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Guinea Pigs/Guinea Pig Allergies...

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Question
Ok...I'm very allergic to the saliva of dogs. Really dogs in general. As my family has similar allergies and are also effected by cats and horses, I assume that they are off-limits. One of my family members happens to be allergic to Guinea Pigs, however I'm slightly reluctant to believe that I've also inherited this curse. I'm visiting an allergist soon and I was simply wondering if even with slight allergies, if there was a Guinea Pig friendlier to allergies, in general.

Answer
Unfortunately people who are allergic to dogs and cats are often also allergic to guinea pigs.  Typically it's the dander on these animals that causes the problem, and for those suffering allergies it can be anywhere from irritating to serious.

There is a breed of guinea pig that is hairless.  It's called a Baldwin, and just incidentally this breed was developed in the 1980's by someone I knew fairly well.  Now you can find the breed all over the country.

Having said that I must also tell you that people allergic to guinea pigs may also have the same problems with the hairless varieties, as the dander is on the skin of the pig. It's difficult to find a way around the issue, but if you're wanting to try to get around it you may try wearing gloves when you touch the animal.  This is a long shot and in all probability, depending on the severity of your allergies, may not work.

It's something you might discuss with the allergist and see if there are immunity shots for cavies, aka guinea pigs, that would be effective. My experience has been that people who have cross allergies, such as both dogs and cats, horses, etc. have very little chance of avoiding an attack other than avoiding the triggers i.e. the animals.

Best of luck to you.  I hope you are able to find a compromise to the problem.  

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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