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Guinea Pigs/possible allergy or ???



I just got my little piggy Pepe about a week and a half ago. Yesterday i noticed he had crusty eyes and his breathing is loud. I use carefree bedding on top of newspaper. His diet is the GP pellet food along with hay. I don't want to wait and see if he gets better on his own. Is there anything i can do at home to avoid a high vet bill? I appreciate your help.


This is a tough one. When you say his breathing is loud, do you mean it sounds labored? Are you able to hear it without picking him up or are you listening to his chest.

Most pigs sound wheezy when you put their chest to your ear. You should not be able to hear him when you're not holding him. The crusty eyes could be from dust, or it also could mean he's got a respiratory issue.

It's possible he's allergic to the Carefresh bedding. It's relatively dust free and is made from paper products but there are some pigs who don't tolerate it for the same reason. I would suggest you wipe the eyes with a cotton ball dipped in water and see if they continue to crust up. If they do there is a problem.

Is he a baby or a grown pig? Sometimes the babies that are shipped to the large chain stores go through a bit of stress in the transport and are easily susceptible to respiratory problems. If you got him from a pet store I would call them and ask what their policy is regarding quickly acquired health problems. Some will give you a 14 day turnaround time and will either refund your money or give you another pig.  That's an individual thing from one store to the other.

It's very hard to say whether he's showing signs of allergy or illness but if he's eating okay and drinking normally he may be just reacting to the bedding. I hope that's the case. It's very disheartening when you purchase a pet and then lose it from illness in such a short time.

As far as vet bills you are right, they are costly. Guinea pigs don't always respond well to antibiotics and many times have more complications from the medications than anything. They cannot take any form of penicillin as it destroys the normal good bacteria in the digestive system and they die from a secondary infection.  They can take Bactrim or Baytril, but that's pretty much it.

Hopefully this ill pass quickly and not need vet care. I hope that's the case. I don't know if this is really helpful to you and I'll keep my fingers crossed that whatever it is will resolve itself.

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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