduce them to water.

Guinea pigs can be good swimmers though and yours might even like water too.

Guinea pig is comfortably wrapped in towel to dry after being cleaned.

Just make sure to towel-dry your guinea pigs when they’re wet.

Guinea Pig Shampoo for Mites & Alternatives

If your guinea pig has mites or other skin infestations, seeking veterinary advice might be necessary.

There are loads of products out there for cats and especially dogs, ranging from simple shampoos to anti-mite or fungal products and both come in natural versions (sometimes with additives in the latter to make the solution more effective).

With small pets you won’t have as much luck and it can be hard to find any shampoos at all.

So, what can you do about mites?

I can just tell you that I’m using coconut oil on my Rottweiler’s coat. It also helps with dry skin and scabs in the winter months.

Be careful though.

Natural solutions like this aren’t tested properly and there are no scientific studies, but it might be worth discussing alternatives with your vet to make sure your guinea pig gets the best possible treatment.

Why should we treat our little friends with less quality than the big ones, right?

How Do Guinea Pigs Clean Themselves?

Guinea pigs clean themselves primarily by licking their fur from front to back. They also use their tiny fingers to groom around the head and may even wet them beforehand.

Scratching and nibbling on the legs is also commonly seen and they oftentimes clean themselves in a particular order. Some may start at the nose and stop at the hind legs and others like to start at the eyes or paws.

How to Keep Your Guinea Pig Clean

Although guinea pigs can groom themselves they are obviously not cats and can only do so much. To prevent problems with your guinea pig’s skin or coat in the future, you can take several measures.

  • Wash the bedding regularly
  • Clean and disinfect the cage every week
  • Spot soiled spaces early on and clean them
  • Feed your guinea pig a healthy & appropriate diet

If you provide your guinea pig with time outside in your backyard, make sure to choose a relatively clean spot for your enclosed space.

Keep in mind that any plants, grass or whatnot shouldn’t be toxic for your guinea pig. If there’s dirt, you can expect your pet to utilize that.

For enrichment, we have lots of recommended activities.

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