You may be wondering, for starters, if it’s actually possible for your guinea pig to sneeze.
The short answer is yes, and the longer answer is that it’s a good idea not to take sneezing lightly. A guinea pig sneezing can mean that he’s unwell, and a trip to the vet may be in order.
Ahhhh Chooooo – watwatwat.
It’s important to monitor your pet’s health and get care for him before he’s actually sick. That means that you should engage a vet before you actually have the need for one. If you don’t establish yourself with the vet—you’ll require an exotic vet for your guinea pig—you won’t be able to get a quick appointment if your piggy is sick. Getting him immediate care when he’s sick can mean the difference between life and death.
We have a dozen symptoms you should watch for:
2. Difficulty breathing or wheezing
3. Loss of interest in his food or water
4. Eyes that look crusty or runny
5. Coat looking ruffled or puffy
6. Eyes with a dull or recessed appearance
7. Walking with a limp
8. Unsteadiness or dizziness
9. Scratching excessively, including hair loss
11. Blood in urine or stools
12. Lethargy or loss of interest
Upper respiratory infections, also known as URIs, are not limited to people; your pet can definitely get one. Unlike people, guinea pigs do not get viral respiratory infections; for them it is always a bacterial infection. Failure to get him prompt medical attention could result in his death. At the first sign of infection, including sneezing, take him for treatment, because he can die in a day or less.
Since guinea pigs in the order of things are preyed upon by other animals, it is in their nature to conceal their weaknesses. For that reason, you may not notice if he is feeling poorly, and sneezing will be one definite symptom that he can’t hide.
Once you take him to the vet, you can expect the doctor to assess your pet for dehydration as well as infection. He will also use his stethoscope to check the guinea pig’s heart and lungs, and he may want to order an x-ray.
If antibiotics are necessary, follow the vet’s instructions carefully, because guinea pigs are generally very sensitive to antibiotics. This type of medication is always administered by mouth and not injected, so it will be up to you to make certain your pet takes it, and then you will have to watch how he reacts to it. They cannot, in fact, take penicillin or erythromycin at all—including other medications that end in -cillin or -mycin—so never try to give antibiotics to your pet unless your vet has instructed you.
Antibiotics upset the natural bacterial balance in the guinea pig’s intestines, and he could quickly develop diarrhoea or become dehydrated and die from that rather than from his initial infection.
It can take weeks for your pet to recover from a URI.
A Bothered Nose
Your guinea pig may also sneeze if he is affected by a condition that bothers his nose. This could be either a fungal condition like ringworm or a vitamin deficiency called cheilitis that causes crusting along his upper lip and nose.
Fungus generally appears first on the face, and he will appear to have small patches of bare skin; they might be itchy or even crusted. If you suspect a fungus, quarantine your pet immediately, because it will spread to your other pets. You can treat him with an antifungal shampoo that contains ketoconazole, miconazole, or clotrimazole.
You can also find miconazole and clotrimazole as creams. You will want to clean the itchy or crusted area thoroughly and then apply the cream.
If you’ve ever seen a guinea pig with cheilitis, you’ll understand why the poor thing sneezes—the sores that pop up along his upper lip to the openings of his nostrils certainly have a sore appearance about them. This type of infection could be caused from yeast or from a staphylococcus bacterium, so this is another case for the vet to look at. He will recommend an antiseptic solution for cleaning the sores and an ointment to heal them.
In some cases, your guinea pig may have small irritating sores related to a vitamin C deficiency. Make certain he’s getting between 10 and 30 mg/kg every day. Don’t overdo it, however; if he already has sufficient vitamin C in his daily regimen, take him to the vet for a definitive diagnosis of the sore and for your guinea pig’s sneezing.
Never feel that you are overreacting to possible symptoms of illness.
If it’s a mild once off sneeze all is good. If it persists, you now know what to do!
Sneezing in your guinea pig, like the other symptoms mentioned above, can indicate a serious illness with the potential to worsen rapidly for your pet. When in doubt, call the vet.