Guinea pigs are notorious for their incessant and meticulous grooming.
They love to groom themselves and their fellow cavy friends.
Sometimes our beloved guinea pigs get extra dirty.
This is due to various reasons, but whatever it is, we need to bathe them.
You may be wondering what to use on your pet and if a baby shampoo is an acceptable option.
Guinea pigs rarely need baths as they groom themselves quite effectively. Baby shampoo is not a suitable cleanser for cavies as it is too harsh and causes dry skin. The best solutions to use are specifically made for cavies. They are chemical-free and extra gentle to keep natural oils present.
If you are a new guinea pig owner wondering about bath time, we have all the information you need.
Guinea pigs have special needs for soaps, baths, and cleansers.
We’ll let you know all about how to bathe guinea pigs safely and effectively.
Can I Use Baby Shampoo On My Guinea Pig?
The best option for bathing your guinea pig is using a small animal shampoo specifically designed for your cavy’s sensitive skin.
Many shampoos and soaps contain harsh chemicals.
This often results in dry skin and irritation.
Guinea pigs have a delicate balance of natural oils.
Using the wrong soap or shampoo will disrupt this balance of natural oils and cause skin irritation.
Guinea pig shampoo is your best bet at preserving the natural balance of oils on the skin.
Some people think baby shampoo or fragrance-free shampoo is a good option for cleaning their cavy.
However, even gentle human shampoos have harsh chemicals.
Our skin and hair are very different from our guinea pigs.
Mild baby shampoo may still be too harsh.
Some cavy owners find a diluted mild baby shampoo fine for their pets.
We recommend diluting and spot testing to ensure no irritation occurs before you fully bathe them with the shampoo.
All-natural shampoo and other animal shampoos also seem like a good idea at the moment, but they still may be too harsh.
If you are in a pinch, use these options carefully and make sure to dilute them well before covering your guinea pig in the soap or cleanser.
In general, you’ll only need to bathe your guinea pig once every 4-6 weeks to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Since they tend to groom themselves quite effectively on their own, you shouldn’t need to be giving them baths with soap very frequently.
What Should I Use To Bathe My Guinea Pig?
The best option to bathe your guinea pig is a shampoo for guinea pig baths.
It is specifically designed to cater to your pet’s sensitive skin and assures optimum skin health.
Using this type of shampoo will keep your cavy from suffering from any adverse effects like skin conditions, rashes, or dryness.
If you need to clean your guinea pig now, there are some items you may have around.
It’s best to keep some all-natural shampoo for guinea pigs in your house, but there are other options if need be.
Also, keep in mind just because it is safe for human skin does not mean it is safe for piggies’ skin.
Mild Baby Shampoo
Mild baby shampoo is suitable for your cavy if it is heavily diluted.
Don’t use straight baby shampoo on your pet.
It is also important to test the diluted shampoo on a small area of your furry friend before covering them in it completely.
This way, it will only irritate one spot rather than the whole body, making it much easier to care for.
Fragrance-Free Dog Shampoo
Some guinea pig owners use fragrance-free dog shampoo.
While some animal shampoos work for different pets, guinea pigs have sensitive skin and special needs.
If you must use fragrance-free dog shampoo, we recommend heavily diluting the soap and testing it as well.
This fragrance-free shampoo is a great option.
It is an all-natural shampoo with no fragrances, sulfates, or harmful chemicals. If you have other pets, this will work for them, too, so it’s a great product to keep around the house.
Oatmeal soap is another gentle and fragrance-free cleanser suitable for your guinea pig.
Like the other recommendations on this list, you’ll need to dilute the soap and test it to ensure you don’t cause any skin irritation or skin conditions.
Oatmeal soap is often used on rashes, poison ivy, eczema, and itchy skin in humans.
Some people find it does not do a thorough job cleaning off dirty spots, but it is a safe option nonetheless.
Unscented Dish Soap
We’ve all undoubtedly seen the commercials where wildlife rescuers bathe penguins and birds with dish soap to clean off oil.
Unfortunately, even unscented dish soap is still too rough on our cavy’s gentle skin.
If you are in a pinch, heavily dilute the unscented soap before using it on your guinea pigs.
It is an effective cleanser, but it contains harsh cleansing agents.
When in doubt, stick with straight warm water for bathing your cavy.
It may not remove all stains and odors, but it won’t cause any adverse irritations, dryness, or rashes.
If your guinea pig got into some mud or needs a deep cleaning, warm water will not be enough.
For regular baths, cleaning your guinea pig in water should be adequate.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Need Baths?
If you’ve had guinea pigs for a while, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how much time they spend cleaning and grooming themselves.
They love to clean their fur.
Since guinea pig skin is so sensitive, it’s best to do no more than one monthly bath.
Some people bathe their cavies once a month during summers and every other month in winter seasons.
The frequency of guinea pig baths depends on a few different factors:
- If your pet played outside, it may have gotten very muddy. They likely won’t be able to fully clean themselves off alone.
- Older guinea pigs often have a harder time grooming themselves enough. Once a cavy reaches 5 years of age, they are considered a senior. You may need to bathe them more frequently as they age and their mobility decreases.
- Sick guinea pigs often have a hard time cleaning themselves. Bathing them will help them feel fresh even if they aren’t capable of fully grooming themselves.
Unless your guinea pig is particularly dirty or smells, it’s best to space baths out so as not to dry out their skin.
Just make sure to use proper guinea pig shampoo during baths to keep their delicate skin free of irritations.
Unscented, organic, and fragrance-free shampoo is the next best thing if your local shop doesn’t carry shampoo for guinea pigs.
Keeping Your Cavy Clean Between Baths
Since baths tend to disrupt the balance of oils in natural skin, it’s best to take some action to keep your cavy clean between bath days.
The best way to do this is by keeping your pet as clean as possible.
Most of our furry friends spend most of their time in their guinea pig cages.
To keep our guinea pigs clean, we need to keep their cage clean as well.
Puppy pads for guinea pigs are one helpful option (click the link to check out our article on the subject).
Here are some tips for good habits when it comes to keeping your cage or hutch clean:
- Change the bedding daily or whenever it appears soiled and dirty. This will also help reduce the risk of skin infections caused by poor hygiene.
- Deep clean and sanitize the entire cage weekly with an antibacterial soap safe for guinea pigs.
- Make sure to clean water bottles, food bowls, and toys every few days to keep them from getting soiled. This also helps keep your cavies healthy and sanitary.
- Check the cage daily and spot clean when needed. Staying ahead of messes will keep the cage cleaner in the long run. It will also cut down on any odors or bad smells coming from the hutch.
Clean cages also help with avoiding maggots and flystrike with guinea pigs.
How To Give A Guinea Pig A Bath
If this is your first time bathing a guinea pig, you probably have some questions.
Making the process as calm and comfortable as possible will make it way easier on you and your dirty guinea pig.
Find A Good Space For A Bath
Make sure to pick a space where it is quiet and enclosed.
If your guinea pig gets startled, it may attempt to jump and run.
If it does this, you want to make sure it won’t be able to get too far.
Using a sink in a small bathroom is a perfect spot for a guinea pig bath.
Fill The Bath
You’ll want to make the water level in the bath shallow.
The shallow water should not cover the nose or mouth of your pet.
Make sure the water is warm but not hot.
Test the temperature with your wrist to make sure it is comfortable for your cavy.
Slowly Acclimate Your Guinea Pig To The Water
Chances are this is your furry friend’s first time in the water if you’ve never bathed them before.
It is a new environment for them so remember to take it slow and allow some pre-bathing time.
Slowly put their feet in the water to get them used to the feel and temperature.
Cavies are easily startled, so this part is essential for making it a stress-free experience for both of you.
Scoop Water Onto Your Cavy
Once your cavy seems relaxed and comfortable in the water, scoop water onto its back.
Make sure to keep water out of their eyes and ears, which may cause infections.
Take it slow and keep one hand on your pet to ensure it won’t jump and potentially hurt itself.
The streams of water from a faucet or hose may be too much for your pet.
Shampoo Your Guinea Pig
We find it easiest to take our guinea pig out of the water basin and put it on a towel on our laps before using any guinea pig products on them.
This way, we have good control over our pets while we shampoo them.
Ensure to address any particularly dirty parts while avoiding the face, eyes, and ears.
Rinse Them Off
At this point, it is time to rinse off the shampoo.
Make sure to use warm water and get rid of all soapy residue.
Rinse a bit more than you normally would, as even gentle shampoos cause skin issues for guinea pigs.
Gently use a dry towel to warm up your guinea pig once they are sufficiently rinsed off.
Some cavy owners use a hairdryer for drying off their piggies after a bath.
If you do this, make sure it is low speed and low temperature.
Most guinea pigs will not appreciate the loud sounds of a hairdryer.
If they seem startled by it, just use a towel.
You don’t want to make them scared of bath time.
Drying with a soft towel also allows you to feel for any lumps or sore spots, which is important for ensuring your cavy is healthy.
It also helps you to bond with your adorable furry friend.
Alternatives To Bathing My Guinea Pig
Some guinea pigs put up a big fight during bath time.
If this is the case for you, there are alternatives to baths for your guinea pig.
Usually, the most disliked part of bath time for cavies is the water and submerging their feet or lower bodies into it.
Luckily there are a few options for cleaning your beloved guinea pig without water or getting it in the tub.
Some guinea pig owners have success with using dry shampoo on their pets.
We don’t recommend this as small animals like guinea pigs may experience respiratory issues from inhaling the dust particles.
Guinea pigs do not use a dust bath in the wild, so it doesn’t make sense to use dust to clean our pets.
Guinea Pig Safe Wipes
Guinea pig wipes are another great option for cleaning your guinea pig without shampoo.
They are easy to use and convenient for wiping any stains or dirty spots.
Make sure they are unscented.
It may also be helpful to use them on a small pet area to see if they cause any skin irritations.
Another alternative to bathing your guinea pig in a tub with animal shampoo is spot cleaning with a wet washcloth.
Simply wet a rag and use it to gently spot clean your pet.
If it is a particularly stubborn dirty spot, use diluted guinea pig shampoo on a wet towel to cut through the dirt.
This is also an excellent way to bond with your guinea pig.