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It is understandable to be concerned about the health of your Guinea pig if it is making unusual noises while struggling to take a breath appropriately. Adding to the danger is wheezing, which suggests that the guinea pig is having major respiratory difficulties.Panting, breathing through its mouth, or tilting its head all indicate that your guinea pig is having trouble breathing. Shortness of breath is indicated by the widening of the nostrils when breathing. Bacterial infections, nutrient deficiencies, allergies, and other factors contribute to these difficulties.The fact that the guinea is mouth breathing or wheezing is a cause for concern; nevertheless, clucking and purring are not.Find out more about normal guinea pig breathing patterns and when you should be concerned about your pets.


Guinea pig making strange breathing noises

If the guinea pig is producing any strange noises while breathing, it could be suffering from a respiratory ailment.

The following are the most common causes of respiratory illness in guinea pigs:

  • Microbial infections (Bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic)
  • An injury or blockage to the respiratory system
  • Weak or suppressed immunity due to stress, nutrient deficiency, steroids, etc
  • Allergic infections
  • Cardiac disease
  • Thyroid disorder

Respiratory sickness has the potential to be life threatening. Because of this, it should not be overlooked.

It is important not to mix the sounds of regular breathing with the sounds of forced breathing when listening to someone breathe.

How do guinea pigs normally breathe?

In general, the guinea pigs’ typical breathing rate ranges between 40 and 100 breaths per minute, while their average heart rate is approximately 240 beats per minute.

When comparing smaller and larger animals, the breathing rate of the smaller species is faster.

Many people are taken aback when they see the guinea pigs’ respiration rate for the first time.

Guinea pigs have a far faster rate of respiration than dogs or cats do.

Guinea pigs are similar to humans in that they exclusively breathe through their nose. If the nose is blocked, they can breathe through their mouth for short durations of time, but not for extended periods of time at all.

That is analogous to a medical emergency in order to maintain the life support system.
Listening quietly, the sound of the guinea pig’s respiration can be heard. The rattling sound caused by shortness of breath is normal until you don’t hear it anymore.

Signs of abnormal breathing in guinea pigs

What Guinea Pig Breathing Tells You About the Animal’s Health

The following are the indicators of irregular breathing in guinea pigs:

  1. Slow Breathing: Less than 30 breaths per minute
  2. Tachypnoea or abnormally fast breathing: More than 100 breaths per minute
  3. Flaring of the Nostrils: This indicates that guinea pigs are struggling to breathe through their nose.
  4. Lips and tongue are turning blue: Lack of oxygen results in this.
  5. Nose Discharge and weepy Eyes: This is observed due to multiple reasons, not always due to breathing problems.
  6. Wheezing Noises: Continuous noise is critical
  7. Loud Snoring During Sleep: It is often confused with the chuckling sound while sleeping, so be careful.
  8. Dyspnoea or Gasping for Breath: It suggests severe problems if sustained mouth breathing is there.
  9. Head Tilting Upwards: This is a life-threatening situation if the guinea pigs have tilted their head.

If a guinea pig is found to be suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, it is most likely suffering from respiratory disease. A bacterial infection is the most common reason for this type of illness to occur.

1) Respiratory Infections in guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are infected with a respiratory ailment that is caused by the following factors:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Parasites

Unless they are addressed, respiratory infections are frequently lethal if not treated promptly. Symptoms such as wheezing and noisy breathing can be used to identify them, but there may be other signs and symptoms as well.

2) Bacterial Infections in guinea pigs

Bacterial infections are usually caused by:

  • Pasteurella multocida (Serotypes A and D)
  • Bordetella (Kennel cough)
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Chlamydiosis
  • Moraxella spp.
  • Mycoplasmas: these bacteria do not have a cell wall around the cell membrane, so they’re difficult to treat with antibiotics.

Pneumonia in guinea pigs is one of the most serious infections that can occur. Bacteria such as Bordetella and Streptococcus are responsible for its transmission.

It is particularly common during the winter months when the temperature decreases. The most vulnerable guinea pigs are those who are young, old, or pregnant.

A guinea pig’s hutch that is unsanitary or unclean might be a source of bacterial diseases in the animals.

Other animals, particularly wild animals, are capable of transmitting pathogenic germs. When dealing with many pets at the same time at home, it is important to wash your hands frequently in order to reduce the chance of bacteria transmission.

Symptoms of Bacterial Infections

Guinea pig infections are characterized by wheezing and breathing noises, as well as the following additional signs and symptoms:

  • Discharge from the nose and runny eyes
  • Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and keeping quiet
  • Mouth breathing instead of through the nose.
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Slow breathing (under 30 breaths per minute) or fast breathing (Tachypnoea:- over 100 breaths per minute)

Slow breathing rather than tachypnoea are the most commonly observed symptoms in guinea pigs suffering from the bacterial illness.

Treatment of Bacterial Infections

Snuffles in guinea pigs have a similar appearance to the common cold, but their symptoms are significantly more severe.

It has an adverse effect on the guinea pig’s lungs, skin, and respiratory tract. It is critical to diagnose and treat the guinea pig as soon as possible in order to save its life.

The prescribed treatments should be carefully followed at home until there are no more symptoms of illness and the infection has been thoroughly treated, then discontinued.

Although guinea pig snuffles may appear to be nothing more than a cold, they are considerably more serious than that. A bacterial infection should be recognized and treated as soon as possible after it has begun to spread.

Your veterinarian will prescribe medication for your guinea pig, and you will be responsible for providing care for your guinea pig at home until the infection has been cleared up completely.

Antibiotics are frequently employed in the treatment of bacterial illnesses. If the congestion in the respiratory tract is severe, it is recommended that the antibacterial agent be administered by a nebulizer.

Only a few disorders, such as mycoplasma, necessitate the use of extra medications. After the guinea pig has been returned to its home as a result of care should be done:

3) Viral Infections in guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are not as sensitive to viral infections as they are to bacterial infections, according to the National Institutes of Health. They are particularly susceptible to viral infections such as CMV and parainfluenza.

The Adenovirus is also responsible for the development of respiratory pneumonia in guinea pigs.

It is more typical in young guinea pigs to have a low level of immunity than in older ones. It is possible that the guinea pigs will die suddenly as a result of this.

Despite the fact that guinea pigs have a low illness transmission rate. The following are the most common symptoms of viral infections:

  • Unable to breathe properly & Congestion in the nasal passage
  • Lethargy
  • Milky eyes
  • Ulcers and scabs on the face
  • Fever/the guinea pig feels too hot to touch

Preventing Viral infection

Guinea pigs do not require any vaccines against common diseases, unlike other rodents.

Other pet animals, such as dogs, cats, and rabbits, are frequently vaccinated, but this is not the case with guinea pigs. Vaccination is not required for guinea pigs.

However, many people believe that myxomatosis, which is typically prevalent in rabbits, is also a potential threat to the health of guinea pigs, which is not the case.

Instead, guinea pigs should be fed a nutritious food that is high in Vitamin C to help keep them healthy and free of diseases and parasites. Visit your veterinarian on a regular basis for medical examinations and avoid exposing your pet to excessive cold.

4) Fungal Infection in guinea pigs

Guinea pigs, with the exception of a few, are rarely afflicted by a fungal disease.

Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that affects the respiration of guinea pigs. It can be fatal if left untreated. Because of an overgrowth of a fungus (Aspergillus fumigatus) in the guinea pig’s nasal tube and lungs, he developed respiratory distress syndrome.

Guinea pigs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to contracting this disease.

Children, the elderly, and guinea pigs who are already ill or who have weakened or suppressed immune systems are more susceptible to fungal infection than healthy individuals.

The following are the signs and symptoms of this disease:

  • Short breath and breathing from mouth
  • Coughing and noisy breathe
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Nasal discharge
  • Flaring nostrils

Because the Aspergillus fungus grows on decaying organic debris, the guinea pig’s cage should be cleaned out on a daily basis to prevent the growth of the disease-causing organism.

Dermatophytosis, a fungal infection that affects guinea pigs, has also been discovered in the animals.

Breathing difficulties are caused by the development of fungal skin sores in the nasal passages. There are no respiratory difficulties associated with skin lesions on other parts of the body.

5) Blockage of air

If your guinea pig is coughing, is unable to breathe properly, and is gasping for air, it is possible that a blockage has occurred.

A blockage is caused by a variety of impediments, some of which are as follows:

  • Hay stalks
  • Brussel sprout stalks
  • Raisins
  • Grass seeds
  • Peanuts or other small nuts

Nasal discharge coming from both nostrils is another symptom of blockage. Consult the veterinarian once you observe the above symptoms immediately.

6) Stress in guinea pigs

Stressed guinea pigs are more susceptible to developing respiratory problems. Stress that lasts for an extended period of time can result in serious breathing issues.

The following are the signs and symptoms of guinea pigs experiencing breathing difficulties as a result of stress:

  • Agitated grunts (regular)
  • High-pitched screeches
  • Repeated self-soothing or relaxing activities: For example, excessive licking or biting
  • Tachypnoea or panting (more than 100 breaths per minute)
  • Curling up in a ball for long periods.
  • Showing distress at themselves

Chronic stress can also lead to the development of respiratory illnesses. The immune system of the guinea pig is weakened as a result of stress, and they are more susceptible to infection by microorganisms.

What Causes stress in guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive to changes in their surroundings, and even little adjustments can lead them to become quite stressed.

The following are a few examples of factors that contribute to the creation of guinea pigs:

  • Sudden change in environmental conditions like temperature and living conditions.
  • Change in the diet
  • Cage or litter tray not cleaned properly
  • Not enough space or small cage 
  • Cage facing towards a cooling current of air
  • Poor diet or not enough food
  • Intimidated by the presence of other pets in the household
  • Staying with a highly dominating guinea pig
  • Other health issues, especially dental problems
  • Lack of activity and rejuvenation, waiting a long time in the cage
  • Not being taken care of properly

How to prevent Stress in guinea pigs

It is widely held that we are giving the greatest possible care for our cavies, and so they should not be subjected to any kind of pressure.

Even if you are doing everything you can to make the guinea pigs comfortable, there is always room for improvement.

The following procedures should be followed in order to keep guinea pigs happy and stress-free:

  1. Food and Water: Appropriate diet and variety of food are provided to the guinea pig. You should check that your guinea pig has fresh water available all through.
  2. Housing: Check whether the cage/hutch is big enough? Is it cleaned regularly? Whether the right temperature is maintained for guinea pigs?
  3. Socialization and Play: Care should be taken for activities and exercise. Guinea pigs need regular exercise.
  4. Protection from Others: Check whether your guinea pig is protected from other pets in the household and predators in the locality? Are the steps taken to reduce such interactions?
  5. Physical Health: Are you taking your pet for regular checkups to the veterinarian? The vet specialized in exotic pets is ideal.

Changes should be implemented gradually to improve the guinea pig’s care.

Guinea pigs are unable to adjust to unexpected changes, thus modest measures are necessary to ensure their wellbeing.

7) Guinea Pig Allergies

The development of breathing disorders in guinea pigs might be caused by allergies or irritants.

Guinea pigs are more susceptible to allergies than other animals, particularly when compared to cats and dogs. In addition, they are sensitive to a wide range of irritants. These are some examples:

  • The smoke released from cigarettes or fire.
  • Ammonia found in the urine of guinea pigs.
  • Air fresheners.
  • Carpet cleaning products
  • Fleece washing liquid
  • Dust and dirt.
  • Hay dust

Allergy symptoms are coughing, sneezing, lethargy, rapid or slow breathing, and runny eyes and nose.

8) Heart diseases

Guinea pigs are frequently affected by heart illness. There has been an increase in the number of cardiac disease cases, which may be due to improved diagnostic facilities for identifying such illnesses or to the longer life span of farmed guinea pigs.

It is difficult to diagnose cardiac disorders in the early stages when there is no respiratory difficulty present.

Breathing difficulties manifest themselves considerably later, increasing the likelihood of a misdiagnosis. The following are the first signs and symptoms of heart disease:

  • Lethargy and deep sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced diet
  • Abdominal distension
  • Collapsing
  • Pale bluish gums
  • Labored breathing or wheezing noise, which may go away and return later.

Rapid or open-mouth breathing has been observed in a few uncommon situations.

Causes of Cardiac Disease in Guinea pigs

Although the exact etiology of heart disease is still unknown, the following are the most common factors that experts feel are to blame:

  • Aging
  • Heart Infection
  • Dietary deficiencies

To maintain the guinea pig healthy and free of heart disease, it is recommended that it consume a balanced food and live in a clean environment.

9) Guinea pig snoring

Guinea pigs can make a lot of noise while they are asleep. If there is just a gentle clucking sound, it is normal; however, heavy snoring can be cause for concern.

Snoring can be a symptom of any of the disorders listed above, including infections, stress, and allergies, among others. Tumors, hypothyroidism, and abscesses are among the disorders that might cause snoring to occur.

Guinea pigs who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will stop breathing during their sleeping hours.

It is a serious condition that manifests itself in symptoms such as loud snoring and spells of breathing disturbance. During sleep, it is possible that the breath becomes very shallow or even stops for a brief period of time.

As a result, it is preferable to look into the guinea pigs’ snoring. Because this illness causes a lack of oxygen to be delivered to the brain and body, being unaware of such behavior might have serious consequences.

Normal noises guinea pigs make

What Guinea Pig Noises Indicate and What They Mean

Guinea pigs producing noise may signal the presence of certain diseases or issues, but just a few sounds are considered typical for them.

They have the appearance of being peaceful and tranquil animals, but in actuality, they are quite the contrary. Guinea pigs communicate with one another through sound; in fact, they communicate through a range of sounds. You can hear them making noise when they are hungry or under stress.

The sound that the guinea pigs make is one of their most endearing characteristics. The knowledge of the noises made by guinea pigs might assist the owner in better understanding their requirements.

The sound which can be considered normal for guinea pigs are :

  • Teeth chattering: Guinea pigs may chat their teeth or make a hissing when they are willing to be left alone. They make such sounds when they feel insecure and need to share the same space with someone else.
  • Purring: Guinea pigs purr using their teeth. These sounds are very soft, so one needs to listen carefully. Guinea pigs are happy when they purr softly in a relaxed state. If they purr in a sharp and loud tone along with signs of stress, they are annoyed with something. It is often confused with teeth grinding, which is a severe problem for guinea pigs.
  • Growling: It is sporadic when guinea pigs growl. They growl when they are afraid of something. Sometimes change in the environment may also trigger such noise. Be careful as they might even bite you. Try to calm down and remove any threats nearby.
  • Wheeking: Guinea pigs make this noise when they are hungry and want your attention. They may produce a loud noise. They provide this sound even if they see you bringing some tasty treats for them.
  • Rumbling: Guinea pigs make such noise when they try to allure the female partner for mating. The sound produced is soft and low pitched. The female guinea pig replies in the same tone upon acceptance.
  • Chirping: Guinea pigs produce a sound similar to that of birds chirping. The purpose behind such a sound is still unknown.
  • Cooing: It is typically like the sound produced by pigeons. Guinea pigs produce such to communicate with younger ones, especially by the parents. They connect with their babies to make them feel secure and safe.

Only a few sounds, such as grunting, are deemed typical. However, a grunt that occurs often and without apparent explanation is a symptom of a respiratory illness.

Guinea pigs should be subjected to a thorough examination and diagnosis if they are found to be suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, as the respiratory condition can be fatal to them.