Are Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic?

No, guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic.

If you are planning to get a piggy pal or got one recently, you might want to test out whether you are allergic to your rodent friend to manage your allergies well (if you have any, of course).

What Is A Hypoallergenic Animal?

The term hypoallergenic means anything or any living being that doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction in the human body.

So, a hypoallergenic animal is one that doesn’t spur on your body’s defense mechanism on exposure.

Having allergies to cats and dogs is more common or perhaps more frequently discussed; most people are aware of it.

However, in the case of guinea pigs, many pet parents can be clueless if they are allergic to one and end up suffering from an allergic reaction.

How Can Guinea Pigs Trigger Allergies In Humans?

It must be noted that guinea pigs themselves aren’t the cause of an allergic response in a human; instead, the proteins the tiny rodent releases are responsible for the body’s reaction.

Guinea pigs give off two proteins, Cav p1 and p2, which are mostly the allergens that trigger different allergy symptoms such as rash breakouts, sneezing, wheezing, etc.

When someone allergic to Cav P1 or P2 is exposed to said protein, their immunoglobulins volume spikes, resulting in various symptoms.

Immunoglobulins (IgE) are antibodies responsible for fighting off foreign particles (allergens) in the body.

So, when an allergy-inducing compound enters the bloodstream, IgE(s) go berserk trying to eliminate the allergen.

In other words, your immune response is heightened at exposure to a foreign body, resulting in rashes, runny nose, sneezing, etc.

Guinea pigs release Cav P1 and P2 through bodily fluids such as sweat, urine, and saliva. Once the protein is out of the cavy’s system, it can get stuck on the rodent’s fur or skin (in the case of a furless piggie).

As a result, anyone who picks up the contaminated (for the lack of a better word) pet gets exposed to a potential allergen and suffers from an allergic reaction.

Hairless Guinea Pigs Don’t Trigger Allergies: A Misconception or Fact?

This is a gross misconception!

All warm-blooded creatures can cause allergic reactions, whether they have fur or not.

The notion that hairless guineas don’t hyper-activate a human’s immune mechanism stems from the belief that without the coat, the allergens don’t get stuck on a cavy; hence no harm is done.

But that’s not true.

Piggies who don’t have hair have dead skin; hence can catch the Cav P1 and P2.

This means your chances of developing a high immune response may be slightly reduced, if not completely gone.

Why Some Assume That Allergens Can Transfer Through Fur

The main reason someone may think that having hair is a must for a cavy companion to be able to cause allergies is the false belief that piggie fur can be the only carrier of allergens.

As already mentioned, dead skin cells can do so all the same.

However, your chances of getting exposed to Cav P1 or P2 are increased due to the presence of fur because

  • Guinea pigs love to lick their hair for grooming purposes, which coats their fur in protein-carrying saliva. Resultantly, the odds of your immune system’s heightened response go up.
  • Domesticated cavies generally have a limited living space where they do everything, including relieving themselves.

So, when they urinate, the urine may dry up eventually, but the protein in the excreted product can attach itself to the animal’s fur.

What many pet owners don’t realize is that with the absence of hair, dander (dead skin cells) remains, which piggies shed.

When the discarded dander is not cleaned, it spreads while carrying the two potential allergens.

Simply put, you are vulnerable to getting exposed to Cav P1 and P2 even without the fur.

Is Guinea Skin/Fur The Only Allergen Carriers?

No, not necessarily.

Sometimes a person may be allergic to the hay and dust on it present in a cavy’s hutch.

If that’s the case, when the owner cleans the cage, they inhale the specks or particles from the hay stock lying inside, triggering their allergies in the process.

If you have dust allergies, the chances are that the airborne irritants in your little munchkin’s quarters may be why you start sneezing uncontrollably after handling your pet.

How to Know If You Are Allergic To a Guinea Pig?

Aside from the apparent reaction of your body after coming in contact with your cavy companion, some medical tests can be taken to confirm the presence of allergies.

If you don’t yet have a piggy pal and wish to get one, you can take an immunoglobulin test to determine whether you have an allergy to guineas.

How Does IgE Testing Work?

The lab expert will take your blood and introduce Cav P1 and P2 to it one by one.

If the volume of immunoglobulins goes up after the said introduction, the pathologies will conclude that you are allergic to piggy protein.

The severity of your allergy will be determined by the increase in the number of immunoglobulin antibodies in your blood after Cav P1 and P2 enter the stream.

The higher the number of IgE (s) in your bloodstream, the more severe your allergy is.

If it turns out that you are not allergic to guinea pigs, yet you can’t seem to stop sneezing and coughing after handling your pet, your immune system is likely to have an aversion to hay or hay dust.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

As already discussed, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and runny nose are (the most) symptoms of an allergic reaction. However, those aren’t the only ones.

Eye irritation, hives, redness on the skin, skin rashes, eczema, conjunctivitis, asthma, and rhinitis are also signs that your body is averse to a particular allergen (such as piggy protein or hay and hay dust).

In severe cases, the body’s immune response can be life-threatening.

In such a scenario, you or anyone with a severe allergy will experience shortness of breath, dizziness, low pulse, and airway constriction.

And naturally, if that happens, you must run to the emergency room immediately to revert the anaphylactic shock.

Can Someone Be Allergic To Guinea Pigs and Still Have One as Pet?

Generally, yes. However, it’s not that simple. The severity of your symptoms will dictate if you can keep a cavy companion or not.

Obviously, if your body runs into an anaphylactic shock, it’s better not to have a piggy pal because, with such a severe allergy, no amount of preventive measures can eliminate the chances of a response.

But if your case is not so severe, you can use the following guidelines to live comfortably with your furry child.

Avoid Kissing or Exposure to Your Face

It goes without saying that if your pet hyper activates your immune mechanism, you should avoid kissing or bringing them close to your face as doing so will increase your chances of inhaling the allergen.

Let’s say your piggy pal licked themselves clean only a while ago; you pick them up, get all touchy-feely with them and kiss them.

What do you think will happen next? Endless sneezing, runny nose, coughing, eye irritation, and other typical symptoms you develop when exposed to allergens.

Therefore, no matter how affectionate you feel towards your cavy companion, avoid bringing them near your face.

Use Gloves and Wear a Mask

As uncomfortable as it may be, wearing gloves and a mask is essential when handling your pet if you don’t want to trigger your allergies.

With protective gear acting as a barrier between you and your furball, you should be able to keep your immune system under control.

Watch Your Hands and All Exposed Skin Areas after Holding Your Pet

Despite being an obvious step to take after handling a guinea pig, it’s worth reiterating that you must wash your hands and every other exposed area once done dealing with your pet.

Use an antibacterial soap to clean yourself. You can also choose a regular soap, but then try to keep it on for at least 20 seconds to make sure you get rid of all the allergens that must be sticking to you.

Clean Your Pet’s Cage Regularly

Another rather straightforward method to prevent allergic reactions is regularly cleaning your piggy pal’s cage, preferably every other day.

If that seems too much, you can go for deep-cleaning every once or twice a week.

Needless to say, put on a mask and pair of gloves when washing your cutie pie’s home.

If you have someone non-allergic to pets, you might want to ask them to give you a hand if they cannot do the entire cleaning for you.

Having someone else clean your cavy’s hutch is a better option if you are allergic, but of course, you cannot force anyone to do so.


There are many medicines that you can take to keep your piggy allergies at bay, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy shots.

But before self-prescribing, consult your doctor to ensure your body is healthy enough to sustain anti-allergy pills/shots.

Ending Note

As much as some people wish to look after a piggy pal, they shouldn’t, if they are allergic to tiny rodents.

However, if your allergies are manageable, you might want to follow the correct protocol to live with a cavy companion without any medical emergencies.

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