Do Guinea Pigs Need Vaccinations? 

Once you decide to get a pet, you suddenly become responsible for another being. This is a very important thing to understand because you need to take a lot of care of the pet you get. It isn’t all about fun as your pet might get sick or just old. This is why you need to know everything about what getting a new pet involves, especially when it comes to guinea pigs because they are very sensitive animals. 

So, do guinea pigs need vaccinations? The short answer is no; they don’t need it. Why? Scientists say that guinea pigs do not really need vaccinations because they present a low risk of developing diseases. This is a consequence, actually an advantage, of their isolated lifestyle and behavior.  Vaccinations are made to keep people away from infectious diseases that can be caught from infected people. It is the same with guinea pigs. Their advantage is that they live an isolated life, a confined space they move around. Also, they cannot contact other animals unless you let them too. They can’t even reach other guinea pigs unless you practically permit them. There are not many moments in which your guinea pig comes in contact with other animals. 

Why is this important?

The fact that they cannot reach to other animals actually means more than that. It means they can’t get in contact with infected animals. This dramatically minimizes guinea pigs’ chances to come in contact with deadly diseases (or any diseases in general). And if they don’t get sick often, why would you give them vaccinations that are not really necessary? It is like giving pills to a healthy human. 

Legal problems

Usually, when people get new pets, they are obliged to get them vaccinated. This way, if you buy an infected animal, he won’t spread the infection among others. Even if he’s not infected, he might catch an illness from other animals and spread it around. This is why in some states it might be illegal to skip the vaccinating process. In order to prevent having legal problems, especially when it comes to guinea pigs (which are usually not vaccinated), just ask a doctor about the legal procedures.  

Take care of your pet

It is well known that guinea pigs are very sensitive rodents. Even if they weren’t, you would still need to take him in for a veterinary examination. Just because they do not need vaccinations, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them to a vet. Just like humans, pets can be sick and show no symptoms.

At least once a year you should bring your little piggy in to make sure he really is fine. If your friend gets injured, you can always go to the doctor. It is better to go to the doctor if you think something is going on than to ignore it. 

Without needing to pay for vaccinations, guinea pigs require a little amount of money at the beginning, being one of the most wanted pets.  

Symptoms of possible illness

I will give you a list of symptoms, and this is probably the most common list which can indicate that something bad is going on (if any of these is happening, you will know that something is out of the ordinary):

  • runny nose and eyes
  • diarrhea
  • bloody urine
  • abnormal bleeding
  • changes in water consumption patterns
  • problems breathing
  • rapid weight loss or gain
  • lethargy
  • decreased energy and body temperature
  • contact sensitivity
  • irregularities with skin
  • difficulty walking and swelling

This is a long list you need to keep close. However, every symptom on the list is very obvious if it is occurring.

Tip on the doctor

Guinea pigs are not “usual” pets like dogs and cats. This is why you should probably go to an “exotic veterinarian” if possible. Exotic veterinarians should be well trained, prepared and should know a lot more about guinea pigs and how to treat them than normal veterinarians. Keep in mind guinea pigs are exotic animals, which means not every vet can handle them.

Common guinea pig health issues

Guinea pigs have a short lifespan (4 to 6 years), and older guinea pigs are more prone to health problems. However, they can occur at a young age as well, but don’t worry. Their bodies immediately react to something that harms them. You just need to take a moment and observe. 

  • A very common problem they have is vitamin C deficiency. This happens because they are not able to synthesize their own vitamin C. This is the reason why you need to give them fresh fruit and vegetables that contain vitamin C. However, don’t feed them too much vitamin C because anything that is in excess harms their body. 


  • Another health issue they always come across is diarrhea. This is usually nothing to be afraid of and it happens because of too much fruit and vegetables, especially unripe fruit. This is something you don’t need to call your doctor for immediately, just if it persists. 


  • Older guinea pigs tend to have bumps that may indicate tumors. Most of them are operable, and they are not as dangerous if they are found in time.


  • Also, guinea pigs usually have respiratory problems. This is very important because it might be the cause of bacterial infections, pneumonia, and many other issues. You need to be in alert for respiratory problems and take them to the doctor if any occur. This is probably of the dangerous things that can happen to them. 

When do you need to take your guinea pig to the vet?

  • Just observe him. If any of the following situations occur, call a vet or go to one: 
  • Your guinea pig has severe diarrhea – it has continued for more than 24 hours. 
  • In opposition to the first one, if your pet is constipated and not passing feces, it is time to see a specialist. 
  • Your vet needs to know about any kind of seizures, fits or unconsciousness as soon as it happens. 
  • If another animal attacks your guinea pig, bites him or scratches him, he needs to visit the vet. The same rule applies if he is dropped or injured in any other possible way. 
  • Your guinea pig refuses to eat for a prolonged period of time. This is a sign of apathy. 
  • As I have already told (but it is so important that it needs to be remembered), if your guinea pig has problems breathing, take him to the doctor. 
  • If he is losing weight or condition, you need to check up on him. 
  • If any bumps or lumps occur, take him to the vet. 

Vaccinations are used for preventing infectious diseases. Guinea pigs are not likely to get infected because they don’t come in contact with the outside world and animals as much as the other pets.

On the other hand, they are sensitive animals and can get sick easily, but not because of actual infections from other animals. They can get sick even if they are vaccinated. There is no universal rule whether you have to give your pet a vaccination or not; it ultimately is your choice.