A sneeze can be typical for human beings, but is it the same for our guinea pigs as well? Can sneezing be a bad sign for our guinea pig’s health? I went to my vet with the question ‘why is my guinea pig sneezing?’ and what he taught me was significant for my guinea pigs and me since then.
Various factors like dust & smoke in the environment, foreign particles in the nasal passage, & upper respiratory infection can trigger sneezing in guinea pigs. Watch out for other symptoms to determine the right cause and consult a vet if necessary.
Guinea pigs have a sensitive respiratory system, and a simple change in their environment can trigger an infection in it.
Look out if something around them is causing an allergic reaction. If not, watch out for further signs of illness in your guinea pigs.
Okay, I understand that my guinea pig is sneezing. But how bad can a sneeze be? This was my second thought when I caught my guinea pigs sneezing for the first time. Let’s see what I learned from my vet later.
Is it bad if my guinea pig sneezes?
If the sneeze is caused by an allergen in the environment or just from the dust of hay, etc. then it is totally fine.
However, sneezing caused by Respiratory diseases like Upper respiratory infection can be bad for your guinea pigs.
A well made first aid kit can always come in handy if some serious medical condition arises. Check out our guide on How to assemble the perfect first-aid kit for your guinea pig.
The next question that stuck my mind was why do guinea pigs in the first place, what factors trigger the same. Let’s see what I found out.
Why do guinea pigs sneeze?
There can be a lot of reasons that can trigger sneeze in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs don’t sneeze without a cause. So, if you notice your guinea pig is sneezing, it must be one of these reasons:
- A respiratory disease like Upper Respiratory Infection
- An allergic reaction to something around them. E.g.: Dust, Smoke, Aroma, etc.
- Hay or food particles stuck in the nasal passage
- Nasal passage blockage due to any other reason.
- Scented body care or washing liquid used to clean the fleece bedding.
While sneezing due to allergens and hay is quite common and should not concern you much. A respiratory disease-causing sneeze could be fatal at the same time.
Do guinea pigs sneeze a lot?
No, guinea pigs don’t usually sneeze a lot. Occasional sneezing is common in guinea pigs due to allergens in the living environment.
However, frequent sneezing could be a sign of respiratory diseases like Upper Respiratory Infection(URI) or pneumonia.
You should look for other symptoms of diseases as well to determine the cause and seek treatment.
How many times a day should a guinea pig sneeze?
If your guinea pigs sneeze for 1-2 times a day, then it can be ignored safely. However, frequent sneezing accompanied by other symptoms could be a respiratory infection.
You can prevent sneezing in guinea pigs by following some simple steps. We shall discuss these later in the article.
Should I be worried if my guinea pig is sneezing?
An occasional sneeze in your guinea pigs should not be a significant concern for you.
However, if you catch them sneezing frequently, then you might need to investigate a little deeper to find the cause.
Sometimes, hay particles or food particles can get into their nasal passage, causing irritation and sneezing.
However, other times it could be due to someone serious health issues like a respiratory infection.
You might need to look at other symptoms to understand why is your guinea pig sneezing and how bad it can be for your guinea pigs.
Guinea pig sneezing and running nose and crusty eyes
If your guinea pig is sneezing and has a runny nose and crusty eyes, then it can be a sign of Upper respiratory infection(URI).
I would suggest to look out for more symptoms like Refusal to eat or drink, labored breathing, Discharge from eyes or nose, Lethargy, etc.
If you notice any of these symptoms accompanying the sneeze, then the chances of URI are very high.
It would be wise to visit a vet immediately. URI can get fatal within a day or two itself, and thus it can be terrible for your guinea pig’s well-being.
Guinea pig sneezing and coughing
Guinea pig sneezing and coughing is also a possible symptom of Upper respiratory infection in them.
They usually don’t catch a cold, so if you find them sneezing and coughing, chances are they are suffering from URI.
Sometimes, pneumonia is also a cause of sneezing and coughing in guinea pigs.
It would be wise to visit the vet immediately if your guinea pig has started coughing. Coughing is usually a sign of serious illness in guinea pigs.
Guinea pig sneezes when eating hay
Sneezing when eating hay is usually not a significant concern for guinea pigs.
They often sneeze when the grass is dusty, and the dust from the hay irritates their nose. That usually happens if you introduce a new brand of hay or serve dusty hay to your guinea pigs.
However, be aware that prolonged exposure to such dust can lead to severe respiratory diseases in guinea pigs.
Guinea pig sneezing but no other symptoms
Sneezing can be triggered due to various factors in guinea pigs. An allergen in the living environment, dust, foreign particles in the nasal passage like food leftovers, hay, or some severe respiratory infection like URI can trigger sneezing.
However, since your guinea pig is not showing any other sign, it could be due to some allergen in the area.
You can prevent that by making sure you maintain a healthy and clean living environment, use good quality bedding(avoid pine or wood shaving), and provide excellent quality hay to your guinea pigs.
It is recommended to have a close watch at your guinea pig for any other symptoms as guinea pigs are good at hiding diseases.
They can suppress the symptoms long enough that the condition gets critical by the time you notice something. Also, if you find your guinea pig is repeatedly sneezing, then visit a vet as soon as possible.
Sometimes the aroma of essential oil or scented candles can also be the reason which we usually never think of. Learn more about it in our in-depth guide: Can essential oil cause respiratory issues in guinea pigs?
Guinea pig sneezing blood
Sneezing blood is a rare sight in guinea pigs. If there is a little blood dripping out, then it could be due to hay poke in their nostrils.
However, if you notice severe nose bleed, which didn’t stop even after cleaning it or it starts bleeding again in some time, then you must rush to a vet immediately.
Severe nose bleed is a sign that something is undoubtedly wrong with your guinea pigs. Also, make sure your guinea pigs don’t inhale the blood as it can cause pneumonia and other health issues in guinea pigs.
How can I stop my guinea pigs from sneezing?
If you find your guinea pig sneezing occasionally, then it should not be a concern. However, frequent sneezing can be a bad sign.
Look out for other symptoms to find out the cause of sneezing. If you follow some good practices, you can prevent sneezing in guinea pigs.
Litter training your guinea pigs, spot cleaning, and a thorough deep clean every week should avoid waste buildup in the cage. It is often seen that waste buildup can increase ammonia levels in the air around, which triggers allergy and sneezing in guinea pigs.
The location of your guinea pig’s cage can also be an issue. If you have placed the cage in an area that doesn’t have much ventilation or airflow, or there is smoke from your kitchen or fireplace coming, then that can also be an issue for your guinea pigs.
Always make sure you place the cage in a well-ventilated area away from smoke and fumes from the kitchen.
Always make sure you use good quality bedding in your guinea pig’s cage. I prefer guinea dad fleece liner as they are super absorbent, odorless and prevents germs buildup. You can also use other bedding options like Carefresh paper bedding.
Providing good quality hay is another essential factor to consider. Hay dust allergy is common in guinea pigs, as well as humans. Prolonged use of dusty hay can lead to respiratory diseases in guinea pigs. Thus, I would recommend using good quality hay like Oxbow hay and Small pet select hay.
Visiting a vet is recommended if the sneezing continues for some time, or you see any other signs of diseases in your guinea pigs.
Sources: CARING FOR YOUR GUINEA PIG, RESPIRATORY INFECTION, Dyspnea in guinea pigs, Viral Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs, Respiratory Bacterial Disease in Guinea Pigs, Mechanics of Respiration in Unanesthetized Guinea Pigs