Grooming is a crucial part of your guinea’s care, and isn’t something you can overlook or skimp on.
This activity helps you keep your pet’s coat soft and silky and gives you a good opportunity to check their health.
The whole process can seem daunting if you’re new to grooming guinea pigs, as you might not know what tools you’ll need, which grooming methods to use, or what grooming actually entails.
As someone who’s owned many piggies over the years, all of which had different grooming needs, I’ll be sharing my helpful tips and tricks on everything you need to know about guinea pig grooming.
Don’t be intimidated – let’s go on this journey together.
Do Guinea Pigs Need to Be Groomed?
Guinea pigs need to be groomed on a regular basis to keep their coat and skin in good condition.
Grooming your guinea pig frequently also allows you to check for issues like lice, sores, or cuts on your pet piggy’s- skin.
Long Haired Guinea Pigs
Long haired guinea pigs need grooming frequently, if not every day, to keep their hair silky and knot-free.
Short Haired Guinea Pigs
Short haired guinea pigs don’t need to be groomed as regularly, but it’s still important you give them a good brush and check over at least weekly.
My guinea pigs always enjoy being brushed, especially as they know they’re about to receive some pampering and tasty treats.
Do Guinea Pigs Shed Hair?
All guinea pigs shed hair, but long haired breeds tend to shed more than short haired varieties.
Springtime is normally when guinea pigs shed hair the most, so you might notice your pet losing more fur around this period.
If your guinea pig is losing an excessive amount of hair, then take them to a veterinarian as it could indicate a skin condition or parasite.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Need Grooming?
Most short haired guinea pigs benefit from a weekly grooming session, but they may need brushing every few days if they are shedding more hair than normal.
A long haired guinea pig requires a bit more maintenance and upkeep to keep their hair looking its best.
Guinea pigs with lengthy hair should be brushed every day to prevent matts or tangles forming in their coat.
Guinea Pig Grooming Kit (Things You’ll Need)
A brush is necessary for keeping your guinea pig’s hair soft and smooth, but the type of brush you’ll need will depend on how long your pet’s coat is.
No matter what coat type or hair length your guinea pig has, a brush is something you should always have in your grooming kit.
Types of Brushes
A guinea pig comb is helpful for long haired breeds to brush out knots and tangles. It will normally have 2 sides: one with wide spaced teeth, and the other with narrow teeth.
Combs designed for guinea pigs or other rodents are smaller with tighter teeth than ones for human hair, allowing you to more effectively brush out matts.
- Soft brush
Short haired guinea pigs only require a soft brush to maintain their coat. A soft brush is also helpful for brushing close to your guinea’s pig face as it has gentle bristles.
Combs or bristle brushes are a bit too rough to be used around your piggy’s eyes, ears, and mouth.
- Bristle brush
If you have a long haired guinea pig, a bristle brush is a good idea as it’s useful for removing excess hair and minor knots.
You’ll need a nail clipper to trim your pet’s nails so they don’t get overly long.
Nail clippers designed for small animals or cats are your best bet, but you can also use human nail clippers.
Guinea pigs baths aren’t necessary unless your pet is particularly stinky or dirty.
If you need to bathe your guinea pig, you’ll need to make sure you have some guinea pig shampoo or soap on hand.
Guinea pig or small animal shampoo can be found at most pet stores or online.
What Shampoo To Use
Never use human shampoo, conditioner, soap, or other household cleaning products on your guinea pig.
Cavies have very sensitive skin, so using any of the above could cause an allergic reaction and strip their coat of their natural oils.
Only use shampoo or soap designed specifically for guinea pigs or small animals, however, baby shampoo can also be used in a pinch. The reason being is baby shampoo is more gentle and less harsh on your guinea pig’s skin than normal human shampoo.
How to Brush Your Guinea Pig’s Hair
Some guinea pigs tolerate or even enjoy being brushed, while others might be very anxious or fidgety during grooming.
The first few times are usually the worst, but your guinea pig should gradually become more accustomed to having their hair brushed.
When it’s time to groom your cavy, place them on a lap or a safe area.
Comfort Your Pet
Try to keep your guinea pig calm by offering them a tasty chunk of carrot, romaine lettuce, or broccoli to keep them occupied.
For smooth coated guinea pigs or those with short hair, use the palm of your hand to rub their back from nose to rump (don’t forget the front and rear legs!).
Next, rub their belly and the underside of their neck.
Go With The Flow
Only groom your pet’s hair in the direction it lays.
If you notice a lot of loose fur, you can wet your hand slightly with water to remove it. A soft brush can also be used to groom guinea pigs with short hair.
Grooming guinea pigs with long hair requires a bit more work and time. I recommend using a bristle brush first to remove loose hair and tangles, followed by a comb for any persistent knots.
Dealing with Knots
If you encounter any big matts or stubborn tangles that can’t be brushed out, don’t hurt your guinea pig trying to remove them.
Simply use a pair of round ended scissors to cut the knots out.
Once you’ve gone over your pet’s coat with a bristle brush, you can use a comb to smooth out any knots you might have missed.
Don’t use too much force or go too quickly as you could pull your cavy’s hair and hurt them.
Breed/Type of Hair
There are currently 13 recognized breeds of guinea pig, all of which have different coat and hair types.
Try to figure out which breed your guinea pig is to help you determine the best grooming method.
The majority of guinea pigs available at pet stores are of the American breed.
This breed has short, smooth hair and doesn’t require a lot of work when it comes to grooming.
Finding Long Haired Breeds
Long haired breeds of guinea pig include the Silkie, Peruvian, and Texel. Silkie guinea pigs, like their name suggests, have luscious, flowing long locks of hair.
They are sometimes available at pet stores, but you might need to get in touch with a guinea pig breeder if your local store doesn’t stock any.
Dealing With Long Haired Breeds
Peruvian guinea pigs have very long hair, so they are unable to groom themselves properly without assistance.
You’ll need to make sure you brush this breed’s hair meticulously each day to prevent it from matting.
Texel guinea pigs have long curly hair all over their body. Their face and head fur is usually a lot shorter than the rest.
Can You Give Guinea Pigs a Haircut?
If your guinea pig has long hair or a persistent tangle that won’t unknot, you can give them a trim to make their coat more manageable.
Breeds like the Silkie or Peruvian guinea pig are very long haired, so cutting their hair short can help you reduce the amount of time you spend grooming them.
When cutting your guinea pig’s hair, use round edged scissors and be extremely careful.
Make sure you don’t cut too close to the skin and use caution when snipping around your piggy’s ears or face.
Use a steady hand and don’t go too quickly in case your piggy flinches or fidgets.
If you’re worried about cutting your piggy’s hair yourself, you could always ask a friend or family member to help you hold your pet.
Alternatively, a groomer that specializes in small animals is another path you could go down.
Check online to see if there are any groomers near you that have experience working with small animals.
Guinea Pig Grease Gland Cleaning
Guinea pigs have grease glands located just underneath where you’d expect their tail to be, which they use to mark territory.
Grease gland checks are a crucial part of grooming your pet, so inspect your cavy’s glands for signs of soreness, irritation, or dryness.
Males tend to have more active grease glands than females, so they may need additional help keeping them clean.
Dirty glands will look like dark earwax on your pet’s rump.
For a long haired guinea pig, you might need to trim the hair around their bottom to get a better look at their grease gland.
If the glands are dirty, you can give your pet’s bottom a quick bath with some warm water and guinea pig shampoo.
More stubborn grease gland grime might need a bit of coconut oil (olive oil can also work) to help remove it.
Regular nail trimming is a vital part of grooming and keeps your guinea pig’s nails in good shape.
You should cut your cavy’s nails at least once a month.
If you notice your guinea pig’s nails start to curl, then this is a sign that they are too long and could do with a nail clipping.
Can Cause Harm
Failing to trim your piggy’s nails frequently will hinder their movement and make it much harder for them to walk.
The longer you go between nail clipping sessions, the harder it will be to cut your pet’s nails.
You can use nail clippers designed specifically for cats or small animals, or you can use human nail clippers.
Avoid using nail clippers for dogs as they are much too large for guinea pigs.
How to Trim Guinea Pig Nails
First thing’s first, grab a towel and your nail clippers.
One of the biggest difficulties of nail clipping is getting your guinea pig to stay still. If you can, get someone to help you hold your pet the first few times you do do a nail trim.
Over time, your cavy will start to get used to nail trimming and wriggle less.
That’s why you should make it a part of your grooming routine on a regular basis – your guinea pig will grow more accustomed to it and is likely to be less stressed when this time comes around.
How to Hold Your Guinea Pig During Nail Trimming
- Sit down on the ground with your guinea pig. Position them so their rump is pressed against your stomach – this will prevent your pet from backing away.
- Keep your guinea pig close to you and hold them upright so they’re on their hind legs. Their back should be against your body.
- Keep your guinea pig’s hind end supported by your lap or your other hand.
- If your guinea pig is struggling, wrap their body and 3 of their legs in a soft towel, but keep one leg free for nail clipping.
- Make sure you don’t wrap up your pet too tightly. If necessary, give your cavy a break so they don’t get too hot.
Visualizing with just words can be hard. Check the video below to see how it’s actually done
Nail Clipping Tips
When it’s time to cut your guinea pig’s nails, be patient and take things slow.
Only cut off a small section of nail at once – don’t be tempted to get the task over with quickly and cut off large segments of nails.
You need to avoid the quick when trimming your pet’s nails.
Cutting into the quick will cause the nail to bleed, and will be painful for your guinea pig.
If your pet has light-colored nails, the quick will be easy to spot – it will look like a pink or reddish root.
Avoid the Quick
Cut in front of the quick, but try not to clip too close to it as this could still hurt your cavy.
Guinea pigs with dark-colored nails make identifying the quick a little harder. With practice, you might be able to estimate where you can safely cut.
The nail tip is normally thin and will look hollow if you view it from the bottom.
If you can’t figure it out where the quick is, it’s typically safe to cut off around ¼ inch of nail from the tip.
If you’re worried about cutting your pet’s nails, then don’t hesitate to contact a groomer, vet, or other professional to get advice.
What Do I Do if My Guinea Pig’s Nails Are Bleeding?
Accidents can happen, so don’t worry if you accidentally cut your guinea pig’s quick.
It will bleed and be a bit painful for your cavy, but it’s not the end of the world.
I’ve accidentally cut my guinea pig’s nail a bit too short in the past, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
There are a few methods you can do to deal with a bleeding nail, including:
- Apply pressure to the nail – If the bleeding is minor, you can add a bit of pressure to the nail to get it to stop.
- Use styptic powder – This can be sprinkled onto a nail to stop it from bleeding. The powder is highly effective for stopping bleeding in minor cuts, but it can sting slightly.
- Use cornstarch or flour – Either of these can be used as a substitute for styptic powder.
- Use soap or beeswax – Pressing your guinea pig’s nail into soap or beeswax can help halt the bleeding.
How to Clean Guinea Pig Ears
Cleaning your pet’s ears is another vital step of grooming. Like our ears, guinea pig ears can become clogged with wax if they aren’t checked over or cleaned often.
I clean my cavy’s ears every couple of weeks to keep them healthy, but I give their ears a quick check over for mites and other issues during routine grooming.
Excessive amounts of earwax in your cavy’s ears are breeding grounds for parasites and bacteria, which could lead to infections.
What You’ll Need
To clean your piggy’s ears, you’ll need a cotton swab and either some mineral oil or a guinea pig ear cleaner.
Lightly moisten the cotton swab tip with your preferred ear cleaner and gently wipe it over the outer surface on each ear.
However, never stick the tip inside your piggy’s ears – Doing so can cause severe damage.
If you think your guinea pig has a lot of earwax buildup, book a vet appointment as soon as possible.
Bath Guinea Pig – How to Bathe Guinea Pigs
If your pet is particularly dirty or smelly, then you may be wondering how to bathe a guinea pig.
- First, you’ll need to figure out what you’re going to use as your pet’s bathtub.
- I personally use a large washing up bowl (one used only for bathing guinea pigs!), but a sink or other large basin will do the trick. Fill the basin or sink with warm water, around ¼ inch deep.
- Slowly lower your cavy’s bottom half in the water, but make sure you don’t cover their head. Gently pour warm water over your pet with your hands or a jug (stay away from their eyes, mouth, and nose).
- Lift your pet out of the basin/sink and place them on a towelled lap or floor. Deposit a small amount of guinea pig shampoo on your hand, then use your fingers to delicately massage it into your cavy’s fur.
- Rinse your pet off in warm water until suds are no longer visible on your piggy’s coat. Wrap your pet in a soft towel without covering their head.
- Gently pat them with the towel until they are completely dry, or at least dry enough so they don’t catch a chill.
- If you have a hair dryer, you can use it to help your pet dry off quicker.
- Use it on the lowest setting, but make sure you move the dryer around a lot so it doesn’t burn your cavy.
- Once your guinea pig is completely dry, you can put them back in their cage.
Grooming your guinea pig can seem like a pretty time-consuming and overwhelming task at first, but with time you’ll be able to make it an enjoyable experience for you and your pet.
It helps you keep your cavy looking and feeling their best, and gives you the opportunity to fit in some quality bonding time with your piggy.
I hope I helped you learn a little more about guinea pig grooming and gave you some useful tips you can implement in your piggy’s next pampering session.
Do you have any grooming tips of your own? Let me know on social media, or send me some pics of your freshly groomed piggy – I can’t wait to hear from you!
And, if you’re looking for more helpful guides on guinea pig care, then take a look at our other resources.