Can My Guinea Pig Have A Cold?
It is certainly possible for your guinea pig to have a cold. If they are sneezing or have a runny nose then they could definitely have a cold. So you need to watch your guinea pigs carefully and look for the signs.
The symptoms of a cold in a guinea pig are similar to those that a human will suffer. Apart from sneezing and a runny nose they can lose their appetite, start wheezing and coughing, have watery eyes, and be generally lethargic. You may also notice that they are not so regular with their bowel movements and they may not be drinking as much water as they should.
Although you can take care of your guinea pig if they have a cold we would recommend that you take your pet to the vet. If your guinea pig does not get the right treatment for a cold then this can develop into pneumonia.
In this article we will explain how guinea pigs get colds and how to prevent this from happening. We will also discuss some other common ailments that your guinea pig can suffer from. So let’s get on with it shall we?
How does my Guinea Pig have a Cold? & Can My Guinea Pig Catch My Cold
The most likely reason that your guinea pig has a cold is the humans that are around it. Guinea pigs are one of the cutest pets and it is natural for all the members of the family to want to hold them and keep them close.
This is fine if you or your family members are not suffering with colds. If you have a cold and show a lot of affection to your guinea pig by getting really close then there is a very good chance that the guinea pig will get the cold as well.
Can Guinea Pig Die From Cold?
When humans get colds it is pretty easy for us to get over them fairly quickly and carry on with life as usual. You cannot say the same for a guinea pig. If you do not treat your guinea pig that has a cold then they can die from a cold or an infection of their upper respiratory system.
Quite often we don’t want to eat much when we have a cold. Your guinea pig is likely to feel the same way. While it is not that big of a deal for a human not to eat much for a couple of days it is not a good thing for a guinea pig. If your guinea pig does not get the daily nutrients and vitamins that it needs then it can experience some serious problems.
The fact that your guinea pig has a cold may not be that obvious at first. Usually the first signs of any sickness in a guinea pig are that it stops eating (or eats considerably less) and doesn’t drink very much. This can be a challenge even for an experienced vet but it needs to be determined as fast as possible.
You do not want a guinea pig cold to turn into pneumonia because this could certainly kill your beloved pig. If you are not sure then do everything that you can to keep your guinea pig warm (65º – 75º is a good temperature range for them) and make sure that they have plenty of water. Get your pet to the vet for a diagnoses and treatment recommendation as quickly as you can.
I recommend this heated pad for winter.
- Keep guinea pig warm and comfortable.
- Setting time off 0-12 hours.
- Safe and secure structure with UL approved.
- Adjustable temperature.
- Easy to clean – removal cover and wash it with hand or washing machine.
How to prevent your Guinea Pig getting a cold?
Now you know that your guinea pig is very likely to get a cold from you the most obvious way to prevent this is to stop handling your guinea pig when you have a cold. If you are in sole charge of your guinea pig and you have to take care of it, use a mask and gloves before you touch anything when you have a cold.
This includes the handling of your guinea pigs food and water bowls, cleaning their cage and touching anything that your pig will come into contact with. You may have got over your cold but that doesn’t mean that you are not still contagious.
Usually colds in humans last for around fourteen days and when you have all of the symptoms this is your most contagious time. But afterwards you can still infect your guinea pig so always take every precautionary measure you can to ensure that you don’t make your precious pig sick.
If you have the flu then stay away from your guinea pigs altogether. Get someone else to take care of your guinea pig when you are in this condition. If you have to pay someone then just do it because it is better to lose a few dollars than to give your guinea pig the flu.
If you keep more than one guinea pig then you will need to isolate the one that is sick from the others. Colds and respiratory infections are highly contagious among guinea pigs and you do not want the others to suffer. You will need a separate cage or other enclosure to keep your guinea pig with a cold in until they fully recover.
Another good prevention measure is to ensure that your guinea pig has vitamin C in their diet. Guinea pigs need vitamin C but they cannot produce it themselves. So give them fruit and vegetables to eat with a high concentration of vitamin C such as spinach, parsley, kale, broccoli and oranges.
It is also possible to purchase pellets fortified in vitamin C. If you want to go for these then make sure that you only buy recently produced pellets. The problem is that there is a quick break down of vitamin C in these pellets so when you purchase them make sure that you feed them to your guinea pig within 90 days.
Don’t be tempted to add vitamin C drops to your guinea pigs water. The reason is that their water will not taste right after adding the drops and your guinea pig may completely stop drinking. Vitamin C drops also break down very fast in water usually in less than an hour.
If one of your guinea pigs has a cold then give them more vitamin C than usual as it will help them to recover. It is essential for their immune system and you want this to be as strong as possible to fight the cold.
You can always use a water based air purifier as a preventative measure to stop your guinea pig catching a cold from you. In fact this kind of air purifier will not just provide protection for your guinea pig but other family members too. Avoid using strong scented essential oils with the purifier. If you do use them then keep the purifier a distance away from the cage.
I wrote more on the best vitamin c for guinea pig here.
Treatment for a Guinea Pig Cold
As soon as you detect the signs of a cold in your guinea pig take them to your vet. Your vet will perform a health check on your pet which will include checking for signs of a cold and listening for them as well.
Always choose a vet that is experienced in diagnosing and treating small animals like guinea pigs. You could run the risk of an inexperienced vet prescribing too powerful an antibiotic to treat the cold such as amoxicillin so check out their credentials first.
Your vet will prescribe some gentle antibiotics for your guinea pig and they will provide an indication to you of how long the treatment should take to help your pet recover. If the treatment does not work in the time predicted then you will have to return to the vet again.
It is really important that your guinea pig eats properly and gets enough water when they have a cold. Do everything that you can to encourage your guinea pig to eat and drink. If you need to feed your guinea pig by hand to make them eat then be sure to do that.
Sometimes you may find it difficult to give your guinea pig the medications that your vet prescribes. If this is the case for you then contact your vet and ask if they will administer the medication for you. They know what they are doing and will usually be glad to help for a small fee.
What other Diseases can my Guinea Pig get from me?
A disease that can pass from a human to a guinea pig (or other animals) is a zoontonic disease. These are infections that will pass freely from humans to guinea pigs, and there are a number of these zoontonic diseases that you need to watch out for if you don’t want to make your piggy sick.
These include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. The three most likely diseases that you can give your guinea pigs are influenza, bacterial infections and ringworm. You can classify a cold as a bacterial infection although it is more of a viral infection.
The respiratory systems in guinea pigs are a lot more fragile than our own. Anything that you pass to your guinea pig that could lead to a respiratory infection is very bad news for your piggy. When people get the flu they often need to seek medical help. The flu can be absolutely devastating for a guinea pig as their small lungs and air passages cannot cope.
Sometimes humans can get ringworm from other animals and this will pass on to your guinea pig very easily of you do not take the necessary precautions. If you have ringworm then avoid touching your guinea pig at all costs no matter how tempting it is to pick them up and snuggle with them. The fungus will spread from your skin to theirs fast.