Guinea pigs are a great pet to have around. They are active creatures and can keep you busy for hours. While playing with them, you may notice your guinea pigs are sneezing. If this is your first time owning a guinea pig, you’ll probably worried if sneezing is normal or something is wrong with them.
Do guinea pigs sneeze? Yes, guinea pigs do sneeze. They will usually sneeze due to allergies, changes in the weather, or debris and dirt. This is normal and harmless as the body tries to rid foreign materials from the body. However, sneezing can be a sign of a more serious problem like a cold or respiratory infection.
In this short guide, we’ll go further in-depth to learn why guinea pigs sneeze, how they sneeze, and when you need to seek medical attention. This way, you’ll know what is a normal sneeze and a sneeze that requires a visit to the veterinary.
What Is A Sneeze?
Sneezing is an occurrence that happens when the body needs to get rid of foreign materials from the body. This is one part of the body’s defense systems.
When foreign materials such as dirt, debris, or dust are breathed in, they will start to irritate the nasal mucosa. The body will react to this by causing the body to sneeze. The sneeze is usually air being expelled from the lungs, but sometimes, mucous is also expelled.
For the most part, sneezing is something that cannot be controlled. Sneezing happens naturally as the body’s defense against foreign materials.
When it comes to guinea pigs, they too experience sneezing as well. Most of the time, sneezing is perfectly normal, but sometimes, when sneezing is excessive, it could mean there’s a problem with them.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
Guinea pigs are no different than humans when it comes to sneezing. They will sneeze to remove foreign materials from their system.
Normally, guinea pigs will sneeze due to something in their body like dust and dirt from the environment. As these materials get into their nose and throat, it will cause irritation. In response, the guinea pigs will sneeze to remove the materials. This is a way to keep the lungs clean and free from irritating objects.
Sneezing is normal and part of the guinea pig’s body defense against foreign materials. There’s nothing to worry about if they’re sneezing once in a while.
However, sneezing excessively over time can lead to a more serious problem like a respiratory infection. If they have any of the following symptoms, it’s likely they have a respiratory infection and will need to see a vet:
- Heavy or labored breathing
- Crackling sounds coming from within your pet
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
- Semi-closed eyes
If your guinea pigs don’t appear to have any of the symptoms above, they may have an allergic reaction to things around them. Below are some of the things that could cause them to be allergic to:
- The detergent used to clean their toys or other objects
- Detergents used to wash your clothes
- Aerosols / Air fresheners
- Cleaning products
- Aspen bedding
- Pine bedding
- Scented body care products like perfumes
How Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
The way guinea pigs sneeze is similar to humans. Right before starting to sneeze, they will stare out for a second or two and then make a high-pitched sound followed by head shaking. Sometimes, sneezing can be accompanied by mucus.
If there are any, guinea pigs will usually clean it up themselves. There may be some mucus that they can’t reach. If that happens, you will need to clean it for them so it doesn’t become crusty and cause irritation.
To clean, you need to use a warm, damp cloth to wipe them. Never use regular soap on guinea pigs. The chemicals in the soap could get ingested by them as they lick their furs to clean themselves.
Instead, to clean their face and the rest of their body, you can use specialized pet wipes. This wipe has been formulated with natural ingredients so it’s safe for them.
What Can Make Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
There are many things that can make guinea pigs sneeze. The most common cause is dust in the air. Dust is usually from the hay or litter residue left behind.
In most cases, dust due to the hay and litter is unavoidable and cannot be eliminated completely.
However, if your guinea pigs are suffering from it, you can try to use bedding that is free of dust. This should help them relieve them from sneezing too often.
Even though the bedding is dust-free, there will always be some dust around them. Dust in the environment is invisible to the naked eye.
Changes In The Weather
Another reason they may sneeze is due to the changes in the weather. This can happen anytime during the year, especially during the winter months.
If the temperature gets warm and dry, this may start to irritate the guinea pig’s nasal passageways. This irritation will cause them to sneeze.
Sometimes they may start to develop a runny nose along with sneezing. This can also be caused by allergies. If you suspect they have allergies, it’s recommended to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. They will either prescribe medication to treat the allergy or you may simply need to buy specially formulated food or bedding.
Letting the guinea pigs live with allergies will affect their health and could potentially be deadly as well. For that reason, always seek medical attention if you suspect them of having an allergy.
What Does Sneezing Mean In Guinea Pigs?
A guinea pig that’s sneezing once in a while is no cause for concerns. There are dust and other particles floating in the environment at all times. When guinea pigs breathe some of it in, they will sneeze to prevent the particles from getting into their body.
However, when guinea pigs start to sneeze more than normal, that should be something you need to look into.
Excessive sneezing is a sign the guinea pig is sick. Along with sneezing, they will often be coughing or wheezing as well. They will make a lot of noise when they are sick.
In addition, heavy breathing is also a sign that they are sick. They make start to make a deep sound, but later it will start to become a crackling sound.
Discharge from the eyes is another sign that the guinea pigs are not feeling well. They will keep their eyes half shut and have watery eyes.
If you notice any of the above signs, the guinea pigs are sick and should be taken to the veterinary immediately for treatment.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
How often guinea pigs sneeze will depend on several factors. It depends on the season, the environment they are in, and the materials you’re using for their cage.
Normally, a couple of times per day you will find them sneezing.
On the other hand, if they are sneezing more often, it could mean they are allergic to their bedding. This is the first thing to check. Start by removing their bedding for a day and see if the sneezing stop. If it does, it means the bedding is the problem and should be changed with something else.
If the bedding isn’t the issue, check the environment that they are in. If you’ve placed their cage next to the windows, dust, and debris from outside may cause them to sneeze excessively. Try moving their cage to a different location to see if that cures the sneezing problem.
Guinea pigs do sneeze and it’s natural for them to prevent foreign particles from entering their body. If they sneeze a few times per day, this is normal and you don’t have to worry about it. When they start to sneeze excessively, that’s when it could be a problem. When in doubt why they sneeze too often, you should take them to the veterinarian for further examination.