Regular brushing will help keep your guinea pigs coat in good condition and most guinea pigs do not mind being brushed. You will want a fairly stiff (small) brush and a small metal comb. The time you spend brushing and combing your guinea pig is also a good opportunity to check for problems such as lice or sores on the skin. The need for brushing depends on how long your guinea pig's hair is, and whether your guinea pig is shedding:
- Long-haired guinea pigs - brush and comb out any mats every day. If you are having a hard time coping with the long coat, the hair can be trimmed (simply trim the longer hair so it is not dragging on the ground - you may want to see a groomer for advice).
- Short-haired guinea pigs - brush every few days (at least once a week). If your guinea pig is shedding (losing more hair than usual), brush at least every other day.
Bathing is quite stressful for guinea pigs, and most guinea pigs rarely need bathing, if ever.
The exception to the rule is if your guinea pig gets lice or some other ectoparasite. In this case your veterinarian may recommend bathing and will recommend the type of shampoo to be used. If you are showing your guinea pig, you will probably want to bathe him or her before a show. Otherwise, unless your guinea pig's fur gets badly soiled (e.g. with urine or feces or some other messy thing your guinea pig has gotten into) baths are probably not even necessary, especially if you regularly brush your guinea pigs.
If you do decide to give your guinea pig a bath, you may be able to find a shampoo designed especially for guinea pigs (cavies). Otherwise, it is best to use a mild shampoo formulated for kittens, and some owners use baby shampoo.
Use a shallow pan of warm (not too hot!) water, and lather your guinea pig's body only. You do not want to get shampoo or water in the eyes or ears. Make sure you rinse very well. Towel dry your guinea pig as best as you can, and then make sure your guinea pig stays in a nice warm place until he or she is completely dry.