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Grooming Your Guinea Pigs
Grooming Your Guinea Pigs
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Guinea pigs are popular pets, in large part because they are seen as extremely low maintenance. While it is true that they require less care than most other common pets, you will have to pay them at least some attention every single day in order to provide them with the basic necessities. Beyond that, you will have to occasionally take some additional time from your busy schedule to groom your guinea pigs.

Nail Care

Your guinea pig’s nails will keep growing and become painful when they get too long, so they will need to be trimmed. The best way to do this is naturally.

Providing your pig with surfaces they can use to wear down their nails lets them to take care of the problem on their own. This is preferable to your clippers, for both of you. Good items for keeping nail care are: rough rocks and stones or bricks. Bricks are generally the best option and very inexpensive. Just make sure they dont have holes in them or your guinea pig could injure himself.

If your pet cant keep his nail growth in check on its own and they get too long, youll have to clip them yourself. This is best done with two people. One can hold the animal, ideally wrapped in a towel with the feet sticking out, while the other clips the nails. If you are on your own, try using a tennis racket. Put the pig on the racket so his nails are sticking out and cover him in a towel so he feels a bit more secure.

When cutting the nails, the main thing to be aware of is the quick. This is the part of the nail that has blood vessels inside. You want to avoid the quick and cut just below this area. If your guinea pigs has clear nails, youre in luck. The quick is easy to spot. Its the pink area that extends from the bone to the toe. If you have a pig with black nails, though, the quick is nearly impossible to identify.

With black nails, your best bet is to just trim the nails a little and simply do it more often. Its more work, but you dont risk cutting into the blood vessels. If you do want to take more off the nail, theres a good chance youll hit the quick the first few times, but youll get better with time and practice.

If you do end up cutting too short and hitting a vessel, dont panic. Hopefully you were prepared with something to stop the bleeding. Many pet stores sell a product called Quick Stop, which will stop the bleeding altogether. You could also just put iodine on the nail if you dont have any Quick Stop.

Dental Care

Guinea pigs are rodents and like most other rodents, they have two incisors that never stop growing from the day they are born to the day they die. If these teeth grow too long your pig wont be able to eat and youll have to take him to the vet to get his teeth cut.

That problem is easy to avoid, though. You just need to provide your pet with plenty of things to chew on to grind down its teeth and keep them in check.

Hard foods are good for keeping teeth short and many owners like to give their guinea pigs hay cubes or stale bread, for example. In addition to some hard foods, chew toys are also a necessity. You can buy all kinds of chew toys at most pet stores, but you can also just give your pig things you already have laying around the house, like a simple toilet paper roll. Just make sure there is always something in the cage to chew on.

You also need to check your pets teeth regularly, not only to keep an eye on the length, but also to make sure they arent chipped or broken. If you notice a broken—or worse, a missing—tooth, contact your vet.

Hair Care

You want your guinea pigs coats to be clean, shiny and healthy. To achieve this, youll have to brush them regularly. A few times a week is ideal for short-haired guinea pigs, while long-haired species need to be brushed every day.

The best brushes to use have gentle bristles, which dont cause your pig any discomfort. In fact, most quite enjoy being brushed. Try a soft babys brush. For longer fur, a metal greyhound comb works well to remove the excess hair and reduce shedding.

Bathing

This may surprise you, but you want to bathe your guinea pig as seldom as possible, if ever. They do not enjoy it at all and become severely stressed when submerged in water. This stress can, in turn, lower their immune system.

Quite a few guinea pigs live their whole lives without ever being subjected to a bath, but not all pigs will be so lucky. If your pet gets into something filthy or smelly, you will have no choice but to give him a bath. Also, certain conditions will require bathing—if your vet tells you you need to bathe your pig, follow his or her advice.

When giving your guinea pig a bath, make sure to use a shampoo meant for kittens (but not for cats) or a baby shampoo. These shampoos are light on his skin and wont harm your pig. Never use a medicated shampoo unless it was specifically recommended by a vet.

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