Before we take care of a guinea pig, we often ask ourselves if everything will be okay, if we might have an allergy to the pet or not.
I asked myself the same question, among other worries, about whether keeping a guinea pig or some other pet is okay.
However, the research encouraged me not to worry, and I made no mistake in getting a cute guinea pig as a pet.
Are guinea pigs hypoallergenic?
No, guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic like other warm-blooded animals with hair and fur, so these pets can also cause human allergies. All guinea pigs, hairy and hairless, release proteins that cause an allergic reaction.
In today’s article, you can read everything I learned about hypoallergenic in guinea pigs, so let’s get started immediately.
What does hypoallergenic mean?
Hypoallergenic means that pets and objects have very little chance of causing an allergic reaction in humans.
However, there are still no specific rules and procedures to determine whether a pet or object is hypoallergenic.
There are many claims that certain pets are hypoallergenic, but nothing has been confirmed, and cannot be taken as reliable information.
Could we be allergic to guinea pigs?
Yes, of course we can have an allergy to guinea pigs, but with very little chance of such a thing happening.
Allergy from guinea pigs usually occurs in people with asthma, hypersensitivity, or sensitivity.
While 90% of people will not get an allergy to guinea pigs, there is no need to worry too much.
Sometimes people get an allergy that is not directly from the guinea pig; that is, it could just be a carrier of something that was currently on their skin or fur.
Why do we get allergic to guinea pigs?
We get an allergy to guinea pigs because of the proteins that are attached to the guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are not always the cause of our allergy, and we get an allergy to one of our pet’s allergens.
There are two types of proteins associated with guinea pig hair:
- Cav PI
- Cav P II
These proteins, which cause allergies in humans, are transmitted through urine, saliva and dandruff from guinea pigs.
Dandruff is the leading cause of allergy transmission in humans by guinea pigs, and it is something that is quite common.
Since dandruff is dead cells thrown out of guinea pigs’ skin, they cause an allergy through the proteins.
All guinea pigs have dandruff, regardless of breed, and regardless of whether they have a lot of hair or no hair at all.
In the saliva of guinea pigs there are Cav PI and Cav P II, which leads to the transmission of allergens and causing allergies.
How does the transmission happen?
Guinea pigs produce a white liquid that resembles wax and comes from their eyes, while they clean their fur with their saliva.
In this way, the protein from the saliva spreads over their body, that is, over the fur and hairs, and the result is an allergy when we touch our furry pet.
Similar to the saliva again through the two proteins Cav PI and Cav P II, we can get an allergy, but this time through guinea pigs’ urine.
How does the transmission happen?
First, let’s emphasize that there are more of these two proteins in urine than in saliva. Guinea pigs pee everywhere, which we can’t stop; it’s a regular natural occurrence of our pets.
When the urine comes into contact with their fur, the allergenic proteins are transferred to their hair, and when we touch the guinea pig, we get an allergy.
Regular cleaning of the cage reduces the chances of transferring these proteins to the fur or the guinea pig’s body. However, it is still impossible to completely stop this phenomenon and the transfer of allergens.
How often do guinea pigs cause allergies?
Guinea pigs do not cause frequent allergies in humans.
The cases when people get allergies from other animals are much more common, such as:
Of all these we have listed, most allergies are obtained from cats and horses, much less from other animals.
Or instead, people get twice as many allergies from cats.
That’s why the chances of getting an allergy from guinea pigs are much lower, unlike all other pets.
Are skinny pigs hypoallergenic?
No, skinny guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic; they can also transmit allergies to humans.
Since the allergen can be transmitted through saliva, urine and hair, all guinea pigs can transmit allergies.
Claims that hairless guinea pigs cannot transmit allergies are not valid, and the facts confirm this; everything else is not correct; there are no hypoallergenic guinea pigs!
Should we be concerned about possible pet allergies?
We don’t have to worry about possible allergies from pets or guinea pigs.
Generally speaking, all pets can cause allergies, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping guinea pigs or other pets.
Many are afraid when they start keeping guinea pigs because of the possibility of allergies, but they gradually realize there is no need to worry so much.
What to do before keeping a guinea pig and know if you have an allergy?
The simplest way to know if it’s okay to keep a guinea pig before you start keeping is to visit a few guinea pig stores and spend some time with them.
Or, if you have a friend who keeps a guinea pig, spend some time together to see if you get any reaction from the guinea pigs.
If you do not notice any reaction or redness of the skin, sneezing, coughing or similar allergy symptoms, then you can freely start keeping a guinea pig.
How do we know we are allergic to guinea pigs?
When we get an allergy to guinea pigs, specific symptoms indicate this. Some of us have more reactions, others less; it depends individually for everyone.
Here are the symptoms when we have an allergy to guinea pigs:
- runny nose
- eye irritation
- breathing problems
- redness of the skin
Of course, you should know that these symptoms can sometimes be a reaction from something else; they are not always related to the guinea pig.
More severe diseases related to guinea pig allergies such as asthma, rhinitis and eczema are rare.
Guinea pig allergy medication
When you have an allergy to guinea pigs, you can also use specific medicines to reduce the allergy to guinea pigs.
The most common anti-allergy medicines for guinea pigs are:
- Antihistamines work very well to stop or reduce guinea pig allergy symptoms.
- Decongestants usually help if you have an allergy with stuffy nose symptoms; more specifically, they are nasal sprays.
We must emphasize that for these and any other guinea pig allergy medications, you should never decide on your own; you need the approval of a doctor and an allergist to determine exactly what you can or cannot use as a medication!
Can we get an anaphylactic shock from a guinea pig allergy?
The chances of you going into anaphylactic shock from a guinea pig allergy are very small.
Anaphylactic shock is a serious medical condition caused by allergens, sometimes resulting in fatal consequences or death.
During anaphylactic shock, problems arise with:
- the cardiovascular system
- the respiratory system
- the digestive system
- skin problems
However, the chances of getting this kind of shock from a guinea pig allergy are small.
In case of symptoms as we mentioned, you should go to a doctor to examine you and give you the appropriate medication.
How is a guinea pig allergy most commonly transmitted to humans?
As we said, the proteins found in guinea pigs are allergens and cause allergies in humans.
The most dangerous or standard way of transmitting the allergy is through direct contact with the guinea pig.
As well as keeping the guinea pig close to you, we can get an allergy by inhaling the air itself; therefore, in addition to other measures, it is recommended to frequently filter the air and allow fresh air to enter the room.
How to test for guinea pig allergies?
Allergy testing can help us know if we will be allergic to guinea pigs.
You can determine how many immunoglobulins (antibodies) you have in your blood through allergy testing.
The testing will show how many antibodies fight against allergens, i.e., allergies.
It measures the antibodies your immune system makes when the Cav PI and Cav P II proteins enter your body.
Simply put, the more antibodies you have during the test, the more severe the guinea pig allergy you will get.
Does guinea pig hay cause allergies?
Yes, guinea pig hay can cause allergies in humans more often than the guinea pig itself!
Studies show that the chances of getting an allergy from hay are three times higher than from guinea pigs.
Hay is dried grass, which sometimes contains dust, so if you already have an allergy to dust, grass, etc., you have a high chance of getting an allergy.
To reduce the chances of a hay allergy, you should change it more often or add a fresh amount of hay for guinea pigs regularly.
Instead of hay, you can use orchard grass, which does not cause allergic reactions.
What should we do if we have an allergy to guinea pigs?
As we said guinea pigs can transmit allergies to humans, but there are some important things we can do to reduce the chance of an allergy.
We may not be able to completely eliminate the risk of an allergy, but we can certainly partially prevent the occurrence of an allergy to guinea pigs.
Here are some steps you can try and see if they help you too.
- Regular cleaning of the surface where the guinea pigs move, such as the floor, furniture and other surfaces, will reduce the chances of transferring allergens.
- Regularly opening the windows and allowing airflow, as well as using an air purifier are excellent solutions for reducing allergens.
- Practice not keeping guinea pigs in a room where you stay the most, whether it’s a living room or a bedroom, so the chances of getting an allergy from them are lower.
- Use separate clothing only when you are in contact with the guinea pigs or when cleaning their cage, and then change into other clothing, thus reducing the risk of transferring pruritus and allergies from the guinea pigs.
- Cleaning the cage should be done with vinegar and water, which will disinfect and immediately destroy allergens from the guinea pigs, of course it is temporary but it still helps.
- After holding the guinea pig, it is mandatory to wash your hands with soap, which will remove the allergens.
- Eat foods rich in vitamins to reduce the possibility of transmission of allergies, especially vitamin C is very important to strengthen immunity.
- When playing with guinea pigs, you should not bring them close to your mouth and nose, then you can very easily get an allergy to guinea pigs.
There are many other steps to reduce the possibility of an allergy, such as wearing gloves and the like, but I think that doing some of these steps will help to significantly reduce the possibility of allergen transmission from guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic, regardless of their size, breed and most importantly whether they have hair or not.
The claim that hairless guinea pigs cannot transmit allergies to humans is a myth.
Allergy transmission occurs through two proteins Cav PI and Cav P II, which are allergens, they are the cause of allergy transmission.
But guinea pigs are pets from which you have the least chance of getting an allergy, much less than cats.
The spread of allergens takes place through saliva, urine, and dandruff, which further spreads through the hair or through the body of the guinea pig into the environment, including humans.
There are several steps we can take to better maintain the hygiene of guinea pigs, their environment, and our own hygiene, such as hand washing, which will reduce the chances of developing a guinea pig allergy.
In any case, an allergy to guinea pigs is a rare occurrence, so most people can keep these furry pets.
read more: Do Guinea Pigs Like Sand Baths?