When it comes to guinea pig allergies, the allergy in most cases will be affecting the human owner and not the guinea pig.
Guineas never really have allergies. If your guinea pig is sneezing quite a bit, the cause most likely is either an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, or some other infection.
“We’re aren’t allergic to much! – watwatwat”
The closest thing guinea pigs experience to an allergy is a reaction to certain types of bedding used in the bottom of the cage.
Cedar chips, straw, and bits of corn cob generate too much dust for their little respiratory systems to handle.
The same applies to ammonia: You certainly want to keep your pet’s cage clean, but please do not accomplish this by spritzing all his belongings with ammonia, which will certainly send his nostrils into a tither.
Otherwise, sneezing in your pet is considered a sign of illness, and you should seek attention at the local veterinarian’s office.
Human Guinea Pig Allergies
Now on to the more problematic allergies: The human owner who experiences sneezing and coughing whenever he’s around his wonderful little pets.
Some humans also develop conjunctivitis or a skin rash such as eczema.
Humans are never—well, rarely—allergic to guinea pig fur, however.
They are reactive to allergens contained in the urine.
Certain breeds of guinea pigs fur can cause itchy hands, especially if you wash the dishes after handling your guinea pig.
Maybe you’re thinking that you never touch your guinea pig’s urine, that you use gloves when you clean the cage, and so on and so forth.
You will then be surprised to know that when the pet deposits his urine onto the cage bedding, the activity generated as he scampers around can cause the allergens to become airborne.
You then breathe in these little particles—which are proteins, and not urine—and develop your symptoms.
If you really are uncertain whether you have a true guinea pig allergy, you can ask an immunologist to test you. Let him know ahead of your office visit that you are asking to be tested for guinea pig allergies, because most likely he will have to order the serum required for the testing.
What should you do whilst you await testing?
If possible, have someone else clean out your pet’s cage; and if not, wear a small mask, like the type the painters can buy, for the cleaning. Be certain the cage is located outdoors for the cleaning.
Do not keep his cage in your bedroom when you’re trying to sleep at night.
You also might be allergic to the bedding itself or even to the hay he eats. Have your allergy specialist consider that, also.
Try switching to a non-particle bedding such as CareFresh, or simply use the newspaper.
If you think it might be the hay, then only put enough for each meal into the cage at a given time.
- Keep the rest outdoors.
- Handle it with the gloves and respirator mask.
- Always wash your hands afterward.
If the allergy specialist tells you the worst and you in fact are allergic to your guinea pig, then don’t despair.
You can invest in a table-top HEPA air purifier; Amazon sells them starting at $40-50 for the smallest models.
You can ask the allergist if there are shots available to desensitize you to the guinea pig allergies. If the allergies are worse some times than others, you may want to try an over-the-counter antihistamine.
Dab some petroleum jelly just inside your nostrils before you begin a play session with your guinea pigs, and wipe it out afterward.
Use gloves to handle your pets, or handle them with toweling to protect your skin. Remember to dust and vacuum rigorously and regularly.
You don’t have to give up your pets just because of troublesome allergies.
These little fellows bring so much joy to your life, and as time goes on you will become accustomed to your new routines. They are well worth it!
Guinea Pig Care