If you own a guinea pig, you'd be aware that they're capable of making some strange and uncharacteristic noises. One very common sound that you may hear your guinea pig make is a sneeze. While very high-pitched, it still sounds like a sneeze that humans and animals make all of the time. This sound is quite easy to identify, and it can be quite indicative of a few things regarding your guinea pig's health and environment.
So, what exactly makes a guinea pig sneeze? Could sneezing mean that some bigger problems exist? This post will cover all that you need to know regarding a guinea pig's adorable sneezing.
What Causes A Guinea Pig To Sneeze?
Just like most other creatures, guinea pigs have several reasons for sneezing. Some reasons are very normal and require little to no action, and some reasons may require you to look into the health and environment of your pet more closely. For the most part, though, if your guinea pig is sneezing, it's likely for a simple and common reason.
Most living creatures, not just humans and mammals, commonly sneeze. This is a sudden expulsion of air from the body, usually in an effort to get rid of some foreign material inside the nasal passage. There are many things that can trigger sneezing in a guinea pig. Hay is often a cause for sneezing, as dust or small particles on the hay may irritate a guinea pig's nasal mucosa. Lower-quality or certain cuts of hay will tend to have more dust on them, thus resulting in more sneezing.
Hay isn't the only thing in a guinea pig's environment that can cause sneezing. Dusty pellets, bedding, and litter are all common causes for sneezing. Because of this, it's beneficial to spend a bit more money on the highest-quality products available to help avoid the annoying dustiness.
Common household products can also cause irritation in your guinea pig! Air fresheners, cleaning products, and perfumes all have the possibility of being an allergen to your guinea pig, resulting in frequent sneezing when used. This makes it important to consider all of the products that you use within your house, not just what's placed inside of your guinea pig's cage.
Guinea Pig Upper Respiratory Infections
While most sneezing occurrences are totally normal and safe for guinea pigs, some instances may not be so normal. If a guinea pig is sneezing for extended periods of time, it may be indicative of an upper respiratory infection (URI). In addition to sneezing, if your guinea pig experiences any of the symptoms below, they may have a URI that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
In the case that you're able to confirm that your guinea pig has an upper respiratory infection, you'll need to act fast. URIs can easily be taken care of with simple antibiotics if action is taken early. However, if the infection is allowed to worsen and spread, it can easily become fatal. Respiratory infections are fairly common in guinea pigs, so it's absolutely essential that you keep an eye on the health of your cavy.
Since it's believed that all guinea pigs carry the bacteria that's responsible for respiratory diseases, you should give sneezes a little bit of extra thought. Factors such as stress, low amounts of vitamin C, and dental disease are all causes for a URI flare up. If your guinea pig has been sneezing for a few days and exhibiting the traits listed above, they should either be given antibiotics or taken to a medical professional immediately.
How To Help A Guinea Pig Stop Sneezing
At this point, it should be clear that sneezing is quite normal for guinea pigs! Sometimes they manage to get particles in their nose that make them sneeze but quickly return back to normal. If sneezing tends to be a problem with your guinea pig, though, you should look into ways to help prevent that.
First of all, you should check to make sure that it isn't an upper respiratory infection. If a guinea pig as a URI, they can only be cured with antibiotics -- not through a change in their diet or environment. Since time is such a pressing factor when it comes to respiratory infections, this needs to be a factor that's considered immediately.
If you determine that your guinea pig is free of a URI, look to their environment. Is their bedding, food, or litter dusty? Some cuts of hay and some paper bedding options can contain dust that can irritate a guinea pig. Fortunately, it's quite easy to check your guinea pig's supplies for dust, as it will likely irritate humans, too.
If the sneezing still persists, look to your commonly-used household supplies. It's easy to use an air freshener or certain perfume and not think about how it may affect your guinea pig. Limit your use of sprays or scented products around your guinea pig's cage and see if that reduces sneezing.
When these three steps are taken, it's almost guaranteed that your guinea pig will sneeze significantly less. Although, unless your guinea pig is sick with a respiratory infection, sneezing is just a cute, high-pitched sound that you'll hear every once in a while.