Longhaired guinea pig breeds, such as Peruvians and silkies, are absolutely stunning. However, the long hair that these breeds sport also presents a risk to the animal if it is not cared for properly. If the hair becomes wet and stays wet and dirty for an extended period of time, it can give the animal chills, leading to respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Wet and dirty hair can also lead to fungal infections of the skin. If you have a longhaired guinea pig, follow these tips to keep its coat clean and dry.
Clean the cage more often.
Your guinea pig's coat will become wet if it is allowed to sit in its own urine. To ensure this does not happen, clean the cage every 3 to 4 days. Use plenty of absorbent bedding, such as wood shavings or newspaper, so your guinea pig's coat does not get as wet. Try to pay attention to where in the cage your pet urinates, so you can put some extra bedding in these areas.
Use a water bottle rather than a bowl.
Your guinea pig may unintentionally get its coat wet in a water bowl. Thus, a water bottle is a far better choice for a longhaired breed. Make sure your water bottle does not leak, or it could get your pet wet. Usually, filling the water bottle all of the way to the top whenever you do fill it will reduce leaking. Place the water bottle far from where your pet seems to sleep and rest, so the guinea pig is not tempted to lounge beneath its spout and get dripped on.
Brush the coat often.
If your guinea pig's coat is dirty and has a lot of shavings and feces on it, this debris may hold onto moisture and also cause the coat to drag across the bottom of the cage, picking up more moisture. Brushing your guinea pig's coat every day will help prevent this issue. Look for a brush made especially for guinea pigs, and ensure you brush every surface, including your pet's underside.
If you're not showing your guinea pig, give the underside a trim.
If you're showing your guinea pig, you'll want to leave its coat intact. However, if your guinea pig is just a pet, consider cutting some of the lower hairs from its belly. These are the hairs that most often become wet and dirty, and keeping them trimmed short will minimize this problem. You can leave the hair on the back longer, so your guinea pig maintains its good looks. Use sharp scissors to cut the hair, but choose ones with rounded edges so you don't accidentally poke your pet. Have a friend help you hold the guinea pig while you cut the hair.
If your longhaired guinea pig does become wet and stays wet for a while, keep a close eye out for any negative symptoms that develop. Contact a vet like the Canal Road Animal Hospital if your guinea pig begins sneezing, looks lethargic, or is wheezing.