Guinea pigs are generally very clean animals, and you will probably see them grooming themselves quite often.
If there are odors in a guinea pig cage, owners usually do not clean the enclosure regularly.
There are many reasons for a strong odor in a guinea pig cage, but is urine one of the causes?
Guinea pig urine has a distinct odor, but it is not usually a foul smell. However, if the urine is left in the cage for too long without being cleaned up, it will produce ammonia and develop a bad odor. When a guinea pig is sick or has a poor diet, this will also cause its urine to smell bad.
The ammonia produced by urine is not only foul-smelling, but it will also cause damage to a guinea pig’s nasal passage if it is inhaled.
Since cavies urinate very frequently throughout the day, it is important to keep the cage clean to prevent any foul odors or ill health effects.
Read on to learn more about why your guinea pig’s urine may smell bad and how to manage urine odor in your pet’s cage.
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Why Does My Guinea Pig’s Urine Smell Bad?
There are several reasons a guinea pig’s urine has a foul odor, including urinary tract infections, diet, and the grease gland.
Urinary Tract Infection
Guinea pig urine does not typically have a noticeable odor, so if your cavy’s pee smells bad, it is usually a sign of a urinary tract infection.
Due to their anatomy, urinary tract infections are a common health concern in guinea pigs.
Aside from smelly urine, signs of a urinary tract infection in guinea pigs also include:
- Bloody urine
- Straining to pee
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- High fever
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cavy, it is crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
When a urinary tract infection is left untreated, it may cause internal damage, bladder inflammation, and other health problems.
A veterinarian will take a urine sample and x-ray your pet to determine the underlying health issue.
Since harmful bacteria cause a urinary tract infection, the only way to cure it is by administering antibiotics to the cavy.
Urinary tract infections are more common in a female guinea pig, and they may be passed to other cavies in the same enclosure.
Dehydration and a poor diet will also cause a guinea pig’s urine to smell bad.
Without enough water, a cavy will be unable to properly digest the fiber in its diet, leading to smelly urine.
Providing your cavy with fresh drinking water every day will keep the animal from becoming dehydrated.
A poor diet will also contribute to urinary tract infections in cavies, which will cause the pee to smell bad.
Certain vegetables and herbs may also cause a distinct odor in guinea pig urine, so you may need to evaluate your pet’s diet for the cause.
Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and sugary fruits are all known to cause guinea pig urine to have a strong smell.
The Grease Gland
The cause of foul-smelling guinea pig pee may also be from your cavy marking its territory.
Guinea pigs have a grease gland, which they use to release a smelly substance to attract mates.
Male cavies have a more active grease gland than females, and if the gland is not cleaned regularly, its odor will be particularly foul.
If your guinea pig is not spayed or neutered, its urine may also have a more pungent smell due to an overactive grease gland.
You might be curious about your cute pet’s feces as well.
Read our article on what guinea pig poop smells like to get an answer to this question.
How Do You Get Rid of the Smell of Guinea Pig Pee?
To eliminate the smell of pee in your guinea pig’s cage, you will need to use more than water to clean it.
Start by moving your cavy to a safe area while cleaning its cage.
Next, you will need to remove the soiled bedding.
Sprinkle baking soda in areas with a lingering urine odor to neutralize the smell and prevent it from seeping through the new bedding.
Replace the bedding with odor-resistant bedding such as this one to help keep the urine smell from returning as quickly in the future.
White vinegar is excellent at controlling odors, and it is also a natural cleaner.
Use a solution of white vinegar diluted with water when you perform a deep clean of the guinea pig cage.
Placing an air purifier in the room with your cavy’s enclosure will also help get rid of the urine smell.
If the urine smell comes from your guinea pig’s fur, you will need to groom the animal before putting it back in the clean cage.
Brush your cavy and use a pet-safe cleaning wipe to gently clean its fur and eliminate any bad smells.
If you have to give your cavy a bath, use a shampoo specifically made for guinea pigs and thoroughly rinse it from your pet’s fur.
It is also crucial to ensure your guinea pig is completely dry before placing them back in the cage.
How Do I Prevent the Odor of Urine in My Guinea Pig’s Cage?
Preventing urine odor in your guinea pig’s cage relies on you developing a regular maintenance routine.
Odors will quickly develop in the enclosure if it is dirty, and your guinea pig will also suffer health consequences.
It is also crucial to maintain your cavy’s health with a proper diet and regular grooming to prevent your pet from developing a foul odor or getting sick.
Below are some tips for effectively managing the smell of urine in your guinea pig’s enclosure.
Check out why guinea pig pee is white and if you need to worry.
Use the Right Type of Bedding
Choosing the right product for the bedding in your guinea pig’s cage is essential.
The bedding needs to be high quality, absorbent, odor-resistant, comfortable, and non-toxic.
Meadow hay is the most common choice among guinea pig owners.
Other bedding options include fleece, paper, and aspen bedding.
Fleece is more difficult to keep clean, but it is a very comfortable option for your cavy if you are dedicated to maintenance.
If you use paper or aspen shavings, ensure it is dust-free so your guinea pig does not suffer from an upper respiratory infection.
Some bedding options to avoid include newspaper, straw, or cedar and pine shavings.
Straw is not absorbent and may be uncomfortable for your cavy’s delicate skin.
Newspaper and cedar or pine shavings all contain toxins, which will cause adverse health effects in your guinea pig.
Once you have chosen the right bedding for your cavy, it is important to change it regularly to prevent bad odors.
Guinea pigs may urinate on the bedding, and when it is left dirty, ammonia will develop.
The ammonia will cause the bedding to foul, and your cavy will have upper respiratory problems if it breathes in the smell.
It is recommended to change the bedding at least every two to three days.
You will need to change it more often if the bedding is soiled or you have multiple cavies in a cage.
Spot Clean Every Day
In addition to changing the bedding, daily spot cleaning is crucial to preventing bad smells in the cage.
Urine, guinea pig poop, and leftover food will create a horrible odor and harbor potentially harmful bacteria.
Your cavy may pick up this bacteria as it moves around the cage.
Not only will the bacteria make your guinea pig smell terrible, but it has the potential to make the animal very sick.
When spot cleaning, it is also important to clean your cavy’s water bottle and provide it with fresh, clean water.
Deep Clean the Cage Weekly
Deep cleaning the cage involves removing all contents and disinfecting the cage.
You may use an animal-friendly disinfectant cleaner or a white vinegar solution mixed with water.
A mixture of 1-part vinegar to 1 or 2-parts water will disinfect the cage and prevent bad odors.
A vinegar and baking soda mixture is also an effective solution for eliminating bad smells in the guinea pig cage.
The toys, food bowls, water bottles, and other accessories must be thoroughly cleaned with the vinegar solution and rinsed with warm water.
Ensure everything is dry before placing the clean food bowls, toys, and other accessories back into the enclosure.
You must also place fresh bedding in the cage when ready to put it all back together.
Groom Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs do well when it comes to grooming themselves, but sometimes they may need a little help from you.
Long-haired cavies may have difficulty cleaning themselves, and they will develop a bad smell if urine or feces gets stuck in their fur.
Sick or elderly guinea pigs may have the same problems with grooming properly.
Inspect your guinea pig for cleanliness every day, and brush them to remove any dander or other debris from their fur.
Use a washcloth dampened with warm water to remove dirt and feces rather than bathing your cavy.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive skin, and bathing them too often may cause them to become itchy and uncomfortable.
It is recommended to bathe your guinea pig no more than once or twice per year.
If you must give your cavy a bath, use a pet shampoo appropriate for guinea pigs and thoroughly rinse away any soap residue.
Don’t just assume using baby shampoo on guinea pigs is OK.
Guinea pigs are also susceptible to getting sick if they are too cold.
It is important to keep your guinea pigs warm until they are dry.
Thoroughly dry your guinea pig before placing it back in the cage to prevent illness.
Train Your Guinea Pig To Use A Litter Box
To help manage urine odor in a guinea pig cage, you may train your pet to use a litter box.
Litter training a guinea pig may be difficult, as some animals learn faster than others.
Start by creating a designated area for your cavy to use the bathroom.
Guinea pigs are easily startled, so it is best to keep the area with the litter box dark so your pet feels safe and secure going there.
Use fresh meadow hay in the box to familiarize them with the smell.
Avoid using cat litter, as it is dusty, and your cavy may accidentally ingest it and become impacted.
Reward your guinea pig with a small treat after using the box until the animal is completely trained.
Having a litter box will make it much easier to keep the cage clean and sanitary for your cavy.
The guinea pig may accidentally go outside of the box, but accidents will be less frequent once fully litter trained.
Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy
Providing your guinea pig with a nutritious diet will keep it healthy and minimize odors in the cage.
Your cavy’s diet needs to consist of hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and occasionally fruit.
Certain foods will make your cavy’s urine have a strong smell, and poor nutrition may also lead to urinary tract infections.
A poor diet may also cause your guinea pig to have diarrhea, which is messy and increases the foul smells in the cage.
Since hydration is important, provide your guinea pig with clean fresh water every day.
Staying hydrated helps your cavy digest the fiber in its diet and keeps its urine from smelling bad.
In addition to feeding your guinea pig a healthy diet, it is also vital for your pet to have annual vet exams to screen for illnesses you may not be aware of, such as diabetes or parasites.
It is also vital to ensure your cavy receives immediate health care whenever they are sick.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is guinea pig urine toxic to humans?
Guinea pig urine is generally not toxic to humans, but you still need to handle it carefully if there are parasites present.
The most common parasite found in guinea pigs is E. cuniculi, and it mainly affects people with a compromised immune system, children, and the elderly.
A guinea pig infested with the E. cuniculi parasite may not even show any outward symptoms, but they will experience stunted growth.
The parasite is usually diagnosed from a urine sample.
If the parasite is present, the veterinarian will give the guinea pig antibiotics to clear the infection.
Very rarely, guinea pig urine will contain parasites that cause a viral illness known as lymphocytic choriomeningitis.
Symptoms of lymphocytic choriomeningitis typically mimic the common flu.
What color is guinea pig urine?
The color of normal guinea pig urine ranges from bright yellow to clear.
The color of a cavy’s urine may change several times in the same day, which is completely normal.
Bright yellow urine will turn orange if it is not cleaned up.
This color change occurs when the porphyrins in the urine oxidize after being exposed to air.
Orange urine may also indicate dehydration in your guinea pig.
Baby guinea pigs commonly have an orange or brown tint to their urine, which is nothing to worry about.
However, if your cavy is constipated, feces might get into the urine and cause it to be a rusty or deep brown shade.
White or milky pee in guinea pigs indicates excess calcium deposits.
If you see white or milky pee, reduce the calcium in your cavy’s diet to see if the urine changes, and make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any other causes.
Using a light-colored litter in your cavy’s litter box will help you see color changes more easily.
How often do guinea pigs pee?
Guinea pigs will pee approximately every 15 minutes, which equates to around 96 times in one day.
How often your guinea pig pees is based on its diet and lifestyle.
If your cavy eats a lot of fruit or vegetables with a high amount of water, the animal will naturally urinate more frequently than usual.
It is normal for guinea pigs to urinate often, and there is not anything you need to do about it.