Do Guinea Pigs Really Stink?

Pet odor is high on the list of questions that guinea pig parents are often asked about. There is a common perception that keeping a pet rodent of any sort results in a smelly home. Since cavies pee and poop a lot, it is an understandable concern and one that certainly can put a damper on owning a piggy.

Healthy guinea pigs kept in clean environments do not stink. Bad odors can result from unsuitable bedding, incorrect diet, or the cage needing to be cleaned more often. Smelly poop can indicate infection or illness. Intact males produce a musty scent from their grease glands.

No one wants to live in a smelly environment, including guinea pigs! A stinky pet piggy is an indication that something needs to change or be fixed. Let’s do some cavy odor-busting 101.

Do Guinea Pigs Smell Bad?

Guinea pigs themselves don’t smell bad, and surprisingly, neither does their poop. The small rodents are fastidious about staying clean and spend plenty of time grooming themselves and each other.

The smelliness sometimes associated with cavies commonly comes from a urine buildup in the cage. When it is fresh, piggy urine doesn’t have an offensive odor. However, it does contain ammonia, so if it is left too long or builds up, an unpleasant rodent-pee smell is inevitable.

Other causes of bad smells in cavy cages can be old food, damp hay, or wet poop. Sometimes, poop can get tangled into the fur on a cavy’s bottom, especially in long-haired breeds. Regular grooming sessions not only keep the piggy clean but are also essential bonding times for the pet and owner.

Just like humans and other pets, if a guinea pig is kept healthy and lives in hygienic conditions, it shouldn’t have a noticeable smell. If it stays on filthy bedding or has wet poop in its fur, it will stink, which would not be the animal’s fault.

Why Does My Guinea Pig Smell Bad?

If a cavy develops an unpleasant odor, it should be addressed immediately. In the entire animal kingdom, guinea pigs rank 10th for having the most acute sense of smell, so if a bad smell bothers you, it is even worse for them.

There are several reasons why a guinea pig cage may start smelling unpleasant:

1. Bedding Isn’t Absorbent Enough

Having the right bedding can be a game-changer for piggy parents. Guinea pigs often pee around every 15 minutes, which adds up to a lot of urine spots on the bedding surface.

Choose a highly absorbent material that can quickly wick moisture away from the surface to keep the underside of your piggies dry. Fleece bedding or bathmats work well and are easy to wash and reuse.

2. The Cage Needs To Be Cleaned More Often

The cage must be spot-cleaned daily and deep-cleaned weekly or sooner if you have multiple piggies. Most odor issues can be solved with a strict cleaning schedule and the correct bedding.

3. The Guinea Pigs Are Receiving An Incorrect Diet

Healthy piggy poops are firm and don’t smell. That is a relief since the animals can produce small oval stools up to 100 times daily.

Not receiving a piggy-appropriate diet or overeating something that has upset its digestive system could result in messy, smelly diarrhea. The condition can also result from infections or parasites and must always be considered serious, as dehydration can quickly occur.

4. The Cage Is Too Small

Having lots of space to move around will not only result in a happier piggy but also a cleaner one. A cavy in a small cage is forced to repeatedly move over soiled spots, which can soak into its fur and become unpleasant.

5. Smelly Poop or Urine Can Indicate Infection Or Disease

As mentioned, healthy piggy poops and fresh urine shouldn’t smell bad. Stinky droppings and pee is often diet-related, but it may be a symptom of something more serious.

Urinary tract infections, diarrhea, or even kidney stones can result in unpleasant smells. Owners of older piggies, especially boars, may encounter a condition known as fecal impaction that can have a significant smell.

6. Foul Odors Can Be The Result Of Health Conditions

If a guinea pig smells terrible and the cause is unrelated to anything coming out of its bottom, it may indicate another health condition. Always take a piggy with an unpleasant odor to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.

Some conditions that can cause a body odor in guinea pigs include:

  • Flystrike
  • Dental issues
  • Abscesses
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Bumblefoot

7. Boars May Need Their Grease Gland Cleaned

Male guinea pigs have a gland under their tails that secretes a scent to mark territory. If it is not regularly cleaned, it can become smelly and greasy, which can also lead to infections.

Boy piggies may need a little help to keep their grease gland clean. Special products are available to dissolve grease quickly, and some owners even use a tiny bit of mild dish soap.

8. The Bad Odor May Not Be Caused By The Guinea Pig

There are lots of things inside a guinea pig cage that could result in bad smells. Most of these can be eliminated by regular cleaning, but if the area around your pet’s cage has a lingering unpleasant smell, check the following:

  • Is the water bottle leaking? Persistent dripping causes dampness in large areas. That can lead to a musty, mildew smell.
  • Check for leftover food under bedding and in hiding places. Always remove uneaten fresh veggies at the end of the day to prevent food from becoming rotten in the cage.
  • Fresh hay has an appealing scent. If it gets old or wet, it may smell a little musty. Always keep a fresh supply of new hay for your piggies, as they also won’t appreciate the smell or taste of wet or dirty material.

How To Get Rid Of Guinea Pig Odor In A Room

If your piggy room has developed an unpleasant odor, the first step is determining the cause. Since guinea pigs shouldn’t smell bad, and their poops and fresh urine are also remarkably neutral, stinky cages must be investigated.

Before reaching for the cleaning materials, if the smell is emanating from the cavy, it is time to consult a veterinarian. For example, foul-smelling urine could be a UTI, which is painful, and no amount of cage cleaning will resolve the issue.

Once your guinea pig has the all-clear in the health department, it is time to turn your attention to the bedding and cage. Smelly cages are most often the result of two factors:

  1. Bedding that isn’t absorbent enough.
  2. The cage cleaning routine needs to be more frequent.

In addition to daily spot cleaning, cavy cages must be deep cleaned regularly using products that are safe for the small rodents. All the bedding, toys, and hides should be included when deep cleaning.

Regular grooming will ensure your piggies don’t get poop or urine soaked into their fur, which could cause an unpleasant smell. Although guinea pigs don’t need frequent baths, if you do need to wash them, only use specific guinea pig shampoo, as human products can be too harsh on their skin.

Conclusion

Like most rodents, guinea pigs are fastidiously clean animals. Fresh cavy urine and poops from healthy animals also don’t have any significant odor. Bad smells associated with owning cavies often result from insufficient cage cleaning or incorrect bedding. It is essential to rule out possible health issues if a piggy has a lingering bad smell, as it could indicate a serious infection or disease.