When COVID-19 hit and the pandemic forced people to stay home for months on end, the lives of many hoomans - and their pets - changed drastically. At first, rescues saw a huge uptake in guinea pig adoptions across the world, with many floofers finding new forever homes. Sadly, as restrictions eased and the hoomans returned to their busy lifestyles, many of these companions also returned to the rescues. It’s fair to say the pandemic affected our furry friends in many ways - but can guinea pigs get COVID?
Many piggy parents worried about the health and wellbeing of their friends and family throughout the pandemic, but what do we know about guinea pigs and COVID? When it comes to pets and the coronavirus, most of what we know is based on research for dogs and pets - not guinea pigs. That said, it’s pretty likely that our beloved pigs are safe from COVID-19 - phew!
We’ve gathered the most recent information and will do our best to answer your most burning question: Can guinea pigs catch COVID?
Can a guinea pig get COVID? What Science says
The pandemic has been a strange and worrying time for all of us, and as piggy parents, we’re naturally concerned our precious pets could get sick. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found COVID-19 infections in larger pets, like cats and dogs, and even some rodents, like hamsters, the chances of our guinea pigs catching COVID are very low. If you want to keep the risk to a minimum, there are a few things you can do for your floofs’ safety.
While guinea pigs rarely get COVID, it’s best to avoid close contact with them if you’re isolating or you have it yourself. If you’ve not tested positive, there are a few steps you can take, similar to the ones you’d use around other people, to keep your beloved floofs safe, including thorough sanitizing, lots of fresh air, and as little close contact as possible. More on this in a second.
It’s very unlikely your guinea pigs can catch COVID from you, but better safe than sorry, right? If you apply the same care you’d have around other people to your pets, your pets should be safe from the infection. To this day, suspected cases of COVID-19 in guinea pigs are so low, there’s no need to panic. And there’s definitely no need to rehome your pets.
Keep them with you, and keep them safe, so you can continue to enjoy each others’ company.
Caring for your guinea pigs when you have COVID 19
We appreciate how difficult it is, especially for single piggy parents, to care for their sweet floofs when they’re sick. The coronavirus can have mild to severe symptoms in humans, so it’s a real struggle to care for others as well as yourself.
Especially when it comes to COVID and the risk it poses to others, it’s unlikely that ill cavy carers can get someone else to look after their floofs while they recover. You can prepare for the worst by stocking up on essentials, like hay and pellets, in case you can’t leave the house. Often, local delivery services can help out with fresh veggies for your pigs, so all you need to do is add food and water to their cage.
To avoid spreading the virus to your guinea pigs, there are a few simple steps you can follow. Let’s find out more!
Limit Infection Risk
Just like you would when going out or welcoming someone to your home, it’s best practice to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling your guinea pigs, their food, or their equipment. It’s a sure-fire way to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible in your own home.
If you’re not sure how long 20 seconds are, simply hum the tune to Happy Birthday. When you reach the end, your hands are squeaky clean - and you’ve impressed your floofs with your musical talents.
Although this is very unlikely, there’s a tiny chance that humans can catch the COVID-19 if an ill person has touched the guinea pig before them. Our floofs have porous hair, so chances of the virus staying on their fur are next to none - but just in case, we’d recommend washing your hands before and after each contact with your cherished cavies.
A Rigorous Cleaning Routine
Thorough cleaning of your and your piggies’ home is another way to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Using a pet-friendly disinfectant (this is important! Regular cleaning products can harm our pets), you can sanitize your piggy palace, from the cage itself over hideys and toys, to food and water bowls. Especially things you’d touch every day, like food and water containers, can do with daily sanitizing.
Limit Close Contact
We know this is the toughest one of all - but limiting close contact with your pets really does reduce the risk of spreading disease. That means, at least while you’re ill or isolating, you should skip all cuddling, kissing, and snuggling with your guinea pigs. You can also wear a mask and wash your hands before and after quality time with the wheeking companions.
If you suspect you could have COVID, though, it’s best to limit the close contact with your beloved pets. And remember it’s only for a short time - soon, you’ll be better and you can catch up on snuggle sessions with them.
Lots of Fresh Air
Airing out your piggies’ room is a great way to bring in fresh (non-COVID) air into their home. Throughout the pandemic, windows on public transport were kept open for this exact reason.
But before you throw open all windows in your home in the middle of winter, remember to shield your sweet floofs from drafts and the cold. No point putting COVID measures in place, just for them to get another infection, right?! You could move your pets to a different room, or cover their cage with blankets while the windows are open.
FAKs about Guinea Pigs and COVID-19
Can my guinea pigs pass on COVID?
So far, different strains of the virus behind COVID-19 have always been specific to one animal. And so far, there’s no evidence that the coronavirus can be passed from small pets like guinea pigs to humans.
That said, we’d still recommend sticking to the safety measures, like disinfecting your home and washing your hands before and after handling your guinea pigs.
Does my guinea pig need to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
There are no COVID-19 vaccinations available for guinea pigs. And guinea pigs are at a low risk of catching coronavirus anyway, so there’s no need to vaccinate them.
Can I still take my guinea pig to the vet if I have COVID-19?
If you’ve got COVID or are self-isolating and your guinea pig needs to see a vet urgently, it’s best to contact your cavy-savvy vet directly. They may be able to make arrangements for you, or allow someone outside your household to take your pets in.