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Can Guinea Pigs Get Worms? (Treatment & Prevention Tips)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Guinea pigs are small animals, gentle little creatures that need special care and very careful handling. Without proper care, cavies can easily get sick.

Guinea pigs can get worms by coming into contact with intestinal worms in their environment such as from cat and dog feces. If you have a cat or dog, make sure that your piggy doesn’t come in contact with them. Lack of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, bloating, and diarrhea can be a sign of guinea pig worms.

However, these symptoms can refer to some other health problems, so make sure to seek advice from your vet.

Many people don’t regularly worm their guinea pigs so let’s see if there’s a way to prevent parasites in your guinea pigs and how to get rid of them if your guinea pig has worms.

Can Guinea Pigs Get Worms?

Yes, guinea pigs can get worms and skin parasites, and they can get them from various sources.

Although this article will offer useful information, please do not attempt to get rid of external and internal parasites on your own, without consulting a vet.

It is always a good idea to consult a professional, especially since you want your guinea pigs to be healthy and happy little rodents.

A 2018 study conducted by LABOKLIN found that about 12% of guinea pigs are susceptible to worms.

Let’s take a look at how guinea pigs are likely to get worms.

Common Health Problems

Commonly, guinea pigs are prone to health problems because they are very fragile.

However, health issues are often preventable if you watch your pet closely and take care of it.

Common problems among guinea pigs are respiratory infections or pneumonia caused by bacteria, hair loss caused by various skin parasites, diarrhea caused by bad food intake, and vitamin C deficiency or scurvy.

It is easy to misinterpret symptoms in an infected animal and attribute gastrointestinal issues to these common diseases instead of worm infection.

How Do Guinea Pigs Get Worms?

The most likely way for a guinea pig to get worms is bad food habits and, just as likely, the company of other animals such as cats, dogs, and rabbits.

It is a good idea to keep your guinea pig away from cats, dogs, and rabbits that can transmit several internal parasites to the guinea pig.

If you cannot keep your guinea pigs away from other animals, make sure that your guinea pig doesn’t come in contact with their feces.

You have to be very careful and clean the droppings of your guinea pigs and other animals regularly.

Another way for guinea pigs to get worms is from their food.

If you need to change the diet of your guinea pig, you have to do it gradually, so that this small animal doesn’t feel any sudden change.

What if Your Guinea Pig Has Worms?

As we’ve stated, a guinea pig is a fragile small animal that needs a lot of care.

Many health problems are easily avoided with a healthy diet and good hygiene.

If you notice the following signs, you need to act as fast as you can and consult a vet as soon as possible.

You have to take these signs very seriously, especially when your pets lose weight and become bloated because parasites prevent the proper absorption of nutrients.

In other words, parasites take all the vitamins and minerals so guinea pigs lose weight and become malnourished. 

These signs, especially if weight loss is accompanied by bloating are more than just symptoms that can go away in infected animals.

They present a life-threatening problem for your little friend.

If your guinea pigs lose weight, it’s never a good sign.

The biggest problem is that people believe it is unnecessary to regularly worm their guinea pigs in the same way they worm other animals, cats, and dogs.

A vet has to treat your guinea pig and prescribe an adequate treatment to get rid of internal parasites.

Likewise, ask for advice on whether you should regularly worm your guinea pig.

Treatment of Worms

You should rush to a vet immediately as soon as you notice a change in the mood of your guinea pig and other symptoms such as weight loss, or bloating.

Without knowing what type of parasite is attacking your guinea pig, you cannot act properly.

If a guinea pig has worms, the treatment depends on the type of parasite that is causing the problem.

Below is a list of common parasites that can attack guinea pigs and what to do about them.

You should keep in mind that medicines shouldn’t be administered without the recommendation of a vet.

Trichomonads

Trichomonads can be found in feces.

They are common parasites that attack many other species.

It’s necessary to clean the poop of other animals and prevent your guinea pig from getting in contact with it.

Also, feed your guinea pigs with clean grass and vegetables since these worms can grow on them too.

To prevent trichomonads from growing, you need to clean the guinea pig’s hutch regularly.

Treatment

Metronidazole and Dimetridazole (20-50 mg/kg once or twice daily per os) can be used for 7 days to treat Trichomonads.

However, don’t attempt to treat infected animals on your own without consulting a vet.

Entamoeba caviae and Balantidium coli

The scientific name for a single-cell parasite that transmits via ingestion of cysts in the feces is Entamoeba caviae.

Balantidium coli works in the same way; both internal parasites also attack humans.

Also, both parasites can develop in the structures of fiddles (dried hay).

Treatment

Metronidazole and dimetridazole can also be used to treat these flagellates.

Pinworm

Infestation with Paraspidodera uncinata (pinworm) is mostly found in large collections, outdoor enclosures, or animals with outdoor runs.

Treatment

Infestation is treated with praziquantel (single administration of 5-10 mg/kg per os or subcutaneously, repeat after 10-14 days).

Since identifying what type of worm-infested your guinea pig is very difficult, you need to take your guinea pig to a veterinary as soon as you notice any signs that your pet might be infected.

Besides, only a vet can determine the exact treatment your pet needs.

How to Administer Drugs to a Guinea Pig?

Knowing how to effectively administer the drugs that your vet prescribes is very important.

Ask your vet for a small syringe or you can simply buy it from a nearby pharmacy.

Administer the drug directly into the mouth of your guinea pig.

Commonly, place the syringe just behind your guinea pig’s teeth so that the drug doesn’t go directly into the throat as it might cause choking.

Never

Prevention

As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure” follow the same route every day and:

  • Separate your guinea pigs from other pets
  • Clean the hutch regularly
  • Wash the food thoroughly

Don’t keep cats, dogs and rabbits, and guinea pigs together.

Cats, dogs, and rabbits can transmit parasites to your guinea pig.

For that reason, make sure to always check your other pets and treat them if needed.

Immediately consult a vet, especially if you notice your guinea pigs lose weight and engage in excessive scratching. 

Clean your guinea pig’s habitat every day.

There are certain ways you should clean the hutch.

Cover your guinea pig’s hutch with a fly screen because flies often bear deadly parasites that can harm your piggies.

Clean the leftover foods and palettes regularly.

Hutch Placement

Moist and dirty places are favorite places of parasites and a source of infestation.

Proper hutching for your guinea pig is mandatory.

Try to keep the hutch dry and clean as much as possible, out of direct sunlight and strong winds, but make sure it’s well ventilated.

About 18-26°C temperature inside the hutch is comfortable for your piggies.

There are three types of hutches you can consider: indoor and outdoor hutches, and sheds.

Indoor

Guinea pigs indoors feel the best at a temperature between 62.6-68F, out of straight sunlight, and away from sources of heat like radiators or fires.

If you own a big hutch in which your guinea pigs can run around, it’s great.

However, if you don’t have one of these, it’s a good idea to make one yourself or buy an exercise enclosure for your pets.

Outdoor

If the temperature goes above 78.8F, you need to bring your pet inside and allow it to cool down properly.

Guinea pigs don’t function well in hot weather and it can be detrimental to their well-being.

Keep in mind that guinea pigs can easily get bad sunburns.

During the winter months, it is not a good idea to let your guinea pigs out on wet grass, as this can put them at the chance of catching pneumonia.

If your guinea pig hutch is made of wood, you’ll need to make sure it remains dry as your guinea pigs can easily get sick.

Sheds

If your guinea pigs’ shed is dry inside and within 60.8 – 75.2F, your pets will be very happy in there.

However, always keep your pets’ habitats clean to prevent the possibility of infestation with various parasites.

Likewise, pay attention to hygiene, and always wash your hands before and after touching your pets.

Also, wash the food very carefully and thoroughly before giving it to your pets.

Foods You Mustn’t Give To Your Guinea Pigs

Various worms can develop on the surface of fresh fruits and vegetables; so, if your guinea pig has worms, it is highly likely it got it from unwashed food.

Usually, cleaning fresh vegetables twice or thrice with clean water is recommended before feeding your piggies.

Your guinea pig cannot digest everything.

For that reason, you should avoid feeding your guinea pigs the following foods:

  1. Salt licks or mineral blocks can cause mineral buildups which may lead to bladder stones
  2. Animal byproducts
  3. Seeds and kernels can choke your guinea pigs
  4. An excessive amount of certain vegetables can cause digestion problems
  5. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value and can also cause problems for your pet

Vitamin C

Like humans, guinea pigs can’t produce their supply of Vitamin C.

You need to keep vitamin C enriched foods in your piggies’ diet to build up their immunity to various diseases.

If you notice that your guinea pig is not receiving vitamin C from its diet, and developing vitamin C deficiency symptoms, you can buy vitamin C supplements and feed them with their vegetables.

In the case of vitamin C deficiency, take your pet to a vet as only a professional knows the best course of treatment.

You can check out the following vegetables and fruit chart for vitamin C in groups.

The groups will tell about the volume of food, vitamin C quantity, and the amount your guinea pigs need.

Note that guinea pigs need at least 25/kg mg of Vitamin C every day.

a mixture of fruits and vegetables

Group 1

  • Guava – 1 cup or 165 mg of guava contains 377 mg of vitamin C;  approximately 1.1 tbsp is to be given
  • Red Peppers (chopped) – 1 cup chopped or 149g of red peppers contains 190mg of vitamin C; 2.1 tbsp is to be given
  • Kale (chopped) – 1 cup chopped or 67g of kale contains 80.4mg of vitamin C; 5 tbsp or ⅓ cup is to be given
  • Tendergreen (chopped) – 1 cup or 150g of chopped tendergreen contains 195mg of vitamin C; 2.1 tbsp of chopped tendergreen is recommended daily
  • Parsley – 1 cup or 60g of parsley contains 79.8mg of vitamin C; 5 tbsp or ⅓ cup is recommended
  • Broccoli – 1 cup chopped or 91g of broccoli contains 81.2mg of vitamin C; 5 tbsp or ⅓ cup is recommended
  • Broccoli flowerets – 1 cup or 71g of broccoli flowerets contains 66.2mg of vitamin C; 6 tbsp (between 1/3 and ½ cup) is recommended
  • Broccoli leaves – 1 oz or 28g of broccoli leaves contains 26.1 mg of vitamin C; 2 tbsp is recommended
  • Broccoli stalks – 1 oz or 28g of broccoli stalks contains 26.1 mg of vitamin C; 2 tbsp is recommended
  • Lambsquarter – 1 oz or 28g of Lambsquarter contains 22.4mg of vitamin C; 2.2 tbsp is recommended
  • Cauliflower – 1 floweret or 13g of cauliflower contains 6.0mg of vitamin C; about 4 flowerets are recommended
  • Cauliflower – 1 floweret or 13g of cauliflower contains 6.0mg of vitamin C; about 4 flowerets are recommended

Group 2

  • Strawberry – An average berry or 18g of strawberry 10.6mg of vitamin C; about 2.5 average berries are recommended
  • Kiwi – 1 floweret or 17 g of kiwi contains 164mg of vitamin C; 2.4 tbsp is recommended
  • Green pepper – 1 cup chopped or 149g of green pepper 120mg of vitamin C; 3.4 tbsp (chopped) is recommended
  • Mustard greens – 1 cup or 56g of mustard greens 39.2mg of vitamin C; ½ to 3/4 cup is recommended
  • Cooked Brussels sprouts – 1 cup or 156g of cooked brussels sprouts 96.7mg of vitamin C; just over a cup is recommended
  • Cooked Brussels sprouts – 1 cup or 156g of cooked brussels sprouts 96.7mg of vitamin C; just over a cup is recommended

Group 3

  • Kohlrabi – 1 cup or 135g of kohlrabi 89.1mg of vitamin C; just over ½ cup is recommended
  • Papaya – 1 cup or 140g of papaya 86.5mg of vitamin C; just under 1/3 cup is recommended
  • Snap peas – 1 cup or 98g of snap peas 58.8mg of vitamin C; just under ½ cup is recommended
  • Turnip greens – 1 cup or 55g of turnip greens 39.5mg of vitamin C; just under ½ cup is recommended
  • Red cabbage – 1 cup or 70g of red cabbage 39.9mg of vitamin C; just under ½ cup is recommended
  • Orange – Avg orange or 131g of orange 69.7mg of vitamin C; between 1/4 and ½ avg orange is recommended
  • Cooked kale – 1 cup cooked or 130g of cooked kale 53.3 mg of vitamin C; about ½ cup is recommended
  • Peas – 1 cup or 58mg of peas 58mg of vitamin C; about ½ cup is recommended
  • Clementines – Avg clementine or 74g of clementines 36.1mg of vitamin C; almost ½ average clementine is recommended
  • Cantaloupe – 1 cup balls or 177g of cantaloupe 65mg of vitamin C; betwee1/4 and ½ cup of melon balls are recommended
  • Pineapple – 1 cup chunks or 165g of pineapple 78.9mg of vitamin C; 1/3 cup of chunks is recommended

a bowl of red cabbage

Group 4 (Poor Sources of Vitamin C)

  • Dill weed – 5 sprigs or 1g of dill weed 0.9mg of vitamin C; 154 sprigs are recommended
  • Dried tarragon – 1 oz or 28g of dried tarragon 14mg of vitamin C; about 4 tbsp is recommended
  • Dried basil – 1 oz or 28g of dried basil 17.1mg of vitamin C; about 3 tbsp is recommended
  • Dried oregano – 1 oz or 28g of dried oregano 14mg of vitamin C; about 4 tbsp is recommended
  • Lemon – Avg lemon or 58g of lemon 30.7mg of vitamin C; about 80% of the average lemon is recommended
  • Dried cilantro – 1 tbsp or 2g of dried cilantro 9.9mg of vitamin C, about 2.5 tbsp is recommended
  • Chinese cabbage (pak choi or bak Choi) – 1 cup shredded or 70.0g of Chinese cabbage 31.5mg of vitamin C, over ½ cup is recommended
  • Beet greens – 1 cup or 38g of beet greens 11.4mg of vitamin C; over 2 cups are recommended
  • Starfruit (carambola) – Avg fruit or 91g of Starfruit 31.3mg of vitamin C, over ½ of an average starfruit is recommended
  • Collard greens – 1 cup or 36g of collard greens 12.7mg of vitamin C; 2 cups are recommended
  • Watercress – 1 cup chopped or 34g of Watercress 14.6mg of vitamin C; about 1 and ½ cups are recommended
  • Grapefruit – Avg fruit or 120g of Grapefruit 38.5mg of vitamin C; just a few grapefruits are recommended

Don’t forget to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water before giving them to your piggies.

Administering Vitamin C Supplements

Premium guinea pig pellets are fortified with good amounts of vitamin C.

Chewable flavored C tablets are available in 100 mg sizes; they can be quartered into 25 mg pieces and fed directly to your guinea pig.

You should avoid multi-vitamin supplements and not add vitamin C to the water.

To administer chewable vitamin C tablets you must do the following:

  • Break the tablet in half to release the aroma and leave the tablet so your guinea pig gets the idea that it’s something to try
  • Break up or crush the tablet and roll it in a piece of romaine lettuce
  • Cut a groove in an apple, grape, or carrot and slide the tablet through the juice

Water

Ensuring there’s regular clean water is very important to keep your pet hydrated and healthy.

Do not give your piggies distilled, puddled, or contaminated water.

Tap water or piped supply water is fine for your guinea pigs.

Buy quality water bottles for your piggies.

If your guinea pigs don’t drink water, check whether the bottle is dispensing water properly.

Your guinea pig might refuse to drink water; as soon as you notice any sign of weakness, consult a vet immediately.

If your guinea pig drinks a lot of water, there might be a few reasons for that.

Your pet might have diabetes (yes, guinea pigs can have diabetes, too), kidney problems, or simply the hutch is not well ventilated.

Bedding

Proper bedding is a must for your piggies to remain healthy and happy.

You must choose their bedding keeping in mind that the bedding should soak all their toilet needs and remain dry for a longer time.

Three types of bedding are advised.

1. Paper

Paper bedding has always been the first choice among many guinea pig owners because it’s soft, a good absorbent, and excellent at odor control.

Good paper bedding is less messy and the cage is easy to keep clean and maintain.

2. Fleece

Fleece bedding is gaining popularity because it’s absorbent and reusable.

When using fleece, you must have a good underlayer to absorb the urine and prevent odor.

Towels, puppy pads, or u-haul pads are the best underlayers for fleece bedding.

3. Aspen

Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is dust and scent-free aromatic hardwood that vets often advise.

It has one disadvantage: it is less effective in controlling odors and needs to be cleaned more frequently than other bedding options.

Bedding Choices To Avoid

  1. Softwood chips or shavings like cedar or pines may cause respiratory problems
  2. Straw because it is hard and often breaks with sharp edges which are dangerous for your pet’s safety
  3. Corn husks can cause an infection in your guinea pig
  4. Clumping cat litters

Taking care of the bedding and maintaining good hygiene are imperative to prevent infestation.

If your guinea pig has worms, take it to the vet immediately.

Which Parasites Can Infect a Guinea Pig?

Pets such as dogs and cats can get parasites; so can other small animals.

Some parasites are more common than others, and some are transmittable to people.

A vet will identify a potential external parasite and examine your pet to see whether it has internal parasites.

Common Parasites That Can Affect Guinea Pigs

Mites and Lice

Mites and lice are skin parasites your guinea pig can get through direct contact with other infected animals or contaminated material.

The two fur mites that commonly attack guinea pigs are Trixacarus and Chirodiscoides caviae.

Likewise, they can catch mites from previously contaminated bedding.

Also, guinea pigs can get skin mites in the same way: through contact with other guinea pigs, bedding, and objects.

These mites go deep beneath the skin of a guinea pig and cause extreme itchiness and hair loss.

The mites cause damage to the guinea pig’s skin.

The symptoms vary from mild skin inflammation to crusty and bloody skin caused by excessive scratching, while your pet may act as if it has seizures.

Typically, to get rid of mites, a vet will treat your pet with topical or injectable anti-parasitic medication.

Additionally, complete environmental disinfection is a must.

A few species of guinea pig mites can be transferred to humans.

Lice

Guinea pigs can also get lice.

This skin infection is accompanied by excessive scratching, skin inflammation, skin crustiness, hair loss, and a dull coat.

However, lice are species-specific so you cannot get lice from your pets.

Likewise, your dogs can get lice only from other dogs, cats from other cats, etc.

Fleas

Guinea pigs can become infested with fleas and they can get it from other pets and from their environment outside.

Before you decide to get rid of these parasites on your own using any of the flea products, consult a vet.

Because all species have different types of skin and fur, not all flea products are safe for any small animal such as a guinea pig.

Final Thoughts

Important notes to keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching your pet, its food, or its bedding
  • Do not share food with your pet
  • Avoid kissing or cuddling your pet if you are self-isolating

It is a good idea to keep your small pet mentally stimulated as it will keep their minds and bodies busy.

Compared to other animals, guinea pigs rarely have worms or other parasites.  Most people think it is needless to regularly worm their guinea pigs. However, guinea pigs can get worms and other parasites that might be difficult to spot with the naked eye.

Consult a vet on what to do if your guinea pig has worms and whether you should regularly worm your pets.

If your guinea pig has worms, it might lose appetite and lose weight, have diarrhea and suffer from bloating. In that case, take your guinea pig pet to the vet immediately. An exotic vet will help you get rid of internal parasites in your pet.

Author

Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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