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My Guinea Pig Is Sneezing: Is It Normal? (And What Does It Mean?)

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Tim Rhodes

Why is my guinea pig sneezing?

Is it normal and if it isn’t, how worried should you be?

There are several reasons why guinea pigs sneeze, and at the end of the article, you’ll be better informed about them.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Sneezing?

If your guinea pig is sneezing occasionally like two to four times a day, then this is totally normal and there is no need to worry.

But if it’s making snick, snick sound and breathing heavily, then it could be due to an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia.

If this is so, then this will be the point where you should worry as guinea pigs are so fragile in nature that once they become ill, they are very prone to death.

What Triggers Sneezing In Guinea Pigs?

Without a cause, nobody sneezes.

Neither do guinea pigs.

Let’s discuss the causes which trigger sneezing in them one by one.

Dust or food particles

It could be an allergic reaction to the dust or food particles that are stuck in their nasal linings.

Respiratory infections

It could be a respiratory infection like URI: Upper respiratory infection or pneumonia.

Aroma

It could be an allergic reaction to the aroma of the detergents that clean their fleece.

Perfumes and air fresheners

It could be an allergic reaction to the scented body care goods like perfumes , body spray etc.

Bedding

It could be an allergic reaction from the dusty and soaked hay bedding.

If sneezing is from allergies, it’s common and will vanish within a short time.

But if its cause is respiratory infection or pneumonia, then this is the super red signal where you need to be much more worried and concerned.

What Are the Signs of a Sick Guinea Pig?

Changes In Breathing

If your guinea pig is normal he won’t make any sound.

The louder breathing of your guinea pig is due to his reaction to any allergy but he won’t have any trouble breathing.

If your guinea pig is making sounds like snick or wheezing sound, he is facing trouble breathing.

Eyes

The eyes of guinea are affected due to respiratory infections.

When you look closely in the eyes of guinea pigs, they are either red or discharge is coming from them.

The color of the discharge can be either yellow or green.

Guinea pig’s eyes will be crusty, almost sealed, and shut, is due to conjunctivitis.

Nose Discharge

When your guinea pig is sneezing, discharge from the nose is a must factor.

This discharge may be yellow or green in color.

Changes in Performance

There is a decrease in the overall activity when your pet is sick, you will notice from its face, it will be dull and sick.

Also, your pumpkin may lose some weight due to illness.

Bleeding from the Nose

It’s the most severe sign in guinea pigs.

This sign shows that there is definitely a problem with your guinea pig.

If you notice this, you should immediately go to a vet.

What Do Changes In the Behavior Of a Guinea Pig Mean?

Keep Track Of Its Appetite and Activity

Your guinea pig may not feel like eating, due to loss of appetite.

You need to check what food you put in the cage, and do the guinea pigs eat their meals or no?

Also, delicate naughty guinea pigs are most active all the time, bur lessens their activities when they are sick.

He may not play with you or with his cage mate.

Sounds super dull and lazy all the time.

He wants to be alone all the time and doesn’t even play with you!

Point Out Guinea Pig’s Stressful Events

Oh, these munchkins are too sensitive.

According to some research, stress can reduce the immune system of your pet.

The low immune system is quickly attacked by infections.

Guinea pigs may be subjected to the stresses like:

  • Overcrowding of people when they are newly adopted
  • Lungs irritation from his bedding
  • Irritation due to a new cage fellow

What Are the Types Of Respiratory Problems In Guinea Pigs?

Streptococcus bacteria which causes this infection is present in your pumpkin all the time without making him sick, your buddy can at any time develop this infection if it gets stressed.

Your Guinea pig can easily transmit this bacteria to the other cage fellows through cough or sneeze.

Also, note that Upper Respiratory Infections are most common as compare to Lower Respiratory Infections.

So don’t worry if you can’t by any means recognize that whether it’s URI or LRI or any allergy, your vet will let you know.

There are two types of respiratory problems that occur in guinea pigs.

Allergies

Allergies are due to different environmental factors like dust and food particles stuck in their nostrils, poor bedding, and irritation due to the aroma of scented perfumes, detergents, etc.

Luckily, you shouldn’t worry if the sneezing is due to these allergies.

This sneezing will go away within a few days.

Infections

These infections are very common in guinea pigs.

These infections can start as a simple cold and can easily turn into pneumonia within a day or two.

Respiratory infections in guinea pigs are of two types:

Upper respiratory infections URI are due to cold and lower respiratory infections are due to pneumonia in guinea pigs.

Pneumonia is usually caused by a bacterial infection known as Bordetella, which is commonly known as Rhinitis and Sinusitis.

Rhinitis occurs due to puffiness in the nostril lining of guinea pigs.

Whereas Sinusitis occurs due to irritation and puffiness of sinuses.

Upper respiratory tract of guinea pig includes its nose, throat, nasal passage, and its windpipe, while the lower respiratory tract includes the lungs.

So the infection which occurs in the upper respiratory tract is known as Cold or flu.

Whereas the infection that occurs in the lower respiratory tract is known as pneumonia.

An upper respiratory infection can also be caused by any dental issue, for example, overgrowth of the root of your guinea pig.

If you don’t take any immediate action and your guinea pig is diagnosed with pneumonia, unfortunately, he will lose his life.

What to Do if a Guinea Pig Has Pneumonia?

Unluckily, if your pet is diagnosed with this disease, what to do next?

The first and most quick action you should do is, immediately take him to a good veterinarian.

Make sure the veterinarian must possess enough experience in his field.

Guinea pigs are so delicate and are easily prone to death within a short period of time.

Your vet must know all the medical history of your guinea pig, and so you must provide accurate information regarding its living and if your guinea pig caught any disease before.

Thereafter, the vet will do a proper physical examination of your guinea pig, starting with the mouth, to check if there are any dental problems.

Then he will measure the heart rate of your guinea pig, and also assess the heart and lungs of your pet.

Your veterinarian will be performing all the necessary tests for your pet.

He will be taking the blood samples of your pet to detect any bacterial or viral infection among them.

The vet will also test the discharge from the nostril to detect the type of bacteria present.

During the diagnosis, the vet may perform various x-rays of your guinea pig, mainly of lungs and bran, which will help him conclude the exact cause of the disease.

Once the doctor diagnoses the problem, he will prescribe antibiotics and other necessary measures for faster recovery of the guinea pig.

How To Treat a Guinea Pig?

Proper Antibiotics

During checkup proper dosage of antibiotics is given to your pet.

Make sure you don’t indulge yourself in buying antibiotics for your pet as dosages are prescribed based on the weight of your pet and each pet has a different weight simultaneously there dosages will be different.

Antibiotics dosage must be given after proper bacterial culture and sensitivity testing of your guinea pig.

Relevant Health Care

Normally, guinea pigs can’t breathe effectively, and they require nasal breathers which allow them to breathe easily.

Which further prevents the blockage of any dust particles in their nasal lining otherwise it may become a life threat to them.

Their nostrils must be checked frequently to remove the discharge.

Nebulization is a must-do procedure.

Use normal saline water to nebulize your pet which will be useful in removing the dust particles.

Strict Check On His Diet

Make sure that during the illness period of your teeny tiny guinea pig eats properly.

This life-threatening disease can only be prevented by a proper diet rich in Vitamin C.

Provide Less Stress Environment

Keep your little teeny tiny away from stressful situations, as guinea pigs are easily caught up by stress which decreases their immune system.

With a low immune system, they allow the bacteria they once carried to cause respiratory infection easily.

What Are The Risk Factors of Getting Pneumonia?

Stressful Conditions

Stressful conditions are one of the most common causes that lead to the development of respiratory infections in your guinea pig.

Oral Steroid Medications

Multiple diseases occurring at the same time, and giving oral steroid medications are also the most important risk factor that develops respiratory infections in your guinea pig.

Scurvy

The deficiency of Vitamin C known as scurvy contributes towards developing respiratory infections.

Fiber Deficiency

Fiber deficiency in the diet may also contribute towards developing dental diseases in your little guinea pig.

Other Risk Factors

Other risk factors to be considered include poor animal husbandry, dirty bedding, and ammonia build-up from urine-soaked beddings and cleaning agents.

How to Avoid Guinea Pig Getting Pneumonia?

We must believe the fact that these teeny tiny guinea pigs do carry this bacteria with them all the time.

So, we need to take proper care of them to minimize the possible chances of getting sick.

Some of the safety measures are:

Avoid Air Conditioned Environment

If your guinea pig is sick, avoid using air conditioners.

Make sure to use air humidifiers to moist the environment for the settlement of dust particles.

Avoid bathing

The bathing of guinea pigs should be avoided when they are sick.

During the treatment period, a dry spray shower is recommended.

Clean Guinea pig’s Enclosure

The cage of the guinea pig must be cleaned frequently to make sure that there shouldn’t be any urine or other dust particles or moisture.

Urine and moisture accumulation can cause the collection of germs that are harmful to them.

Recycling of the bedding

For your Guinea pig, you should use recycled paper bedding.

Recycled paper beddings are the best option available to purchase because they are great absorbent, give less odor, and are easy to wash.

The recycled paper bedding will absorb all the mess created by the guinea pig’s urine.

Plus it will reduce urine smell so that your little pumpkin gets enough rest.

Proper Adequate diet

A proper healthy diet plays a very important role to prevent bacteria from attacking your pumpkin.

Guinea pigs must be fed high fiber essentially hay with proper vitamin C supplements.

Annual Follow up with Vet

A proper annual checkup of your little pumpkin by the veterinarian is very important, even when he is super fine.

Don’t forget to include their dental examination too.

Follow Up Of Your Guinea Pig

Once you got your guinea pig checked properly by the veterinarian,

You will have to keep a strict follow up which includes:

  • You will have to monitor the severity of nasal discharge.
  • Keep an eye on breathing difficulty.
  • Avoid any stressful conditions.
  • Avoid dental diseases by providing your pet with a high-fiber diet.
  • Ensure the diet contains sufficient Vitamin C.
  • Supplements are given as per the prescription of veterinarians.

Possible issues that may arise

Keep a check for loss of appetite and respiratory disorder which results from nasal obstruction.

Examine the lungs, ears, and eyes frequently for any possible extension of infection.

With all this follow up, two possible situations may arise:

  • Your teeny tiny little pumpkin may completely defeat the bacterial respiratory infections after completing the course of antibiotic therapy prescribed by your veterinarian
  • The second situation might prove worrisome for you in which your cute little pet may relapse as early as the antibiotic therapy is discontinued
  • Or it may have life-long infections off and on

Unfortunately, we cannot predict which course your guinea pig takes after the discontinuation of antibiotics therapy.

Final Thoughts

After adopting such a cute little creature it’s your responsibility to take his full care.

There is no ideal or flawless way to take complete care of your buddy because every guinea pig is different.

Therefore how you look after them is totally up to you, but you must take sensible steps to meet the needs of your guinea pig.

Guinea pig sneezing is not uncommon, and all you need to do is see any change in his physical activity, if diagnosed, without any delay go to the vet, have a proper checkup, use antibiotics and nebulizer.

A healthy balanced diet and proper vitamin C supplements play a vital role in his recovery.

Once he has recovered, go for his follow-up, because he might be small but if you lose him, he will leave an enormous paw print on your heart.

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