Guinea pigs are among the most popular small animals to keep as household pets, with many people adopting them because they require less space and time dedication than larger pets like dogs or cats. Recently, the number of shaved guinea pigs has been increasing. Shaved guinea pigs, not to be confused with hairless guinea pigs, are a topic of debate in the small pet community. With shaved guinea pigs becoming more common, there are several things owners should consider before making a drastic change to their guinea pig’s appearance.
Temperature and Comfort
Many owners point out that shaving guinea pigs living in hot areas can protect them from heatstroke or over-heating. Experts warn that while shaved guinea pigs may stay cooler in the heat, they are more likely to get sunburnt or suffer skin irritation in extreme temperatures because their fur is not there to protect them. Owners also point out that guinea pig fur can be trimmed, and not necessarily shaved entirely, to offer relief from hot temperatures.In the winter, shaved guinea pigs may have a harder time staying warm so owners of shaved guinea pigs should take extra steps to make sure their pets are comfortable, perhaps using extra bedding or regulating room temperatures when guinea pigs are inside.
Hygeine and Grooming
Owners in favor of shaved guinea pigs report that shaving the hair near the bottom of a guinea pig can protect it from developing urinary tract infections while shaving foot hair can prevent the animal from getting debris tangled in his fur. These owners report that not having fur on the feet to catch debris and potential bacteria can make the guinea pig a cleaner pet to own overall. Shaved guinea pigs are typically much easier to groom and maintain, with knotted fur being a thing of the past! It should be noted, however, that the fur of a shaved guinea pig will grow back slowly over time so maintenance will be needed.
Guinea Pig Shows and Appearance
Some guinea pig owners that compete in professional shows point out that shaved guinea pigs don’t meet the breed’s standards. They caution that one should carefully consider making changes to their pet’s appearance before reviewing competition and show rules. Shaved guinea pig owners suggest thinking carefully before changing the appearance of their pet in such a dramatic way; people considering shaving their guinea pig should research the final product first. Shaved guinea pigs have been described as looking like baby hippos and, while this may be appealing to some people, many owners may not be happy with this new look for their pet.
Allergies and Guinea Pig Reactions
Many people have reported shaving their guinea pigs in an attempt to alleviate allergy symptoms that they, or a family member, are experiencing. Experts and experienced guinea pig owners caution those considering shaving for this purpose. Guinea pig allergies are caused by the natural oils and particles on the skin of the guinea pig, not just the fur. As with cat allergies, having a hairless pet will not necessarily eliminate allergy issues. Many shaved guinea pig owners also urge people considering shaving their guinea pig to consider what the change will do to the pet. Many guinea pigs experience a period of anxiety or confusion after being shaved as they become accustomed to their new look.
How do pet owners shave their guinea pigs?
If a pet owner has decided to shave a guinea pig, experts suggest making sure that owner and pet safety remain the primary focus during the process. If possible and if the owner is willing, many shaved guinea pig owners suggest having a professional groomer or vet shave the guinea pig. If a guinea pig is going to be shaved at home, experienced owners suggest making sure to hold the guinea pig firmly in a towel and using pivot motor clippers as these are much quieter than other types of clippers and will be less likely to startle the guinea pig. Shaved guinea pig owners suggest that the guinea pig be brushed before being shaved to remove any fur knots and bathed after being shaved to remove excess hair clippings. Experienced guinea pig groomers also suggest not shaving the hair at the back of the ears because this will likely not grow back.
Guinea pig owners point out that shaving a guinea pig for owner preference is different than shaving a guinea pig for medical reasons. There are instances when a vet will suggest shaving a guinea pig, such as in the case of skin infections. Owners are encouraged to always discuss any questions or concerns they have with a vet or animal care professional.