Grooming Your Guinea Pig
Daily brushing with a soft baby brush or a metal greyhound comb will help remove some of the loose hair and lessen shedding. Daily brushing is especially important for long haired guinea pigs, less necessary for the short haired varieties.
Guinea pigs seldom "need" baths and some are never bathed. But if they do require one, a shampoo formulated especially for small animals will help avoid drying their skin. Use a shallow bowl of warm water, rinse, and dry thoroughly to avoid chills before returning them to their home. Avoid getting water in their ears.
- Bunny Bath by Four Paws is a pleasant smelling all purpose shampoo which can be used on guinea pigs.
- Hylyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo is a soap free product excellent for use on sensitive skin.
- EPI-SOOTHE® SHAMPOO is a gentle shampoo formulated to relieve mild itchiness and dry skin in dogs and cats also used by some people on their guinea pigs.
Note: if your pet is extremely itchy, is shedding more than normal, or has a lot of dandruff, a parasite or fungal infection are the most likely causes. None of the shampoos mentioned here are designed to treat these problems though Hylyt and Epi-Soothe may temporarily relieve some of the pain. Read mange mites and fungus to find out how important it is to promptly treat these conditions.
Cleaning The Grease Gland
The grease gland in a guinea pig is located just above where a tail would be (if guinea pigs had a tail). Some sows and some boars have active grease glands that can be a challenge to clean. Pet owners claim success with these methods of spot cleaning the area:
Malaseb is a very popular cleaner. Shampoo the problem area with this product, let sit for ten minutes and rinse.
- Dawn dishwashing detergent reportedly removes the grease.
- A non-abrasive mechanic's hand cleaner like Swarfega may help you clean this area.
- Apply Neosporin, hold your guinea pig for 10-15 minutes (to prevent him or her from ingesting it) then remove antibiotic ointment with dishwashing detergent.
- Cetaphil cleanser is more effective than other listed alternatives for one Guinea Lynx member.
- Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil has worked extremely well for another member. This product reportedly has ani-fungal properties and can be found on the internet.
Top photos thanks to Swannie. o the right find a second photo showing the location of a grease gland, contributed by Amanda Jenkins.
A weekly examination of the ears and a cleaning every other week is recommended. Use a product like Oticlens or use a drop of mineral oil in each ear, let sit for 5 minutes, clean the outer ear carefully with a soft cloth wrapped around your finger.
Monthly clippings, begun early, will help accustom your pet to this necessary activity. A scissors style small animal clipper provides good control. Paying close attention to the location of the "quick" will help avoid cutting into the living part of the nail. A light shown from beneath dark colored nails may be helpful locating the quick if it is hard to see. If the nail is accidentally cut too short, a styptic pencil will help stop bleeding. For more information on clipping nails check out Clipping Toenails.
Who can benefit from trimming hair?
- Guinea pigs with extremely long hair (shorten so it does not drag)
- Any long haired guinea pig in hot weather (trim to comfortable length)
- Long haired guinea pigs prone to urinary tract infections (trim butt hairs)
Because guinea pigs are quite low to the ground, long hair can become dirty and wet, resulting in increased bacterial growth. Keep cages clean and trim long hair to improve health.
Guinea pigs can overheat easily, especially longer haired guinea pigs. If your pets do not live in a comfortable conditioned space in the summer, trimming the hair will help them stay cooler.
A rounded tip scissors with guide combs to help prevent cutting too close (like the Scaredy Cut grooming scissors) can be useful. Feedback on the Scaredy Cut here.