If you find yourself sneezing, scratching your eyes, scratching your skin and blowing your nose whenever you are handling your pet, congratulations – you could be allergic to guinea pigs. If the first thing that comes into your mind now is “guinea pig hair”, you can discard that thing into space, because allergens are transmitted through guinea pig saliva, urine, and secretions from the skin glands. Hair can only transmit those nifty little allergens when in close contact with the animal. Most commonly reported allergic reactions to guinea pigs are manifesting as:
- Rhinitis: Your nose becomes stuffy and runny all the time.
- Conjunctivitis: Infection of the eyes (crudely speaking)
- Asthma: Causes difficulty in breathing.
- Eczema: Itchy and scaly skin rash.
If you suspect that you could indeed be allergic, first thing to do is to visit your physician and allergist, and test yourself specifically for the guinea pig allergies.
If the test comes positive, you will know that you are allergic to guinea pigs. You will need to conduct immunotherapy.
However, if the test comes negative on the guinea pig allergies, you will need to dig deeper in search for the cause of the symptoms. This may include hay, or the bedding materials (aspen, pine). To test this theory, try to omit those materials completely for 1 week, and see what happens. Use fleece, towels, paper and shredded paper for a bedding in this period. Use patience because your cavies will hate your guts for not giving them the beloved hay for a whole one week. You will also have to wash the cage, accessories and the cavies to remove potentially irritating leftovers. If after one week the symptoms diminish, then you are closer to finding your culprit.
In order to alleviate allergy symptoms, do not keep the guinea pig cage in your bedroom. You will have hard time to breathe and sleep normally if your nose gets stuffed because of the allergens. Try to isolate your bedroom from other rooms, ventilate it with fresh air and/or use some air filters and purifiers. When holding your pet, use some towels instead of holding it on your clothes and body. If you are however, holding it on your clothes, these clothes must go. For a wash. Also, wash your hands all the time, and do it thoroughly. Do not let your pet near your head and neck, because those have the thinnest skin and thus are most sensitive. Store the hay and the bedding materials far away from your bedroom, living room and all the other “usual” rooms.