When grooming is concerned I take it very seriously. This is because I believe that to take on the responsibility of a pet
you should also take on the role of a caring owner who is practically a parent. Even though they are not human they still
require food; water, a home, love, affection, attention and health care just like a child. Therefore you should be willing
to take on any responsibilities that come with a guinea pig.
There are two types of guinea pig;
long hair and short hair. The short hair breeds require the same love and attention but dont need as much grooming. They still
need bathing and some grooming but not as much as a longhaired breed. The different breeds are specified on the Whats My Piggy
When long haired breeds are concerned they require at least 30 minutes of grooming, about three times a week. This
is because the hair becomes very tangled and dirty during their everyday activities and needs to be brushed to keep the pig
There are several types of brush that
are available in the shops today and they are all reasonably priced. I personally recommend a metal comb and a brush. You
would need a strong, metal comb to get the knots and tangles out as this can be a very difficult job. The problem with these
tangles is that they can be very difficult to remove and painful for the guinea pig. So when grooming, care should be taken
in order to make it as painless as possible. Another advantage of regular grooming is that you are given the opportunity to
carry out regular health checks.
Firstly place the guinea pig on a safe,
cushioned and dry table or desk. I made a grooming table for my pigs out of a trolley and a piece of blue carpet. This method
is extremely useful as the pig is able to grip to the table and is can be cleaned easily with carpet shampoo and a vacuum
Next make sure that they cannot jump off the table by either installing some barriers or padding its surroundings
with blankets and towels.
The best place to start is at the back
just above its hind legs. This is because this area tends to become very tangled and dirty especially when they have been
lay down in their own dirt. The urine soaks into the fur and stains it so if you decide to also give the guinea pig a bath
then this needs to be combed in order to make bathing more comfortable for the pig. I usually lift up the long fur and pin
it back with a hair grip making sure it is not hurting the animal. This is so that I can reach the shorter, more tangled and
dirty fur underneath. When combing make sure that you are being gentle but firm. You may find that your pig squeals at every
touch, and this may be either because you are hurting it by combing to hard or you have a very timid guinea pig. Either way
just make sure that you are being careful and considerate towards the pigs feelings. You may also find some knots on the undercoat,
which cannot be removed by combing, it really should be cut out with a pair of scissors. If this is done make sure that you
are careful not to cut the pigs skin and dont cut is so that all the other pigs will laugh at it.
Work your way around its undercoat
and then start on the long fur on the top. This will be a lot easier to comb, as it doesnt tend to become very tangled. The
brush is used to soften the fur once it has been combed and I find that it soothes the pig and calms it down after this somewhat
stressful ordeal. Once all the tangles and knots have been removed you should carry out a health check. Look on the Information
page for what to look for when carrying out a health check.
Now if you want you can give your pig a bath, this can be a very dangerous and life threatening task during the cold months.
This is because if the pig is not dried properly it can die from the reduction in bodily temperature.
Make sure that before you start bathing that you have some towels, special guinea pig shampoo, a hair dryer, a comb, a cup
or jug and a bowl or sink of luke warm water which isnt too deep.
Firstly check the water to see if is the correct temperature
as although it may be hot enough for you just remember that it may be too hot for the pig.
Place the pig gently into the
water and make sure that his head is out of the water.
Start by pouring water all over
the pigs back and stomach and never on the head. Use the cup or jug for this rather than dunking the pigs body under the water.
Next lather up the special guinea pig shampoo in your hands and start on the pigs stomach, rubbing all over and trying to
avoid a lot of contact with the genitals and anus. This is because it can be dangerous to get shampoo in those places and
painful for the pig. Then move round to the back and rub in the shampoo until all the fur in these areas is covered with soap.
If you are bathing the pig to rid him of any parasites by using an anti-parasitic shampoo then it will need to be left on
for about 5 minutes so that it can work. Otherwise wash off the shampoo straight away, making sure that every little bit is
washed away. If it isnt it can cause severe irritation towards the pigs skin and when he grooms he may ingest some into his
digestive system. This could cause problems such diarrhoea; poisoning and other stomach upsets.
The main rule is to never
let your pig sit in the cold once you have bathed him, as this could cause the pigs temperature to reduce and if this is left
the pig could die. So make sure that once you have finished, wrap the pig up in a towel and keep it somewhere warm.
I recently purchased a Cavy Cozy
from an American guinea pig website, of which you can find on the Links Page. I use this to put my sick or under the weather
guinea pigs in and when they have just come out of the bath. It is available in many colours and patterns and is lined with
a fleecy material to add warmth.
Lastly when drying your guinea pig
make sure that you are thorough and quick. The use of a hair dryer on a low heat and a fine comb to get out the tangles may
increase speed. Remember that when the fur is wet it may be very tough to comb, but with a little perseverance it will soon
become soft and silky. Also dont be put off by the wet dog smell omitting from the fur, this is natural and will go when the
fur is fully dry. Once the pig is completely dry place him into an area where you are able to keep a close eye on for at least
three hours to make sure he is O.K.
The next stage to grooming is nail/claw trimming of, which can either be very easy or very difficult. This is because some
guinea pigs have white and transparent claws and others have black ones. The transparent ones are an advantage as you are
able to see the blood vessels in the claws known as the Quick. This makes it easier to determine where to clip the claw to
and it stops you from cutting it too far. If this happens it can be extremely painful, which is like an ingrowing toenail
on a human. If you do catch the quick it will bleed for a while and I recommend dabbing a bit of cornflour on the end. This
should stop the bleeding and reduce the amount of pain. With black nails you just have to be careful and guess where to cut.
I recommend that when you squeeze on the clippers, do it lightly at first and if the pig squeals you have gone too far up,
if the pig doesnt then carry on and cut. This needs to be done as regular as possible otherwise problems such as claws growing
under into the foot, fungal infections, lameness and Bumblefoot. All severe problems which can cause a great deal of pain
and would need to be sorted out indefinitely.