Do Guinea Pigs Stink (Smell Bad)?

If you are thinking about bringing cute and furry guinea pigs into your house for the first time, it is normal to have multiple questions about guinea pig habits, health, and care.

A common question that most people wonder about is whether guinea pigs smell or not.

Should you expect your house to reek of an unpleasant stench once your guinea pigs are home and settled in?

Let’s find out!

Do Guinea Pigs Smell?    

Guinea pigs like to keep it clean. Sure, there’s the word “pig” in their name but these furry animals don’t like to eat and sleep in their own filth.

So, an unpleasant odor should not be a problem if you keep your guinea pigs and their environment clean and hygienic.

As long as your guinea pigs are clean and healthy, you won’t have anything to worry about.

However, if you delay cleaning the cage, have boars, or a sick guinea pig in the playpen, you can expect your house to smell – sometimes, really bad.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Smell?    

If your guinea pigs give off a bad odor, something’s not right.

Let’s take a look at why guinea pigs smell and what you can do about it.

Urine Odor 

This is one of the most common problems that you can face when it comes to caring for guinea pigs. The playpen can give off a urine-like odor that smells like ammonia.

This usually happens when the urine dries out, sticking onto the fur of the guinea pig.

This problem is more evident in guinea pigs with long hair as their coat is more likely to get soaked.  

If you are experiencing this problem, your guinea pigs need your help to stay clean. To get rid of the smell, you will have to check the guinea pig’s bum daily.

Wash its bum with warm soapy water if you find urine buildup. If you have long-haired guinea pigs, trimming their hair can also help eliminate the odor.

It is also a good idea to brush the fur of your pet regularly to avoid matting and make sure you get rid of dead hair.

Most guinea pig owners stick to regular cage cleaning.

However, if the urine smell is a persistent problem, you may have to consider daily spot-cleaning.

This is because guinea pigs often use one spot in the cage as the bathroom.

If your pets are clean but you can still smell ammonia, find this spot in the cage and replace any solid bedding.

You may have to do this on a daily basis to get rid of the ammonia smell for good.

You can also use a mild, water-vinegar solution to wipe the area to deodorize the cage or the playpen.  

Scent Marking

Guinea pigs are friendly and generally get along with their fellows.

However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t mark their territory, leaving behind an odd, lingering smell.

This problem is more evident in male guinea pigs. They have grease or scent glands located under their tails, which secretes oils.

As a result, the surrounding area can become greasy and sticky, and smell bad.

To mark their territory and show dominance in the cage, your male guinea pigs will drag their bums across the cage to leave off their scent.

Since this is an intrinsic behavior, you can’t stop your guinea pigs from scent marking. What you can do is check and clean their bums regularly.

Use warm soapy water to wash their bums regularly to avoid oily, smelly buildup.

Keep in mind that cleaning the bums of your guinea pigs will not only eliminate the unpleasant odor from your house, but is also important for their health.

Even if the oily buildup from the scent glands doesn’t smell bad, it can still lead to infections.    

While female guinea pigs are less likely to go around the cage marking their scent as a display of dominance, they sometimes do it as a way of letting the males know when it’s time to back off.

They may also urinate in certain areas or along a path to get the males off their backs. Regularly cleaning the cage can help you tackle this problem.

If cleaning doesn’t help and boars keep marking the territory, leave a pad or a piece of cloth with a little gland oil on it in the cage.

Start by cleaning the cage, and once you are done, place a pad with their scent in the cage before letting them back in.

This will keep them from marking their scent all over the cage all over again.

Fishy Smell

A fishy smell is also a relatively common problem, especially when there are male guinea pigs in the playpen.

There are three main reasons behind a fishy smell in the playpen.

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI): Guinea pigs can develop a UTI for many reasons. Observe carefully to see if your pet is struggling to urinate. If you find that your guinea pig’s pee smells like fish and it is having trouble peeing, it is advisable to contact a vet to start appropriate treatment immediately.
  • Sperm rod: Guinea pig sperm can give off a fishy smell. Check your male guinea pigs closely to see if this is the problem. If you find coagulated sperm, wash it away with warm, mild soapy water. This should make the smell go away.
  • Anal impaction: This quiet common among older boars. Check the bums of the male guinea pigs in the playpen. If you find signs of anal impaction, use a cotton bud and coconut oil to clear it. It is advisable to clean the anal sack regularly to avoid this problem in the first place. 

Poop Smell

Soft, stinky guinea pig poop can make the playpen – and your house – smell like poop.

It should not be a problem as long as your guinea pigs are healthy. However, gassy, upset tummies can lead to stinky poop.

You can take care of this problem by making dietary changes.

Stinky poop is usually a sign that your guinea pig is gnawing on way too many vegetables.

Cut back on the veggies and the smell should go away on its own in some time. If your house still smells like poop, check under the nails of your guinea pig.

It probably stepped in the soft poop, trapping it under their nails. Gently wash it away and the smell should go away.

Inability to Groom Itself

Even though guinea pigs are active groomers and keep themselves quite clean, they might need your help in certain instances, such as when your cavy isn’t feeling too well.

Moreover, grooming isn’t free of challenges for long-haired guinea pigs. It’s why they need regular brushing to feel clean and not fall sick.

Likewise, elderly cavies need help with grooming as well. Otherwise, the lack of regular grooming will result in them stinking.

Tips to Avoid Guinea Pig Smell

We have discussed multiple tips to get rid of different kinds of guinea pig smells.

Here are a few other tips that will make sure your guinea pig cake never reeks again!

Clean the Cage and Accessories Regularly

Cleanliness is the key to a happy and healthy guinea pig playpen. So, make sure you clean out the cage at least once a week.

Take out your guinea pigs from the cage along with all their toys and food and water holders. Use hot water and soap to clean all the accessories and let them air dry.

Remove the old bedding from the cage and wipe the walls and floor with soapy water before rinsing the cage thoroughly.

You can also use a mild solution of water and vinegar to deodorize the cage and kill any bacteria. Once the cage is completely clean, place new bedding before letting your guinea pigs back in.

You can also use a cleaning spray that is specially formulated for cleaning pet cages. However, make sure it guinea pig-friendly.

Keep in mind that while cleaning the cage once a week should be enough, you may still have to resort to spot-cleaning every day to fight off urine smell. 

Clean the Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are generally good at keeping themselves clean and fresh, but it is still advisable to bathe them occasionally and wash their bums regularly.

Bathing your guinea pig once a month should be enough. Long-haired guinea pigs may need to be bathed more often.

Even if you have a bunch of guinea pigs, make sure you bathe only one at a time. Take your pet out of the cage, keeping them as calm as possible.

Use a damp cloth to wipe its fur before placing them in a container with only 2 -3 inches of water.

Keep in mind that your guinea pig doesn’t need to be fully submerged in the water.

Use a guinea-pig-friendly shampoo to clean the fur, keeping the soapy water away from its eyes and face.

Rinse them thoroughly with slightly warm water before drying them gently with a clean, soft cloth.

You can also use a hairdryer to dry them off quickly.

However, use it very carefully and make sure you keep the hairdryer at a safe distance from your pet at all times.  

Opt for Odor Control Bedding

If an unpleasant odor happens to be a persistent problem in your guinea pig cage, you can consider using odor control bedding.

It is specifically designed to keep the cage smelling clean and fresh. However, using odor control bedding doesn’t mean you can skip the cleaning part.

Remove soiled bedding every day and stick to cleaning the cage once a week to keep your pets happy and healthy.

Provide Your Cavy with a Healthy and Balanced Diet

To prevent your guinea pig’s stool from smelling bad, you need to adjust its diet and offer it healthy foods.

Include veggies, fruits, water, and fiber in your cavy’s diet.

A healthy diet will enable your cavy’s poop to become oval-shaped with little to no odor. Here are some foods that will help you counter stinky poop:

  • Hay – about 80% of your cavy’s diet should mainly be hay or grass. It will work wonders for its digestion and keep its teeth short.
  • Fresh veggies – around 10% of the diet should consist of your cavy’s favorite fresh veggies that will add essential minerals and vitamins to its diet.
  • Nuggets – the remaining 10% should include cavy nuggets. Choose a product fortified with vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals to keep your guinea pig healthy.
  • Fresh fruits – guinea pigs love fruits but limit your cavy’s intake of them since they are high in sugar. You can give fruits as a treat once a week.

Litter Train Your Cavy

Even though it might seem unconventional to litter train your cavy, you can try doing that to reduce the unpleasant smells in the cage.

It will also make regular spot cleaning easier for you.

You can train your guinea pig by putting the litter box in an area where they like to potty regularly.

Don’t fill the box with cat litter as it can be harmful to cavies. Use appropriate bedding for guinea pigs instead.

If you can train your cavy to go in the litter box, it will make removing the soiled bedding that much easier without searching for the pee and poop every day.

Inspect Your Male Cavy’s Grease Glands

Make it a habit to check your cavy’s grease glands every week to ensure there is no buildup of waxy material that can cause terrible odors.

If left untreated, it can also cause health complications.

If you feel any buildup around the glands, make sure to clean the area with coconut oil. It will help loosen up the waxy substance. Then, ruse water to clean the area.

Weekly or Bi-Weekly Grooming

Depending on your guinea pig’s breed, hair length, and grooming habits, you will need to assist it in grooming.

As a rule of thumb, make sure to groom your cavy at least once a week.

If your guinea pig has long fur, you will need to groom it more often to prevent poop, dust, and food particles from settling under the fur and causing it to stink.

Regular Vet Visits

As a rule of thumb, pet owners should regularly take their pets to the vet. This same rule applies to owning a guinea pig.

Your cavy needs regular vet visits to ensure its health is in optimal condition.

If you visit the vet often, you can also seek their advice on maintaining the cage and your cavy’s diet to eliminate odor.

Moreover, if you feel that your cavy is smelling and acting out of sorts, rush it to the vet right away.

Other signs of illness might include a lack of activity, lethargy, reduced hunger, unusual behavior, etc.

In such an instance, you must take your guinea pig to a reliable vet who can diagnose and treat the health issue causing these symptoms.

They will also give you the medication and treatment plan needed to address the medical condition.

Moreover, you can seek helpful advice and tips to protect your cavy from that illness in the future.

Give Your Cavy a Haircut

If your guinea pig has long hair that requires more maintenance and is prone to having a buildup of waste, you might need to trim the hair.

It’s especially true for the back end to counter the smell of urine.

If you trim the fur on the rear end of your cavy, it will protect it from harmful buildup.

Moreover, giving your guinea pig a trim might encourage it to groom itself as it will be less exhausting.

Bathe Your Guinea Pig

Think of bathing your guinea pig as the last resort because it puts it at risk of feeling too cold or developing skin irritation.

However, a rare bath is a necessity, especially with long-haired cavies.

If your guinea pig has excessive buildup on its back end, you must bathe it. Ensure the process is quick to prevent your cavy from feeling too cold.

Moreover, only use shampoo made specifically for guinea pigs. Lastly, dry your guinea pig thoroughly before placing it back in the cage.

Put the cage in a warm room to help regulate your cavy’s body temp.

Also read: Can You Bathe a Guinea Pig With Baby Shampoo?

In a Nutshell

Guinea pigs don’t smell or give off an unpleasant odor. However, when you feel your cavy is stinking, you need to address the core issue.

A cavy might give off a bad odor for various reasons, including sickness, bad diet, unclean cage, and grooming woes.

Once you find the reason, tackle it head-on to prevent your cavy from smelling bad.

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