Is Baby Shampoo Safe for Guinea Pigs? Answered!

When thinking about whether baby shampoo is safe to use on guinea pigs, you may consider whether you would wash your baby in pet shampoo. As silly as that sounds, all shampoos are formulated to clean specific hair and skin types effectively, so what works well for one may not be suitable for another species.

Baby shampoo should never replace guinea pig shampoo as it contains ingredients that can dry out the small pet’s skin. It can be used occasionally, in a diluted form, to wash guinea pigs. Cavies are grooming animals, so some ingredients in human shampoo could cause gastrointestinal issues.

Human infant shampoo was specifically developed to be mild, so it is natural to assume it can do double duty as guinea pig shampoo. Although it was created to cleanse delicate human skin gently, cavy skin isn’t quite the same.

Can You Use Baby Shampoo To Wash Guinea Pigs?

According to Merck Veterinary Manual, guinea pigs seldom need to be washed. When bathing is required, human shampoo should be avoided as it can cause dry skin. The safest shampoo for guinea pigs is a type formulated especially for small animals.

Baby shampoo should only be used to wash cavies if your little pet needs a bath and you have no alternative. Although some piggy owners use this type of shampoo regularly, there are two reasons why this is not recommended:

  1. Human shampoo, even those created for infants, has a higher acidic pH than pet shampoo. It is, therefore, highly likely to dry out a guinea pig’s skin which can lead to skin irritation.
  2. Unlike humans, cavies are natural groomers. Not all the ingredients in human shampoo may be safe for pets to ingest. While infant shampoos are always non-toxic, they contain detergents that may cause nausea and vomiting, even in humans.

Remember that your piggy won’t just be washed in the shampoo you choose. It will also groom itself and its cage companions. Pieces of hair containing shampoo residue may even be consumed while barbering. Small pet shampoos are specifically formulated to gently clean their fur and be safe to lick and chew on without upsetting their gut.

Unscented baby shampoo can be a substitute for small animal shampoo if you have no alternatives, but it should never become a regular replacement. Although you may not notice any adverse effects immediately, specially formulated small pet shampoos will clean your piggy better. You will also feel more confident while bathing your furry buddy.

While it is not recommended, if you must use this type of shampoo to wash your cavy, select an unscented variety. In addition, always dilute the product with water before applying it to the guinea pig’s fur, and be sure to rinse its fur thoroughly.

After washing your piggies, you might want to reward them with a treat. Learn about what veggies guinea pig can eat.

What Is The Difference Between Human And Pet Shampoo?

Human skin has a lower pH than most domestic pets, meaning it is more acidic. Human shampoos are formulated to keep skin slightly acidic, so when they are used on pets, it has a drying effect.

All shampoos and conditioners are created to clean hair while being gentle on the scalp or skin. Overly drying out or irritating sensitive skin can result in irritation, including flaking. In the case of pets like guinea pigs, unhealthy skin can also make them vulnerable to parasites or bacterial infections.

To understand this better, let’s compare the average pH of human skin with some other domestic animals:


Average skin pH



Guinea pigs










It is evident from the table above why it is not recommended to wash pets using human shampoo. In addition to having a lower pH, many human shampoos contain artificial fragrances and other ingredients that can strip animal fur of its natural protective oils and leave the underlying skin vulnerable.

Can I Wash My Guinea Pig With Just Water?

Plain water is the next best thing if your cavy needs an urgent wash and you don’t have small pet shampoo available. It is entirely safe and won’t dry out their skin or strip the natural oils from their hair.

Most piggies don’t enjoy being bathed, and for those that get stressed, a sponge bath with clean, warm water is a low-stress, safe cleaning option. If your guinea pig isn’t too dirty, use a damp washcloth to wipe down any grimy patches.

Can I Use Dish Soap To Bath A Guinea Pig?

Dish soap like Dawn is not recommended for all-over bathing of guinea pigs. Like human shampoo, it is too harsh and will strip all the natural oils from the fur, which may result in dry or irritated skin.

Washing up liquid is, however, useful as an occasional spot cleaner for the sticky substance produced by the little pet’s grease gland. Dissolve a few drops of mild dish soap in a container of warm water, and gently dab the area with cotton balls until the fur is clean.

Can I Use Baby Wipes On My Guinea Pig?

Unscented baby wipes are an excellent resource for guinea pig owners to have on hand to wipe messy bottoms or to do an occasional spot clean. However, they should never be used for regular all-over piggy cleaning as they may contain additives that aren’t safe for the animals to lick while grooming.

Small animal wipes are a gentler option if you have a piggy that requires regular spot cleans. For long-haired breeds, it also helps to carefully trim the fur around the animal’s rear to prevent poop from getting tangled in the area.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Baths?

Cavies are fastidious groomers, so they rarely need to be bathed. If they are kept in hygienic conditions with a healthy diet and plenty of space, these small pets often don’t need more than the occasional spot clean of their grease gland or bottoms if they have long hair.

Unless a piggy has particularly long hair, gets dirty, or has rolled in something smelly, they only need to be bathed two to four times a year. Cavies should be bathed with care as they are extremely sensitive to temperature changes and must be thoroughly dried before being returned to their cage.


Using baby shampoo on your guinea pig is not recommended. Even though the formulation is gentler than regular human shampoo, it is still too harsh for less-acidic pet skin.

If it is the only option, dilute the unscented shampoo before applying it, and rinse the fur thoroughly with clean water. Human shampoo, even gentle infant formulations, should never become a permanent replacement for small pet shampoo.