If you are looking at adopting a Guinea Pig then you may be wondering whether or not they shed. Is this something that you will need to manage, are they a hypoallergenic pet and are they suitable for allergy sufferers?
So, do Guinea Pigs Shed? Guinea Pigs do shed, although different breeds will shed a different amount. Nevertheless, every breed will possess a coat of fur that will naturally fall out and be spread across their cage, your clothes, and your home. Therefore, grooming a Guinea Pig and routinely cleaning their cage is required and should be regularly undertaken as their owner.
When you look for the perfect pet, you need to consider the maintenance required to keep them happy and healthy.
Sometimes, media and previous misconceptions may make it difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to knowing how to keep a pet happy, healthy and strong. A prime example is that there are many animals that people don’t realize actually shed. Guinea Pigs are no exception.
Because they live in a cage, shedding is something that is easily contained and shouldn’t cause much of a disruption to home life.
There are a few things that people should consider when they get any animal that sheds. Learning more about the shedding habits and grooming requirements of guinea pigs can help you learn how to take proper care of your cavy. Let us take a closer look at the topic!
Do Guinea Pigs Shed Seasonally?
Yes, Guinea Pigs shed seasonally. This is of course, unless you have a hairless guinea pig (like a Skinny Pig).
For the most part, most Guinea Pigs shed and this should be expected seasonally, just like it does with dogs.
This means that a Guinea Pig will start to lose their winter coats around the springtime and also the early summer. You’ll find more hair within the cage around this time.
In fact, the longer the hair that a guinea pig has, the more it is susceptible to seasonal shedding and the more you can expect.
Additionally, you can expect a baby Guinea pig to shed their baby fur as they grow, to make room for their adult fur.
Are Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic?
Guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic; meaning they are more likely to give you issues if you are a regular allergy sufferer.
This doesn’t mean that anyone with allergies can’t have a guinea pig. This does mean that a person has the potential to be allergic to a guinea pig. Fortunately, the chances of being allergic to a guinea pig are relatively slim, but this doesn’t mean that they are zero.
The extent of allergic reaction a guinea pig will cause to someone who is allergic to them will vary greatly depending on the individual, the guinea pig and of course the season of the year. Most of the time, a reaction to the allergy will be mild.
Instead of the fur, what people do have to look out for is the bedding of the guinea pig.
People are far more likely to be allergic to hay or the chips which make up the litter. This is a common allergy which may make it difficult for a person to breathe. If someone has a harsh “hay fever,” it is not a good idea to bring a bunch of hay into the house.
How Do I Combat Guinea Pig Allergies?
Outside of not getting one to begin with, there are some methods to employ.
Firstly, you can look for a guinea pig breed with shorter fur. The longer the fur, the more likely you are to run into problems.
Secondly, you will need to be more stringent in where you let them go. Its not as ideal to pick them up if you are a sufferer, nor is it a good idea to let your clothes pick up any loose fur. For this reason, you may need to get a fellow family member to do more of the handling and perhaps even cleaning out the cage on your behalf.
It is always best to keep up with regular and routine cage cleaning. Not only for hygiene reasons and to eradicate smells from your home, but also to keep shedding fur reduced. The more fur that is ultimately around the more of an issue it will cause.
As long as your allergies are not severe, you can also take a mild antihistamine or allergy medication if you feel as though your symptoms are worsening. Many people do this during allergy seasons in general.
Keeping the cage outside may make it easier for you. Without the enclosed walls, it may make it easier for your body, as there is less exposure to the guinea pig and less particles in which you will be exposed to.
Guinea Pig Grooming
While it is not possible to completely stop your guinea pig’s shedding, you can reduce the amount of fur your pet sheds. This can be done with a proper grooming regime in which we will outline below:
Do I Need To Brush My Guinea Pig?
Short-haired guinea pigs are pretty low maintenance. During shedding seasons you may want to delicately brush them once a week. Outside of shedding season they should be perfectly fine.
Longer haired guinea pigs are another story. You will likely need to brush them regularly just to keep their hair untangled and to prevent matting which can be painful.
Depending on the length and texture of their fur, they may need to be brushed three or four times a week outside of the shedding season. Within the shedding season, you shouldn’t let a long-haired animal go more than two days without a good brush.
They will also need different brushes than what you would need with just short hair.
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One of the best things to get as a guinea pig owner is a grooming kit. This kit has everything you’d need to deal with the wonders of small animal parenting. They include brushes that are specifically designed for guinea pigs which are more safe and soft on their bodies. This is important as their delicate skin is not always able to hand the harsh shedding brushes that you would use on another animal.
It also comes with safe nail clippers as well that you can use to keep their nails in check. If you have young family members, be sure to always assist them with any guinea pig grooming. If a child is too rough, they may harm the guinea pig or scare them out of a perfectly safe routine. Additionally, an agitated guinea pig is more likely to bite a hurt a child.
It is a good idea to always supervise the child to make sure they are being gentle. If your child is too young, consider doing all of the grooming yourself until the child is old enough to take care of them.
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It may also be a safer option to let your child use a silicone de-shedding glove instead. These gloves make it fast and easy to get rid of unwanted fur. These are also relatively gentle to use and a great option for skittish guinea pigs who are afraid of foreign objects.
With the glove on, your guinea pig can essentially be petted, making it easier for younger children to also help out and get involved with shedding maintenance.
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Do I Need To Bathe My Guinea Pig?
You may see very cute videos of little guinea pigs wrapped in towels after a nice bath. While these are adorable Instagram shots, they lead to a lot of misconceptions.
For one thing, guinea pigs do not require bathing. Rodents, in general, shouldn’t be bathed under normal circumstances. Like other rodents, guinea pigs clean themselves and they do not require any extra bathing to stay hygienic.
Not only are these baths not needed, but doing so recklessly may impose some health problems. For one thing, there is the potential toxicity of bathing products. What is safe for dogs and cats does not mean that it is safe for a rodent. There are certain substances in the formulas of pet shampoo that would not be safe for your guinea pig to consume.
Moreover, animals including guinea pigs, lick themselves all of the time. It is difficult to know that you definitely washed all of the shampoo away from your rodent. Even a small amount of consumption can prove fatal.
Even if the shampoo is safe for rodents, this doesn’t mean that bathing is a good idea as it leads to additional stress and an increased chance of catching an illness. They are not meant to be wet, cold, and damp.
That being said, there are certain breeds and circumstances whereby a guinea pig does require an infrequent bath. Certain species may need to be bathed (such as the long-haired Peruvian Guinea Pig). There are also certain health conditions that would lead you to need to bathe your cavy.
Mites and fungal infections should be addressed by a veterinarian before taking personal actions. If they advise a bath, just make sure to take the steps to ensure that you are doing it safely. The proper guinea pig sage shampoo and a comfortable drying environment are essential.
If you need to bath your guinea pig, you should only use a specially formulated small animal shampoo. If it is safe for rabbits, it is safe for your guinea pig. Also, be sure to follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle, make sure it is completely washed out and you carefully dry your guinea pig. You simply cannot leave them damp!
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Guinea Pigs do shed, which makes them a potential problematic pet for heavy allergy suffers. Nonetheless, there are things that you can do if you suffer and this does not necessarily mean that you cannot get one (or several as a pet).
For starters, you’ll want to opt for a shorter hair breed. From there, you need to be careful with where you let your guinea pig roam and where their fur is allowed to drop.
Ensuring that their cage is routinely cleaned, and undertaking the appropriate grooming practices will be required as as their owner. It is part of the responsibilities and duties that is essential to ensure they remain happy and healthy.
Ultimately, guinea pigs are a fine pet. Shedding, just like with a lot of other animals, is just part and parcel and comes with owning them.