With cavies like Booboo and Mieps taking over ‘pigstagram’, we thought it would be a good idea to give you the low-down on how best to groom your guinea pig. And even if it’s not fame you’re after, regular grooming is an essential part of being a responsible piggy owner. From brushing its hair to trimming nails and cleaning ears, guinea pigs need regular grooming from top to toe weekly, or daily depending on the breed.
Grooming Kit Essentials
To make the grooming process more manageable, you need the right tools. Below is a list of the must-have items you will need for your piggy’s pampering sessions.
If you have a long-haired guinea pig, you will definitely need a Double-Sided Comb to keep its coat tangle-free. Most have two sides; one with wide-spaced teeth and the other with narrow teeth. We like using the side with the wider teeth, but it is up to you and your guinea pig. Just remember to be gentle when combing.
A good quality slicker brush is an essential item for grooming a long-haired guinea pig. They are especially good at removing dead, loose hair and small knots.
Soft bristle brush
The best brush for short-haired guinea pigs is a Soft Bristle Brush. These will not only remove dead and loose hair but will also promote a glossy coat. They are also handy for brushing closer to your long-haired cavy’s face.
Nail clipping is an essential part of your guinea pig’s grooming routine, but it can be a daunting task. Having a good Professional Cat Nail Clippers will make the job much easier, and less stressful for you and your piggy.
Round-tipped scissors are necessary to safely trim your guinea pig’s hair. We recommend these instead of regular scissors with sharp ends to avoid accidentally nicking or cutting your cavy.
You are going to need 100% organic coconut oil to help clean your guinea pig’s grease glands. And if you have a hairless breed, like a Baldwin or skinny pig, it is essential to keep its skin moisturized.
Another option is to pop on over to our website and get yourself the Sharples & Grant Groom ‘n’ Kit for Rabbits and Small. It has everything you need to groom your guinea pig, including a little chew toy.
Grooming Your Guinea Pig – What You Need to Know
Before you get started, you need to make sure your guinea pig is comfortable and relaxed. A good idea is to give your piggy a tasty treat to keep it distracted. And remember to be as gentle as possible throughout the entire routine. The more you groom your pet, the less stressful it will be. And best of all, it is an excellent opportunity to bond with your pocket pal.
Brushing your guinea pig
How often you brush your guinea pig will depend on the breed. A long haired cavy will need grooming daily or at least a few times a week. While a short haired breed will only need to be brushed once or twice a week.
On the whole, cavies are pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so you mustn’t overdo the grooming. Brushing your guinea pig’s hair too much can cause the coat to lose its density.
Bathing your guinea pig
Like we mentioned before, guinea pigs like keeping themselves clean. You should only bath your cavy if it is absolutely necessary. Short-haired guinea pigs, unless very dirty, will only need a wipe-down with lukewarm water.
Take a look at our step-by-step guide on how best to give your piggy a bath.
1. Get ready
Make sure you have a mild shampoo specially formulated for small animals, as well as three to four towels handy. Place one of the towels in the tub or sink for your guinea pig to stand on. Fill it up with approximately 2 inches of warm water. Check that the temperature isn’t too hot and that the room is draft-free.
2. Bathing your guinea pig
Slowly lower your cavy into the tub, back feet first, and let it rest on the towel. Use a small plastic cup or jug to pour water over its shoulders and back. Do this gently, so you don’t get water all over your guinea pig’s head. Apply a small amount of the shampoo, adding water to work up a lather. When done, make sure you rinse all the soap out.
3. Towel dry your guinea pig
Dry your guinea pig with the leftover towels. If your guinea pig doesn’t mind the noise, you could also use a hairdryer. However, ensure it is on a low heat and that you aren’t holding the dryer too close to your cavy’s coat.
Cleaning your guinea pig’s ears
Don’t forget your piggy’s ears. You will need to check these once a week of ear mites, infections or a buildup of wax. If the ears look irritated, have an odour, or you notice a brownish coloured crust, this could be signs of a bacterial infection or mites, and you will need to see your vet immediately.
However, if your guinea pig’s ears look fine, then you will only need to give them a gentle clean once a month. Simply use cotton wool with a little bit of oil and gently wipe around the ear and behind it. Never push the cotton wool ball into the ear, as this can cause serious damage.
Cleaning your guinea pig’s grease gland
Although all guinea pigs have a grease gland, some are more active than others. And in most cases, boars produce more oil than sows. The gland can be found at the base of the spine, just under the skin. Cavies with active glands usually have a greasy buildup around that area, and if not cleaned regularly, it can become infected. As daunting as this sounds, it really isn’t all that bad. Just follow the directions below.
- Trim the hair around the gland with pet-friendly scissors
- Use coconut oil to loosen the buildup
- Wash it off with a warm cloth
In cases where there is still a bit of a greasy buildup, you might need to apply a very mild degreasing detergent on the gland. Let it soak for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly. You might need to do this two or three times to get rid of the grease.
Once you are done, make sure your guinea pig is completely dry before putting it back in the hutch.
Trimming your guinea pig’s nails
Your guinea pig’s nails grow relatively quickly, which is why you will need to trim them every four to eight weeks, depending on how fast they grow. Guinea pigs’ feet are very sensitive and overgrown nails can curl up into the footpad, causing severe pain and infection. You could also give your piggy a pedi, and file down any rough edges. This will stop its nails getting caught in the bedding, and lessen the chances of you being scratched or clawed.
Clipping a guinea pig’s nails is considered one of the most intimidating parts of the grooming process, but it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Have a quick look at this clip to see exactly how to do it.
At first, grooming might take a little bit longer. But once you get more confident, and your guinea pig gets more comfortable, you’ll be able to get it done quickly and easily. Of course, the key is not to rush it and enjoy the special time with your piggy.
Have you got pics of your recently groomed piggy? Why not share them with our readers and us? Who knows ‘pigstagram’ fame could be just around the corner.