Pets are more than companions, aren't they? To most of us, our furry friends are family, and we accept them for what they are. Guinea pigs are no different. They make wonderful indoor pets, but sometimes their presence can be a little smelly.
However, the good news is that proper hygiene and care can cut the bad odor cavies sometimes produce. And, it can also help keep your pet disease-free and healthy.
Before we get down to discussing how you can control the bad odor, you need to know that guinea pigs are clean animals. Much like cats, they groom and clean themselves.
Though, if you own long hair guinea pigs, then you might have to help the little guys (or gals) clean themselves. Their long hair makes it difficult for them to clean themselves thoroughly. That being said, what you need to focus on mainly is keeping your pet's habitat clean and dry, and you'll be rid of the bad smell in no time.
Let's dive in
Reasons Your Guinea Pig Smells
At this point, you're probably saying that if keeping your cavy's cage indoors is not what causes the odor, then what does?
Well, that's what we're here to help out with. As we've said, the odor from your pet's cage can be a result of various reasons. To make your life easier, we'll discuss them one by one.
If you buy a cage that's too small, then it can make your home and your pet smell bad. According to the Humane Society, the cage size for one guinea pig should at least be 30" x 36". For two guinea pigs, a good-sized cage will measure at least 30" x 50".
If your current cage is smaller than the dimensions we've mentioned, then it's time to upgrade. Also, cages designed to provide better ventilation are easily available in the market. That's another thing you should keep in mind when purchasing a cage.
Choosing the Wrong Kind of Bedding
When it comes to choosing the bedding for your guinea pig, there are three things you should keep in mind - good absorption, antibacterial properties, and odor control. Thankfully, many products combine all these qualities.
Poor quality bedding can lead not only to bad odor, but also leaks and ammonia build-up.
Not Enough Spot-Cleaning and Weekly Cleaning
We cannot stress the importance of cleaning when it comes to odor control. Guinea pigs are susceptible to a number of problems, such as bumblefoot, if their habitat is not hygienic.
Not to mention, a guinea pig poops and pees every few hours. That can lead to odor from ammonia build-up within hours. This is why you should spot-clean your pet's cage daily. There is no compromising on this fact.
This one's a bit obvious. All pets require bathing and grooming to be clean and stink-free, including cavies. Not bathing them or cleaning them enough will lead to smelly little piggies in no time.
Male Guinea Pigs
Alas, nature can be a little weird sometimes. If you have a very sensitive sense of smell, then we recommend that you stick with female guinea pigs.
No, we're not trying to be sexist, but the fact of the matter is that male guinea pigs smell more than females. This is because their bodies produce a sticky (and smelly) substance they use to mark their territories.
How to Reduce Guinea Pig Smell?
Now that you're aware of all the factors that can contribute to bad odor when it comes to cavies, here are some detailed instructions you can follow to make your life stink-free.
1. Proper Bathing and Grooming Techniques
Guinea pigs can go as long as 6 months before needing to bathe. But, once your little piggy starts emitting odors, you can't put off bathing them any longer.
You can bathe your pet by filling 2-3 inches of warm water in your sink. If you don't want your cavy slipping in the sink, then remember to line the sink with some type of cloth. Also, only buy shampoo that's been formulated for cavies.
Once you're done bathing, be quick to wrap your pig in a warm towel to ward off chills. Guinea pigs can fall ill easily, and so it's best to bathe them during sunlight hours.
For grooming purposes, you can use a soft-bristled baby brush. You can also trim some of the hair around your cavy's bottom to keep it clean for longer.
2. Cleaning Your Guinea Pig's Cage
We all know spot cleaning involves discarding and replacing soiled bedding on a daily basis. But what about deep cleaning the cage?
Before you can start cleaning the cage, you need to build your pet's some sort of temporary enclosure. Once you've transferred them to their temporary home, you can start cleaning by getting rid of all the bedding in the cage and any liner you've placed underneath. If you're using a fleece liner for your guinea pigs, then it's time to throw it into the wash.
Next, mix a solution of water and vinegar to the ratio of 9 parts water and 1-part vinegar. Use this mixture to wipe the surface and bottom of the cage thoroughly. Next, wash the cage with soap and water to get rid of any leftover waste.
You can also use a store-bought cleaning spray to wash the cage if that's what you prefer. After having gotten rid of all the spots and debris, put the cage out in bright sunlight to dry.
3. Taking Care of Male Guinea Pigs
If you have male guinea pigs, you can take care of the odor by cleaning their grease glands regularly.
Grease glands are located above the anus, and wiping them with Q-tips dipped in virgin coconut oil can help in keeping your pet odor-free. You can repeat this step until you've gotten rid of all the accumulated substance. But, be sure to keep a gentle hand and don't rub too hard.
4. Other Tips You Can Use to Overcome Odor Build-Up
You should try and buy bedding that is designed to combat odor. Also, be sure to add at least 3 to 4 inches of bedding on top of the liner. This will not only make it easier for you to clean the cage, but it will also give your piggies extra room to burrow.
However, don't buy scented bedding for your cavies. These may smell nice to you, but they can lead to skin problems. Some people also try and use baking soda to control odor, but this can cause your pets to develop skin irritations.