If you have ever wondered if a Guinea Pig can sneeze then you’re not alone. I have been interested in this topic for some time. I decided to conduct some research into the topic which I would like to share with you today. Is it possible, why do they sneeze and what does it mean? These are the kinds of questions that we will be covering.
So, do guinea pigs sneeze? Guinea Pigs can and do sneeze. This is usually harmless and is caused by debris and dust from their environment, allergies, and changes to the weather. However, it can also suggest that there may be something more severe; like a cold or respiratory infection which will require a visit to the vet.
Let us now take a closer look to see how we can identify if a guinea pig is sneezing, what this looks like and what causes it.
This way you’ll be in a lot better position to overcome sneezing in your guinea pig and be aware of the necessary steps to take to reduce it.
What Is A Sneeze?
Sneezing is not just some weird event that serves no purpose. It is the manifestation of a body’s defense systems.
Also known as a sternutation, sneezes occur when something irritates the nasal mucosa. The body decides it needs to expel the air from your lungs immediately. Sometimes it takes a little mucous with it.
This is why a human tends to sneeze when you breathe in dust or even pepper. It isn’t always so straightforward, though.
There are also a number of possible associations people experience that science is researching.
These open investigations include experiencing sneezing episodes when transitioning to bright light or sudden temperature changes.
For the most part, we can’t control it. It is also safe to say that most animals can’t control it either.
It also happens to occur when we are sick for a number of reasons.
Right around flu season, we notice everyone getting the sniffles. Colds and germs get easily passed leading to a lot of sneezing.
Sneezing isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to humans though.
Many other non-human animals sneeze. You may even remember the popularity of the “sneezing baby panda” going viral a few years back.
It’s a pretty regular occurrence for animals to sneeze – even pets. Sometimes, these sneezes seem a little different than human sneezes.
Guinea pigs experience very human-like sneezes. This doesn’t always warrant a trip to the vet though.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
Much like humans, guinea pigs will sneeze for a number of reasons. Normally it is because something in their system needs to be expelled, like dust. This is their body’s way of keeping their lungs free from irritating debris.
For the most part, sneezing is harmless and a natural part of a guinea pig’s behavior.
Other times it could lead to suggest there is something more severe, like a respiratory infection which will need a vet’s attention.
How Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
Guinea pigs sneeze in much the same way we do. They often stare out for a second and then make a high-pitched squeak and shake their heads. Sometimes there is visible discharge.
If there is, they normally clean it up themselves. If not, you may have to use a warm, damp cloth to wipe it so it doesn’t become crusty and irritating.
When you do need to clean the face of your pet, you can also use these specialized pet wipes instead of cloth.
The formula helps remove debris from the face, and general odors. It’s also organic with only natural ingredients:
Besides, you should never use regular soap on guinea pigs. If you’re not sure of what to use, also consult a vet first.
You need to be extra careful with the products you use as guinea pigs like to lick their paws and wipe themselves clean.
This way chemicals and ingredients can be swallowed. If it is not safe for them to consume, they will inadvertently ingest it and they can run into issues.
What Can Make Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
The most common cause of a typical guinea pig sneeze is dust. There is normally a little dust residue left behind with their hay or litter.
This kind of this is honestly unavoidable to eliminate completely. You can try to use bedding that advertises itself as “dust-free” if the sneezing feels a little out of control.
Even then, this won’t stop it from happening all the time. Dust is everywhere and is sometimes even invisible to the naked eye.
Using high-quality bedding like this one on Amazon is better than wood shavings. This specific brand boasts a 99.9% dust-free measurement.
It also absorbs 2x more liquid than wood shavings making the entire cleanup process a lot easier!
Another great option is to use a Fleecer Liner, which is a popular method used by a lot of guinea pig owners.
This softer bedding is excellent at reducing dust, accidental injuries, and sneezing that can occur through using wood shavings.
The GuineaDad fleece liner is one of the best products there; it can be purchased in a variety of colors (all with dyes that are non-toxic) and they provide great natural odor control.
This makes them a favorite choice for people looking for something a little more personal. They are also very comfortable for your guinea pig, warm, and keep your guinea pig(s) feeling protected.
However, if your guinea pig is not litter-box trained, this will get very dirty very quickly.
Cage liners are more ideal when a guinea pig is “potty trained” and is taught to go to the same spot of the cage to do their business (and not just in the liner!)
There are benefits to this.
Fleece liners will also not produce the same debris that the bedding does (which is of course a significant cause of sneezing).
They are also a one-time purchase, so with a bit of training, time, and patience, you will be able to greatly reduce the need to purchase regular bedding which is costly and needs purchase regularly.
It is important to note that a guinea pig will not be happy with this mat alone. They are naturally curious creatures who like to burrow in the ground.
These often have a nice little pocket built in for them to bury themselves, but they will still need hay to nest around in.
Another reason why guinea pigs sneeze is the weather.
If it gets warm and dry this might irritate their nasal passageways and cause them to sneeze. You may even notice that your little guinea pig is developing a runny nose.
The runny nose may also be due to allergies.
For this, you can take your pet to a vet for an expert diagnosis and treatment.
You may need to buy them specially formulated food or bedding. Often you just give them a little medicine when their seasonal affliction gets out of hand.
There are other, more sinister reasons to visit a vet when your guinea pig is having apparent congestive problems.
Guinea pigs can get sick.
They can get colds and diseases just like any other living thing.
An upper respiratory infection can be deadly for a guinea pig so will need immediate attention if you suspect it.
What Does Sneezing Mean In Guinea Pigs?
When a guinea pig is sneezing a bit, it is normally no cause for concern. It is a normal body habit that all of us go through. Even if you haven’t noticed it before, it is likely your guinea pig has already sneezed a bunch of times.
When it comes to more sinister afflictions such as respiratory infections, sneezing will not be the only sign. In fact, it won’t even be the most obvious sign.
In addition to sneezing, a sick guinea pig will often be coughing or wheezing. In other words, they will be making a lot of noise all the time.
Heavy breathing is another sign that there is something wrong here.
It may not be so obvious at first, but when it gets more serious, you will notice a “crackling” sound coming from them rather regularly.
Discharge from the eyes (or keeping their eyes somewhat closed) and evidence of a runny nose are also a big indicator something is up.
Changes in behavior are another important thing for you to keep an eye on.
Changes in behavior are often the first way for a pet parent to realize something is out of the ordinary.
If your guinea pig acting sluggish or tired? Do they seem more agitated than normal? This could very well be because something is up.
Weakness can also be experienced – although this is often the last manifested sign.
You will usually be able to observe this if your guinea pig struggles to walk or pick up its body without wobbling.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should get your guinea pig to a vet at the earliest opportunity.
You usually do not have much time and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
They will also be able to help you identify the major cause of sneezing, like if they have a specific allergy for example, and give you clear instructions of what to do.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?
How often a guinea pig sneezed varies. It really depends on the season, their environment, and the litter you are using. Nonetheless, a couple of times per day is typical.
This, of course, suggests that everything is fine and that you do not need to do anything.
As mentioned, dust is normal and there is nothing you can do to completely eradicate it.
Anything more than this and could indicate a potential allergy. Here, investigate your bedding and its environment more closely.
Ultimately, unless you see their sneezing accompanied by other symptoms, there’s no need to worry.
If you do have any questions or concerns, it is best that you talk with a professional veterinarian for advice.
And if you are looking to learn even more about guinea pigs, and their behaviors traits, and tendencies, my following guides may be of interest to you:
- Do Guinea Pigs Cry?
- Do Guinea Pigs Like Music?
- Do Guinea Pigs Get Cold?
- Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate?
- Do Guinea Pigs Have Tongues?
- Do Guinea Pigs Need Sunlight?
- Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.