Coughing is often regarded as something normal, and it represents a defensive mechanism against foreign bodies in our throat.
So, can Guinea pigs cough? Yes. Coughing is present in every living being, and it’s not strange for your Guinea pig to cough from time to time. Usually, animals tend to eat faster than humans, resulting in pieces of food getting stuck in the throat. By coughing, those pieces are ejected from the throat thus preventing the Guinea pig to suffocate.
However, frequent coughing can be malicious. This kind of coughing is often caused by specific allergies, flu, bronchial infections, and similar.
Now, we’ll examine why your Guinea pig coughs and how to treat that condition.
Diagnosing Respiratory Problems
If a Guinea pig coughs frequently, the chances are that it suffers from mild or severe respiratory problems. Much like humans, Guinea pigs can get a runny nose and sore throat which can lead to an uncomfortable and painful cough.
So, how you can diagnose some respiratory issues?
Well, here are some tips.
Check the Breathing
When your Guinea pig breathes heavily, it may indicate a respiratory problem. However, it may also indicate that there’s something stuck in its mouth or throat and it tries to push it out. You can quite easily examine your Guinea pig’s breathing by picking it up and placing it next to your ear.
When breathing heavily, lungs are strained and sounds like wheezing and clicking can be heard from the torso. If this is the case, then there is certainly a respiratory problem.
Guinea pig’s breathing should always be quiet, almost silent. That’s just for the reference.
So, what can be a cause of these strange sounds?
Well, in most cases, it’s an allergy. Specific allergies can make a Guinea pig cough excessive and breathe more loudly. If you keep your pig in a dirty environment and if you don’t clean their environment often, coughing could very well come from that.
Check the Nose
The nose is almost always an indicator of when something is wrong. If you ever had a cough, you probably had a runny or full nose accompanied with it. The discharge from the nose is directly connected to your ears and throat, meaning that you can have problems with both ears and throat.
In most cases, the discharge ‘slides’ from the nose into the throat, causing your Guinea pig to suffer from a runny nose AND cough simultaneously. Luckily, the nose of Guinea pig can tell you a lot if you take a closer glance at it.
Of course, the first noticeable sign is the discharge, e.g., a runny nose. A runny nose is usually caused by allergies or flu, and this discharge is often green or yellow. A neutral discharge is considered normal, while the colored one can indicate an infection. On the contrary, the nose of Guinea pig can also be dry! When the nozzle is dry, it becomes itchy thus making your Guinea pig scratch and rub it constantly. This can further produce redness and soreness in this area, which is easily noticeable.
Examine the Eyes
Much like the nose and lungs, eyes are prone to get infected easily. And of course, respiratory problems are the main culprit for eye infections. However, if your Guinea pig coughs a lot, the eyes are mostly intact. In some cases, there can be a discharge from the eyes from excessive coughing. And if it’s an infection that’s causing the coughing, the discharge can have a yellowish color or eyes can become crusty.
Another common symptom that goes along with coughing is burning of the eyes. The eyes get red and start to become itchy. In some cases, a Guinea pig can develop conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the inner eyelid. If this happens, calling a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Loss of Appetite
When a Guinea pig coughs a lot, its throat can become damaged, red, and very painful. In that case, a loss of appetite can occur. It’s simple – when your throat hurts, you don’t want to swallow, even if it is your saliva! Guinea pigs can get a pretty bad throat infection that could easily lead them to loss of appetite. The leading cause for this infection that goes along coughing is bedding and of course, the environment. If you have a low-quality bedding, the particles coming from it can damage pig’s respiratory system.
A damaged respiratory system represents critical damage for a Guinea pig, and you’ll be better off avoiding it than trying to fix it. And if your Guinea pig stops being hungry, it won’t be able to receive healthy nutrients from the food, and it will become even more unhealthy. As we can see, coughing can represent a serious issue.
Decrease in Activity
A reduction in activity is a typical symptom that follows excessive coughing. When having respiratory problems, the capacity of the lungs is drastically decreased. This decrease causes less oxygen brought to the muscle, and if muscles don’t have enough oxygen, they can’t function properly. As Guinea pigs love to run and jump around, their lungs are under load pretty much at all times. Coughing will reduce this capacity and cause your Guinea pig to start behaving differently.
For example, it will remain in its cage most of the time and avoid playing with you. This behavior is by no means a typical Guinea pig behavior. If your Guinea pig coughs a lot and starts evading company, it’s a sign that you need to call a veterinarian.
Why Is Coughing Dangerous?
Don’t let people tell you that your Guinea pig can’t have severe issues with coughing. Even people can develop certain conditions when coughing, and Guinea pigs are much more sensitive. That being said, having the right attitude towards coughing is crucial for understanding how dangerous it can be. A Guinea pig left to cough and suffer is probably not going to last long. No jokes.
The first time your Guinea pigs get sick, its state can become life-threatening if not treated well. Although a Guinea pig can’t get a cold virus, it can develop a respiratory infection or even asthma.
However, asthma is very rare in animals like Guinea pigs, but it’s not impossible. And if a Guinea pig has asthma, the decrease in activity is imminent, making it rather lazy. Again, this isn’t a typical behavior of a Guinea pig.
Can a Guinea Pig Die from Coughing?
Yes! Coughing in Guinea pigs is often caused by an infection and knowing what bacteria caused the infection is crucial. But, before you get to that, you’ll need to carefully examine the whole animal as Guinea pigs instinctively hide their illness.
Being a tiny animal, a Guinea pig can quickly develop severe symptoms that can lead to its demise, even though there aren’t dangerous symptoms present at the moment.
Can a Guinea Pig Get Sick Because of You?
Guinea pigs are vulnerable to sickness coming from the other living beings surrounding it, included humans. If you have flu or similar health problems, it’s better to limit your contact with the animal for a short period. Alternatively, you can always wear a mask or wash your hands before and after each interaction.
Humans CAN transmit viruses to Guinea pigs, which is something that many owners don’t know.
If you have a virus, you can ask your friends and family to take care of your Guinea pig. When you get healthy again, you can spend time with it again.
Guinea pigs can certainly cough, and in most cases, this represents a certain health issue. If coughing persists through the days, the best thing to do is to take your Guinea pig to a veterinarian. Another thing worth mentioning is that you need to keep yourself away from it if you’re sick. I know we mentioned that, but it’s VERY important.
If you manage to take your Guinea pig to a veterinarian, coughing can be solved relatively easily. Remember that Guinea pigs live 4 to 8 years, so try to make this short period as enjoyable as it can be for your furry friend.