In this article we are going to take a look at guinea pig allergies. It’s incredibly disappointing when you are forced to ask yourself ‘am I allergic to guinea pigs?’
But don’t panic straight away.
Let’s take a look at whether you really do have a guinea pig allergy, and if so what you can do to help reduce it’s impact.
It is the worst-case scenario. You bring home your new pet, either for yourself or for a family member, only to discover that you are sneezing, itching your eyes, and having allergy symptoms.
Could it be your new guinea pig?
Can guinea pigs cause allergies in humans?
Can you be allergic to guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs have been used as laboratory animals for a long time.
As a result, there are plenty of documented cases of an allergic reaction to guinea pigs in animal handlers. And while severe guinea pig allergies are rare, they can occur.
Before you panic about potential conflict between your guinea pig and allergies, however, there are a few other things to keep in mind.
Many pet stores sell cedar shavings as bedding and timothy hay as food.
These and other bedding supplies and animal forages can also cause allergies in people.
Try switching your guinea pig to a new type of bedding to see if that helps your allergies.
And talk to your veterinarian about alternate forages that won’t set off your allergies.
If this doesn’t help your suspected guinea pig allergies, it might be time to have a discussion with your doctor.
Are guinea pigs hypoallergenic?
Some people believe that guinea pigs are hypoallergenic.
Unfortunately, this is not true. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic guinea pig.
Guinea pig allergies are very real. Although unlike some animals, dander is not the real issue.
Instead, their saliva and urine contain allergens that affect some people more than others.
Even hairless guinea pigs can cause allergies, as they still groom themselves and urinate.
As the urine dries, it can get into the air, which can make even living in the same house as a guinea pig you never handle a challenge.
Guinea pig allergy symptoms
Are you worried that you might be allergic to your guinea pig?
The symptoms of guinea pig allergies for humans can vary from person to person, but there are a few that seem to stick out.
Are you sneezing? Wheezing?
Do you experience shortness of breath around your guinea pig?
Do you have itchy eyes? A runny nose?
Do you get a skin rash after handling your cavy?
If the answer is yes to one or more of these questions, it is possibly that you could have an allergy to your guinea pig or to something in your guinea pig’s cage.
Am I allergic to guinea pigs?
Nobody wants to be allergic to their pet.
If you have experimented with a different bedding and have determined that you do not have an allergy to hay, dust, or mold, but are still showing symptoms, it is possible that you could have an allergy to your guinea pig.
The best way to find out if you have an allergy to your guinea pig is to consult your doctor.
They may be able to perform a definitive allergy test to make sure it is your guinea pig and not something else in your home that is causing your symptoms.
Even without testing, if you are having allergy symptoms every time you handle your pet, it might be time to accept the truth.
There is something about your guinea pig that is setting off your allergies.
Is there a guinea pig allergy cure?
There is no cure for allergies.
However, there are things you can do to help mitigate your symptoms without giving up your pet.
First, make sure that it is your guinea pig and not the bedding or feed that is the problem.
You can do this by seeing your doctor for a referral for allergy testing or by process of elimination.
Once you have established that it is the cavy that is giving you allergies, there are steps you can take to relieve the worst of your symptoms.
If at all possible, don’t keep the guinea pig cage in your bedroom. This will aggravate your allergies as you sleep.
You should also avoid playing with your guinea pig in your bedroom or on your bed or other furniture.
Perhaps the only good news about your allergies are that they mean you can delegate cage cleaning to another family member.
The urine in the cage will make your allergies worse. If you cannot delegate, wear a face mask and gloves and rise off any dusty residue after cleaning.
When you play with your guinea pigs, try to keep them away from your face, and always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your guinea pig. You may want to wash your clothes as well.
Your doctor may have additional strategies and solutions for handling pet allergies, so be sure to consult with him or her about the best course of action for you or your family member with guinea pig allergies.
Preventing guinea pig allergies
Unless you have received extensive allergy testing, it is usually hard to know whether or not you will be allergic to something until you are exposed to it.
Before you bring a guinea pig or any other animal home, try and spend some time with a friend’s pet to see if you have a reaction.
Am I allergic to guinea pigs?
If you are experiencing the allergy symptoms listed above, and have switched your guinea pigs bedding without success, then you may well be allergic.
Deligating your pet’s cleaning and avoiding contact with your furniture will help to reduce the impact of the allergies.
Speak with your doctor to see if they can confirm the diagnosis, and potentially prescribe any anti-histamines to assist with the problem too.
Further Reading and Resources
- Zacharisen, M. C. ‘Severe allergic reactions to guinea pig.’ Clinical and Molecular Allergy. Oct 2007.
- ‘Guinea Pigs: The Right Pet for You?’ The Humane Society of the United States.
- ‘Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs and Cats?’ Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.