Have you noticed a bad smell coming from your lovely furry friend? You might be confused as you know that guinea pigs are self-grooming creatures that really likes to be clean and tidy. So where all this bad smell comes from?
If your guinea pig smells bad you have to check several things. First of all, maybe the smell doesn’t come from the pig itself but from the cage. Cage might emit foul smell if it’s not maintained properly or it’s too small.
Guinea pigs may have a bad smell if they have an improper diet which causes loose stool. Urinary tract and bladder infection may cause a nasty smell of your pet’s urine. If the area around scent glands becomes greasy and sticky, may produce a disgusting smell. Tooth infection in your pet will lead to a bad breath, making you repulsive for your Cavy’s kiss.
Although your Cavy is a self-cleaning pet, you must help him a bit with grooming. Occasional baths and more common butt bath if necessary, as well as regular brushing, will also help reduce bad odor in your guinea pig.
How Do I Stop My Guinea Pig Cage From Smelling?
Sometimes the problem is not in your pet but in his house. If you realized that the cage is a source of foul odor check a few things and try to fix the problem so your Cavy has his clean and fresh home again.
The Location of The Cage/Hutch
Are your guinea pigs indoor or outdoor pets? Some people prefer to keep them outdoor due to various reasons. One of them is a potentially bad smell but also a guinea pig’s super-sensitive hearing. Unless you have a very quiet home or you can isolate guinea pigs in some peaceful corner of your house, maybe it’s better for them to be outside.
Other people consider them companions and like to keep them close. These people prefer to keep them inside. If you are part of this group and keep your guinea pigs indoors, make sure the room their cage is located is well ventilated, it needs to have good airflow.
No matter how you will achieve this, either with an open window or with a house fan or portable fan but you need to keep the air moving through the room, circulating out a bad smell. Standing air becomes stinky very fast.
Extra tip – you can buy an air purifier. Not only this excellent investment will clean the air (removing dust, allergens) but also can act as a room air circulator.
The Cage Cleaning
The cage itself requires regular weekly cleaning. Even though if you scoop out the cage every single day, smells can build up in the cage so you need to scrub it thoroughly once a week.
You can use lukewarm water and mild detergent which is safe for small animals. Vinegar is also a great natural solution for both cage and toys to get rid of the smell and greasy residue if there is any.
After detailed scrubbing and cleaning, rinse well with clear water and dry it before you place fresh bedding, toys, hideouts, and other things from the cage.
While you do this hard work, make sure your guinea pigs enjoy a well-protected out of the cage area. Return them back only when you are sure that everything is completely dry.
Extra Tip – when you finish the cage cleaning and you make sure that it is totally dry, before you put fresh bedding, sprinkle baking soda all over the cage bottom. Baking soda reduces the bad odor.
The Cage Size
The bad odor may occur in case you have a too-small cage. The minimum size which is recommended is 8 sq feet for a pair of guinea pigs ( better 11-12 sq feet).
If your Cavies live in a small space they won’t be able to separate their bathroom area from other activities. Larger space is easier to clean and to prevent build up the waste and the bad smell.
Bottom line- if you have two or more guinea pigs in a small cage, the whole room will start to smell bad very soon. And the bad smell is just one of the problems if you have a small cage.
Even though this is not the topic of this article let me just tell you that small cages may cause your Cavy to be depressed, not to exercise enough which may lead to a great variety of diseases including obesity.
Small space may also lead to a higher air temperature in the cage and since guinea pigs cannot sweat and they can suffer from a heatstroke.
Here is the main source of a foul smell. Many people complain that even if they change the bedding regularly, the bad smell still comes from it.
First of all, check how much bedding you have put. Some people just cover the floor of the cage thinking that this amount is just fine but it’s not. You have to be sure that you have at least 2-3 inches of a nice and thick layer of bedding to ensure the absence of a bad smell.
Another thing is the type of bedding. According to many guinea pig owners, wood shavings bedding proved to be the best option.
Paper bedding is not the best idea. Apart from the fact that is quite expensive, it gets very stinky and dusty pretty fast.
Fleece bedding is not such a bad idea but don’t use the regular blanket. You need to purchase the fleece bedding designed for this purpose as only that one has a highly necessary absorbent layer.
The downside of this option is that your guinea pigs will smell a bit like pee as this is simply the nature of this material. No matter you change it every day, shake it, spot clean it, your Cavy will keep that ”pee smell” around.
Spot cleaning is something that could help you maintain your Cavy’s cage clean. Remove soiled bedding on daily basis.
When it comes to bedding it would be ideal to change every 2-3 days. If not, once a week after detailed cage cleaning, complete bedding change is a must.
Extra Tip- try to litter train your furry friends. It will be easier to keep the cage clean and without bad smells. Although they tend to poop and pee everywhere, it’s not impossible to teach them to use a litter box. Choose a suitable litter box and fill it with hay ( whatever you put, it should be a different material from bedding). Place it close to the hay rack in some quiet corner of the cage. Teach your pets how to jump into the litter box. It is known that guinea pigs eat and poop ( and pee) at the same time so if they have hay at their disposal, most of the waste will be localized in the litter box and therefore easier for you to keep their habitat clean.
Do Male Guinea Pigs Smell Worse Then Females?
Yes, male guinea pigs have a stronger and less pleasant smell than females. This is thank to their scent glands that release a sticky and stinky substance which is used for marking the territory but also attracting females.
Scent ( greasy ) glands are located just above where you would expect to see the tail. Although both genders do have scent glands, they are more active in males that is why it’s known that males are more stinky than females.
The area around glands can become dirty, sticky, and pretty smelly so this is the right time for a good butt bath. If you notice that only this area of your furry friend is dirty, don’t bathe him entirely but just his rear end.
Can Illness Cause Your Guinea Pig To Smell Bad?
Some health conditions may cause a bad smell in your Cavy. As matter of fact bad smell can be a sign that your pet need a vet’s attention.
If you notice that your guinea pig has bad breath, don’t try to cover it by giving him a mint leaf to chew on. That won’t help. If you cover the bad smell it is for a short time and the problem will remain.
Bad breath in guinea pigs means usually that some tooth is infected or that your pet has some other dental issue. In any case, bad breath requires a vet’s care.
Urinary Tract Infection
In case your Cavy has problems with the urinary tract and bladder infection, his urine will become quite smelly.
Infection can be caused by bacteria but can also occur if your pet’s diet is rich in pellets and very poor in hay and fresh vegetables.
Guinea pigs that don’t exercise enough and become obese are prone to urinary tract infections.
Other signs of the urinary tract and bladder infection are similar to those in humans: blood in urine, frequent urinating, increased water consumption, squeaking while urinating ( painful urinating)
Gastro-Intestinal Problems and Poor Diet
If your Cavy overdoes with raw fruit and vegetable consumption, loose stool may occur. Of course, this kind of stool has a foul smell.
Serious intestinal problems in your guinea pig may lead to the black, watery stool which is very smelly. If you notice something like that, rush to the vet.
Guinea pig’s digestive system is rather sensitive and there is plenty of food that he cannot tolerate.
For example, a potato that contains too much starch is no good for your furry friend. Also, food rich in sugars and carbohydrates may harm his digestive system and cause different health issues including gases which are quite smelly as you can imagine.
Food that contains too much water and no fibers such as lettuce is bad for your guinea pig and can easily cause a very bad smell diarrhea. Better to avoid it.
Eating strong smell herbs or commercial treats can make your pet’s pee and poop smells much stronger than normal.
Ringworm is very aggressive and by far the most transmittable form of a fungal skin infection. One of the signs of this infection is the bad yeasty smell of your furry friend. This skin problem requires the vet’s attention.
The main symptom of ringworm infection is bald patches which are first seen on the nose, ears, and around the eyes.
If turns out that you are dealing with this pest, the impeccable hygiene of your pet’s cage and its surroundings are equally important as ringworm treatment for your Cavy. As being a transmittable disease, it’s super important to protect yourself when dealing with the infected guinea pig.
The best way to prevent this illness is to keep your pet’s cage clean and sanitized. Weekly detailed cleaning of cage and all cage materials will help reducing the chance of infection.
Greasy seborrhea, more commonly seen in male guinea pigs. Excessive gland secretion causes a greasy, matted, and very smelly coat. Usually occurs along the backside and butt area. Requires vet’s attention and normally treated with medicated baths.
My Guinea Pig Grooming Basics
If you are interested to find out more about grooming there is whole article dedicated to this topic ”Guinea Pig Grooming Tips”.
However I will say the most important basic things about guinea pig grooming.
If you have a long-haired guinea pig you must be prepared to do grooming more often. Coat brushing should be done on daily basis to prevent matting which could build up and collect bad odors.
Bathing is not something that you will do on regular basis but one in 6 months you should bathe your guinea pig completely. If becomes dirty for any reason, of course, you should wash him. You can use either water and safe shampoo or a simple damp cloth so you can wipe him well.
Due to long hair, this type of guinea pig can have a very messy rear end so he might need a butt bath every now and then.
To prevent your pet’s butt area to become messy, regular coat trimming is necessary.
Ear cleaning is also a very important grooming step in order to avoid the bad smell that comes from bacterial infection.
Grooming in general is crucial as you can notice some early sings of fungal or parasites infection which if left untreated may cause bad smell among other much serious consequences.
Guinea pigs sometimes can be smelly creatures. Although they are self-cleaning animals, they still need your help to keep them neat and tidy.
The key is to keep their cage and all cage material clean, to provide a proper diet which won’t cause any health issues to your furry friend.
Grooming is a time that you dedicate to your pet and therefore perfect moment to take a closer look this his skin, coat, eyes, ears, etc, and notice if there is any change that should be treated.
However, you should expect some normal smell that comes from your pets. After all, guinea pigs are animals and not just that but animals that pee and poop at the same place where they eat and sleep so it would be irrational to expect them to smell like roses. Most owners say that the strongest smell around guinea pigs is hay smell.
Never ever use scented air products such as different fresheners or candles. Guinea pigs have a very sensitive respiratory system so any of these products can harm them seriously.