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7 Guinea Pig Grooming Tips: Bathing, Brushing, And More

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Grooming your guinea pig is more than a cleaning process that helps keep them clean and healthy. Your guinea pigs need continual grooming and this guide will help you understand what needs to be groomed and how often. They will look and smell a lot cleaner, and avoid health issues that could make them prone to illness.

Include these seven activities for a thorough guinea pig grooming: bathing, brushing, cleaning ears, greasing glands, cutting hair, nail trimming, and teeth care. In this guide, we have broken down each of these steps so you know how to groom your guinea pig like a pro.

1. Bathing your guinea pig

Most guinea pigs are pretty good about grooming themselves but there will be times when they need a good cleaning. If you give a guinea pig a bath, there are some requirements.

First of all, you will need to get a special shampoo that is recommended for washing a guinea pig since these shampoos are gentler on their skin. Water for their bath only needs to be warm and can be in a plastic bowl that is shallow enough for them to stand in.

Bathing a hairless guinea pig

It’s a lot easier to wash a hairless guinea pig than is it for a pig with hair. You do need to use a soap that is PH balanced so it doesn’t dry their skin out. These shampoo soaps are often natural and organic. In a pinch, you could use Johnson’s baby shampoo. To give them a bath only requires that you put them in a shallow washing bowl or tub. The warm water doesn’t need to be very deep and should just cover their feet.

Bathing short and long hair guinea pigs

Washing a guinea pig with short hair is pretty easy since you only need to pour the water over its back. After that, you can start to lather them up with some good organic shampoo. As long as the water is nice and warm, they won’t mind being washed.

Long hair guinea pigs are a little harder to wash since there is more of it to clean. You will need to wash them off in a sink to rinse their shampoo-soaked fur.

2. Brushing your guinea pig

This activity is something that helps long and short-haired guinea pigs get rid of excess fur and keep their fur cleaner. Since guinea pigs tend to be nervous little animals, they are prone to shedding fairly often. Using special brushes removes loose fur that could start getting matted. If you start with brushing your guinea pig at an early age, they will enjoy this grooming process.

Brushing them and removing loose fur should be done every day or every other day. You should also pay attention to cleaning and grooming their scent gland. The hair in this area will get matted more often, so this should be cleaned at least each week.

How do you comb a guinea pig?

This will always depend on the guinea pig’s hair length since longer hair is harder to manage. Longer hair needs combs that have more open teeth spaced apart. For shorter hair, you can use closely spaced combs instead.

Always comb and brush a guinea pig along the grain or direction that the fur is growing out. This way you won’t have snags that happen along the way. For longer hair, start with brushing the ends of long fur first and then work your way backward to the base of their fur.

3. Guinea pig ear cleaning

Cleaning the ears is important to keep wax from building up. You should do this only on the outside of their ears, so avoid putting anything inside their ears like Q-tips. If you do clean their ears, you need to use mineral oil on your fingertip and rub the fleshy parts of the inside ear.

Then you use a cleaning wipe to wipe away the wax that is collecting in the little folds of their ears. These wipes are gentle enough that it does not dry their ears out.

4. Greasing glands

A guinea pig’s grease gland is located at the back end of its spine and is only about the size of a dime. You can use a cleaning wipe to clean off the fur around this scent gland. You may also need to apply coconut oil to the fur that is too sticky or matted.

Then the wet wipes can further clean off this fur. This gland is one spot that you will want to keep clean all the time.

5. Cutting hair

It’s not often that you will need to cut your guinea pig hair if they have short hair, but for those with long hair, it’s essential. You will need a good pair of grooming scissors since cutting fur requires them to be sharp enough for cutting easily. You also need to be very careful so you don’t harm your guinea pig in any way.

6. Guinea pig nail trimming

Guinea pig nails need trimming using a special trimming tool that is designed for their nails. This tool snips them off nice and clean, but you do need to pay attention to how much of their nail is trimmed. If you trim too close to the ‘quick’, it can start to bleed and this will also hurt them.

Check the nails on your guinea pig every week to see how fast they are growing. This is a grooming task that needs to be done as soon as you spot their nails getting too long. You will use a special nail trimmer that snips off nails in one snip. These nail snip tools are easy to use on small pets and work as a sliding blade. Their nail is poked through a hole and carefully snipped off.

Source: HayPigs!

7. Teeth care

It won’t be so easy to check your guinea pig teeth since you might end up getting bitten in the process. But their teeth do need special care if they are growing too long. Since their teeth are continually growing, they need to gnaw on things to help grind them down.

If you notice that your guinea pigs’ teeth are looking weird, you need to take them to a vet to get them fixed to prevent mouth sores. Taking your guinea pig to the vet for their annual check-up will keep dental problems from coming up.

7 Products You Should Get Before You Start Grooming

Even if there are some costs associated with keeping guinea pigs, you don’t have to break the bank when it comes to grooming your furry critters. Here is a list of some essential tools you will need to groom your guinea pig thoroughly.

1. Guinea Pig Shampoo

Most of the time, the smell that comes from a guinea pig is from a scent gland that is getting too musky. You can give your guinea pig a bath that helps wash its fur and makes them smell better. The shampoo you will be using needs to be a brand that is low in PH and doesn’t dry the skin.

We recommend: Fluppets Certified Organic Pet Shampoo

2. Comb or brush

You need at least two different kinds of brushes and combs that are based on the kind of fur your guinea pig has. Shorter-haired guinea pigs need fine-tooth combs and brushes that are meant for collecting loose fur. Longer-haired guinea pigs need combs that have open teeth that allow the hair to separate easier.

It will take longer to groom longer fur and knots will be fairly common. This is why it will be a good idea to have a de-matting tool that cuts through knots very quickly.

We Recommend: Kaytee Pro Slicker Brush

3. Scissors

Buy a set of scissors that are good for cutting hair or fur. Since guinea pig fur is dense, the blades need to be high quality. Don’t use scissors that are used to cut paper since they weren’t designed to cut your guinea pig fur.

We Recommend: Scaredy Cut Tiny Trim

4. Nail clippers

Only buy the type of nail clipper that is meant for small pets. The best clippers are clipper cutters that allow the nail to pass through a hole and a blade slides down. These are working better than other clippers since they don’t slip so easily, which causes your guinea pig harm.

We Recommend: Jofuyu Cat Nail Clippers and Trimmer

5. Balm

You only need to have a special balm cream to treat and prevent a condition called bumblefoot. This is when the little paw on your guinea pig gets infected. It’s from living in a cage that has moisture issues on the cage floor.

We recommend: Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter

6. Grooming wipes

Just like a baby wipe, a grooming wipe is essentially the same. These wipes are used to clean off your guinea pig if they have dirty fur. It’s also good for cleaning up their scent gland fur also. Grooming wipes are specially made so they don’t have added scents and have gentle cleaning solutions

We recommend: Pogi’s Grooming Wipes

7. Dematting tool

What a de-matting tool is used for is problematic longer-haired piggies. This tool helps separate large clumped sections of matted fur. These tools are a bit like hair rakes that un-snag their fur safely and without much fuss.

We recommend: Pat Your Pet Deshedding Brush

What fur problems might guinea pigs encounter?

The biggest problem that guinea pigs will have is parasites that come from being out in your garden. Many owners like to let them roam on the lawn which can leave them open for parasites, fungal infections, and an overactive scent gland. With proper grooming, these issues will be reduced to a minimum.

How often should you groom a guinea pig?

Grooming is something that is either a weekly task for their nails or a daily task for their hair. The most common thing you will want to do is brush your guinea pig. This can happen daily, but every other day is also fine. This helps to remove the little bits of fur that naturally fall out.

Do guinea pigs like to be groomed?

As long as you are gentle with your guinea pig, you don’t have anything to worry about. The problem of getting bitten comes when you do something too jerky or that spooks your pet. One example is trimming their nails too close to the quick can result in them crying or trying to bite you.

If you start early enough, your guinea pig will become used to having a grooming moment. If you do this more often, your pig will also enjoy this grooming.

What could be the causes of my guinea pig shedding so much?

The common reasons are things that are making your guinea pig overly nervous. Loud noises or something that is threatening to them, such as the continual barking of a neighbor’s dog or car horns, can make them stressed. Even sounds in your home from a slamming door can be stress triggers for your guinea pig and might trigger excess shedding.

Do you always need to groom a guinea pig?

Grooming a guinea pig is an ongoing task that will happen throughout their lifetime and it is better to keep a regular grooming schedule. Giving them a bath doesn’t need to happen too often unless they are really dirty or stinky.

Can guinea pigs groom each other?

When you have guinea pigs in a group or herd, they will groom each other from time to time. This is part of their socializing in a group, so it is normal behavior for them. However, guinea pigs might ingest their companions’ fur so grooming them regularly will reduce the chances that they will ingest more fur than they are used to.

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.