Becoming a new guinea pig owner can be a confusing time. There is a lot to consider and to take into account. But what about getting wet? Is this possible or problematic; do they need bathing? This is what the research says.
So, can Guinea Pigs get wet? Guinea Pigs should not get wet. They have very dense fur which can collect a lot of water; resulting in drastic temperature changes, stress, and potential fungal and respiratory infections if left to dry naturally. Bathing may be required in certain contexts, but this must be done with limited amounts of water and in specific ways.
The truth is, there may be some times when your guinea pig does get wet unintentionally.
It may be due to weather, it may be a small spill here and there.
Either way, a small amount of water here and there should not be a concern.
But, submerging and repetitive exposure for what is not good.
Let us now take a closer look at why this is the case, before looking at when and how you should look to bathe your guinea pig to keep them happy, healthy and safe!
Why Guinea Pigs Should Not Get Wet
For the most part, Guinea Pigs (along with a lot of other Rodents), do not do very well with water.
They have a lot of fur; meaning that getting wet can add an inordinate amount of weight to their frame at any one time.
This extra load can cause problems, particularly if your Guinea Pig is slightly older. In such cases, they will be naturally frailer likely to have weaker bones.
Wet Guinea Pig fur is also likely to dry very slowly.
This can cause issues with matting, can cause your Guinea Pig to smell and risks fungal infections and other ailments caused by dampness.
Beyond this, water temperature is a large concern. Unless the water is at specific mildly warm temperatures, water tends to be either too cold or too hot.
The latter can obviously cause discomfort and pain but it can also cool down too fast. This means that your Guinea Pig would encounter sudden changes in temperature.
This can cause stress and anxiety to your Guinea Pig as it becomes chilled. You also risk Respiratory infections which Guinea Pigs are prone to.
Lastly it’s important to note that Guinea Pigs do not naturally like to be wet. It’s not a natural or comfortable feeling for them.
Remember, these rodents are native to the warm and dry conditions of the Andes of South America. Water is not something they have to navigate in their wild environments too often!
When And If To Bathe A Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are very clean animals. They naturally clean themselves and are excellent self-groomers. For this reason baths are not usually required or even necessary.
However, there may be certain situations where bathing is necessary.
The first to be aware of is the type of Guinea Pig that you have. For all short-haired Guinea Pigs, as long as you are regularly cleaning their cage, a bath should not really ever be required.
Long-haired pigs on the other hand, have different needs and requirements. The Peruvian Guinea Pig as an example does not really have a fur but instead a hair which can grow to up to 20″.
As such, long-haired Guinea Pigs require daily grooming with a brush and may need a special bath from time to time to remove dirt and feces which can get matted around their bottoms.
Another reason why a Guinea Pig may need bathing, is if your Guinea Pig has a severe case of lice.
You should always consult with a registered Vet to confirm that this is the case and ask for their expertise if you did decide to go ahead.
How To Bath Your Guinea Pig (If You Must)
Hopefully by now you understand that baths are generally not required for most Guinea Pigs.
But let say that you have identified that yours may need one. How would you go about even doing this?
If you must bathe them, then you’re going to need to take extreme care to prevent your Guinea Pig from becoming chilled or stressed.
As they are susceptible to Respiratory Infections which can lead to more severe cases of Pneumonia, you need to ensure you keep your Guinea Pig warm during bathing and should always opt for mildly warm water.
Specialized Animal Shampoo is going to be required too, as they have sensitive skin which can become itchy and blemished if the wrong products are used.
I am personally a huge advocate of the Arm & Hammer Tearless Shampoo (available for a great price on Amazon) for Guinea Pigs.
It prevents excess drying and is very gentle on their skin.
With these considerations in mind, this is how to bath your Guinea Pig most safely:
Fill a small, shallow bowl of warm water. Wash only your Guinea Pigs body; and be sure not to get any of the Specialized Shampoo in their Eyes or Ears.
Once you have gently cleaned your Guinea Pig, you will then need to slowly and carefully dry your Guinea Pig with a towel.
Its imperative that you keep them warm at all times and keep them in a room with a warmer environment until they are completely dry.
You cannot leave them damp or wet! By doing so your Guinea Pig will not succumb to a chill.
Never Use a Blow Dryer on Your Guinea Pig If They Get Wet
You should always thoroughly towel dry your Guinea Pig if it gets wet or following any bath.
While you may hear about using Blow Dryers to dry their wet fur, but even if it is on low heat the hot temperatures can cause severe discomfort and even burns.
A lot of blow dryers are also very noisy which can scare and worry your Guinea Pig.
Its always safer and better to towel dry in a warm room, keeping them close to you and your warm body until they are completely dry.
Additional Guinea Pig Grooming Tips
As we have established, bathing should be the exception rather than the norm. Guinea Pigs do however require regular grooming and brushing to prevent matted fur.
With time and with handling, you’ll soon learn to realize what their fur should naturally look and feel like and when it is not in optimal condition.
While I would always advise that you seek out a specialist to learn how to groom appropriately, you should find that as long as you are gentle, your Guinea Pig will liked to be brushed.
Typically, shorter hair Guinea Pig will need brushing one every 7 days. The longer the hair, the more brushing will be required as it will get matted more often and more easily.
The Dasksha Grooming Kit is particularly effective and its very gentle on your Guinea Pig. It also makes the whole process a lot easier and quicker, and you can even hold your pet Guinea Pig at the same time which is a nice bonus.
If you have a longer haired Guinea Pig, watch out for any shedding or changes to their grooming habits as this could be an indicator that they are unwell .
Another thing to prioritize is to you will want to keep up with regular cage cleanings as often possible.
Trust me, your Guinea Pig wants to be clean and would rather not sleep in their own waste!
Summary: Can Guinea Pigs Get Wet?
Ultimately, your Guinea Pig needn’t have to get wet nor is it ideal for them. In fact, it can pose quite a few risks.
It is only on rare occasions and in specific situations where a bath is truly appropriate, and if you do decide to go ahead you should take the appropriate cautions.
Guinea Pigs are clean, self-grooming pets that just need a bit of extra support from time to time. Keeping their environment clean is perhaps the most important thing that you can do.