Over the last two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot and experienced a new way of life. Many of us have been troubled by worries regarding the state of the world, our health, and the health of our friends and family. But what about the health of our furry family members, like guinea pigs?
Well, the likelihood of guinea pigs contracting COVID 19 is extremely low but the chances are still there.
The limited research about domesticated animals contracting COVID-19 has been primarily focused on larger household pets like cats and dogs. However, there is some information you should be aware of as well as general health practices you can use to help keep your guinea pig healthy.
What Do We Know About Guinea Pigs and the Corona Virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a variety of animals including “pets like cats and dogs, farmed mink, and large cats, gorillas, and otters in zoos, sanctuaries, and aquariums” have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19. They go on to state that the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low but that people who are sick with the virus can spread it to animals during close contact.
In a study posted in 2005, guinea pigs were experimentally infected with novel reovirus and coronavirus isolated from SARS patients. The guinea pigs infected with ReoV alone died between days 22 and 30 post-inoculation, while the animals infected with both ReoV and SARS-CoV died between days four and seven. Some of the results included pulmonary epithelial necrosis and fibrosis of pulmonary tissue, but guinea pigs infected with SARS-CoV suffered interstitial pneumonitis.
All of this goes to say that although guinea pigs could potentially become ill with this type of virus, the likelihood is extremely low in the average household. For this reason, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has advised that there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that could compromise their health or welfare.
How Can We Keep Guinea Pigs Safe from COVID-19?
Cleanliness is sometimes called the first law of health, and that applies to both humans and animals. One of the most critical steps in preventing illness and promoting good health for yourself, your family, and your pets is frequent handwashing. When possible, it is best to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, but using a hand sanitizer can be a good second option.
It is also important to clean and sanitize the surfaces of your home, including all of your pet’s space. Any items or surfaces which are handled regularly, like your cavy’s food bowls, water bottles, and toys, should be cleaned regularly.
Additionally, you should be mindful of your own health, by practicing safe habits, frequently washing your hands, and limiting travel and social activities. This is because you or other members of your family could accidentally pass COVID-19 or other illnesses onto your guinea pig.
Ideally, if you become ill with COVID-19 or have to self-isolate, you should limit close contact such as cuddling, kissing, or petting with your cavy until you are well again. If you have to care for your guinea pig whilst suffering from the virus, you should wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after handling your pig.
If you have any questions or concerns relating to your guinea pig contracting COVID-19, you can always reach out to your veterinarian. As always, please do not make any changes to your guinea pig’s diet or living conditions without consulting a professional