How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

Guinea pigs are small creatures that are lovely to keep as pets at home. However, it might not be lovely anymore when they have some healthy problems. One of the problems a guinea pig might have is pneumonia.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, pneumonia is the no. 1 disease that causes death for guinea pigs. You won’t be able to make sure that your little one won’t get pneumonia in the future, but you can take some preventive actions by knowing the causes, symptoms and ways to prevent it.

Causes of Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs

Pneumonia in guinea pigs is caused by bacterial infection in their lungs. The common bacteria causing pneumonia in guinea pigs is Bordetella bronchiseptica, but there are also some other bacteria called Streptococcus zooepidemicus or Streptococcus pneumonia. There are also some rare cases of pneumonia in guinea pigs that are caused by a type of virus called adenovirus.

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs

  • Oozing or discharge from the nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Have difficulty in breathing.
  • Suffering from inflammation of the eyes (some of them might experience conjunctivitis or pink eye) – the eyes will appear inflamed or pink in color with swelling and possible discharge.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss.
  • Ear infections – neck twisting, circling to one side and unsteady movement.
  • Depression.
  • Loss of appetite – also check loss of appetite in guinea pigs.
  • Lethargy.

If you see your guinea pig experience one or more of the symptoms above, immediately contact your vet. Sudden death can happen anytime when there are outbreaks among groups of guinea pigs. Your vet will do thorough examination and special tests to check the signs and indications to decide the appropriate treatment.

How to Treat Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs

Once you notice that your guinea pig is showing any of the symptoms above, you are supposed to call your vet immediately to get early treatment. However, while waiting, you can do some of the following ways of treatment.

These ways of treatment are not going to cure your guinea pig from pneumonia, but at least they won’t make the conditions get worse. Here are the ways:

  • Check the temperature. The normal temperature of a guinea pig is not supposed to be exceeded than 110 F. The healthy temperature for your guinea pig should be about 99 to 103.1 F. You can check the temperature with a thermometer on your guinea pig ears. In addition, you can also feel the ears with your fingers.
  • Measure the weight of your guinea pig. One of the symptoms of pneumonia in guinea pigs is sudden weight loss resulted from lack of eating. You can check the healthy weight from the guidelines for guinea pigs to make sure they don’t lose too much weight.
  • Visit your vet. Make sure you visit the vet that is able to treat your guinea pig as some vets are not really knowledgeable of the treatment of guinea pigs. Instead find a specific exotic vet who specializes in dealing with guinea pigs and different range of animals.
  • Once your guinea pig comes back home, isolate him. Pneumonia is a contagious disease that can be spread to other guinea pigs once they are in contact.
  • Give all the medications your vet give to your guinea pigs. Remember to give only the prescribed medications, do not ever try to give other medications that you find on the internet. Your vet may give some antibiotics that are for bacterial infections. If your guinea pig refuses to eat or drink the medicine, you can use syringe instead. Feed your guinea pig with healthy food, such as these best fruits for guinea pig a a guide of feeding.
  • Change the bedding as there might be some causes of respiratory problems on your guinea pig’s bedding, such as cedar or sawdust. You can use folded towels so that it is easy for your guinea pig to move around the cage.

How to Avoid Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs

Here are some ways of preventing pneumonia in guinea pigs:

Streptococcus in Guinea Pigs

Streptococci pneumonie are pathogenic bacteria that have been found to be one of the causative agents for pneumonia in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs suffering from streptococcosis infection may not show any external symptoms of illness at all initially. The infected guinea pig may appear healthy, and then suffer what appears to be a sudden onset of disease symptoms. The guinea pig may appear to be stressed or will suddenly stop eating, which can quickly lead to death. This infection is also highly infectious to others. One guinea pig can infect another by direct contact or by sneezing or coughing.

Certain antibiotics can prevent one sick guinea pig from spreading the streptococcosis infection to other guinea pigs, if caught early enough, but guinea pigs that do not appear to be sick may not be diagnosed as carriers and will continue to act as potential carriers and transmitters of the infection to other animals, thus making control of the streptococcosis infection among groups of animals difficult.

Symptoms and Types

  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen, or uterus
  • Inflammation of the inner ear or eardrum (otitis media)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Inflammation of the joints (arthritis)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Sneezing
  • Dull and depressed appearance
  • Loss of appetite and resultant weight loss
  • Fever/elevated body temperature


The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium is one of the known causative agents for pneumonia in guinea pigs. In some cases guinea pigs may be infected with the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria without appearing to be ill, making them a higher contagion risk to other animals — and vice versa.


An initial diagnosis of streptococcosis can be made by observing your guinea pig’s physical symptoms. You will need to provide a thorough history of your guinea pig’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis, your veterinarian will need to conduct laboratory tests, taking samples of mucous discharge (from the lungs and nasal passages), blood, and urine in order to test these body fluids for the presence of the tests for presence of the streptococci bacterium.


Certain antibiotics specifically designed to treat infection of streptococci bacteria are available. Because antibiotics can be dangerous for some small animals, including guinea pigs, your veterinarian will determine if this is the appropriate treatment for your guinea pig. Supportive therapy with fluids, along with vitamin and mineral supplements may be needed in case of very weak and debilitated guinea pigs.

Living and Management

The recovering guinea pig will need plenty of rest in a calm and clean environment, away from heavy traffic areas in the home, in order to have the best chance of a full recovery from a streptococcosis infection. Make sure that your guinea pig’s cage is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before reintroducing the animal in it, and separate any infected guinea pigs from the noninfected guinea pigs in order to prevent spread of the infection. Consult your veterinarian about supportive care that can be given at home, including any temporary diet changes that may be made, so that you can provide your pet guinea pig with the best opportunity for a healthful recovery.


Properly cleaning the cages — regularly removing any feces, urine and changing soiled bedding material routinely — is essential for the prevention of streptococcosis infection, and for preventing it from spreading once it has been diagnosed in one of your guinea pigs. If you have more than one guinea pig, preventing and controlling outbreaks of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection requires keeping your pets and their cages or tanks clean at all times, and removing guinea pigs that are sick from the company of the others.

You will also need to take your own precautions to avoid becoming a potential carrier yourself, by wearing disposable gloves when cleaning the cages and handling the infected guinea pig, and cleaning your hands and clothing before handling the next guinea pig.

KCP Piggies

Junior Guinea Pig
  • Jun 23, 2016
  • #1
  • Wiebke

    • Jun 23, 2016
  • #2
  • It is a good sign that your piggy is still eating. The need to breathe comes before the need to drink and only thridly the need to eat. Please be aware that antibiotics are appetite dampeners and in some cases even killers, so your little boy is facing a double whammy in the coming days. You can reclaim any vet cost from the shop, as the infection/exposure happened there.

    What you can do:
    – Here are our tips for medicating. If you have somebody else either hold your boy or stick the syringe in, it will make it easier. Mask the taste of the baytril (which is truly horrible) with the same amount of ribena or fruit juice, or give some ribena immediately afterwards to wash it away.
    Administering Medications
    – weigh your boy daily at the same time in the feeding cycle instead of the normal weekly and start topping him up with syringe feed as soon as he is losing more than 30-50g from his original weight.
    Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
    – give a pinch of probiotic 1-2 hours after the antibiotic to help prop up the guts, whether that is on a bit of veg or syringed. Details on supportive home care products at the end of our step-by-step syringe feeding guide.
    – place a bowl of steaming water next to the cage and renew to help ease the breathing. You can add a drop of olbas oil if you wish, but please do not use vicks. It contains ingredients that are toxic for guinea pigs.
    – It is going to take 2-3 days for the antibiotic to kick in, but contact your vet if symptoms persist after a week. Ask your vet for a diuretic to drain the lungs or some bisolvon powder to help clear the airways from mucus if he continues to struggle to breathe. Guinea pigs can’t breathe through the mouth, so any obstruction of the airways is very audible.
    – see a vet or out-of-hours vet (contact details for that from your vet’s answering machine) asap as an emergency if your boy is suddenly deteriorating, apathetic and off his food. Do not try to syringe feed or water if he is too apathetic or too weak to swallow.

    I hope that all goes well and that your boy will recover quickly.


    Teenage Guinea Pig
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • #3
  • Firstly, is your piggy having any difficulty breathing (nostrils flaring, head nodding)? If so he really needs a diuretic injection from the vet to clear his lungs of fluid (this is something that is common in guinea pigs with an upper respiratory infection or URI). Is the antibiotic Baytril? It is well known to taste horrible! If you are still having trouble getting it into him, you could try mixing it with some fruit juice or ribena to make it taste a bit better. The other thing with antibiotics is that they can upset the digestion so I’d recommend giving him a probiotic (e.g. bio lapis or Pro-C) 1-2 hours after the antibiotic to help his tum. Baytril is not always the best antibiotic for a URI, so if there isn’t any improvement ask your vet about Septrin, which has a good track record for this kind of infection.

    It is always a good sign if a guinea pig is eating! If you are concerned about him not drinking enough, try him with some wet veg (cucumber, say) or leave plenty of water on other veg after washing.

    It sounds like you have caught it quickly so he has the best chance of shaking this off.

    KCP Piggies

    Junior Guinea Pig
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • #4
  • Elwickcavies

    Teenage Guinea Pig
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • #5
  • Wiebke

    • Jun 23, 2016
  • #6
  • Not all piggies like cucumber, especially if he’s never had any where he comes from and doesn’t have a mate to teach him yet.

    Healthy guinea pigs can usually fend off a URI; it is an opportunistic bacterial disease that transmits through direct contact in combination with an immune system that is lowered through stress, illness or because it is still developing (young shop and breeder babies) or no longer working as fully in the very elderly.

    You have caught it early and have every chance that he can make a full recovery.

    Join the Community

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

    A guinea pig that pauses between snacks for the occasional sneeze is probably nothing to worry about. Cavies are immune to cold viruses, and sneezing is usually just a way for them to clear the nasal passages; however, cavies can be felled by a long list of other illnesses. Recognizing signs of sickness and isolating a sick guinea pig in a specially prepared cage is the first step toward getting them well. As a number of cavy diseases can quickly result in death, it’s important to get them to a vet at the earliest sign of serious illness.

    Owners who know their pet’s habits, right down to urination and defecation, tune into unusual behaviors or evidence of discomfort. Some things are hard to miss; a pig with diarrhea or one that is having a seizure must be rushed to the veterinarian immediately, or it will likely die. Other things might be harder to diagnose. It might be tempting to just keep an eye on a guinea pig who ignores its food in hopes it will feel better in a day or two, but in a day or two, that sick guinea pig will likely be dead.

    An owner with more than one cavy should be prepared for the eventuality of disease. It’s urgent to immediately separate a sick guinea pig from its cage mates. A failure to do so could result in an infection taking over the tribe. Besides, a pet that doesn’t feel well has a better chance of stabilizing in a quiet, clean environment away from distractions.

    The “sick cage” can be prepared and kept at the ready in a warm room with cold drafts. The cage should be small, both to discourage excess movement and to provide the animal with a sense of security. Scrupulously clean bedding and a disinfected water bottle are must-haves, and a bottle of antibacterial gel should be situated nearby to remind the owner to clean up before touching healthier cavies.

    While a standard cold is something cavy owners don’t have to fret about, a sick guinea pig can suffer from more serious bacterial respiratory infections. A dab of eucalyptus ointment on their snouts and paws can help the stuffiness because when a sick cavy rubs its nose, it reapplies the ointment. Allergies are a common cause of wheezing, sneezing, and coughing; however, kennel cough or pneumonia are equally common and can quickly lead to death. A vet should be consulted as quickly as possible for any cavy that exhibits signs of respiratory discomfort and is off its feed.

    Fast metabolisms are a mark of guinea pigs, and failure to constantly feed and drink can become serious rapidly. Dehydration caused or worsened by diarrhea requires immediate veterinary intervention. A pet that is on antibiotics, though, might suffer a secondary diarrhea as a result of digestive imbalances brought on by the destruction of healthy intestinal bacteria. With the vet’s approval, lactobacillus acidophilus can be added to the pet’s water to help stabilize the situation.

    Pink or milky urine can indicate bladder stones, frequent scratching suggests parasites, and stiffness or seizure can signal an inner ear infection. These conditions, like other cavy disorders, are serious enough to warrant veterinary oversight. A conscientious guinea pig owner knows the signs of sickness and makes the pet comfortable until it can be seen by a medical professional.


    Junior Guinea Pig
    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #1
  • Swissgreys

    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #2
  • Welcome to the Forum.
    Pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection (URI) are actually not unusual in guinea pigs, and most recover well with proper treatment.

    You did a good job getting him to the vet and seen quickly.

    Here is our guide to syringe feeding and caring for an ill guinea pig.
    Complete Syringe Feeding Guide

    We are all here to help so if you have any specific questions just ask.


    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #3
  • furryfriends (TEAS)

    Forum Founder
    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #4
  • Guinea Slave

    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #5
  • DMS260820

    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #6
  • furryfriends (TEAS)

    Forum Founder
    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #7
  • carlygoddard

    Junior Guinea Pig
    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #8
  • carlygoddard

    Junior Guinea Pig
    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #9
  • Welcome to the Forum.
    Pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection (URI) are actually not unusual in guinea pigs, and most recover well with proper treatment.

    You did a good job getting him to the vet and seen quickly.

    Here is our guide to syringe feeding and caring for an ill guinea pig.
    Complete Syringe Feeding Guide

    We are all here to help so if you have any specific questions just ask.


    • Feb 21, 2020
  • #10
  • With a normal bacterial pneumonia your recovery chances are not bad at all, especially with prompt treatment.
    But it vert depends what is causing the pneumonia; there are several bugs and some of them are rather nasty ones if thankfully more rare ones. Only a lab test can you tell you what you are dealing with.

    Trimethoprim-Sufla is better known as bactrim (US) or sulfatrim/septrin for guinea pigs. It is now officially licensed for guinea pigs in the UK.

    A diuretic is a medication that drains fluid build-ups from the body; it works on the fluid that congests the lungs in a case of pneumonia and helps to ease breathing more quickly. The most UK vet brand names are frusemide or frusol.

    The need to breathe comes before the need to drink and thirdly the need to eat. Hence why a serious respiratory infection is always an appetite killer.

    Here is our syringe feeding guide, which also contains tips for the amounts and frequency in our comprehensive syringe feeding guide. if you piggy is not interested in the powder mix, then try mushed up pellets or a mix of pellets and recovery care. You may have to cut off the tip of the syringe just below where it widens to allow the fibre pass through, though.
    Please be aware that it is a struggle to feed a seriously ill piggy; please try every two hours during the day and one or twice during the night to get as much into him as you can. The closer you can come to 40 ml in 24 hours, the better; just to keep him going.
    Please also offer as much water via syringe as he is willing to take.
    Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment

    Here is our emergency and crisis care advice collection where we have compiled all the necessary information that you need in a hurry: Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment

    All the best! I hope that you will notice an improvement within a day or two.
    Contact your vets or any out-of-hours vets asap if he takes a turn for the worse.

    Pneumonia.. – Guinea Lynx Forums

    Pneumonia is one of the most significant diseases of pet guinea pigs and can be caused by a number of bacteria, including Bordetella and Streptococcus.

    Guinea Pigs – Exotic and Laboratory Animals – Merck Veterinary Manual

    I think we often feel that the other pig(s) have already been exposed if they . One of my Pneumonia back on 2005 and lost .

    How to Care for a Guinea Pig with Pneumonia (with Pictures)

    The guinea pigs before but had recovered last month. He likes to hide under a dusty area .

    Bacteria from guinea pigs may cause severe pneumonia in people

    Last January, my Pneumonia. It took her about three months to recover completely, and she still has some tissue damage to .

    My poor Nickle has pneumonia! – Guinea Lynx Forums

    At least three people have been taken to hospital after developing guinea pigs likely harbour the bacteria responsible for the lung .

    The pneumonias of small mammals (Proceedings)

    The guinea pigs and is gasping for breath. His gums and nose are cyanotic. He had lost a .

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

    Guinea pigs can give their owners deadly pneumonia | Daily Mail Online

    guinea pigs: A CASE STUDY. HISTORY A month ago, Woodie, a chunky, young rex boar, had a URI (upper respiratory infection). At the first sign of a slightly .

    Pneumonia from a diseased guinea pig – WUR

    This bacterium had been known as the cause of mild eye infection in Pneumonia in humans had not been documented to date.

    Lethal pneumonia in guinea pigs associated with a virus. – NCBI

    Pneumonia Infection in Guinea Pigs | petMD

    guinea pigs. A number of potential disease-causing bacteria may inhabit the respiratory tracts of .

    Guinea pigs can harbor a hidden health hazard – CBS News

    Physicians said bacteria from Pneumonia in the Netherlands. Writing in The New England Journal of .

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

    Guinea Pig Pneumonia | Second opinion doctor

    But three adults in the Netherlands wound up hospitalized for Pneumonia resulted in their infection with C. caviae.

    Please help! Piggy needs to fight pneumonia | The Guinea Pig Forum

    Learn about the veterinary topic of guinea pigs. Find specific details on this topic and related topics from the Merck Vet Manual.

    Pneumonia Symptoms in Guinea Pigs | Animals –

    Lab Anim. 1981 Jul;15(3):235-42. Lethal guinea pigs associated with a virus. Naumann S, Kunstýr I, Langer I, Maess J, Hörning R. No bacteria .

    A guinea pig is gasping for breath – pneumonia – YouTube

    guinea pigs don’t tolerate these .

    How did he get pneumonia? – Cavy Cages

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

    Blackheath Veterinary Surgery | Factsheet: Pneumonia in guinea pigs

    Adorable and cute, guinea pigs seem to be an ideal pet for a lot of people. If you are one of them but are not sure about how to care for your guinea pig, read on to learn about where they come from, their personalities, care, health issues, and socialization.

    Caring for Your Guinea Pig

    Getting to know Your Guinea Pig

    The origins of guinea pigs are in South America, and though there are many species of this animal, only the domestic cavy can be kept at home as a pet. (The cavy family is a family of rodents native to South America, including the domestic guinea pig, wild cavies, and the capybara, among other animals.)

    By nature, guinea pigs are intelligent, curious, and they prefer a quiet environment. They can be quite friendly if proper care is provided for them.

    Their average lifespan of a guinea pig is approximately four to eight years, so if you are planning to adopt one, know that you are making a long-term commitment.

    How to Care for Your Guinea Pig

    Being a pet parent is a responsibility. We want to give the very best care, and this includes grooming, living environment, food and nutrition, health aspects, exercise, and socialization.

    Housing Your Guinea Pig

    You can keep your guinea pig indoors or out, but make sure their environment is quiet.

    Guinea pigs are inquisitive creatures. If their curiosity is not being met indoors, you might want to consider housing them outside.

    If you do keep your guinea pig outside, get her a large wooden hutch, with a separate section for sleeping, eating, and play. Her bedding can be hay or straw. You can use wood savings too, but if you do, make sure this substrate is dust-free.

    Wherever you choose to keep your guinea pig, remember that winter is the time when she will need extra protection from the cold. Consider adding extra hay or straw to the bedding.

    Feeding Your Guinea Pig

    Guinea pigs require food with high levels of fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, which their bodies cannot produce. In the wild, their diet comprises of grasses, plants, crops, and vegetables.

    To meet the fiber requirements of your guinea pig, feed them high-quality hay. For the vitamins, give them lots of fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale.

    Another important tip to keep in mind is that Calcium should be given in extremely low quantities, as higher levels will lead to problems in the urinary tract.

    Avoid giving your guinea pig potatoes or tomato leaves because these can be quite poisonous for a guinea pig.

    Some other foods can be potentially harmful to guinea pigs, so make sure to double-check and confirm their safety before you give them to your pet.

    And finally, make sure to give your guinea pig lots of clean and fresh water, in large quantities, every day.

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia Image: Creative Commons

    The Health of a Your Guinea Pig

    Most guinea pigs are susceptible to a number of health issues, and these include respiratory infections, diarrhea, eye problems, urinary problems, abscesses and other skin problems. Here are some of the diseases discussed in more detail:


    One of the major respiratory diseases that strike guinea pigs is pneumonia, a condition that is caused by bacteria.

    Cultures must be taken to detect if your pet has pneumonia, after which antibiotics should be given to combat the disease.


    Diarrhea is caused by an imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract in guinea pigs. Because of the imbalance, tissues may be damaged, and toxins may be released in the GI tract.

    Symptoms associated with diarrhea include depression, dehydration, low body temperature. Diarrhea can be treated with antibiotics in consultation with the vet.

    Urinary Stones:

    Urinary stones are another common issue that guinea pigs face. Most of these stones are formed in the kidney and may become lodged in the ureter or the urethra.

    Common symptoms of urinary problems include straining to urinate and blood in the urine. Diagnosis is made by physical examination, blood tests, and urine analysis.

    A guinea pig infected with urine problems may be prescribed antibiotics, but in some cases, they may require supportive care, therapy, or even surgery.

    Vitamin C Deficiency:

    Though most animals can produce their own Vitamin C, it is not so in the case of guinea pigs. Therefore, these animals easily face Vitamin C deficiency. Lack of vitamin C makes the body prone to other infections, a rough appearance to skin and coat, swollen feet, and gum ulcers.

    To avoid vitamin C deficiency, it is best to give your dog at least 10- 15 mg Vitamin C per day.


    Guinea pigs are unlikely to be affected by ringworms, a kind of fungal infection. The areas commonly affected by ringworm are generally itchy and have crusty scabs. These are very painful lesions, and after proper diagnosis, they can be treated topically with an anti-fungal medicine.


    Bumblefoot, a bacterial infection, is one of the most common problems of guinea pigs, characterized by a swollen foot, lameness, and pain.

    Exercising Your Guinea Pig

    Although guinea pigs are active creatures, they are prone to being overweight. Encourage adequate exercise by allowing your guinea pig to run about the house as much as possible.

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia Image: Creative Commons

    Socializing Your Guinea Pig

    At first, it may seem that your guinea pig is not truly connecting with you, but after a while, you will notice that they are very happy and friendly creatures once they recognize you and are given proper love and care. While dealing with them, make sure to be very gentle, as they are quite sensitive creatures.

    Having more than one guinea pig is a good idea; otherwise; they might end up being lonely.


    We have laid out to you some facts about guinea pigs and a few quick points on how to take care your guinea pig. We hope you find this article helpful and you can take necessary steps to either buy or adopt a guinea pig or, if you own one, to help improve her quality of life.

    “How to Care for Your Guinea Pig”

    About the Author: This article has been contributed by Nasifa Sultan. She is a regular contributor at FeedFond. Writing about animals is her passion, especially dogs and cute animals like Guinea Pigs.

    How to care for a guinea pig with pneumonia

    Pneumonia or any upper respiratory infection in a guinea pig (cavy) should warrant an immediate phone call to the vet. Guinea pigs don’t tolerate these infections well at all, due to their small size. Death can come in a matter of a couple of days unless they are immediately put on antibiotics and have their environment checked and improved upon. If caught early enough, a full recovery is possible and you can have a happy, healthy piggy again.

    Guinea pigs with pneumonia will look different, sound different and act different than they usually do. As a general rule, any strange deviation of behavior warrants a closer look and a vet visit, but if your guinea pig exhibits these symptoms, consider it a medical emergency.

    Crusting, dripping or goop exuding from the nose or eyes; eyes sunk in or looking very dull; sitting in a hunched position; not bothering to groom himself or herself, resulting in dirty fur or wet patches around the chin and chest; sneezing far more often than usual; refusing to eat and making strange noises when breathing like wheezing, rattling or even crackling.

    You can hear the noises by either sticking your ear down on the very top of the guinea pig’s cage or by picking the pet up or placing the nose to your ear.

    Quarantine Time

    Unfortunately, pneumonia is very contagious to other guinea pigs, but not contagious to humans. You should wash your hands thoroughly when working with the sick guinea pig before you touch a healthy one. If you have more than one guinea pig, you need to separate them in order to keep the others from getting sick.

    Upper respiratory infections generally come from the guinea pig staying too long in damp conditions. The quarantine cage, big plastic tote with the lid off or cardboard box (if all else fails) needs to be in a warm, dry environment. Make sure the sick guinea pig has dry bedding, food and water.

    The usual medications given to guinea pigs with pneumonia are a round of antibiotics, which usually can be administered by a dropper. Keep in mind that all guinea pigs are allergic to penicillin, amoxicillin and any antibiotic in the penicillin family. Be sure your vet knows that. Not all vets are aware of this.

    Safe antibiotics include doxycycline and Bactrim (a combination of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim). Depending on how bad your guinea pig is, the vet may want to give an injection and then give you the medicine. It is important to give all of the medicine, or the infection can come back.

    It’s vitally important to get the guinea pig eating. If the guinea pig hasn’t eaten in two days, she can risk death due to liver shock. Your vet may need to administer fluids. Human baby food is a good treat for sick guinea pigs.

    “The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs.” Peter Gurney. TFH Publications; 1999

    “Guinea Pigs.” Audrey Pavia, et al. Bow Tie Press; 2005.