Guinea pigs are wonderful pets for the whole family to enjoy and care for, and despite common misconceptions they are actually pretty low maintenance as far as pets go. But like with any pet they do require some day to day care and so it is important to learn the basics of grooming your guinea pig.
Let’s start with taking care of your guinea pig’s nails. You will need to keep an eye on your pet’s nails because if they get too long they will be painful to the guinea pig. Guinea pigs will maintain their nails themselves, to a certain extent, if you put items with rough surfaces inside their cage. They will scratch at these items for the specific purpose of keeping their nails short. The best kind of things to keep in their cages for this purpose is a brick (without holes), and rough rocks and stones. Check their nails frequently and if they need trimming here are some pointers.
Your Guinea Pigs Nails
The proper tool to trim your guinea pigs nails will be small finger nail scissors or clippers. Before you start trimming it is important to be aware that guinea pig’s nails have blood vessels running into them, like other animals, and this is called the “quick”. Do not cut into the quick or it will hurt your guinea pig and their nails will bleed.
If the guinea pigs nails are clear it will be easy to see the quick – it is the pink area that extends from the toe bone into the nail. Clip the nails just above the quick, again, making sure not to cut into the quick. Some guinea pigs have black nails and the quick is impossible to see. In this case it is a good idea to just trim a very little bit of the nail each time, but you will have to trim their nails more often.
If you do end up cutting the quick you will need to stop the bleeding right away and you can do so with a dab of iodine, or a product call ‘Quick Stop’ that is sold in pet stores.
Cutting your guinea pig’s nails with some assistance from another person makes the job a lot easier. If you have a helper then one of you will hold the guinea pig steady while the other one does the trimming. Wrapping the guinea pig in a soft towel with it’s feet stick out is the best method to use. You can try this same technique if you are doing the job alone.
Your Guinea Pig’s Teeth
As a member of the rodent family, your guinea pig has two large teeth in front called incisors. Believe it or not these incisors continue to grow throughout the life of your guinea pig! If the guinea pig doesn’t keep them worn down by constantly gnawing on rough surfaces the teeth will grow so long that the guinea pig can no longer eat, and then you will need to take him to a vet to have the teeth ground down or cut.
Again, your guinea pig can do a pretty good job of keeping their incisors in check if they have hard foods or other hard items to gnaw on. Hard guinea pig food pellets are a good start, but you can also give them pieces of wood, cardboard toilet paper rolls, or hay bricks to gnaw on to keep their teeth short.
Give their teeth an occasional inspection just top make sure there are no chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. Take your guinea pig to your vet if your pet has any broken teeth to have them fixed. They have to have teeth to eat!
Brushing Your Guinea Pig
Your guinea pig will need occasional brushing to keep their coats clean, shiny, and healthy. A daily brushing is best if you have a long-haired guinea pig. If left long without brushing a long-haired guinea pig’s hair will begin to mat, and will be hard to keep clean. A short-haired guinea pig only needs to be brushed a few times a week.
You should use a soft bristled brush, like a baby’s brush, to brush your guinea pigs. If you are gentle then your guinea pigs will actually enjoy this regular routine!
Brushing your guinea pig is usually all that is necessary to keep your pet’s fur clean, so bathing your guinea pig is not necessary unless they have gotten into something that can’t be brushed out. Guinea pigs a are not fond of baths and will offer lots of resistance when you try to pour water on them or dunk them in a sink full of water.
If you must bathe your guinea pig then be sure to use a very gentle shampoo, like a baby shampoo.
Your Guinea Pig Needs You
Caring for you guinea pigs is really pretty easy. Keep in mind that your guinea pig is very, very dependent upon you to help it maintain it’s health. Establishing a schedule or a routine for taking care of your guinea pig will ensure that it gets the proper attention it needs, and will result in a happier and healthier guinea pig that can be your furry little companion for many years!