Many cavy owners are asking themselves whether or not the loss of hair they see in their guinea pigs is normal.
Other potential owners want to find out the chance of them reacting allergic to guinea pigs.
Your reason could also be hygiene related as not everybody appreciates hair all over their place, especially when they let their guinea roam in the room sometimes or cuddle with them.
Let’s dive in and check if you can easily find out whether something is medically important or just regular shedding.
Do Guinea Pigs Shed?
Yes, guinea pigs do shed.
Changing coats is absolutely normal for many pets and animals in the wild.
However, the good news is that guinea pigs are light to medium shedders.
That’s in contrast to your average dog or cat which will shed much more, depending on the breed.
Of course, the amount of hairs you’re going to find in your home will also vary by the size of your pet and guinea pigs are definitely in the lead when it comes to how easy they are to maintain.
Another factor is that although you do want to give your guinea pigs time to roam around, they’re kept in an appropriate cage most of the time.
For enrichment purposes, you can let them experience the outside world in an enclosed space in which case you also won’t have to deal with the regular shedding.
What Does It Mean If Your Guinea Pig Is Losing Hair?
There are plenty of reasons why your guinea might be shedding.
In most cases, the fact that your guinea is losing hair is nothing more than a nuisance for their owner.
However, sometimes it can point towards serious medical issues in which case you should visit your vet.
Here are the reasons why your guinea pig might be losing hair:
- Inappropriate diet
- Lack of vitamin C
- Stress (no enrichment, companion, environment change, etc.)
- No grooming routine
- Skin issues
- Fungal infection
As you can see, the list of possible reasons ranges from simple stuff like temporary stress or missed grooming sessions to more serious things like fungal infection or other skin-related issues.
Feeding them an inappropriate diet may lead to many issues, including dental problems.
Vitamin C is also essential for guinea pigs and since they can’t produce it in sufficient amounts in many cases, you need to supply vitamin C through their diet.
To rule out any skin conditions or even fungal infections, a check up at the vet is necessary.
They will advise you in regards to treatment and even though there are ways to stop this from happening in the future, there are no homemade alternatives without knowing the exact cause.
Haven’t been grooming your cavy recently?
Simple brushing is essential for your guinea pigs.
If you feel like your pet still loses hair after parasites and fungal infections are ruled out, the reason can be as simple as stress.
Fortunately, stress is relatively easy to cure and we’ll dive into possible solutions below.
How Can I Stop My Guinea Pig From Shedding?
As mentioned, any medical issues need to be examined by a vet but if you think your pet is malnourished, stressed, or not groomed appropriately, then there are easy fixes.
Besides the obvious dietary requirements, you will also need to meet your guinea pig’s mental needs.
- Appropriate diet
- Supplementing vitamin C
- Enrichment toys
- A second guinea pig
- Brushing 1-2x per week
- Bathing if necessary
- Cage cleaning
You should also provide them with enrichment toys and an appropriate hutch and cage, regardless of the situation.
A happy guinea pig needs a companion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be another guinea pig, some people also opt for a rabbit as a companion.
Stress and loneliness will hit your guinea pig at the same time if he had a companion who has recently passed.
Guinea pigs can feel depressed when their companions are gone which will also increase stress levels.
Properly care for your cavy and be there for him through the “grieving” process.
To avoid having hair on all your surfaces, cushions, clothes and so on you can just brush your guinea pig a couple of times per week.
Since they’re little fellows, brushing isn’t really time consuming and can be quickly done in between cuddling sessions and your bonding time.
Make sure to read your guinea pig’s signs (especially sounds) and avoid stressing them out when brushing.
This especially applies to the first time you’re brushing them.
Removing any debris and other stuff from the outside will also help keep infections or other skin problems at bay.
Guinea pigs can be bathed but you should only do that when it’s absolutely necessary and/or advised by your vet.
Cleaning their cage in regular intervals should be enough to keep nasty parasites at bay and keep your little friend happy and healthy.
In case you have a long-haired guinea pig, you just have to go through shedding season twice a year.
The exact timing and duration can vary from individual to individual and may change, depending on climate conditions, your pet’s hormones as well as the environment.
Guinea Pig Brush
If you’re searching for the best guinea pig brush, we’ve got you covered.
WARE Grooming Kit
In case you haven”t picked your guinea pig up yet or you’ve just never thought you’d need it, here’s a complete grooming set for your guinea pig.
The set includes a pin brush and a British brush, you’ll often find these on two-sided brushes for small pets.
Some people like the included nail clipper, others dog but nail clipping really isn’t that big of an issue with guinea pigs so you should be fine.
Safety First Brush & Comb
For a couple of bucks, you can get this simple brush and comb, it has by far the most reviews since many owners like the soft bristles.
Really can’t go wrong with this product. Perfect to properly groom your guinea pig once or twice a week.
Many cavy owners have asked me about this product and personally, I haven’t found it to be exceptional.
I guess it’s the brand that’s known for small pet supplies but I really would recommend one of the others mentioned here. Check the sustainable brushes below, which come with similar price tags.
Greenbone Sustainable Brush (Favorite!)
If you want a stylish, and more importantly sustainable, brush for your guinea pig, this one fits perfectly.
The two sides are quite different and bristles are feel very durable and just the right size for our little fellows.
Bamboo Palm-Held Brush
For those of you that prefer a brush with an elastic band around the palm, this bamboo brush is a great choice.
You can opt for rubber or boar bristles, depending on what suits your needs. If you’re unsure, I’d recommend the bamboo brush above because it has two sides.
Both sustainable brush makers also offer other grooming supplies for your guinea pig.
Are Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic?
Even though guinea pigs may shed less than others pets, it’s a myth that guinea pigs are hypoallergenic.
The shedding problem might be reduced if you get a short-haired guinea pig but it won’t be solved completely.
The problem is actually not only the hair, but also skin secretions and even the urine and saliva can contain allergens to which some people might react.
Which Guinea Pig Breed Sheds The Least?
Generally, the Abyssinian guinea pig, the Peruvian guinea pig, and the Sheltie guinea pigs are prone to shedding due to their long coat.
Another medium shedder is the Texel guinea pig with their curly coat.
Other lesser known breeds include: Alpaca, Merino, and Lunkarya.
Although the guinea pigs above are certainly beautiful with their smooth and sometimes even silky coat (hence the “Silkie” alias for the Sheltie guinea pig), owners prone to allergies should stay away.
The same goes for people who are just sensitive to hair on their clothes or stuff in general.
These guinea pig breeds are known for relatively little shedding:
- American guinea pig
- Rex guinea pig
- Teddy guinea pig
- Himalayan guinea pig
- Skinny guinea pig (lookin’ pretty naked)
You want to consider getting one of these guinea pig breeds if you have a problem with hairs all over the place.
With the tips above, you’ll be able to properly groom your cavy and spot important medical issues right away.
If you suspect that your guinea pig is losing hair due to skin issues or whatnot, visit a vet specialising in small pets to make sure your little friend gets the appropriate treatment.