Skip to main content

Guinea Pig Sneezing: Causes and When It's a Concern

I enjoy writing about issues related to the health and wellness of animals and providing guidance to pet owners on simple home remedies.

Guinea Pig Sneezing: Causes and When It's a Concern

Guinea Pig Sneezing: Causes and When It's a Concern

While it is normal for guinea pigs to sneeze periodically, sneezing more than 2-4 times per day may be a reason for concern. Hay or straw dust may cause sneezing in guinea pigs, but it can also be a symptom of harmful pneumonia. This article will help you understand when to be concerned about your guinea pig's sneezing and what you can do to help.

When Sneezing Is Normal in Guinea Pigs

There shouldn't be much cause for concern if your guinea pig is sneezing without any other symptoms, as they typically do so two to four times per day. However, if the amount of sneezing is bothersome, you could try reducing the amount of dust your guinea pig is exposed to. This will help reduce the frequency of sneezing. Always buy hay that is labeled as having been "dust extracted." However, keep in mind that no hay will ever be 100% dust-free.

You must continue to provide your pet with enough hay to meet their daily needs. An adult guinea pig can consume between 90 and 100 grams of hay per day. Providing fresh hay at least twice per day will be a wise choice. To forage and eat, you can make a couple of piles around their cage. Make sure they always have a lot of hay available at all times.

Signs and Symptoms of Illness

Sneezing in guinea pigs may indicate they have a cold or even pneumonia when accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Runny Nose and Eyes: If your guinea pig exhibits any symptoms of the common cold, such as sneezing accompanied by a runny nose or eyes, you may be able to treat him at home with warmth and plenty of fluids. Take him to the vet to rule out a more serious condition, like pneumonia, if the symptoms don't subside in a day or two.
  • Coughing: Coughing in guinea pigs sounds like a brief choking noise. Although brief, it does sound somewhat like human coughing. Sometimes a cough will be accompanied by a sneeze or wheezing sound, which could mean that your guinea pig's breathing is being labored. As a result, veterinary treatment is needed.
  • Wheezing: A veterinarian should be consulted right away if your pet is wheezing or having trouble breathing. When a guinea pig has a systemic fungal infection, it typically sneezes and has breathing issues as well. Only prescription medication is available for this kind of infection.
  • Sleepiness: Guinea pigs need to sleep to survive, just like humans do, but getting too much sleep may indicate a more serious health problem. An animal who sleeps more than usual may be stressed or anxious about something. Consult a veterinarian if the sneezing is accompanied by half-open eyes, especially if he is uninterested in his food as well.

When to Call a Veterinarian

Your guinea pig may have a respiratory infection if any of the symptoms listed above are present. A minor cold can make a guinea pig very ill in a matter of days. It's time to call your veterinarian for advice; the sooner you get him treated, the better his chances of making a full recovery. Your veterinarian's prompt treatment will give him the greatest chance of recovering quickly.

During your guinea pig's physical examination, your veterinarian will listen to its lungs. To pinpoint the precise bacteria causing the respiratory infection, he will also take swabs. The results of the diagnostic tests will be used by your veterinarian to decide which antibiotic will successfully treat your guinea pig's respiratory issue at home.

Your veterinarian's prompt treatment will give your guinea pig the greatest chance of recovery.

Your veterinarian's prompt treatment will give your guinea pig the greatest chance of recovery.

How to Treat a Guinea Pig’s Cold at Home

  1. Administer medicine: If your veterinarian has advised taking liquid antibiotics, administer the drops using a medicine dropper into the guinea pig's mouth. You could put the drops on his favorite food if he rejects that. If you are having trouble giving antibiotics to your guinea pig, talk to your veterinarian.
  2. Clean their cage: Keep your guinea pig's cage clean by changing out his bedding at least twice a week to prevent future coughing and sneezing. You won't want your pet to experience another respiratory issue after having one treated. One of the most effective ways to avoid a future respiratory issue is to keep his cage clean.
  3. Proper bedding: Use bedding correctly in your guinea pig’s cage. Your guinea pig's nose won't be sufficiently irritated by dust-free bedding to trigger excessive sneezing. Correct bedding changes will also help to ward off subsequent respiratory infections. Frequently and whenever it gets dirty or wet, the bedding should be changed. Mold can grow in wet bedding, increasing the risk of future respiratory infections in your guinea pig.
  4. Supplement their diet: Preventing respiratory issues in guinea pigs requires adequate vitamin C intake. Guinea pigs must obtain vitamin C from food because their bodies are unable to produce it. Foods high in vitamin C include mustard greens, parsley, broccoli, and green peppers. To ensure he gets enough Vitamin C, your veterinarian may advise taking dietary supplements.

Final Thoughts

Sneezing in guinea pigs that happens 2-4 times per day is completely normal. However, excessive sneezing brought on by hay or straw dust may call for modifying his bedding to address the issue. However, symptoms other than sneezing could be a sign of a very serious illness in guinea pigs. Runny nose, coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, and unusual sleepiness are all symptoms of the common cold or pneumonia, a more severe respiratory condition.

Determine the exact cause of the illness and its severity with the help of your veterinarian. If your veterinarian recommends antibiotics, you can speed your guinea pig's recovery by giving the drops as directed at home. To lessen sneezing, keep his bedding clean and use dust-free hay or straw. You can further improve the current and future health and well-being of your guinea pig by supplementing his diet with vitamin C.

Sources and Further Reading

  • How to Treat Respiratory Problems in Guinea Pigs: 15 Steps
    Respiratory problems, such as colds and pneumonia, are common in guinea pigs. Unfortunately, minor respiratory problems, like a cough or sneeze, can make a guinea pig extremely sick within a matter of days.
  • Guinea Pig - Wikipedia
    Hay or straw dust can also cause sneezing. While it is normal for guinea pigs to sneeze periodically, frequent sneezing may be a symptom of pneumonia, especially in response to atmospheric changes.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Louise