Guinea pigs generally don’t need baths, but sometimes they might need a “bum bath” (bathing of their genital area), or if they’re long haired they might need a bath once in a while to keep their hair nice and clean.
In this guide we’ll take you through the basic steps of bathing your guinea pig in a safe way.
1. The preparations
Before bathing your guinea pig, it’s recommended to lay out all equipment you may need along the way.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A clean, big towel
- A tub (unless you’re bathing your pig in the sink)
- A cup (optional – you can also use your hand to scoop the water)
- Shampoo made for guinea pigs (mild, unscented baby shampoo can be used)
If you’re bathing your guinea pig in a sink, you want to clean it beforehand to remove all soap residue and stains before dipping your guinea pig in the water.
You want to make sure the water has a pleasant temperature between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit, it shouldn’t feel cold or warm to the touch.
If you’re using a tub, you want to fill it with just a few inches of water, 1-2 inches is enough, as you don’t want your guinea pig to get water in its nose or mouth.
2. Pre-clean your guinea pig before bathing
Before letting your guinea pig into the water, you want to remove all dirt beforehand. Make sure you remove all bedding and loose dirt from their hair before bathing, to make the actual bathing process quicker and smoother.
Do NOT attempt to brush their fur at this point, as it may cause pain if you’re pulling the brush too hard.
3. Place your guinea pig properly with one hand beneath it for support
Whether you’re using a tub or the sink, it’s a great idea to keep one hand underneath your guinea pig, supporting the front feet and making sure it doesn’t accidentally dunk its head beneath the water surface at any point.
You really want to make sure it doesn’t get water on its head or ears either, so placing a hand beneath its front legs is a great way to keep it safe and avoid any sudden movements while bathing.
You may also want to have a family member or friend helping you out, especially if your guinea pig tends to squirm or wants to run off as you’re bathing it.
4. Start pouring the water on its back gently
Now that your guinea pig has been immersed into the water and your hand supports it, you can start pouring the water onto its back and soak it. Make sure its face and ears stays completely free from any water. Have a towel at hand if you accidentally drop some water on its face.
5. Gently work the shampoo into the fur
Note: In some cases water is sufficient when bathing your guinea pig. If you can bathe it without shampoo, it’s better for the skin. Shampoo removes some of the natural oils from the skin and fur coat, and can potentially cause irritated or dry skin.
Once your guinea pig has been rinsed, it’s time to apply the shampoo. Apply as little as possible, or follow the instructions on the bottle closely.
For easier application, you can rub the shampoo into your hands first, as it makes it easier to work it into the fur.
Try to work the shampoo into the fur by going with the direction of the hair, instead of against it. Your guinea pig may feel pain if you’re being too rough, or work your hands towards the direction of the hair. Usually you’ll want to with from behind the ears towards the back, while gently rubbing your fingers into the fur.
6. Rinse well
This is an important step, and we recommend that you rinse it under the running water. Make sure the water is at a pleasant temperature (90-95 degrees Fahrenheit), and let the water run gently over the fur to get all the shampoo out of its fur.
You can also use a cup if you’re uncomfortable with holding your guinea pig under running water – sometimes we’ve been using a tub next to the sink and filled it with pure water, which we’ll then scoop up with a cup and pour over its fur. That way every scoop of water is 100% pure water, and eventually the shampoo is completely gone.
7. Dry your guinea pig well
You really want to prevent your guinea pig from getting cold, so as soon as it’s removed from the sink or tub, you should wrap it in the towel and make sure it stays warm and comfortable.
If the water starts soaking through the towel, you should replace it with another towel.
After a few minutes of gently drying your guinea pig, you can try removing the towel temporarily and see if it wants to shake out some of the water on its own. Don’t give it more than a few minutes, before wrapping it once again, because you don’t want it to feel cold.
8. Brush and blow dry
If your guinea pig has long hair, you want to brush it carefully while it’s drying. Run a brush gently through the hair and don’t pull it.
Finish off by blow drying your guinea pig on the coolest temperature and speed setting, while you continue to brush the hair.
When using the blow dryer, it’s best not to blow air directly into its face. Do also make sure the air isn’t too hot or cold either, by keeping a hand on its fur as you’re blow drying it.
Once your guinea pig is dry, you can return it to the cage and let it judge you for a few minutes before going back to normal.