Shampoo and Conditioner

If you find that your pet rodent needs help bathing, then there are some important things to keep in mind before getting them to brave the bubbles. Rodents such as rats, guinea pigs, mice and Degas are not creatures that submerge themselves in water if they can help it. In fact, due to their small size, getting wet for long periods of time can be dangerous as it leaves them susceptible to the cold.


When should I bathe my rodent? 

Before bathing your pet, ask yourself, is it necessary? Older animals have underlying illnesses that are preventing them from cleaning themselves and those that are overweight and find cleaning themselves difficult, are those that do need to be bathed.  Other reasons you may need to bathe your pet include if you are applying treatment for their skin (parasite shampoos or skin problems) and when giving them relief in hot weather to help prevent heatstroke. Long-haired breeds of rodents such as the Peruvian or Coronet guinea pig will need bathing more frequently and brushing daily to stop their long coats from becoming matted. 


How do I bathe my rodent?

The best way to bathe and groom your small pet is in the bathtub, not the sink (unless they are well handled and not frightened of heights). Bathing can be stressful and so, rodents are likely to jump and wriggle. Using a bathtub means they are contained by the high walls and can’t fall from a height, as they could if bathed in the kitchen sink. Before you begin, make sure to have all of your equipment to hand, namely:


  • A thick towel to place under your pet

  • A warmed towel to wrap your pet in after their bath 

  • Rodent-friendly shampoo and conditioner 

  • Cotton buds and cotton balls

  • A jug or cup to gently for water onto the coat

  • Your pet’s favourite treats!


Using lukewarm water in the bathtub, place the thick towel on the floor for your pet to stand on. Make sure to let your pet get used to the water first before pouring any onto them. Lather your pet-friendly shampoo through the coat and rinse thoroughly, taking care not to get any on the face or in the ears. Cotton balls and cotton tips dipped in just warm water are ideal for wiping down the face, and cleaning away dirt around the eyes and nose. 


Remove your pet from the water and dry them thoroughly, you will need to ensure they are completely dry before returning them to their cage. You can use a hairdryer on a very low setting and from a distance to finish drying them off - but be very careful. Reward your pet by offering their favourite treat or snack. 


Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner

Rodent skin is much more sensitive and delicate than ours. Any shampoo used must be pet-friendly and not contain harsh fragrances that may dry out the skin. Ingredients such as oatmeal are ideal for pets with dry skin and are good to use in rat grooming. Do not use dish soap or human shampoo as these will strip away the protective oils found in your pet’s coat. 


What can I do if my pet hates water but needs a bath?

If your pet is too scared to be bathed, maybe they have had a bad experience with water or just feel too vulnerable, then try using waterless shampoo. Waterless shampoo can be directly applied to the coat or into the hand, where you can then rub through your pet’s coat and onto their skin. It does not need water to create a lather and can then be combed out and the cat left to dry. This makes it ideal for pets that can’t be bathed but need their coat cleaned.

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