You Can Bathe Your Guinea Pig
Even the best of guinea pigs needs a bath every now and then. Guinea pigs are like cats in that they love staying clean, but also tend to get into sticky situations where a bath is unavoidable. Long haired guinea pigs have a harder time keeping clean than short haired ones. Guinea pigs are not known for their love of the water. Bathing in water was unknown to their ancestors in Peru and Patagonia. In order for your piggy to be safe and clean from a bath, you need to do some preparation before you bring your piggy to the tub.
Operation: Piggy Bath!
You should always have some very gentle shampoo on hand just in case of emergencies, such as your piggy getting into some mud or compost. PHEW! One of the best products for bathing guinea pigs is Four Paws Bunny Bath, widely available in pet shops and online pet stores. In an emergency, if you don't have Bunny Bath, use a puppy shampoo or Dawn dishwashing liquid. Children's shampoos can be too strong for a guinea pig.
You will also need:
- a sink or basin
- plenty of towels you don't mind being nibbled on
- a pan or measuring jug filled with lukewarm water for rinsing
- your piggy's brush
- (optional)a warm box or cage with a hot water bottle at the bottom and plenty of towels over it
- (optional) a hair dryer (set to very low)
- a sense of humor
Guinea pigs can be prone to chills when wet for too long, so you want to get them dry as soon as possible. They also can get very scared in new situations, so you want everything in place before you bring piggy in to get the bath over with as quickly as possible.
The Act of Bathing
Only fill the basin or sink with an inch or two inches of water at the most. You will not need to submerge your piggy. Better too little water than too much. You want the water to not even go over piggy's back. Use lukewarm water NOT hot and NOT ice-cold, but warm for a baby.
Place piggy in the "tub" and use your hands to get the body wet. Avoid the face and eyes. Use a small amount of shampoo and gently rub into the piggy's fur, taking care not to get any in the eyes, nose or mouth. Most guinea pigs freeze in a new situation and stay quiet. Others scream their heads off.
When your piggy is soapy he or she is ready to rinse. Use the measuring jug to rinse the piggy off. Unplug the water if you have to. I would pick my guinea pigs up out of the sink and gently pour the water over them to rinse them off. This process is greatly helped if you have a helper.
Put the piggy immediately in the middle of a towel and gently dry off the worst of the wet, wrapping the piggy up loosely in the towel. While the fur is damp, quickly brush the fur. If the guinea pig has a mat that can't be untangled, just cut it out. It will save a lot of time and stress for both you and piggy in the long run.
If your piggy will tolerate the noise, you can set your hair dryer at very low or low and dry for a few minutes. I could never do this with mine, but many piggy owners have successfully used a hair dryer. Keep the hair dryer at least a foot away from the piggy's body in order to avoid burns.
Since the hair dryer was not an option for my guinea pigs, I had a large cardboard box for them to dry out in. On the bottom of the box was a partially filled hot water bottle. Over that I put old towels. NEVER put the guinea pig directly on the hot water bottle! I then put my palm flat on the towels to be sure they were warm, but not hot. I then placed the wet piggy in the box with a treat like a carrot or apple slice.
Keep the piggy out of drafts until mostly dry. Then you and the piggy are done. You can place the piggyback in his or her cage or hutch. Then you can show off your squeaky clean piggy!