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Can Guinea Pigs Catch Human Colds? [Symptoms and Treatment]

If you have a cold you may be wondering if it’s possible to pass it on to your Guinea Pig. Of course, ensuring your guinea pig is safe, healthy and is protected from illness is one of your responsibilities as their guardian. I would like to share with you some important information on the topic which will help you and your guinea pig during any time that you contract a cold.

So, can guinea pigs catch human colds? It is possible for a guinea pig to contract a cold from a human. However, this largely depends on the virus that causes the cold. and not all human colds can be transmitted to guinea pigs. If your cold is the result of influenza A or B, it can be passed to your guinea pig. If it is caused by Rhinovirus (the main cause of human colds) this cannot be passed on.

For the most part, its best to stay away from your guinea pig. It’s hard almost impossible to tell what strain of cold you have and the virus strain that caused it. If you do visit a doctor or if you are able to identify the virus behind your cold, you could well still see and be with your guinea pig.

Nonetheless, lets now explore the answer to this query in greater detail.

Can Guinea Pigs Catch A Cold?

Guinea pigs beckon to be held and played with by their owners, with their friendly temperament and cute looks, it’s hard to resist picking them up. Guinea pigs are known to have fragile immune systems which puts them at greater risk for illness.

Guinea pigs are usually kept with one or more guinea pigs for companionship, so they typically contract illnesses from one another – just from being in close contact with each other or from coitus. If you want a definitive answer as to whether humans can pass their sickness by close contact to guinea pigs or not, you will find very conflicting advice online – with some owners saying yes and others saying no.

Ultimately, it depends on the virus. Human colds are the cause of one of several viruses (mainly Rhinovirus) which largely affects humans and not guinea pigs. If your cold is caused by Rhinovirus, likely, it won’t affect your guinea pig.

However, if your cold or flu is caused by influenza A or B, or another virus that your pet is susceptible to, then it is possible to pass your cold on to your guinea pig.

Because it’s hard to know which virus is the cause of your cold, it’s best to take the necessary precautions around your guinea pig, wash your hands and wear gloves if necessary – do all you can to prevent infecting your pet. As a rule if thumb, just say to yourself, “yes I can make my guinea pig sick if I’m sick” and be careful to avoid sharing your germs with your pet.

Symptoms Your Guinea Pig Has A Cold/ Is Sick

A guinea pig’s health can deteriorate quite rapidly, so you must be vigilant in monitoring it’s health regularly, and act quickly. If your cavy is showing any of the following signs of illness, take it to a veterinarian straight-away:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Crusty eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Dull appearance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Refusal of fluids
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching
  • Bloody urine
  • diarrhea
  • Facing a corner
  • Being slow to respond
  • Other odd behavior for your pig

How Do You Treat A Sick Guinea Pig?

If your pig displays any of the symptoms above, you must take it to a vet that is knowledgeable on treating guinea pigs.

Certain medications are deadly to guinea pigs and should not be administered like penicillin. Make sure that your vet doesn’t prescribe Amoxicillin.

If your vet prescribes medication, inquire about its efficacy, how fast acting it is, and if your cavy is not doing well under a particular antibiotic you need to call your vet and discuss changing medication to see what works. Your pet will need plenty fluids and possibly vitamin supplements. Your vet will advise you on supportive care to expatiate recovery for your cavy.

You must weigh your guinea pig weekly – any changes in your adult cavy’s weight, is a clear sign that it is unwell. You must observe your guinea pig carefully and look out for the warning signs outlined above. A guinea pig that refuses to eat for more than one day is likely to be seriously ill, and needs to be seen by a vet immediately.


During recovery, your pig needs lots of rest in a warm and clean environment. Cleanliness is key to your cavy’s recovery. You must clean and disinfect your pig’s cage thoroughly before allowing the guinea pig to return to it. Keep infected pigs separate from healthy pigs to prevent the spread of infection.

Prevention is better than cure, so you must make sure that your cavy gets a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients especially vitamin C daily.

Vitamin C is vital for preventing scurvy, you may want to consider adding vitamin c supplements to your guinea pig’s diet.

Caring for a cavy with a cold is much like caring for a human being with a cold – we need warmth, so does a guinea pig. You can make their cage warmer by providing natural paper bedding this will contain no harsh chemicals which can be harmful to small animals. This is a popular favorite with guinea pig owners on Amazon.

Guinea pigs are more susceptible to bacterial infections than viral infections – they affect the lungs and cause pneumonia. Your vet must prescribe antibiotics for this type of infection. It must be noted that antibiotics do not work for viral infections. Once your guinea pig’s infection is cleared and it no longer needs antibiotics, your cavy needs probiotics. Antibiotics effectively destroy bad bacteria but they also destroy the good bacteria – this is where probiotics play there role in building your pet’s immune system.

Guinea pigs are not very communicative in regards to alerting their owners of poor health, which is why they need close monitoring and weekly weigh ins. Look closely to all it’s symptoms and check if it’s eating and drinking well, if it is sneezing, has a runny nose, or watery eyes or just doesn’t look well to you. It’s hard to know for sure whether your pig has a cold or something more serious, so you must take it to the vet if in any doubt.

Important Things To Remember When Guinea Pigs Are Sick

  • Certain viruses can be passed from humans to guinea pigs. If your cold is caused by Influenza A or B, or another type of virus it is prone to, you can make your pet sick.
  • Cleanliness is key to your cavy’s recovery. Be sure to regularly, routinely and thoroughly clean out their cage.
  • Your pig will need warmth while it’s getting over a cold or flu. Consider natural paper bedding and other forms of heating.
  • Be vigilant, look for signs of sickness and weigh your guinea pig weekly, any changes to your pet’s weight is a clear indication of ill health.
  • Make sure that your vet is knowledgeable in treating guinea pigs.
  • Penicillin is deadly to guinea pigs, do not allow your vet to prescribe Amoxicillin.
  • Guinea pigs are more susceptible to bacterial than viral infections – antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial infections followed by probiotics for building its immune system.