How Often Should I Bathe A Guinea Pig?

Guinea Pig cute photo
Photo by ilovebutter

In the real world, that is out in the wilderness where the guinea pig roams wild, they will only wash themselves with their tongue. Other than that, they may get caught in the odd rain shower, but that is as close as they come to having a bath. So never mind how often should you bathe a guinea pig, should you do it at all?

Well, the answer is yes, you should bathe your guinea pig. If you don’t, then it is very likely that they will start to smell. This smell you may not notice, as you may be used to it, but other people will smell it straight away. Guinea pigs also have a gland above their bottom, which needs to be kept clean, otherwise it can become blocked.

When bathing a guinea pig, if you have more than one, and you should have, then put them all in together, that way they get less scared. Bath time should be regular, the first weekend of every month for instance. For a new guinea pig, leave it until it has had a few weeks to settle in.

How to bathe them depends on what you have to use. If you have a shower, then the sprayer needs to reach the bottom of the bath, or the floor. Always place towels on any slippery surface before placing guinea pigs on it. If you are going to use a bowl to put the guinea pig in, ensure that it is flat, and only put in about 2cms of water to start with. Water temperature should be just warm. Guinea pigs will enjoy it more if it is a lower temperature than what a human baby would be washed in.

Using a shower to rinse the guinea pig makes the job of soaking and washing a lot easier. The shampoo you use should be one developed specifically for small animals, do not use a human, cat or dog shampoo. Never wash a guinea pig’s head, as you do not want to get soapy water in their mouth, nose, eyes or ears. Rinse them thoroughly.

When it comes to drying, drain as much water off the guinea pig as possible, and then place it in a dry towel. Give them a gentle, but firm, rub all over to dry off what you can. Then use a hair dryer, but only on the fast air setting that produces very low heat, never use the hot air, or you are likely to burn the guinea pig. Also, hold the hair dryer away from the animal. The best way to do this is to have the guinea pig on a towel between your legs. Cover its head with your hand, as this will keep it settled, and use the dryer with your other hand.

Ensure that the animal is thoroughly dry before putting it back in its home. Then give it a nice treat. Once you have washed a guinea pig a few times, it will be easier for you, and the guinea pig will get more settled each time. Some will just hate the water, and squeak loudly, in some cases giving them a treat can help, but keep it dry.

If you ever get a new guinea pig, and it needs to be introduced to another one, then bath time is a great way of doing it, as they will huddle together for comfort, and afterwards they will all smell the same.

Is Newspaper Safe For Guinea Pigs To Eat?

Guinea pigs photo
Photo by roxeteer

Guinea pigs have one habit that can annoy some people, and that is they will chew anything. This includes the area where they live, and if they are allowed to roam freely, furniture, wires, and anything else they can get their jaws around is fair game. Obviously chewing wires is not good for them, nor the electronic item that uses them, but this can easily be stopped by preventing access to wiring.

One thing that they can often get their teeth into easily though is newspaper. Printed paper is a very cheap way to use in guinea pig habitats. It can make cleaning out a cage easier, and it does a very good job of soaking up pee. The only problem with newspaper is that guinea pigs can get a taste for it.

So, is newspaper safe for guinea pigs to eat? Years ago, the answer to this question was no. This was because some of the chemicals used in the ink and paper where toxic. Even so, they would have done little harm to a guinea pig, as they only eat small quantities. I have yet to meet a guinea pig that eats a whole newspaper!

These days things have changed, the majority of newspaper is now made with non-toxic materials, so when eaten, they do not cause any harm. This means that you can use as much of it as is required for lining guinea pig homes with. If your guinea pig starts eating it, then it will only provide it with a supply of fiber, which is good for its digestive system. Some guinea pigs will just enjoy ripping the paper apart, and will then spit it out.

As newspaper is now 100% safe for guinea pigs to eat, it is no surprise that wood pulp has become an excellent bedding material. Wood pulp is the leftover from the newspaper industry. It is very absorbent, soft to lie on, and safe to eat. In the UK, wood pulp can be bought in large bags under the name of Megazorb. It is available in the US under different names.

A lot of people tend to use wood shavings for guinea pig bedding, but please read my article on this subject: Are Guinea Pig Wood Shavings Safe To Use As Bedding? Wood pulp costs about the same as wood shavings, and so it is best to use the former one.

Are Salt Wheels Safe For Guinea Pigs?

One question that I am often asked is are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs to use? When you search the internet, you will find a host of answers, some will say yes, it is safe to give guinea pigs a salt wheel, while others say it is not. Why the mixed responses? Well, a lot of people that answer this type of question are not experts, nor are they using common sense. When it comes to the health of your guinea pig, you need to look at it from a human angle first, and then the guinea pig angle. So what does that mean?

baby guinea pig pet photo
Photo by ilovebutter

When it comes to salt wheels for guinea pig, people buy them because they are in the small animal section of the pet shop, and are usually in pretty packaging. So if a pet shop is selling them, they must be safe then? No. They sell items to make a profit from the customer. Although the staff may care about your pet, the company accounts department couldn’t care less, as the only interest for them is profit.

So, look at the question are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs from this angle. You have a 1 year old guinea pig, and a 1 year old baby. You love them both, so you give them a salt wheel each to eat. Does this sound right to you? Of course not, who in the right mind would give a baby a big chunk of salt to eat? That would just be stupid wouldn’t it? So why would you want to give the same thing to a mammal that is many times smaller than a baby?

We all know the health risks associated with salt these days, it increases blood pressure, and that in turn can lead to stroke and heart disease. Now guinea pigs do not live as long as humans, but constant high blood pressure can still cause health issues. Although data is in short supply, salt wheels are likely to increase the risk of a heart attack in a guinea pig. Another problem caused by salt wheels is that it is impossible for the owner to know how much each guinea pig is consuming on a daily basis. If they are consuming a lot, and the weather is hot, then it will contribute towards dehydration, which can cause organ failure.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer to the question; are salt wheels safe for guinea pigs is no. Do not buy them, they are of no nutritional value. The only salt that they need is included in the fruit, veg and pellets you feed them. If you love your guinea pig, then avoid salt wheels like the plague. Also avoid mineral wheels, although they are a different color, they are mostly made of salt.