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Do Guinea Pigs Smell? Reasons, Tips & FAQs

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

female cuddles with guinea pig

Guinea Pigs should not smell. If they do, it is often a sign that something is wrong. Some common issues that contribute to a smelly Guinea Pig are an incorrect diet, a poorly cleaned cage, or a sickness of some sort. Guinea Pigs typically groom themselves and if they’re having a hard time doing this, it can cause them to become smelly, as well.

A smelly Guinea Pig should get your attention that everything isn’t right with your furry friend. Here are some reasons Guinea Pigs may get smelly, followed by how to fix it.

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Why Guinea Pigs Smell

Poorly Maintained Cage

If your Guinea Pig’s cage isn’t properly maintained, it may get smelly. Sometimes, it isn’t the pig that’s giving off the bad smell, but their environment is rubbing off on them. Droppings and uneaten food can all make a Guinea Pig smell bad. If your Guinea Pig suddenly smells bad, it may simply be because their cage needs a good scrub.

Improper Diet

When given a proper diet, Guinea Pigs shouldn’t give off little to no odor. However, if they are fed the wrong things, their poop can become smelly, which can, in turn, make them smelly.

It’s important to feed your Guinea Pigs the right food for a whole host of reasons. Preventing bad smells is one of those reasons.

breakfast for guinea pig grain feed from a bowl
Image Credit: Pogodina Natalia, Shutterstock

Poor Grooming

Guinea Pigs should groom themselves. They’re pretty clean animals, which is one reason why they don’t naturally smell. Still, in some circumstances, the Guinea Pig may be unable to clean itself properly. They may need a helping hand, or the underlying cause of their difficulties may need to be fixed.

Long-haired Guinea Pigs have a particular problem keeping themselves clean and often need regular grooming. Elderly and sickly animals may also have trouble.

Sickness

Infections can often smell bad, as bacteria can give off bad scents. Of course, these infections need to be treated by a veterinarian.

guinea pig licking human hand
Image Credit: Lipatova Maryna, Shutterstock

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The 4 Ways to Help a Smelly Guinea Pig

Depending on the underlying cause of your smelly Guinea, you’ll need to take several steps to fix their poor smell. If you don’t, there is a chance of other complications occurring, such as illnesses. Therefore, it’s important to determine the underlying cause and take action.

1. Clean the Cage

a domestic pet straw bedding being cleaned up with a dustpan and brush
Image Credit: Dean Clarke, Shutterstock

If your Guinea Pig is smelly because their cage is dirty, you’ll need to clean it right away. You’ll also need to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t get that dirty again.

You’ll need to change their bedding regularly using a Guinea Pig-safe option. If you’re using fleece, you can clean the bedding instead. How often you do this may vary, especially if you have several Guinea Pigs. On average, you’ll need to change it about every 2–3 days.

You’ll also need to spot-clean the cage daily. This means removing any droppings and uneaten food. Removing these odor-causing messes can help prevent bad smells from occurring, and they keep your Guinea Pig from getting sick, too.

Once a week, the cage requires deep cleaning to prevent it from growing bacteria. Everything must be removed and the cage sanitized. You’ll need to use a pet-safe cleaner that’s also strong enough to kill most kinds of bacteria. Toys and accessories must be cleaned, too.


2. Dietary Changes

You may need to change your Guinea Pig’s diet if you find that they’re eating improperly. Guinea Pigs are herbivores, which means that they only eat vegetation. They should consume mostly hay and grass. In fact, hay should make up about 80% of their diet, if not more. Hay helps with their digestion and is very high in fiber, which is exactly what they need.

The other part of their diet should be made up of pellets. These are specially formulated with the nutrients your Guinea Pig needs. Make sure the product you choose is fortified with vitamin C, which many Guinea Pigs are lacking.

The last 10% of their diet should be fresh veggies. These should be considered a snack, not a main part of their diet. A small teaspoon of veggies is plenty for most Guinea Pigs. These provide some variety and nutrients.

Don’t feed your Guinea Pig anything that isn’t in these categories, including meat. These foods aren’t safe for their digestion.


3. Rethink Your Grooming Routine

Guinea Pigs can also become smelly if they aren’t getting groomed properly. Many Guinea Pigs don’t need help grooming themselves, as they are rather clean animals. However, certain pets may, as they may not be able to clean themselves properly. Long-haired Guinea Pigs often need help keeping themselves clean, as do elderly and sickly Guinea Pigs.

For these Guinea Pigs, regular bathing and brushing may be required.


4. Seek Veterinary Care

veterinary doctor holding guinea pig on hands
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

Many diseases can cause unusual smells. Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to diagnose your Guinea Pig off smell alone. However, if your Guinea Pig is smelly and none of the above reasons make any sense, it could be because of an underlying illness—even if your pet doesn’t have any other symptoms.

Therefore, you should seek veterinary care right away if your pet is smelly for no clear reason.

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Does Guinea Pig Bedding Smell?

If you do not clean your Guinea Pig’s bedding often enough, it can smell. If it starts smelling, it’s overdue for a cleaning. You should change it right away and take steps to prevent it from getting that bad in the future. It’s not meant to smell, in other words.

Some types of clean bedding may have a smell. However, it should not be significant or overwhelming. If a bedding’s smell is overwhelming to you, it will be even worse for your Guinea Pig.

Do Guinea Pigs Make the House Smell?

Guinea Pigs and their cage should be practically odorless. If your Guinea Pig (or their cage) is smelly, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Therefore, a Guinea Pig should not stink up your home.

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Final Thoughts

Guinea Pigs are rather clean creatures without a particular smell. If they become smelly, it likely highlights a problem.

Often, Guinea Pigs become smelly because their cage isn’t being kept clean. If their cage is smelly, the Guinea Pig will become smelly, too. Sicknesses can also lead to smelliness, and this often requires veterinary care and treatment.

Your Guinea Pig may need help cleaning itself if they have longer hair or are older. While these creatures do keep themselves clean, some individuals may have trouble doing so.

You Might Be Interested in: How Much Space Does a Guinea Pig Need?


Featured Image Credit: Ocskay Mark, Shutterstock

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