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Guinea Pigs Can Swim, But Is It Safe? (Learn To Protect Your Pet)

Guinea pigs are rodents that belong to the Caviidae family. They are good swimmers and will use a small paddling motion to move through the water.

We’ve investigated everything there is to know about guinea pigs and their swimming ability so you can give the best care to your pet. Let’s jump right to it.

Do guinea pigs like water? Can guinea pigs swim in water?

Key Takeaway:

Guinea pigs only swim when they have no other option. They are good swimmers, but they do not like to swim. If you force your guinea pig to swim, his stress levels will rise, and his body temperature will lower, which could lead to health problems.

Can guinea pigs swim in the wild? And how can you get your guinea pig clean without stressing him out?

You’ll find the answers to these questions and more coming up next in this article.

Dive right in!

a cute fluffy guinea pig enjoying a bubble bath featured.

Can Guinea Pigs Swim?

Guinea pigs are playful creatures. They love running around and interacting with one another.

They also enjoy tucking into tasty grub and spending time with their owners. Guinea pigs enjoy these activities, but what about swimming?

Do guinea pigs swim?

Guinea pigs can swim, but they do not enjoy swimming. They can swim in life-or-death situations where they have no choice but to get their feet wet.

You’ll find out more about guinea pigs swimming coming up next.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Swimming?

Guinea pigs are active for up to 20 hours a day. They love spending time with other guinea pigs and with their owners, running around, and eating.

As a caring pet guinea pig owner, you no doubt wonder if there are any other activities you must provide your pet with to keep him occupied.

Do guinea pigs like to swim? Can guinea pigs swim in a pool, and should you put one in a cage?

Although guinea pigs can swim, they do not like swimming. Most guinea pigs will only swim when they have no other choice.

Wild guinea pigs swim when they desperately have to get from point A to point B but have no other way to do so apart from crossing a body of water. They may swim to get away from their predators and to a point of safety.

Although guinea pigs are natural swimmers, they do not like getting wet. Your guinea pig is not like its distant cousin, the capybara from South America, which loves spending time in the water and on dry land.

Do not put a mini swimming pool in your guinea pig’s cage. Never immerse your guinea pig in a chlorine pool.

Are Guinea Pigs Good Swimmers?

You will only find guinea pigs swimming as a flight response. They have to get somewhere urgently and find themselves trapped with a body of water in front of them.

Guinea pigs are capable of swimming, but does that mean they are good swimmers?

Guinea pigs are strong swimmers. But when they are in the water for long periods, they get tired.

If the water depth is too deep and they have been paddling for a long time, they could quickly find themselves in a life-threatening situation. Their bodies simply are not strong enough to bear the weight of the water for a long time.

How Does Swimming Affect Their Health?

Pet owners must be aware that although their guinea pigs are capable of swimming, this is not something they should be doing. Swimming is the cause of many serious health issues in guinea pigs.

Here are just some of the health issues.

Skin Diseases

Guinea pigs have natural oils on their fur that swimming can strip away. This can make the animals more susceptible to skin problems like skin irritation.

Ear Infections

Guinea pigs can get ear infections from water exposure if the water were to get lodged in their ears.

An ear infection can travel deeper into the ear canal and infect the nervous system of the little rodent. This would be life-threatening.

Upper Respiratory Infections

If your guinea pig swims in cold water, its body temperature could reach dangerously low levels. This could make your pet cavy suffer from respiratory infections or hypothermia.


Another problem is exhaustion. Guinea pigs quickly get tired when they are in the water, and this causes them great stress.

guinea pig inside a small swimming pool

How to Bathe a Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are clean rodents. They do all of their own grooming.

But what if your pet smells bad, and you have no choice but to bathe him?

Never immerse your guinea pig in water, as this can lead to undue stress and can onset numerous health issues. The instructions listed below will help you get your pet smelling sweet again.

You Will Need

Gather the following tools to get started:

  • Guinea pig dusting powder
  • A brush
  • A towel
  • Guinea pig shampoo
  • Warm water
  • A blow dryer

Step #1 Dusting Powder

Dusting powder is a great way of cleaning your guinea pig without getting his fur wet. The powder is effective at removing odors and dirt.

When choosing a dry bath powder, ensure yours is effective for small pets. It must also be non-toxic and free from chemical additives.

The best dusting powders contain mild natural ingredients like sodium bicarbonate and cornstarch. They may contain aloe vera or almond oil to give your guinea pig’s fur a nice fragrance after the bath.

Do not use dusting powder on guinea pigs younger than 12 weeks.

Here’s how to use the dusting powder.

  1. Apply guinea pig dusting powder to his fur. Avoid getting the powder into your guinea pig’s eyes or onto any wounds or cuts.
  2. Massage the powder into his fur and onto the skin with your fingers.
  3. Brush the dusting powder through his fur with a guinea pig brush or with a towel. This will help you to remove large pieces of dirt and debris from the fur and skin.
  4. Use a towel to wipe away any excess powder from the fur.

If your guinea pig cleans up nicely after a powder bath, there is no need to move on to the following section.

Always start with a dry bath when cleaning your guinea pig, as this is the best way to preserve the natural oil on your pet’s coat. It also saves your little animal from the stress of a water bath.

Step #2 Lukewarm Water

If you have tried dry bathing your guinea pig but find he is still dirty, you will have to give him a water bath.

This does not mean immersing him in water, not even in shallow water. Rather, it means giving him a spot-wash.

To give your guinea pig a spot wash, you will need lukewarm water and small animal shampoo. The shampoo must be free from colors and perfumes that would irritate your pet’s skin.

The best shampoos are mild and are made from 100% pure gel soap.

Here’s how to spot-bathe your guinea pig.

  1. Pour warm water into a small dish.
  2. Put a small amount of shampoo and water onto a cloth and rub it together until it lathers.
  3. Wipe it onto the dirty areas of your guinea pig’s skin and fur.

Step #3 Dry

A wet guinea pig is not a happy guinea pig.

If your guinea pig is wet, he will shiver and feel cold. His body temperature will begin to lower.

To prevent him from getting sick and from undergoing unnecessary stress, follow the next steps to get him dry again.

  1. Immediately dry your guinea pig. This is an essential step even in the warmer months of the year. Use a towel to dry him off. Your guinea pig will likely shiver until he feels dry again.
  2. Use a blow dryer on the lowest setting. Brush through your guinea pig’s fur as you dry it. Keep the blow dryer in motion, and do not keep it on one patch of fur for too long. Do not hold the blow dryer too close to your pet.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Bathing?

Both wild and domestic guinea pigs are clean animals. In their natural habitat, they sometimes take part in social grooming and more often self-grooming.

Because guinea pigs are such clean animals, they seldom need bathing.

Guinea pigs groom themselves many times a day. Here’s how they do it.

  • They use their claws to remove debris from their fur.
  • They stand on their hind legs and use their front paws to clean themselves and lick themselves clean.
  • A milky-white substance secretes from their eyes while they groom themselves. They use this to rub into their fur to help them clean themselves.
guinea pig swimming stressed out inside a bathtub

The Verdict on Guinea Pigs and Swimming

You have no doubt seen videos online of guinea pigs in their natural habitat swimming to get from one place to the other.

Have these videos made you wonder how guinea pigs feel about getting wet? Do guinea pigs know how to swim?

Thanks to this article, we have seen that guinea pigs are capable of swimming. But although they can swim and are rather good at it, they do not like to.

Forcing guinea pigs to swim can cause them stress and can even set them up for health problems such as an ear infection or even hypothermia.

Did you find the information in this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about small pets like cavies, mice, and hamsters. For more guides about how to look after these small pets and what to feed them, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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