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Can piggies catch colds from each other?

Piggies&buns

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Guinea pigs don’t get colds. They get bacterial respiratory infections.
By the time one piggy shows symptoms of a URI, the other piggy has already been exposed to the same bacteria and has a possibility of also showing symptoms themselves. There is therefore no point in separating/isolating the piggies. However, a healthy immune system can usually fight off an infection, but if you separate piggies it causes them stress , stress in turn lowers the immune system making infection more likely. So as you can see there is no benefit in separating herd animals from each other
 
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Free Ranger

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I learnt only last month that piggies don't get the cold virus so it is unlikely to be 'a cold'. It could be something like a respiratory infection... but are these your sows that are already on antibiotics? Have they started sneezing and runny noses again? Or are you preparing for 'next time' (we all hope there is not a next time!)

Wow @Piggies&buns you are up early!
 

furmom.pau

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I learnt only last month that piggies don't get the cold virus so it is unlikely to be 'a cold'. It could be something like a respiratory infection... but are these your sows that are already on antibiotics? Have they started sneezing and runny noses again? Or are you preparing for 'next time' (we all hope there is not a next time!)

Wow @Piggies&buns you are up early!
Yes really wondering if ever they get it again and hopefully not! Thank you for your replies :)
 

Wiebke

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Yes really wondering if ever they get it again and hopefully not! Thank you for your replies :)

If your piggies have had proper treatment and have been fully cured, then it is very unlikely that they will ever suffer from a bacterial respiratory infection again in good care.

If a reservoir of bacteria has not been fully cleared by just one relatively short course of antibiotics (which can happen occasionally), then this could in future years lead to a new outbreak at a time when the affected guinea pig's immune system is under major pressure; but this kind of outbreak usually affects only one piggy because the healthy companions will be able to fend off the bacteria with a normally working immune system. And with a prompt vet trip, you should be able to get on top of it.

The classic bacterial URI is above all an opportunistic illness that is most typically seen in pet shop piggies because for them a perfect storm of risk factors is all coming together - young age and not yet fully developed immune system; the huge upset of being ripped from their groups and the surroundings they have grown up in and having their lives turned upside down several times in quick succession between transport to shop branches, back and front shop pens and then again the huge challenge of coming into the entirely alien and often very frightening world of a pet home. Couple all these massive stress factors with close proximity to other stressed youngsters and exposure to the bacteria somewhere along the line and lack of treatment at the pet shop; and the result is sadly rather inevitable. Your piggies will however hopefully never be confronted with such a situation again. ;)
Arrival in a home from the perspective of pet shop guinea pigs

I hope that this information is putting your experience somewhat into perspective and why a quarantine is usually not necessary unless you are dealing with entirely different class of very nasty respiratory bug that are thankfully VERY rare but devastating when they hit with frightening speed and severity. The most common risk comes from having dogs with kennel cough (bordetellosis) in the same room; this also goes for freshly vaccinated dogs within 3-5 days of the vaccination.
 

furmom.pau

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If your piggies have had proper treatment and have been fully cured, then it is very unlikely that they will ever suffer from a bacterial respiratory infection again in good care.

If a reservoir of bacteria has not been fully cleared by just one relatively short course of antibiotics (which can happen occasionally), then this could in future years lead to a new outbreak at a time when the affected guinea pig's immune system is under major pressure but this kind of outbreak usually affects only one piggy; the healthy companions will be able to fend it off. And with a prompt vet trip, you should be able to get on top of it.

The classic bacterial URI is above all an opportunistic illness that is most typically seen in pet shop piggies because for them a perfect storm of risk factors is all coming together - young age and not yet fully developed immune system; the huge upset of being ripped from their groups and the surroundings they have grown up in and having their lives turned upside down several times in quick succession between transport to shop branches, back and front shop pens and then again the huge challenge of coming into the entirely alien and often very frightening world of a pet home. Couple all these massive stress factors with close proximity to other stressed youngsters and exposure to the bacteria somewhere along the line and lack of treatment at the pet shop; and the result is sadly rather inevitable. Your piggies will however hopefully never be confronted with such a situation again. ;)
Arrival in a home from the perspective of pet shop guinea pigs

I hope that this information is putting your experience somewhat into perspective and why a quarantine is usually not necessary unless you are dealing with entirely different class of very nasty respiratory bug that are thankfully VERY rare but devastating when they hit with frightening speed and severity. The most common risk comes from having dogs with kennel cough (bordetellosis) in the same room; this also goes for freshly vaccinated dogs within 3-5 days of the vaccination.
Thank you so much for this very informative reply! Learned a lot from this. Unfortunately my 2 sows have had a rough past although I'm not quite sure if they came from a pet shop but it looks like it. I was told by the shelter house that they were house with a boar (they were on pregnancy watch too but because from a lot of stress from the previous home they were in it's highly likely that one had a miscarriage) they were also swarmed with mites when they were surrendered and the shelter cured it :(
 

Wiebke

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Thank you so much for this very informative reply! Learned a lot from this. Unfortunately my 2 sows have had a rough past although I'm not quite sure if they came from a pet shop but it looks like it. I was told by the shelter house that they were house with a boar (they were on pregnancy watch too but because from a lot of stress from the previous home they were in it's highly likely that one had a miscarriage) they were also swarmed with mites when they were surrendered and the shelter cured it :(

Concentrate on a good general diet with plenty of hay (which does actually contain vitamin C) as the best long term defence.

I have adopted a number of piggies that have come into rescue from horrendous situations and in very bad state. The majority of them has lived a normal healthy life span and some of them have even lived to a great old age. Several of mine have been amongst the longest lived from their particular large rescue intake, so you have still got everything to play for as long as you do not take it for granted.

Out of around 70 piggies in my life so far, I have only ever had one with long term respiratory problems caused by an undertreated URI earlier in life before I adopted her. It took me about 2 years and several vet trips to have her off and on raspy breathing diagnosed as upper and lower lung disease (which my vet preferred not to treat with antibiotics over concerns of building up resistancy). That said, Ffraid was coming up to 8 years of age when she died in the wake of a sudden short heat spike which her by then very frail body could no longer cope with. She never had an acute URI while in my care. ;)

Concentrate on the quality of care, diet and enrichment; don't wrap them in cotton. Guinea pigs measure a good life not by the expectancy of living to a certain age; they measure their life in happy todays. You can ultimately never control when and what from your piggies die from but if you have given them a happy, fulfilled life while in your care then you cannot go wrong because you have given them what they need and have filled your time with them with so many happy and special memories that will make it feel longer than it actually is. ;)
Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs
 

furmom.pau

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I am and will most certainly be grateful for having my 2 pigs and it's an honor to take care of them. I am giving my best to give these wondeful creatures a happy life :) thank you for the reminders and kind words! On the other hand, there are a very few cavy savvy vets here I'm really scared that my piggies will have to undergo a serious problem in the future. So far though I've been supplementing them with veggies they love and vit C syrup you can buy at pharmacies here 😊 we've also been exploring differeny hay brands and grasses to see which ones they love the most (but certainly they eat everything so far haha they're addicted to wheat hay tho) ❤️
 

Wiebke

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I am and will most certainly be grateful for having my 2 pigs and it's an honor to take care of them. I am giving my best to give these wondeful creatures a happy life :) thank you for the reminders and kind words! On the other hand, there are a very few cavy savvy vets here I'm really scared that my piggies will have to undergo a serious problem in the future. So far though I've been supplementing them with veggies they love and vit C syrup you can buy at pharmacies here 😊 we've also been exploring differeny hay brands and grasses to see which ones they love the most (but certainly they eat everything so far haha they're addicted to wheat hay tho) ❤

Hi!

Please be careful to not overdose with long term high doses of vitamin C! The body will get used to these high dosages and react with scruvy (vitamin C defiency symptoms) as soon as this level drops even though it is higher than the normal vitamin C level. Keep in mind that fresh grass is high in vitamin C, hay still contains vitamin C and they get more vitamin C from their veg and their pellets.

One of my adoptees has come into rescue with severely overgrown teeth, stunted growth and bad scurvy due to most likely only being fed only on (vitamin C free) rabbit pellets and no hay. She was she the size of a 6 weeks old baby but supposed to be one year old. Her companion sadly died from a scurvy related sudden bleed but Teggy is still here and coming up to her 5th birthday now. she is now a normal size and weight and has been rather fat in her best times. She's never had any extra vitamin C while living here but has still been able to realise her genetic optimum on a good normal diet. ;)

It is much better to only give a 2-3 weeks booster course when they are actually ill. That way you don't create a future problem where there actually is none.
 

furmom.pau

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Oh wow! Thank you again for this, i didnt know this and nobody every told me this. I've watched on youtube that you can supplement them with vit c syrup. Given that i feed them veggies and hay (not fresh grass because we don't have access here) is it better to not give them the syrup (dose is 25 mg per day) luckily I've only been giving it to them while they were on AB course and now because of recovery time. Would it be better to at least give them 2-3 ml of vit c per month?
 

Wiebke

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Oh wow! Thank you again for this, i didnt know this and nobody every told me this. I've watched on youtube that you can supplement them with vit c syrup. Given that i feed them veggies and hay (not fresh grass because we don't have access here) is it better to not give them the syrup (dose is 25 mg per day) luckily I've only been giving it to them while they were on AB course and now because of recovery time. Would it be better to at least give them 2-3 ml of vit c per month?

No, they really don't need any extra on a balanced diet unless they are ill. None of our long term forum members is supplementing their piggies with extra vitamin C; and several are actually rescue fosterers who deal regularly with badly neglected piggies. And yet, none of us has had one of their piggies ever having issues with scurvy in the nearly 15 years we have been running - that is several generations of mostly adopted guinea pigs where we have first-hand proof. Scurvy is actually a problem that very rarely crops up on our forum, and in most cases when it does it is actually the result of overdosing. In the literally thousands on health/illness enquiries every year on here, we come about across just 1-2 scurvy cases in a year on average; and they by new members...

What most of the people who supplement with vitamin C are not aware of is that most of the vitamin C in a piggy's diet is actually already coming from hay and/or grass. Because it is not part of a human diet, it has been basically treated as a nutrional non-entity, so there was this false gap in a guinea pig's nutrition that they feel they need to plug.
Which is ironic because guinea pigs never had the need to make their own vitamin C in the first place because there was a plentiful year round supply in the staple food they have evolved on (dry or fresh grass). Rather than wasting money on buying syrup (the sugar in it is not good for their long term health and can contribute to triggering diabetes and bloat if overdone for long periods), concentrate on getting good quality nice green hay if possible, and you won't have to worry. It is MUCH better for their long term health, their teeth and gut and the best medication you can ever give them. A good diet that is close to their natural diet is the best source of health and a long life and doesn't require lots of extras to compensate for an unbalanced diet.

By not overdoing the vitamin C on a regular basis, any booster course will have much more impact when it really counts.
 

furmom.pau

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This made a huge sense. Thanks! Hope I'm not too late yet I've had them for almost a month now and they were fostered for a month too (which i know they were given vit c everyday there)
 

Wiebke

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This made a huge sense. Thanks! Hope I'm not too late yet I've had them for almost a month now and they were fostered for a month too (which i know they were given vit c everyday there)

I would gradually lower the daily amount over the coming week in order to not trigger scurvy symptoms but they should have by now been able to bridge the gap between the neglect and the new good hay based nutrition to filter through into her body and start to fill their reserves. They haven't been on the supplement for long enough to cause problems yet. The biggest candidates for supplement induced scurvy are typically young guinea pigs whose body adapts to life-long high levels over the course of months and years.

You have to also be aware that high vitamin supplementing is very much a USA based human cultural feature that has spilled over onto their pets via piggies in real need of supplementing due to an unbalanced low hay diet and owners with pet anxiety overdoing things. This then of course taken on by others unquestioned and gets eventually into the online syllabus of recommendations being handed without knowing the reasons for them... :(

But you are a very good and caring owner. Your piggies have been very lucky to find you. So don't worry; they will come right and have a very happy life! :tu:
 

furmom.pau

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Hello! I would like to ask about the vit c topic again, I've currently paused veggies for up to 2nd week of november for my piggies and with that i dont think they're getting enough vitamin C, would it be okay to supolement the 25 mg of daily required vit c?
 

Siikibam

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They get their vitamin c from hay and grass so there’s no need to supplement. Is their poo still not back to normal hence no veg?
 

furmom.pau

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They get their vitamin c from hay and grass so there’s no need to supplement. Is their poo still not back to normal hence no veg?
No they're poops are ok now but I'm just making sure.. On 2nd week of november ill be gradually feeding them cilantro and adding as suited
 

Wiebke

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No they're poops are ok now but I'm just making sure.. On 2nd week of november ill be gradually feeding them cilantro and adding as suited

If the poos are OK now and have been for at least 48 hours, you can try to reintroduce veg gradually, one more variety with each meal if they are still fine. Stop ASAP if you notice soft poos.

It is likely that their gut is not used to veg or new veg types and has yet to learn to adapt to them. The necessary gut microbiome doesn't develop overnight but it will.
 
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