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Are Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic? Facts & Tips to Reduce Symptoms

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By Nicole Cosgrove

female cuddles with guinea pig

Guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic animals. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the hair or dander that causes an allergic reaction; it’s the proteins found in the guinea’s urine and saliva that cause an allergic reaction. If you’re looking to get a guinea pig but are unsure whether you’re allergic, it’s a good idea to spend some time with guinea pigs found at a friend’s house or pet store.

However, if you hold a guinea pig and don’t experience an allergic reaction, you may not be free from allergens yet. Sometimes, it’s not the guinea pig itself but the environment the guinea pig comes with, such as hay, bedding, and other material.

In this article, learn how to curb your allergens and still own a guinea pig.

Click below to jump ahead:

Divider Guinea Pig

Allergies Related to Guinea Pigs

Breathing allergies triggered by guinea pigs include airborne particles from the guinea pigs’ fur or environment. For example, if the dust in your guinea pigs’ hay or dander lingers in the air, you’ll experience sneezing, itchiness, or watery eyes.

Skin allergies triggered by guinea pigs relate to close contact. If you notice itchiness, rash, or red bumps, the culprit is likely the proteins in your guinea pig’s skin and saliva.

On the other hand, your guinea pig may not be the problem, but their environment might be. If grass and pollen make you sneeze or find breathing difficult, you may be allergic to your guinea pigs’ bedding or hay.

Getting an allergy test to find the exact culprit is a good idea. Allergy tests will tell you what you’re allergic to, and you can skip the guessing game.

Symptoms of Allergic Reaction

It can be hard to distinguish exactly where your allergies are coming from regarding your pocket pig. Although guinea pigs shed quite a bit, they don’t produce a lot of dander. With that said, when it comes to living with allergies, the chances of allergic reactions to a guinea pig are low, as allergens stay close to the guinea itself.

Some common symptoms of guinea pig allergies include:

  • Rash
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Itchy, watery, or red eyes
  • Stuffy nose

Some common symptoms of guinea pig habitats include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Puffy eyes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Welts and Rashes

While the symptoms may be slightly different, the feelings are downright uncomfortable. If you already own a guinea pig or multiple, your best option is to find a better-suited home for them or learn to live with them. Luckily, reducing and managing allergies from guinea pigs is an easy process.

person sneezing into a tissue napkin
Image Credit: sweetlouise, Pixabay

Reducing Allergies From Guinea Pigs

Just because you have allergies to your guinea pigs or their environment doesn’t mean you can’t have one. The good news is there are many ways to live with guinea pigs by placing reduction techniques in place.

Common tactics to reduce guinea pig allergies are as follows:
  • ALWAYS wash your hands after handling guinea pigs or wear protective gloves
  • Have a designated robe or piece of clothing you can easily change in and out of when handling your guinea pigs.
  • Wear a face mask
  • Invest in a HEPA air purifier
  • Don’t allow guinea pigs on carpets or furniture
  • Keep everything clean—sanitizing with a vinegar-water solution weekly
  • Avoid hay or pine bedding
  • Wash all blankets or fleece used for guinea pigs twice a week
  • Take antihistamines or allergy medication before handling guinea pigs
  • Eat high vitamin C content to boost your immune system

While there is no cure for allergies, many people have found that reducing and managing allergies triggered by guinea pigs work best.

veterinarian examining a guinea pig
Image Credit: Garna Zarina, Shutterstock

How to Live With Guinea Pigs and Allergies

Don’t get discouraged if you’ve noticed your allergies are triggered by your guinea pigs. Depending on your allergies, you’ll still be able to spend time with your pocket companions if you have the right management system in place.

Living with guinea pigs doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Here are some ways you can manage your life with your guinea:
  • Keep a designated guinea pig area with lots of ventilation.
  • Ensure your guinea pig cage is thoroughly cleaned at least two times a week alongside their cloth bedding.
  • Brush your guinea pig often. Brushing your guinea will control how much they shed. Do this twice a week.
  • Bathe your guinea pig. Don’t bathe too often (once every couple of weeks, as it can do the opposite of what you want. Bathing will help take away the smell.
  • Search for hay or bedding alternatives.
  • Opt for dust-free pellets for litter training.

While having a guinea pig allergy may seem like more work weekly, proper cleaning and routine grooming will keep your guinea pig happy and healthy. It’s best to ask yourself whether owning a guinea pig is the right pet for you before you get one. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.

What About Skinny Pigs!?

What about skinny pigs (almost hairless guinea pigs), you ask? Since allergies are triggered by the proteins found in a guinea pig’s saliva or urine, skinny pigs are not an alternative to reduce allergies. No guinea pig breeds are hypoallergenic. Though there is no restriction against owning multiple breeds of guinea pigs at once.

skinny guinea pig
Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock

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Final Words

While most people believe allergies come from pet hair, dander, or airborne particles caused by pets, guinea pig allergies stem mainly from the proteins in their saliva and urine. If you have an allergy to guinea pigs, ensure you’re taking antihistamines before handling your pocket pig, and always remember to wash your hands.

If you’re the type of person susceptible to allergies from dander and pets, guinea pigs are no exception. No guinea pig breed is hypoallergenic, although there are many things you can do to manage or reduce your allergies triggered by guinea pigs.

Featured Image Credit: Ocskay Mark, Shutterstock

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