Guinea Pigs/allergy, hay

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Question
Happy Holidays, Pat!

I use a 9lb box of oxbow hay always for our guinea pigs.. this time yet I am allergic to the same product.. can't seem to get near the hay without allergy reaction.

I am just wondering if you'd have any tips for me.

Thanks,
Jill

Answer
There's a few ways to deal with that.

1. Get a mask from the drugstore. Most people react to the pollen and dust that comes with the hay, and even though Oxbow is 'cleaned' it still has some residual pollen. That way you won't be breathing it in.  Make sure you're wearing gloves when you take the mask off.

2. Rubber gloves. Buy an inexpensive box of gloves, usually available at a hardware store cheaper than at your drugstore. If you have an old oversized shirt you can put it over your clothes when you lift the hay.  The idea is to keep it off your clothing as well.

3. If you are able to take an antihistamine like Claritin or its generic equivalent you can take on about 30 minutes before you pass out the hay. I am assuming of course that your reaction is a respiratory one, sneezing, watery eyes, etc. Hopefully that will help ward off the effects.

If all that fails you may have to resort to having someone else handle the hay for you.  But let's keep our fingers crossed that this works. Good Luck to you. Please let me know if you get some relief from these suggestions.  

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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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