Guest Post: Your Guinea Pig’s Grooming Needs

Have you taken your guinea pig to the barber or the beauty shop lately? The gossip that your guinea pig could engage in could be quite juicy, but would he or she get the proper grooming needs essential for their health? Instead of focusing on fancy hair and who’s having a litter of little piggies, let’s talk about important grooming needs.

Bumblebee, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee, Photo by Allison

To brush or not to brush your guinea pig, that IS the question. Daily brushing is advised for optimal guinea pig performance. Brushing helps reduce shedding and promotes cleanliness for your guinea pig and the cage. Longer-haired guinea pigs require daily brushing to keep their fur from becoming matted and nasty. For safe brushing, use a baby brush, the soft bristles are guinea pig friendly.

A guinea pig’s nails if left untrimmed will cause significant mobility problems. If a guinea pig’s nails are not trimmed, they will grow long enough to curl under their feet, producing pain in every step. We took our guinea pigs to the vet for nail trims, because we were afraid we would end up cutting the quick. The quick grows as the nail grows, therefore the longer the nails the easier it is cut the quick. A bigger challenge is having a guinea pig with dark nails, it’s much harder to see the quick. If the quick is cut, gently place your guinea pig’s nail directly into a bar of soap. If a guinea pig’s nails are trimmed once a month, the quick will not be as much of an issue. Please remember to keep your guinea pig’s nails trimmed and be careful if trimming them yourself.

Your guinea pig can develop skin problems such as mites and fungus, which if left untreated the guinea pig can become very ill. Keeping the cage clean will help prevent mites and fungus from appearing. Signs of mites on a guinea pig include scratching, biting, hair loss and even seizures. If you notice your guinea pig displaying these behaviors, get him to a proper vet immediately! Fungus in a guinea pig can be caused by factors such as environment, age, or even genetics. To prevent fungus from attacking your guinea pig, keep your guinea pig and its cage clean. If your guinea pig has any external parasites, have them removed and begin treatment right away.

Fruity, Photo by Allison
Fruity, Photo by Allison

Unlike a human, guinea pigs have teeth that keep growing. If not given proper ways to grind down their teeth a guinea pig will suffer terribly. A guinea pig with overgrown teeth cannot eat, therefore it will starve to death. Malocclusion in generic terms means the teeth are overgrown and are not worn down properly. In most cases, the front and back teeth are overgrown, some guinea pigs are predispositioned to malocclusion which needs to be treated soon as it’s noticed. Please provide plenty of materials such as wooden chew sticks from the pet store, toilet and paper towel tubes (please remove the paper), cardboard boxes and egg cartons.

For more information, check out GuineaLynx. It contains articles on fungus, mites, grooming, malocclusion, and nails. Petcha also has a good article on Common Guinea Pig Health Issues.

eclipseWritten by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

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