Sneezing is just as normal for guinea pigs as it is for their human friends, and you may be wondering: Why is my guinea pig sneezing? They sneeze for the same reason that we do as well—to get rid of any stray particles in their nose and respiratory tract. These foreign particles include things like dust, traces of smoke, or even whatever scented products are in the air around them.
Guinea pig sneezes are nothing to worry about until they become more frequent and are followed by some other symptoms. Read on to know all there is to know about guinea pig sneezes!
What are guinea pig sneezes like?
Guinea pigs will sneeze anywhere from two to four times a day! However, if your piggy’s ah-choo’s are exceeding that number, this may be a cause for some concern.
Their sneezes are quite similar to human sneezes as well—they usually involve a little squeak and a shake of the head. Sometimes their sneezes will come with a little bit of discharge out of their nose, which is also normal! They usually will clean away this discharge themselves, but when they need help you can wipe it away with a cloth that is slightly damp with warm water!
What makes guinea pigs sneeze?
The allergies can be to any number of different things, but the most common is dust, whether it’s from their bedding or just whatever is floating around in the air, or even pollen. The scent particles of things like air fresheners or room sprays, detergents, or other cleaning products can irritate their little noses as well.
As you can see, allergies are usually environmental, so you’ll need to make some changes in your home in order to keep them comfortable.
Changes in weather
Just like with some humans who have sensitive noses and allergies, a simple change in the weather can be an irritant for their noses! Sometimes when there’s drastic changes in weather, this can be the first thing that causes some sneezing.
As we know, guinea pigs are quite anxious little critters, so stress isn’t anything new to them. However, excess stress can cause your guinea pigs to sneeze a little more than usual.
Stress also weakens their immune system, which makes them more likely to be reactive when it comes to their allergies and it makes them susceptible to respiratory infections. To learn more about upper respiratory infections in guinea pigs, check out our full blog post for more information.
There are some causes of stress that can be the underlying reason why your piggies are sneezing a little more than usual! These include moving around from owner to owner, new piggy friends being introduced, overcrowded living conditions, bullying from their piggy friends, or even when they’re not getting enough exercise.
Not enough vitamins
Vitamin C isn’t just vital for preventing scurvy, but it also strengthens their immune system and helps them fight against infections and illness. When they don’t have enough vitamin C in their diet, it puts them at risk for respiratory infections, which can be life-threatening.
Make sure you are feeding your guinea pigs the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients! If you’re not sure which fruits and vegetables to feed your guinea pig, check out our Vegetable Master List and our Fruits Master List. Both these posts have a chart of the common fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs can eat and how much of it can be fed to them, as well as some key nutritional facts that you need to know.
Upper Respiratory Infection
We keep mentioning this because it’s super important to your guinea pig’s health that you keep an eye out for the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection (URI) in guinea pigs. If your piggy has a URI, then the sneezing is a symptom that is hinting at this underlying URI problem!
Other signs to look out for
If your guinea pig is not only sneezing, but they’re also coughing as well, or have shortness of breath, it should be a cause for concern. At this point, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian to see what the next steps to treating your guinea pig and relieving them would be.
We mentioned before that sometimes when guinea pigs sneeze, there will be some discharge that comes with it. However, if the discharge is a strange yellowish color, this could be a sign of underlying respiratory problems.
All these symptoms, alongside sudden weight loss is definitely something to be concerned about. Of course, weight loss goes hand in hand with loss of appetite and the decrease in the amount of food they’re eating. This is especially the point where you want to consult your veterinarian to see what needs to be done to help your piggy!
What are the solutions to excessive guinea pig sneezing?
Consider moving their cage
If your guinea pig lives indoors in your home with you, there may be some things in the vicinity of their living area that could be irritating their little noses! As listed above, try not to use too many scented air fresheners or sprays, and try to vacuum and spot clean their cage as often as you can to remove the dust around them.
Change the kind of bedding you use
If you’re using paper shreds and wood shavings as bedding, the dust from these can be irritating for your guinea pig’s nose and their respiratory system in general, and can put them at risk of URIs. The best bedding to use would be fleece guinea pig cage liners, as it’s easy to keep the dust away from them.
The GuineaDad Premium Liner and GuineaDad Liner are the best option for fleece bedding, as they have antibacterial agents that coat the fibers and inhibit bacterial growth, reducing the chances that your guinea pig contracts a URI.
Making sure their bedding absorbs their urine and dries quickly is also the key in reducing the amount of irritants for your guinea pig. The GuineaDad liners are ultra-absorbent and dry quickly, keeping your piggy comfortable and safe.
Clean their cage often
Try to spot clean by vacuuming up their poops, excess hay mess, and any dust that is in the area. This can make a big difference not only for your guinea pig, but it reduces the amount of cleaning you have to do on your actual cage cleaning days as well. Cleaning often will also eliminate bacteria and prevent bacteria from lingering and making your piggy sick.
Change the way you feed your guinea pig hay
Hay piles inevitably create a lot of dust! When the hay lies around, guinea pigs will walk and run through them, creating dust that can irritate their noses. Try out the GuineaDad Hay Box and GuineaDad Hay Bar, both products that are meant to reduce hay mess and reduce the amount of harmful hay dust that can irritate your guinea pig’s respiratory tract.
Gesundheit! Salud and bless you!
In order to keep your guinea pigs healthy and comfortable, and to help reduce the amount of sneezing they have to do to clear their sinuses, we should do our part as piggy parents to reduce the amount of irritants around them!
So all that’s left to do is say, gesundheit!