Can Guinea Pigs Cause Asthma? [ And 4 Ways to Prevent It]

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At one time, you may have experienced itching or sneezing after smelling certain things.

You probably get allergies when you get exposed to dust or flowers.

Also, cats and dogs carry allergens around in their body that can trigger asthma. But what about our cavies? Can guinea pigs cause asthma too?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes, guinea pigs can cause allergic asthma. But you’ll notice that these cute pets are not the major cause of allergies.

But the major culprits are their urine, saliva, food, or their beddings.

Usually, you will not experience serious symptoms after having an allergic reaction. However, you should remove anything that can trigger asthma from your guinea pigs.

Now, I believe you know that your little cavies can expose you to allergic asthma. So how common is it to be allergic to these tiny pets? 

Read on as we answer this important question and others in this article!

How Common Is It To Be Allergic to Guinea Pigs?

A lady sneezing as a result of allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to guinea pigs are not common. One major reason for this is that they rarely play around the house like cats and dogs. 

Moreover, the allergens are usually around your cavy’s cages, which are mostly outdoors.

Being allergic to guinea pigs means your immune system is sensitive to Cav P I and Cav P II (proteins that guinea pigs produce). 

Immunoglobulins are immune system proteins that protect the body from things that can cause harm.

So, if you come in contact with Cav P I or Cav P II through your cavies’ fluids, the immune system will try to get rid of them. This is one major reason you experience allergies.

Therefore, it is always easier to prevent an allergic reaction to guinea pigs by maintaining good hygiene. Also, be sure the allergies come from them and not from other pets. 

Knowing this will allow you to take important steps in the right direction.

What Are The Symptoms Of Being Allergic To Guinea Pig?

Fortunately, you will not have life-threatening symptoms while having allergic reactions to guinea pigs. Regardless, you should seek medical attention whenever you experience some unpleasant signs. 

Below are the common symptoms of being allergic to guinea pigs:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Itching/rashes
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Throat tightness
  • Itchy eyes

Can Guinea Pigs Cause Respiratory Problems In Humans?

Yes, guinea pigs can cause respiratory problems in humans. There was a report in 2017 about 3 persons contracting severe pneumonia from guinea pigs in the Netherlands. 

All three patients were hospitalized after having respiratory failure from pneumonia.

Test results showed that they were infected by Chlamydia caviae, as a result of coming in contact with guinea pigs with the bacteria.

Further test results showed that two of the patients had cavies that showed respiratory symptoms before falling sick. Among the patients is a worker at a vet clinic. 

Sadly, she came in contact with guinea pigs with rhinitis and conjunctivitis before developing strange symptoms.

As a guinea pig owner, ensure you visit the vet whenever you notice strange symptoms in your pets. This is not only for their sake but for yours too.

How To Prevent Asthma and Allergies From Guinea Pigs

Getting rid of your guinea pigs may not be an option if you’re allergic to them. They are adorable and have a friendly nature, which is a good quality for pets. 

Instead, you’ll have to find a solution to the problem.

Below are ways to prevent asthma and allergies from guinea pigs:

Keep The Cage Outside 

A guinea pig in an outdoor cage to prevent asthma and allergies

There’s no point living in the same house with your guinea pigs if you’re allergic to them. Ensure their cage is placed in a comfortable environment outside the house. 

Avoid keeping the cage in a place where there is too much sun, cold, or even other large pets.

Doing this will prevent sneezing, rashes, itching, and other allergic symptoms.

Practice Good Hygiene

Create a cleaning and grooming time for your guinea pigs. Change their beddings regularly and always clean their cage. 

Also, make it a habit to wash your hands with soap and water before and after leaving the cage. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent allergic reactions to your small pets. 

Put on gloves, long shirts and trousers, face masks whenever you’re going into your guinea pigs’ cage. Taking this safety action will help prevent or reduce allergic symptoms. 

If possible, have a separate uniform that you’ll be wearing while entering the cage and removing immediately after leaving. It is a great idea for ensuring safety.

Take A Break

Look for someone who doesn’t have allergic reactions to guinea pigs to take care of the pets. Ask a family member for help with cleaning, feeding, and spending time with the cavies. 

On the other hand, you can hire someone to do this job for a small fee.

Remember that health is wealth; don’t joke with it!

Change Their Diet

Sometimes, your cavy’s food might be the allergen causing discomfort. Surprisingly, you may be reacting to certain ingredients in the food without knowing. 

Try changing their diet and there might be an improvement. 

Guinea Pig Allergy Test

A guinea pig allergy test is used in finding out if you’re having reactions to the small pets or not. Most pet owners assume that they are allergic to guinea pigs which may not be so. 

It is impossible to know whatever is causing your symptoms if you don’t carry out a test.

Most allergy tests are easy and safe to use at home. If you get a positive result, your doctor will be able to recommend effective treatments. 

In addition, they’ll provide ways to prevent the problem from happening again.

Why Am I Suddenly Allergic To My Guinea Pig?

A young boy carrying his guinea pig in his hands

Most times, doing something new or differently can make you allergic to your guinea pigs. Consider the following questions as a guide to what you did recently:

  • Did you buy a new product for your guinea pigs? 
  • Did you change their beddings or cage? 
  • Are there mites around their cages? 
  • Did you change your guinea pigs’ diet?

Having an allergic reaction to your cavies all of a sudden can be confusing. You should do a guinea pig allergy test to be sure your tiny pets are the major cause.

If the result is positive, then you might have to think about something you did recently. 

While trying to understand why you’re suddenly allergic to your guinea pigs, do not assume. Seek medical help if the symptoms don’t improve after removing possible causes.

Is There A Hypoallergenic Guinea Pig?

No, there are no hypoallergenic guinea pigs. Naturally, all cavies produce proteins that cause allergic reactions. 

Although there’s a common belief that a hairless guinea pig will not cause allergies. This is not true.

Usually, the proteins causing allergies are found in the body fluids of guinea pigs. Often, the urine, sweat, saliva, and other fluids carrying the proteins stick to their furs. 

Therefore, you’ll likely have allergic symptoms as a result of coming in contact with the furs. 

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind some important points before you go.

Having guinea pigs doesn’t mean you’ll have asthma. However, if you’re sensitive to their proteins, then you will have allergic asthma.

See your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, or itching after touching your cavies.

Remember that guinea pigs can cause respiratory problems in humans.

Do not take any of their symptoms for granted.

Finally, always practice good hygiene with your guinea pigs, especially if you’re allergic to them.

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