Guinea pigs are lovely little creatures that can be kept either as outdoor or indoor pets. It's worth noting the cavies when kept inside tend to live longer than when they are kept in outdoor cages. Looking after a guinea pig so they stay happy and healthy means spending as much time with your pet as possible and making sure they are fed a good quality, well balanced diet.
It's also really important for cavies to live in a hygienic environment which means regular and frequent cage cleaning is a must. Another very important part of taking care of these little creatures involves grooming and the more often you do it, the stronger the bond you form with your pet.
Shorter hair guinea pigs don't require as much grooming as a longer haired cavy, but it's still nice to give them a brush every other day or so because it means you get to spend quality time with them which they will look forward to and enjoy. The one thing that both short haired and long haired cavies need doing on a regular basis is having their nails clipped. If you don't feel happy doing this yourself, it's best to leave it up to a vet or a veterinary nurse.
Not only will regular brushing help you form a strong bond with your cavy, but it will keep their coats looking good and healthy. The majority of guinea pigs don't mind being brushed and it would be fair to say, they quite enjoy it because it means they get one-to-one attention from their owners.
You will need to invest in some grooming tools making sure you buy good quality ones that will stand the tests of time. Things you'll need to buy include the following:
Grooming your pet also allows you to check for any skin problems and to see if your cavy has got any parasites like lice in the coats. It also means you get rid of all dead and shedding hair.
Long-haired guinea pigs need more brushing than their shorter haired counterparts because their hair gets easily tangled and matted. A quick daily brush will ensure their coats remain tangle-free and flowing. If the hair is too long, you can trim it so that it doesn't drag on the ground which means it gets dirty.
It's important to brush a long-haired guinea pig more frequently when they are shedding to avoid them swallowing any loose hair when they clean themselves. This could cause a few digestive problems caused by hairballs.
When it comes to bathing guinea pigs, this should only be done if really necessary because they find it very stressful. The only time you should bath a cavy is if a vet recommends you do in order to get rid of a bad case of lice. The vet would prescribe a specific shampoo because human shampoo should not be used because it could trigger an allergic reaction.
If you have to bath your cavy, it's important to use a shallowish pan which you need to fill with warm water being careful not to have it too hot. You should only wash their body being careful not to get any water or shampoo in their ears and eyes. You then need to rinse off your pet very thoroughly before towel drying them and keeping them in a nice warm environment until they are completely dry to avoid them getting a chill.
Keeping your guinea pig's nails nicely trimmed is important because if they are left to grow too long, your pet will have trouble moving around and the result could be disastrous. However, cavies are experts when it comes to wriggling around when you are trying to hold them which means you need to take things slowly and carefully.
You should never force your cavy to do anything and this includes having their nails trimmed. If they squirm around too much, it's best to leave the task up to the experts and take your cavy along to the vet to have their nails professionally trimmed.
However, if your pet is nice and quiet there is no reason why you can't trim their nails yourself and the best way to do so is by sitting down with your cavy on your lap so they are safe and comfortable
If you find they move around too much, you can try wrapping them in a towel leaving each paw that needs the nails trimming out as you need to. It's best to take your time when trimming a guinea pigs' nails taking plenty of breaks so that your pet doesn't get stressed out by the experience.
You may find that your cavies nails need clipping at least once a month so it's important to keep an eye on them. The thing to bear in mind, is the longer you let their nails get, the harder they will be to trim because the quick"" which are the blood vessels get longer too. The result is long nails that make it difficult for your cavy to move around on because they've started to curl.
Frequent nail trimming means you avoid this type of problem and it also means you only ever have to trim the very tips of the nails which reduces the chances of going too low and causing a nail to bleed. Darker nails are harder to trim because it's difficult to gauge just how far back you can trim them because you can't see the quick. If you find it very hard, the best option is to take your guinea pig to the vet or a professional groomer to have their nails trimmed.