How Often Do You Give a Guinea Pig a Bath?

Did you know guinea pigs are excellent at grooming themselves?

While these guys are pretty messy when it comes to defecating and urinating all over the place, they aren’t very stinky pets.

They are good at keeping themselves relatively clean and don’t often need your help.

Only bathe your guinea pig a few times per year. They groom themselves, so they rarely need to be cleaned up. When they do, you must be cautious about the products and practices you use to bathe them. But above all, baths should be avoided unless necessary.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, and it’s a good idea to be familiar with them.

You always want to know how to take the best care of your pets.

Read on to learn about when it is time to bathe your guinea and how best to go about bathing them.

how often do you give a guinea pig a bath

When Is It Bath Time?

Before we get into when guineas need bathing, let’s clarify something else:

Guinea pigs must never be given a bath when they have a respiratory infection. 

This is extremely important!

If you bathe your friend with a respiratory infection, you are likely to damage their health further.

They may end up with the water entering their lungs through their mouth or nose.

Let’s consider some different reasons you might need to bathe your guinea:

  • They’ve made a mess they can’t clean themselves.
  • They have a fungal infection.
  • You plan to show them.
  • It’s been 4-6 months since their last bath.

Remember, it’s always important not to overdo it.

If possible, don’t bathe your guinea pig more than once every couple of months.

If your pet is constantly getting so dirty you need to clean them, it may be time to change their environment.

Keep your guinea pig cage as clean as possible, and this will, in turn, help keep your guinea clean.

With fungal infections, you must listen to your piggy’s veterinarian.

They may suggest an anti-parasite bath or give you a medicated shampoo to use on your piggy. 

But they may tell you your pet already has dry skin, and bathing must be avoided.

Whatever your veterinarian tells you, be sure to follow their advice.

What Is the Best Way to Safely Bathe a Guinea Pig?

We don’t want to make bath time stressful.

However, it is really important you take some precautions to make the bathing process safe and effective.

The table below outlines what is and isn’t safe for your furry friends during baths.

Please use extreme care when you’re cleaning up your pets. 

The emphasis is always on safety.

DO NOT DO
Use very hot or very cold waterUse lukewarm water
Scrub or wipe harshly at their skin/furKeep your touch light and gentle
Fully submerge them in the waterKeep the water below their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth
Use human shampoo or strongly scented soapsUse small-pet-safe shampoo or unscented soap
Use a hair dryer or fan to dry themCarefully towel their coat dry
Put your piggy in a full-sized bathUse a small plastic container or bowl

More Tips for Safe Baths

To ensure your pet feels safe emotionally and physically, talk soothingly to them throughout the bathing process.

Remember, you don’t do this often, and neither does your piggy. 

They are probably feeling nervous.

If you put them at ease, they will be easier to wash up. 

They also won’t be jumping and slipping around if they stay calm, which means they will be physically safer.

Once your piggy has been toweled off, keep them in a warm environment.

If you leave a window open nearby or turn on a fan, you risk them developing a cold. 

It’s also unsafe to attempt to dry them off with heat. 

We recommend you never use a blow dryer on your guinea pig. 

Instead, use a clean towel, and take care when drying off your piggy. 

Throughout the bathing process, remember that guineas need to maintain a certain body temperature.

We use lukewarm water to avoid shocking our pets, and we also need to take care when their fur is drying.

Why Is It Important to Bathe Guinea Pigs Infrequently?

We’ve put a lot of emphasis on the importance of using baths as a last resort for your small pets.

Here’s why:

Guinea pigs have sensitive skin. Their bodies produce natural oils, which are extremely important to their skin health.

If you were to bathe your guinea all the time, their skin would quickly dry up and start to crack.

This would be uncomfortable for your friend, but it would also leave them more vulnerable to skin infections.

These risks are heightened if your pet has a short coat. 

However, even long-haired guinea pigs should be bathed as rarely as possible. 

Doing it only a couple of times a year is the safest plan.

If you find your piggy has an odor issue, it may be time to take them to the vet.

Just know, it’s normal for guineas to have a harder time keeping clean as they age.

Can I Clean My Guinea Pig Without Bathing Them?

It is possible to wipe up smaller patches of your piggy’s coat without giving them a traditional bath.

It’s still important not to do this too often, though. 

And you still need to be mindful of what products you’re using.

There is a common misconception it’s okay to use baby wipes on guinea pigs. 

Read more on baby wipes and guinea pigs in our article here.

These are not safe products for small pets, though.

Instead, use wet paper towels or gently pour a stream of water over the dirty area.

Your main concern when cleaning your guinea is to disrupt the natural oil build-up on their skin as little as possible.

Again, this is especially important if you have a short-haired guinea pig because it is easier to damage their skin.

Just like frequent bathing is bad for their skin, constant wiping has the potential to be harmful as well.