When it comes to guinea pig hygiene, the routines can vary depending on the breed you have!
Keeping your guinea pig clean is one of the best ways to keep them healthy, aside from keeping their living environment clean. We’d go as far as to say that keeping them and their living environment as hygienic as possible has a direct link to extending their lifespan.
We’ve put together the best basic cleaning routine to start with, and then you can adjust and add or remove steps depending on the special care that your individual guinea pigs need!
For the most part, guinea pigs don’t often need baths. This, of course, is reliant on the condition that your guinea pig doesn’t have urine or poop embedded in their hair!
This is less likely to occur in short-haired breeds, but long-haired breeds need to be observed carefully! Because of their long hair, these piggies can sweep up and drag around debris, which includes not only food scraps, but their own urine and poop.
Being dirty like this puts your long-haired piggy at risk for something called fly strike, which occurs when flies lay their eggs in your guinea pig’s hair, and when the eggs hatch, the babies feast on your piggy’s dirty, infected skin.
This is a condition that becomes fatal very quickly, so it’s important that you do your best to keep your piggy clean! You can also prevent any issues with longer-haired piggies by keeping their hair on the shorter side—you could cut it so it doesn’t touch the ground too much whenever they’re walking around.
Something that can help keep your piggy from tracking around their own urine is good bedding, or guinea pig cage liners in general.
We recommend the GuineaDad Liner and GuineaDad Premium Liner for the best, ultra-absorbent guinea pig cage liners. The outer layer never stays wet, while the ultra-absorbent layer underneath sucks up all the urine and dries quickly.
The liners are made with fibers that are coated in antibacterial agents, which help with keeping any kind of bacterial infections at bay.
With short haired breeds, they don’t usually require any brushing. However with long-haired breeds, they’re prone to knots, tangles, and matting!
To prevent this, it’s best to brush their hair every day.
Many long haired guinea pigs enjoy having their hair brushed, and you can use this time to bond with your piggy!
How often should I cut my guinea pig’s nails?
For many guinea pig parents, cutting guinea pig nails is probably one of their least favorite parts of the guinea pig grooming routine. However, it’s necessary to maintain their nails!
On average, trimming their nails once a month is usually the rule of thumb, but the frequency of the pedicures for your guinea pig can vary based on a few factors.
Diet can play a big role in the rate of nail growth so it can be helpful to be observant of what they’re eating in relation to their nails!
Age and level of physical activity can be a factor as well. For example, a younger guinea pig may be more active than their older counterparts, which means they’re wearing their nails down faster and might not need their trims to be frequent.
On the other hand, older guinea pigs or ones that aren’t as active may need more frequent trims.
We've got a blog post covering piggy pedicures as well here. There are photos for those who are visual learners!
Guinea Pig Pedicure Tools
You can utilize nail cutters/trimmers meant for small animals! It’s important to be very careful when going about this task, as guinea pigs have a low tolerance for nail clipping.
Make sure not to cut their nails too short, as going to the ‘quick’ can cause them to bleed. To stop any bleeding that may occur, you can either take a piece of tissue and gently press it there until it stops, or you can apply some styptic powder.
Make sure to take breaks as often as they need them, and only do one or two at a time depending on their tolerance. If they seem fussy, try again later.
It can be best to make piggy pedicures a two person task. This way one person can hold your guinea pig and the other can do the trimming.
However if only one person is available, we recommend gently swaddling your piggy in a blanket and holding them the way you would a football for the pedicure task.
On the other hand, you can utilize the pouch that comes in the Offbeat Piggy Play Package for the pedicure, which can make solo nail clipping much easier and more comfortable for everyone
The good thing about guinea pigs is that it is relatively easy to take care of their teeth! As long as they’re eating and as long as they’re chewing on things, they’re maintaining their teeth.
Eating their regular foods, (hay, pellets, veggies) are the perfect tools for wearing down their teeth properly. Guinea pig teeth are constantly growing!
If their teeth get too long, it can lead to impaction, which is very painful and uncomfortable for your guinea pig.
Trying to utilize chewable hideys! They spend so much time hiding in them already, make it useful for maintaining their teeth as well. Check out the solid wood GuineaDad Queen’s Castle, and the cardboard GuineaDad Crunchy Condo hideys.
Keep your guinea pig clean to keep them healthy!
We mentioned this previously, but not only is keeping your guinea pigs themselves clean super important in keeping them safe, but so is keeping their cages and living environment clean!
Daily spot cleanings of their cages is a great way to prevent mess from building up! For example, GuineaDad uses the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo for vacuuming up poop as soon as he notices it. This way, there isn’t a ton to clean up during the weekly full-cleanings of the cage.
In this same line of thinking, spot cleaning your piggy, whether they’re short-haired or long-haired can make a big difference in keeping your piggy clean as well! It makes full grooming days less overwhelming as well.
Just remember! A healthy and safe guinea pig equals a happy guinea pig that lives for longer.