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Cavy Grooming

Bathing

avies tend to be very clean creatures, needing little grooming from their owners (with the exception of Peruvians and Silkies, who have extremely long hair). If the cage is kept clean, they will have very little smell, except for males trying to assert their territorial rights. And need little cleaning. Giving a Guinea Pig a bath can be an adventure depending on the animal's temperament and how you approach it. If the pig can get a sure footing and the water is neither too deep or too warm, he may enjoy the experience. Usually they don't like it no matter what you try. Once washed, they need to be thoroughly towel dried and preferably hair drier dried. They do not like being chilled!

A good alternative to bathing is to use a dry powder type shampoo. The cavy will enjoy the brushing that accompanies this (usually) and you don't have all the hassel of trying to wash and dry an animal. Another possibility, especially if the only real problem is a wet, smelly butt, is to get little kitten towelettes and use those to wipe their bottom. They don't enjoy this very much, but it is less trouble than a bath.

Nail Trimming

A cavies toenails, like their teeth continue to grow their entire lives. You can place a somewhat rough stone or brick in the cage to wear down the nails. However, you may still have to trim them occasionally using a set of human nail clippers. For clear nails this is fairly simple. Gain control of a foot, find where the pink quick ends, cut just below that, go to next nail or foot. Dark nails are another matter entirely! Penny Christopher has this suggestion: Do everything as for the clear nail, squeeze the clipper until you have firm contact with the nail, if the Guinea Pig does not flinch - cut, if he does flinch - move the clippers towards the nail tip and squeeze again. Obviously, you could experiment with your clear nail crew first, just to get an idea of how this would work. And, of course, some pigs will flinch no matter what, just the restriction of movement causes them to try to escape. This whole process is best handled with two people, one controlling the cavy, the other controlling the foot.

General Inspections

You should check your animal out on a routine basis. You would be looking for any of the following signs of ill health:

As you become more confident in the care of your animal, you will recognize what problems you can handle yourself and which you need a vet's assistance with. Remember, a cavy will hide the fact that it is sick as long as it can, so an inattentive owner could be very close to losing the animal before they recognize the problem exists!

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Page maintained by Dale L. Sigler. Copyright 1997. Updated: 4/26/00