Guinea Pig Fun
Long-haired guinea pigs can get mats which can be very difficult to remove. Not only that, the mats can pull on the skin and cause pain and set up an environment for skin infections and hair loss. To avoid this problem one needs to groom a long-haired guinea pig on a regular basis. Combing, bathing, and keeping the hair trimmed, particularly around the rear end where it can get urine stained, keeps the guinea pig healthy and pain free. Should you find that your guinea pig has mats, check to see how close to the skin the mat is and whether or not you can gently tease it apart a bit. When using scissors you may need to clip just a few hairs at a time so you do not cut the skin. For a badly matted guinea pig, such as a rescue, you may need to also use a shaver to remove all of the hair. If you are not comfortable removing a mat please see your vet or a groomer who works with small-companion animals.
Some guinea pigs have a buildup of their grease gland which is located directly where a tail/tail bone might be. The buildup can be soft and wax-like or a harder, crusted buildup. I usually take a pair of tweezers and try to carefully remove the buildup. It it does not remove easily then I will apply virgin cold-pressed coconut oil to the area or Swargega, a hand cleaner used by auto mechanics, and massage it and let it sit for a few minutes to break up the grease buildup. I then use a mild pet shampoo and rinse the area. I have also used Dove Dishwashing Soap but have not found it to be very effective. Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil is also an option. While both female and male guinea pigs have a grease gland I have only found that the males tend to have a buildup that needs to be cleaned periodically.
PLEASE NOTE: The guinea pig in this photo also had a fungal infection in his grease-gland area.
Unfortunately long-haired guinea pigs can get mats but with a little maintenance they are fairly easy to keep mat-free. I use a cat Untangler Comb that has rotating teeth. I normally use the detangler comb rather than a brush when grooming them. I have noticed that if I keep the hair trimmed to cage-floor length or above and keep the cage clean and dry, then I don't need to comb them daily.
I bathe them as needed; usually every 4 – 6 weeks. Be very careful when bathing; they can be very slippery and some will try to jump out. I try to bathe them as quickly as possible and don't make a big deal out of it. Please see the link below for my bathing steps. After bathing I dry them using a hair dryer set on warm at low speed keeping my hand between the hair dryer and the hair. After they are dry I trim their hair. When trimming the hair I use hair scissors from the local drug store. I trim the hair either by holding them in one hand and trimming around the bottom or I place them on my lap or a table that has a towel on it and trim them that way making sure that they don't jump or fall off of the table.
Sometimes I will lightly layer the sides all the way around after I have trimmed the hair. Some pigs tend to urinate on their long hair so I cut the hair shorter in the back area so it stays dry and stain-free. I then hold them against my stomach and carefully cut the long hair from the rear legs. I would skip this if you are not used to it or don't have anyone to help you. I do it since I need to make sure that the long hairs don't get caught in the sheath of the male's penis (which has happened on two males). During the summer months I may trim the hair shorter/layer it so they don't over heat. Keep an eye out for small mats around the rear legs and underneath the armpits/legs. Be sure to check males to see if the long hair has gotten wrapped around or stuck inside the sheath of the penis. Be very careful removing them and always place your fingers between the scissor and the skin so they don't get cut. Some Peruvians benefit from having the hair trimmed that falls forward over their eyes so they can see where they are going. I keep track of any baths or medical concerns on a care chart on my computer.
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