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What Are Guinea Pigs Allergic To?

Updated on February 22, 2016
Fortunately, guinea pigs are NOT allergic to cuteness.
Fortunately, guinea pigs are NOT allergic to cuteness.

Although guinea pigs are becoming more popular as pets, not all vets and pet-sitters know what they are allergic to. It is therefore up to you as guinea pig guardian to know. Here are the main allergens:

Aloe Vera

This popular antibacterial is natural and gentle enough for babies and puppies, but not guinea pigs. It makes them itch. Even products with a small percentage of aloe vera will irritate a piggy's skin so much they will scratch themselves open. This was discovered only a few years ago, so any older books that recommend aloe vera gel for guinea pigs are wrong.

Cedar Shavings

Cedar is a cheap and widely available bedding often touted for guinea pigs. However, they are allergic to the oils in cedar bedding. Over time, they will develop health problems in their internal organs. Some will immediately get skin rashes from it.

Chocolate

Chocolate will make guinea pigs very sick, if it doesn't kill them. They just can't handle it. You probably already know this, but anyone visiting may not. Guinea pigs tend to explore the world with their mouths, so they will nibble on a proffered piece.

Iceberg Lettuce

Guinea pigs will argue with you about this, as they do love the taste, however, iceberg lettuce is the least nutritious of lettuces and can cause painful digestive problems. It is also thought that iceberg lettuce may contribute to kidney problems, so stick with the Romaine.

Pine Bedding

Pine was considered the premium guinea pig bedding until a few years ago, when it was proven that not only can it bring about liver damage with long term use, but it's also a home for mites that not only bother small animals, but can make pet owners itch, too.

Certain Medications

Penicillin

Just as it would with a human who is allergic, penicillin will kill unless an antidote is administered in time. Death is usually by diarrhea, as all of the good bacteria in the digestive system is killed off. As most other pets are not allergic to penicillin, it couldn't hurt to gently remind your vet.

Other Medications to Avoid

  • amoxicillin (Clavamox)
  • ampicillin
  • bacitracin
  • cefadroxil
  • cephalexin * (derivative: Cefadroxil)
  • cephalosporins
  • cephazolin
  • chlortetracycline
  • clindamycin
  • dihydrostreptomycin
  • erythromycin
  • lincomycin
  • oxytetracycline
  • streptomycin

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