Guinea Pig Grooming 101
There are a variety of guinea pig breeds which have various coat lengths and textures, some are even hairless, but one thing they all have in common is their need to be groomed regularly.
Not only does grooming your guinea pig help provide for its overall health and wellness, but it also provides pet parents an ideal opportunity to bond with their popcorning companion.
Despite being a “pig”, guinea pigs actually keep themselves fairly clean and rarely need baths. If you find your little piggy needing to be spot cleaned, you can use a warm, damp washcloth or unscented baby wipes. Additionally, keeping their large habitat clean will help prevent urine from being absorbed by their fur.
While shorthaired guinea pigs may only need to be brushed once a week, longhaired guinea pigs benefit from daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Small animal grooming kits provide nail clippers as well as bristle and slicker brushes which can be used based on the condition of your guinea pig’s fur. Always brush in the direction of hair growth and use caution with slicker brushes to not scratch your guinea pig’s skin. For guinea pigs, such as Peruvians or Silkies, which have extremely long hair, a fine-tooth comb can help remove tangles.
Although hairless guinea pigs do not require brushing, it is important to pay attention to their skin and take steps to keep it healthy. While they produce their own natural skin oil, occasionally you may notice dry looking skin. Rubbing a small amount of non-toxic, aloe-based lotion on their skin can help alleviate dryness. As hairless guinea pigs can easily catch a cold, bathing them should be avoided.
All guinea pigs, regardless of their coat type, need to have their nails clipped at least monthly, depending on how quickly they grow. Like dogs and other animals, guinea pigs have a quick, a blood vessel within the nail, that grows as the nail grows which is painful and will bleed if cut. In clear nails, the quick is easily visible and will appear pink. In dark nails, you should only cut the tip of the nail to avoid cutting the quick. You should always have styptic powder on hand in case you accidentally hit the quick.
It is recommended that you have someone experienced in clipping guinea pig nails show you how to do it. Always have someone help hold your guinea pig to help limit stress during the nail clipping process.
While your guinea pig is being held to prevent squirming, gently grasp one of its feet and clip each nail, avoiding the quick before moving onto the next foot.
If you accidentally hit the quick, remain calm and apply styptic powder with moderate pressure to the end of the nail. If you do not have styptic powder on hand, you can also use flour or cornstarch. Always make sure the nail stops bleeding before placing your guinea pig back into its habitat.
Regularly clipping your guinea pig’s nails will prevent their nails from curling, which can cause pain and negatively affect your guinea pig’s gait (their ability to move around). It will also keep their quick at an acceptable length and promote good foot health.
Keep your guinea pig looking and feeling good with regular grooming!