Grooming is an important part of your guinea pig's overall health. Your pet cavy will do its best to groom and clean itself, but all cavies, even those that groom themselves frequently, still need help keeping their hair in its best condition.
Guinea Pig Grooming Should be an Enjoyable Experience
Guinea pig grooming should be a pleasant and enjoyable experience - for your cavy and for you. Your pet may require a little bit of "training" as it get accustomed to the grooming process, but eventually it will grow to love the special attention it receives during the grooming session. All it takes is a few minutes of gentle instruction in the beginning. Begin by holding your cavy gently in your lap as you speak to it softly and stroke it's back with your hand. After he has relaxed in your lap and feels comfortable, begin to gently brush is hair with a soft baby brush, or a soft boar bristle brush, with the same stroking motion that you used while petting him. at first these sessions should only last for a few minutes. Extend the duration with each session.
While you are brushing your pet cavy you can also check it for any skin ailments, loss of hair, parasites, lumps, bumps, bites, etc.
Check Your Cavy's Toenails Regularly
Again, your cavy will do his best to keep his toenails at the proper length but he needs your help to do this. He or she must have a rough stone or paver in the cage that they can use to scratch at to sand down their nails. It is still a good idea to check your guinea pig's nails on a regular basis to make sure that they are not too long. If they are then they will need to be clipped by you so that they don't snag, rip, or tear. If your pet tears his toenail it can be very painful and become infected.
Trimming your cavy's toenails isn't difficult. As with brushing, you may need to "train" your guinea pig to allow you to trim it's nails without him squirming around. You can get him comfortable with this process by handling your cavy's feet frequently, from the time it is very young, when you are holding and petting him. It will then be accustomed to you touching and holding his feet. It is best to gently wrap your pet in a soft towel or small blanket, with it's feet sticking out, and hold it in your lap. Trim the nails, making sure that you don't cut into the quick, using a pair of baby's nail clippers. The quick is where the blood is supplied to the nail, and if you cut into it it will be painful to the cavy, and it will also cause bleeding. Just be careful and make sure you cut only the tip of the toenail and you should miss the quick.
Uh Oh, Bath Time!
Like little boys, cavies are not very fond of taking baths, But like little boys, sometimes they just plain need one! If they have gotten very dirty, or if they have been sick and may have dried poop on their hair, a bath is the only solution.
You should bathe your guinea pig in a sink or shallow plastic container that you have filled with no more than an inch or two of lukewarm water, between 77 to 80 degrees F. Place your cavy gently in the water, supporting him with your hands the whole time. With a small cup slowly pour water over your cavy, from rump to head. Use a gentle shampoo recommended by your vet, or a baby shampoo like Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Gently scrub and massage your guinea pig until he is clean. Rinse him well, and then wrap him in a dry towel, and rub him gently until he is dry.
Don't put your cavy back inside his cage until he is completely dry. While he is drying be sure to keep him warm and away from any cold drafts where it might become chilled.
Check Their Eyes and Clean Their Ears
During your daily examination of your pet cavy be sure to check it's eyes, making sure that any foreign particles like dirt or dust, pieces of hay or bedding material are not irritating his eyes. Take a soft, clean, damp cloth and gently wipe around the guinea pigs eyes, outward from the inside corner of it's eye, towards it's nose. You can also use the same soft cloth to gently wipe the inside of your cavy's ears, making sure not to stick anything deep inside his ears.
Guinea pig grooming should become a regular routine. It's important and necessary, not just to keep you pet cavy looking his best, but also because being clean = being healthy. And making sure that you keep his cage and bedding material clean will help keep you piggy clean too.
A clean and well groomed guinea pig is a healthy guinea pig, and a healthy guinea pig is a happy guinea pig. Cavies will groom themselves frequently, but they could still use an occasional brushing and nail trimming from their owners. This process of guinea pig grooming should only take 5-10 minutes two or three times a week. It's actually pretty easy and your guinea pig will love it!