This Is How (And Why) Guinea Pigs Smell

Cute guinea pig hiding in a tunnel in a funny way

One of the major reasons why guinea pigs smell is because their cage isn’t cleaned properly.

Usually the ammonia build-up is what causes the pungent odor, that most of us dislike.

However, that’s not the only reason why guinea pigs can be smelly.

There are actually multiple reasons why guinea pigs smell, and we’ll take you through the most common reasons right here.

1. Cage hasn’t been cleaned properly

You’ve probably already found out how messy guinea pigs can be, and their cage needs proper cleaning and maintenance frequently to keep the smell away.

A dirty cage can build up ammonia from the urine breaking down, and your guinea pigs will quickly start smelling as well.

By keeping your cage clean, you can prevent the smell of ammonia from building up and getting onto the hair and skin of your guinea pigs.

Ammonia can cause skin problems as well as irritate their respiratory tracts, so it’s important that their cage is kept nice and clean.

2. Urine and feces are stuck in their fur coats

This is especially relevant for long haired guinea pigs, but it can occur on any guinea pig from time to time.

If your guinea pigs suffer from a case of diarrhea for example, their feces might get smeared into their feet, as well as their fur coats. Along with urine they can become quite smelly as time goes, unless they get bathed.

Bathing your guinea pigs should be avoided unless there’s a reason for it, but if your guinea pigs have long hair and are unable to keep their bums clean, you can give them a bum bath once in a while, or simply bathe them in plain water.

Guinea pigs can smell quite bad if urine and feces are smeared into their fur coats, so regular check-ups are recommended if you want to prevent them from developing any problems from it.

3. Smelly grease glands

Guinea pigs mark their territory by applying their scent to the area. Their grease glands, also called scent glands, are located just above the area where you’d normally find a tail.

While some guinea pigs will never accumulate any smelly substances from their grease glands, other guinea pigs – especially males – can accumulate a greasy, sticky and smelly substance that needs to be cleaned occasionally.

We found this guide on how to clean their grease glands, and here’s the method explained step by step:

  1. Place your guinea pig on a towel in the sink to prevent it from slipping.
  2. Wet your guinea pig’s rear with lukewarm water.
  3. Massage a shampoo into the fur coat. We recommend always using a proper shampoo made for the purpose.
  4. Rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  5. Inspect the area, and if the grease remains, repeat step 2-4.
  6. Dry your pig with a regular towel, and keep it warm until it’s dry.

4. Health reasons (e.g. fungal infection)

If your guinea pig has an infection, it can develop bad smells that are difficult to describe.

Infections can be difficult to spot, so make sure you give your guinea pig regular checkups to assess their overall health condition.

A vet is always needed, if you suspect that your guinea pig is suffering from an infection that makes them smellier than normal.

Never take advice from Facebook groups and YouTube videos, instead ask a certified vet and have them see your guinea pig for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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