Short haired breeds require less grooming than long haired breeds. However, it is beneficial to brush through their fur every week to remove lose hairs that they may ingest while grooming themselves. Guinea pigs generally do not suffer from hair balls, which is a relief. I think ingested hair will come out compacted in their poopies. Some guinea pigs adore grooming, it is like a massage for them. Other guinea pigs hate it. I hope you don't have a squirmy pig but if you do, do not be forceful as it will only upset it more.
Brushing your piggy:
Long hair piggy: If you have a long haired piggy, it is good to brush his hair with a soft brush everyday. This removes lose hair and also keeps the coat silky smooth.
Short hair piggy: Short hair breeds do not need much grooming, but it is nice to give them an overall brush once a week to comb out any clumps/tangles.
Remove lose hair: If there is a lot of lose hair, it is good to use a slicker brush (see below) because they are designed to pull out lose hair. However, most pigs find slicker brushes annoying so please brush gentle to avoid any "yanking pain". It is important to remove lose hair because when your piggy is licking himself, he may ingest some of the hair, forming hairballs which is not good for their bodies. But I also know that hairballs is seldom a problem with pigs, most of the ingested hair just gets passed out in their poopies.
Slicker Brush and soft brush: use a slicker brush first to pull out loose hairs, and then a soft brush to finish off the brushing. When purchasing slicker brush, please purchase the ones specifically designed for small animals, you will see that the ends of each "teeth" has a kind of rubber ball, whereas brushes for dogs will not have the little rubber ball. Guinea pigs have much more tender/sensitive skin so doggy slicker brush is not appropriate for them!!
Clumps and tangles: if you come across matted/clumped up hair, do not attempt to brush it out as it will be painful for your pig. The best way is to just cut of that area of hair. Please be VERY CAREFUL when cutting hair close to the skin, as you pull on the hair, you also pull on their skin, and without knowing it you could nip them---very painful, your piggies will not trust you anymore.
A pleasant experience: Grooming your piggies should be a relaxing time for the both of you. Make sure that you brush in the direction of the hair growth.
You should use the slicker brush to brush out lose hair first (third from left), then the soft brush (first from left) as a massage-brush. You can use a comb occasionally if you like as well, make sure the teeth of the comb is not too dense.
This is a handy way I store my grooming tools: just clip a toilet paper roll to the edge of your cage/grids, the nail clippers and brushes do not fall through and everything is kept in place
Cutting piggy nails:
When you are cutting your piggy's nails, it is better if there are two people, so one person can hold the piggy still while the other cuts. I always hold the piggy facing away from me.
Make sure it is firmly supported and not struggling so you don't cut the quick!
If you cut too further into your piggy's nails, you will cut the quick, where the blood vessel is, and you'll see blood!! If this happens, apply some ice or corn starch to it to stop the bleeding (it should stop pretty fast) and give your piggy a comfort snack. To avoid accidents, only cut 1mm every 2 weeks or so. Unless your pigs' nails are long and really starting to scratch, there is no need to cut them too often.
Additionally, provide some hard surfaces in your cage for your piggies to run over, to wear down their nails naturally. Fiddlesticks and rocks/bricks work very well.
I place two pieces of rock at the foot of the drinking bottles, so every time my piggies drink they need to step onto the rocks like a little platform.
"Do I look at you when you're drinking water?"
Baths for your pigs:
In the wild, guinea pigs get the occasional shower from the rain, washing away dirt in their hair.
You should bathe your pigs every 2-3 months. You will need:
- several towels
- small animal friendly shampoo (shampoos formulated for human babies are safe, too)
- warm water
- bucket or pan
- hair dryer
1) Fill a bucket with warm shallow water, make sure that when your piggy is inside the bucket he can stand with his face and nose out of the water!!
2) Place your pig inside the bucket slowly. He might be a little freaked out because he's not used to being submerged, so keep a firm hand on his body to make it feel secure.
3) Soak the hair in water thoroughly
4) Place a thick towel on your lap and put your wet piggy on it, then apply a dollop of shampoo, massaging it into the hair. Do not get shampoo near the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. Make sure you cover their little butts with soap (dirty areas) and rub the foot pads as sometimes they are caked with dried poopies.
5) Refill the bucket with clean warm water and put your piggy back in. Rake and rub the hair in the water to rinse the shampoo away. You will need to change the water 3, 4 times to ensure your piggy is absolutely soap-free
6) Squeeze the water out of their fur if you have a long hair pig, be gentle don't tug hard on their skin!
7) Towel dry as well as possible
8) Set a hairdryer on LOW and spend 10-15 minutes thoroughly blow drying their hair. Do not try to speed up the drying by putting hairdryer on Medium or High, piggy skin is very sensitive and can be burnt!
- If you are using a hairdryer, set it ONLY to LOW, no higher than that!
- Catching a cold is dangerous for a pig. Make sure the pig is kept WARM after the bath. Make sure there is no draft or cold wind blowing
- When you place them back in their cage, give them a warm water bottle and plenty of towels to snuggle up to for warmth
Puffy and his wife taking a nice couple bath
This is Shirley and Snoopy, litter sisters.
Here is Buggy and PJ
Here is Puffy about to be dunked! Just kidding
Look at that soaked up Piggy...
Towel dry your pigs first to get most of the moisture out of their hair. Do not tug or squeeze too hard on their hair, as their skin is very sensitive and it'll hurt!
The pigs will inevitably help you dry themselves up by shaking all that water out!!
Blow dry on LOW HEAT ALWAYS
This is Puffy after his shower, wrapped in a towel
I gave him a shoebox with some fleece towels, and a warm water bottle to keep warm:
My brother is blow drying Puffy after his shower. While my other pigs need to be cradled/held stationary as your blow dry them, Puffy willingly stretched himself out, feet in the air, face turned sensibly away from the hot wind, enjoying a warm breeze throughout his fur
Trimming your piggy's butt fur in hot weather:
In the summer, it may became very hot and your piggy's butt fur may become soiled with urine. This is unhygienic. Trim the hair around the butt very careful. The skin around the genital area is very lose, so take EXTREME caution when cutting there, making sure you only cut the hair, not the skin!!
Your pig will most likely wriggle a lot, so wrap him in a towel (see towel wrapping below). This is Jiffy getting his butt hair trimmed. Look at those little feet sticking up!!
The art of towel wrapping...
Towel wrapping is a very useful technique that all piggy owners should know. If you need to trim nails, clean wounds or feed medications, it is very frustrating to have a squirmy pig! Simply wrap a towel firmly around their bodies leaving an opening for the head (like newborn babies), this way, you can clean their ears or trim their nails with minimum movement from them, preventing unwanted injuries.