Guinea pigs rarely cough, sneeze or show signs of respiratory issues. This is why when a guinea pig coughs it may get you alarmed and you might wonder why is my guinea pig coughing? Here’s why:
Guinea pigs cough and sneeze for a number of reasons. It can either be due to an infection in the respiratory tract or an allergy. If the coughing is not too intense and is more of a one-time thing, you shouldn’t be worried. However, if it is intense, you need to get your pet checked out by a vet immediately.
Respiratory infection in guinea pigs is a serious threat and unlike humans, a guinea pig’s coughing doesn’t go away after a week. It requires thorough care.
If you’re hearing this the first time, here’s what you should know.
A Detailed Insight Into Guinea Pigs Coughing – What Causes It?
Respiratory infections and allergies are caused by the environment. But, what environment are we talking about? By environment, we’re generally referring to dust in the air or in the surroundings.
- The hay you’re feeding your pet piggy may contain dust – Dust needs to be extracted from it. Or you can simply change your pet’s hay.
- If you’re using wood shavings as your pet’s bedding, it may contain dust which is causing your pet to cough – Ideally, you should switch your pet’s bedding to a different type, such as fleece bedding.
If switching your pet’s hay and the bedding doesn’t help, your pet may be in some real trouble here. Signs like frequent sniffing, coughing, and sneezing may be an early indication of a serious respiratory infection.
In either case, you will have to rush your pet to the vet immediately. This is because infections in guinea pigs spread rapidly. Within just 24 hours, your pet’s health will worsen and you will see a discharge from your pet’s nose.
Additionally, your pet may also suffer from difficulty breathing which eventually leads to pneumonia and followed by death within 2 – 3 days.
Don’t panic yet, we have got you covered. Here’s a detailed insight into its causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
4 Major Factors That Lead To Respiratory Infections
Below are some factors that cause respiratory infections and other complications in your pet piggy. Make sure to check these out to get your pet the help it needs.
1) Infections Transmitted From Other Pets:
One reason to rule out is that respiratory infections in guinea pigs can be transmitted from other pets. If you have a pet dog or a rabbit and they’re coughing and sneezing, it can be transmitted to your guinea pig.
The best way to avoid this from happening is to wash your hands thoroughly before any physical contact with your pet friend.
2) Poor Environmental Conditions:
As mentioned earlier, poor environmental conditions may lead to infections in the upper respiratory tract of your dear one. Dust may enter your pet’s surroundings by one of the following sources:
- The hay you’re feeding your pet.
- Your pet’s bedding.
- Taking your pet outside in windy conditions
Additionally, if you only occasionally bathe your pet and not regularly, it may also cause respiratory infections.
The best way to avoid this is to take care of your pet’s hygiene and avoid exposure to dust since a guinea pig is a sensitive animal. Besides, bathing your pet routinely will also help prevent it from smelling.
3) Certain Bacterias And Germs Can Cause Respiratory Infections:
Just like any other animal, guinea pigs are also prone to infections caused by certain bacterias and germs whether they’re airborne or not. Two major bacterias that cause infections in your little one’s body include:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Streptococcus Pneumonia
Apart from bacterias, it can also be caused by certain allergies that are triggered due to changes in the diet, routine, or climate.
4) Lack Of Vitamin C In Your Pet’s Diet:
Guinea pigs suffer from the common cold and it could lead to infections if your pet’s immune system is weak. Your little one cannot produce or store vitamin C in its body, which is a crucial part of having a strong immunity.
A deficiency of vitamin C can end up being deadly for your pet piggy. Here are some signs that will help you diagnose a deficiency of vitamin C in your pet’s body:
- Swollen feet
- Ulcers in mouth
- Swollen joints
To help ensure your pet doesn’t suffer from a deficiency of vitamin C, feed your pet guinea pig pellet and other foods that are rich in vitamin C. These can either be strawberries, oranges, and Brussel sprouts.
How To Diagnose Respiratory Problems In Guinea Pigs?
Diagnosing the illness in the early stages will not only help save your pet’s life but also ease the pain for your adorable little friend.
This requires paying close attention to your pet. Don’t worry, the steps are easy to follow and you will diagnose your pet piggy in no time.
1) Observing Physical Signs Of Respiratory Problems:
Physical signs will give you a general idea of the intensity of the illness. Here’s what you need to examine:
- Listen to the breathing patterns of your pet friend – Your pet will likely have trouble breathing if he or she is suffering from a respiratory complication.
If your pet is wheezing and you hear the sounds of clicking, your pet may be infected. Similarly, in case of allergies, your pet may only be breathing loudly.
- Check your pet’s eyes. Pick up your pet firmly and examine its eyes. If you notice any discharge (it will either be yellow or green colored) from its eyes he or she may have an infection.
Additionally, the eyes may appear red.
- Check your pet’s nose: Discharge from the nose is also an indication of respiratory infections. Ideally, the discharge will only appear if your pet is sneezing. Similar to the discharge from the eyes, it will also be yellow or green.
A red nose may also be a sign of respiratory infection.
- Examine your pet’s overall physical health: Health issues like respiratory infections are severely draining for your pet in terms of its energy levels. Your pet may appear weak, and sick. Additionally, its fur will also appear rough.
If you notice multiple signs from the list mentioned above, it is safe to assume that your pet piggy is suffering from a respiratory infection.
However, to further strengthen your diagnosis, you can observe its behavior as well.
2) Observing Changes In Your Pet Piggy’s Behavior:
Apart from the physical changes, a guinea pig’s behavior may also change if he or she is sick. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for:
- Changes in the appetite: When your little one is not feeling well, he or she will usually turn its head away from foods. If your pet is not eating how it should, you should know that something is wrong with your pet’s health.
- Your pet may not appear playful or active: Guinea pigs are adorable little pocket pets and they are most commonly owned due to their playful nature. Complications like respiratory infections are physically draining for your furry little one.
This will make your pet inactive, and less playful. Additionally, he or she may also refuse to socialize and interact with his fellow guinea pig if you own multiple pets.
- Observe If Anything Is Stressing Out Your Pet: If your pet is stressed, his/her chances of getting sick increase significantly. A stressed guinea pig will likely have a relatively weak immune system and hence it increases the chances of your pet suffering from issues like respiratory infections.
Stress in guinea pigs is usually caused by sudden changes in the routine and pregnancy. Additionally, if you introduce your pet to a new guinea pig and the cage is too small for both of them, it will also stress your pet friend.
4 Steps To Get Your Guinea Pig The Help It Needs
After checking for all the signs of illness, if you find your pet suffering from a respiratory infection, it is about time you should get professional help. Here’s what you need to do:
1) Take Your Pet To The Local Vet:
Pack up, and take your pet to see the doctor immediately. Keep in mind, the condition of your little one can worsen within a matter of minutes. This is why you need to leave whatever you’re doing and go see the vet.
For first aid measures, a wise thing to do would be to call your vet before you actually take your pet to the veterinarian. Discuss the symptoms with the vet and get professional advice from him.
Make sure to cover every single detail to ensure your little one gets the right treatment. Your vet will likely ask you about your pet’s diet, and any previous sickness or injuries that your pet suffered in the past.
2) Let The Vet Examine Your Pet For Further Diagnostics:
Your vet will likely reconfirm and check for the same things that you did to examine your pet’s condition. The only difference is that the vet may also check your little one’s lymph nodes.
This is because the lymph nodes usually grow in size when your pet is infected. Additionally, he or she may also observe the dental health of your furry friend.
Bonus fact: Swollen mouth and misaligned teeth may also indicate an infection in your pet piggy.
3) Get X-Rays For The Final Verdict:
The frequency and intensity of the infection can only be determined by getting some x-rays done. Let your vet take x-rays as he sees fit.
Keep in mind, you might need multiple x-rays. These include:
- X-rays of the skull
- X-rays of the chest
Don’t worry, x-rays are perfectly safe for your pet and they won’t get harmed. Besides, an x-ray is the only thing that can tell you the chances of your pet friend’s recovery.
4) Get A Detailed Diagnostics Of The Infection Causing Bacteria:
Since infections are mostly caused by bacterias and germs, it is wise to get to the source and identify the root cause of the infection. For this, your vet will have to take some samples.
It is usually done by taking a swab from your pet piggy’s nose. Additionally, your pet may even consider taking a sample from the tracheal wash.
Don’t worry, your pet will be sedated throughout the whole process so there is nothing for you to be worried about.
How To Treat Respiratory Infections In Guinea Pigs?
After a detailed examination by the vet, he will suggest different modes of treatment. Keep in mind, if the condition of your pet is serious, hospitalization may be required.
It might complicate things but hospitalization will be the best mode of treatment for your furry one. Oxygen support assisted feeding, and injections can be provided to your pet if needed.
Here’s what the treatment process involves:
1) Giving Your Pet Antibiotics:
Since the infection is usually caused by bacterias, antibiotics are suggested to speed up the recovery process. But, before going ahead and giving your pet antibiotics, make sure your vet conducts the required tests.
Tests will help you identify which bacteria is causing the infection.
The antibiotics are usually in liquid form and can be given to your pet friend via a liquid dropper. However, if your pet refuses to take this medicine, you can simply add a few droplets to his or her favorite food.
When giving your pet any antibiotics, you should know that they may have certain adverse reactions. These include:
- Digestive complications
If you notice any adverse reactions, you need to consult with your vet. In most cases, changing the antibiotics will help alleviate the symptoms.
2) Adding Vitamin C Supplements And Foods To Your Guinea Pig’s Diet:
If your pet is sick, he will be weak physically. This means your pet’s immunity will also become weak over time. To help deal with this, you need to feed your pet vitamin C-based foods and vitamin C supplements.
Your pet needs 10 to 50 mg of vitamin C every day from external sources. Make sure you meet this requirement to avoid any other potential health hazards that are caused due to a lack of vitamin C and poor immunity.
6 Ways You Can Prevent Respiratory Infections
As you might already know, prevention is better than cure. The best way to keep your pet safe from respiratory infections is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
All it needs is a little effort and some care from your end. Here are some easy ways to help lower the chances of respiratory infections in your pet piggy.
1) Routinely Clean Your Pet’s Cage:
Just like you clean your own room, you need to clean your pet friend’s cage as well. From the day your pet’s treatment begins, you need to work on its hygiene and keeping your pet’s living space clean.
For starters, you need to remove everything from the inside of the cage and give it a thorough wash.
If in case any germs or bacteria are lingering over the cage, washing them thoroughly will help you get rid of them. Make sure to use hot soapy water, and once you’re done washing, you need to dry it off.
Additionally, you should also remove leftover food from your pet’s cage since it can get mold and it will lead to numerous other complications.
2) Opt For Dust-Free Bedding:
Make sure your pet’s bedding is safe and does not accumulate dust. Bedding is where your pet spends most of his time in the cage and rests.
Since respiratory issues are caused mainly due to dust, it will be a good idea to get dust-free bedding. Additionally, you also need to change it in case it gets wet.
Wet bedding may also attract mold, which further attracts infection-causing bacteria and germs.
3) Make Sure Your Pet’s Cage Has Adequate Ventilation:
Just like us, animals tend to enjoy the fresh air and the same goes for your pet guinea pig as well. Fresh air and proper ventilation will keep the airborne germs and bacterias away and protect your pet from diseases.
For better airflow, a cage made of wire would work the best. Cages built with solid materials such as glass will have poor ventilation and hence needs to be avoided.
Additionally, you should avoid keeping the window of your room open. Exposure to excess fresh air for prolonged periods is bad for your sensitive pet friend.
4) Avoid Оvercrowding Тhe Cage:
If you own multiple guinea pigs, make sure the cage is big enough for both of them. For two guinea pigs, a normal-sized cage would work just fine. Its dimensions should approximately be 30 x 50 inches.
However, if you have more than two guinea pigs, you should keep them in separate cages, or get a cage large enough for all of them. Overcrowding their cages will stress your guinea pigs.
As mentioned earlier, stress also affects their immunity. Due to this, keeping multiple guinea pigs in a small cage is not worth it.
5) Do Not Mix Them With Other Pets:
Other pets like dogs and rabbits carry infection-causing bacteria that can affect your pet guinea pig. If you own either of them, you should not let them play together.
Additionally, after you pet your rabbit and dog, you should wash your hands thoroughly before seeing your guinea pig.
This will lower the chances of your pet getting sick and prevent you and your pet from going through the hassle of treatment and diagnostics.
6) Feed Your Pet A Healthy Diet:
A healthy diet will keep your pet healthy, strong, active, and protected from a number of diseases including respiratory infections.
The basic requirements of a guinea pig include hay, guinea pig pellets, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. However, when feeding your little one veggies and fruits, make sure you keep their serving sizes small.
Overfeeding will lead to an imbalance of nutrients in your pet’s body and increase the risk of your pet suffering from health complications. These include diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular issues.
As long as you feed your pet healthy fruits and veggies in moderation, you will have nothing to worry about.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Why Is My Guinea Pig Making Choking Noises?
Choking noises are an early indication of a respiratory infection. You might hear these noises when you listen to your pet breathing or when he or she is eating.
2) What Are The Signs Of A Guinea Pig Dying?
When a guinea pig is dying of old age, here are some signs to keep an eye out for.
- Your pet will appear physically weak.
- The coat of your pet will also appear rough.
- He or she will have patches with no hair.
3) Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze Or Cough?
Guinea pigs do both. They have the ability to sneeze and cough. It might simply be due to an allergy, or a respiratory tract infection. If it is normal sneezing and coughing, it will go away within a day.
However, if it persists, you will have to contact your vet for further diagnostics.
Guinea Pig Coughing – Conclusion:
A guinea pig may cough due to dust in the surroundings. However, it will only be serious if the coughing lasts more than a day. Observe your pet’s condition and reach out to consult with your local vet immediately.
Generally, coughing is a sign of an infection in the respiratory tract of your furry friend. Your guinea pig’s sickness may increase and worsen rapidly.
This is why you need to act swiftly and get your pet the help it needs since your pet may die if the respiratory infection is left untreated.