How Do Guinea Pigs Get Pneumonia?

Pneumonia affects many species, including humans and mammals. It’s basically an infection of one or both lungs. Contrary to what many people believe, it’s not just one type of infection. Pneumonia is caused by wide range of microorganisms that can also infect our pets, including guinea pigs.

But you may wonder how an adorable little guinea pig gets pneumonia, when they’re not exposed to  hundreds of other humans on a daily basis, such as when humans may be susceptible to Covid infection? There are many reasons why a guinea pig may get pneumonia. Since treatment is expensive, it’s best to be aware, and prevent an infection from happening. 

What Causes Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs?

Like mites, pneumonia can be caused by a wide range of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms. In guinea pigs, the most common cause is from bacteria. This is good news, because there are effective antibiotics for bacterial infections.

This bacteria may be passed onto guinea pigs from other guinea pigs, or it may simple be lingering within their respiratory tracts. Just like in humans, their immune system keeps deadly bacteria at bay, but if the immune system is overwhelmed, the bacteria may take over and thrive. 

Just like in other animals and humans, when they get stressed, this can also have a negative impact on the immune system. This may predispose your guinea pig to an active pneumonia infection. Some causes of stress in guinea pigs may be because the cage is in a busy traffic area of the home.

While other pets, such as dogs or cats, may be excited to see the guinea pig, the guinea pig doesn’t understand this and may think these prey animals want to eat them. Guinea pigs can experience stress from young children, who should really be supervised at all times. And we hate to say it, but bad humans might deliberately threaten your guinea pig. 

There are also other factors that can cause pneumonia. An inadequate diet may affect their immune system. If they’re kept outside in the cold, moisture can get into their cages and cause pneumonia. They can also get it from another pet. 

How Can I Tell If My Guinea Pig Is Sick?

There are many different symptoms that will be displayed when your guinea pig is suffering pneumonia from a bacterial infection. For one, they may be sleeping more than normal, or have little energy to move. 

Labored or rapid breathing can be an indication they have trouble with their lungs. Any type of symptoms that indicate a cold, such as mucus coming from their mouth, nose, or eyes can indicate an infection. 

Pneumonia can also affect more than the upper or lower respiratory tracts of a guinea pig. It can also cause middle and inner ear infections. If they’re unsteady on their feet, or holding or moving their head in a strange manner, that can indicate an infection too. 

Certain types of pneumonia, such as Bordetella, can be quite deadly to guinea pigs, so it’s bet to get your guinea pig to the vet as quickly as possible for treatment. 

How Does a Vet Diagnose Pneumonia in a Guinea Pig?

It’s better to bring your guinea pig into the vet clinic for a proper diagnosis. Your vet may use a stethoscope to find out if there is fluid in the guinea pig’s lungs. They may take an x-ray or a CT scan of their chest cavity. A lung infection will be displayed in the results. They may also take a deep nasal swab to find out what type of bacteria may be residing there. 

What Kinds of Pneumonia Treatment for Guinea Pigs Are There?

If it’s confirmed that your guinea pig has pneumonia and not allergies or a simple cold, then a treatment plan will be started. An oral antibiotic will be given to fight off the bacteria inside the body. The vet may also give an injection. The guinea pig may need IV fluids or oxygen. There may be additional tests required, such as a bacterial culture to test for antibiotic sensitivity, so the correct one can be given. A nebulizer (inhaler) may also be prescribed to help them breath more easily. 

How Long Will the Treatment Take?

Treating pneumonia in humans can take several weeks, so it’s no different in guinea pigs. Your guinea pig will need a long course of antibiotics, or possibly an inhaler. He or she may also require follow-up visits to the vet clinic to determine how they are doing in the future. 

Is Pneumonia Serious in Guinea Pigs?

Yes, it is serious, and could be even worse if you have more than one pet, as they can pass it onto each other. If you suspect that your guinea pig has signs of a cold, then it’s important to book an appointment at the vet clinic as soon as possible.

You should also be aware that the antibiotics may lower the bacteria infection to levels where your guinea pig gets back to normal health once again, but that the bacteria will still live inside their lungs. A future infection may occur again that requires further treatment.

But once you learn the symptoms, you can more quickly bring the guinea pig to the clinic. You can also discuss with your vet about keeping a few days of antibiotics on hand, just in case a future infection occurs. 


Guinea pigs can make us happy, and better our mental health, so it’s also important to care for them like you would a human child. They need food, warm shelter, playtime, and healthcare, just like we do. It can be quite distressing to see a family member get sick, but the sooner you get them into the vet clinic, the sooner your guinea pig will recover from their bad pneumonia infection.

It’s far better to be aware of the diseases that can affect small animals, so you can be better prepared for when they do happen. And your guinea pig will appreciate how you love and care for them, and look after all their necessities of life!


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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Our website does not constitute medical advice for pets, for medical advice for a pet please consult a licensed veterinarian.