If you’ve ever owned a cat or a dog, you have probably been faced with a flea infestation or two. And while getting rid of the pesky little critters can be quite the drag, a bath or two and a flea treatment is usually all it takes.
If you are the owner of a guinea pig however, you will likely be wondering if they can get fleas too. Who would they get them from? If you own a dog, can the fleas migrate? Do you need to regularly protect your guinea pig from fleas?
Can Guinea Pigs Get Fleas?
Guinea pigs can get fleas, but much less commonly than cats and dogs can. Guinea pigs don’t come into contact with other animals that much, so unless your home is teeming with fleas, it’s unlikely your piggy will get them.
Guinea pigs don’t make the best hosts either, as fleas prefer ones that will allow them to reproduce and keep spreading from host to host (a cat or a dog will thus be their preferred choice).
While guinea pigs can get fleas if your home is full of them, or if your dog or cat have them, the fleas likely won’t bother your guinea too much, and will quickly move on.
So, unless your home is practically covered in fleas (which you will have noticed by now), you have nothing to worry about.
How Do I Know My Guinea Pig Has Fleas?
You will know your guinea pig has fleas if they exhibit the following symptoms:
- Scratching and picking their fur
- Hair loss or fur thinning
- Inflamed, red skin
- Dark specks of dirt in their fur
- Irritability and moodiness
- Loss of appetite
If you notice any of these signs, examine your piggie carefully. Comb through their fur to check for fleas, and rub some of the dark specks on a piece of tissue. If they turn red, your pet unfortunately has fleas, and the dark specs are actually dried blood and flea droppings.
How Do I Get Rid of Fleas on a Guinea Pig?
You can get rid of fleas on a guinea pig by giving them a bath and cleaning their cage and your home. You can also consult your vet for a guinea-safe flea treatment if the infestation is extensive.
Fleas won’t survive in water, so drowning them is a very effective way of getting rid of them. Make sure to use a guinea pig shampoo, and not a flea treatment, as it contains harsh chemicals that can be harmful.
Use a flea comb to get to all areas of your piggy’s fur. Be very gentle with your pet, don’t lift them too high as falls can injure them, and take your time to wash all the shampoo and fleas off.
Wrap your pet in a soft towel to dry them off. If you are using a hair dryer, make sure it’s on the cold setting and that you use a gentle airflow. Your piggy will likely be scared of it, so make sure they can’t escape and injure themselves while you are drying them.
If you have more than one guinea pig, give all of them a bath at the same time, even if you believe just one of them has fleas.
While your piggie is enjoying their bath, clean their cage too. Remove all the bedding and disinfect the entire cage with hot soapy water. Wash all of their toys and any cloths they may have. Use a mixture of half water half vinegar to wipe their cage, then wipe again with a wet, clean rag.
You also want to make sure your home is flea-free, so you will need to use a flea treatment on your other pets, and perhaps spray it around your home. Disinfect the carpets (steam works very well), vacuum everything thoroughly and spray some vinegar and water around too.
If the flea infestation is particularly bad, make sure to consult your vet and get a prescription for a topical treatment that is safe for guineas.
How Do Guinea Pigs Get Fleas?
Guinea pigs can get fleas from other pets, their environment or even humans. It’s important to treat their surroundings if your guineas have fleas, to make sure you get rid of all of them.
Guinea pigs are not the pet you usually associate with fleas. However, if you have a cat or a dog, or even a ferret, they may have passed the fleas on to your piggy.
You may be the one who gave your pet fleas too. Fleas are resourceful, and they can comfortably jump from your pants leg onto your guinea pig.
If you let your piggy take walks outside, they may have picked the fleas up then.
Consider your pet’s lifestyle to determine the likeliest cause of the fleas, and then take steps to treat the source, as well as the fleas that are already in your guinea pig’s fur and cage.
How To Prevent Your Cavies From Getting Fleas
You don’t need to take any specific measure to prevent your guinea pig from getting fleas, as they are not a likely host. What you should be doing is protecting their environment from fleas.
- If you have other pets, make sure they are protected from fleas. Use flea collars on your dogs and cats, or give them a regular anti-flea treatment during flea season.
- Make sure your yard is flea-free too if you take your guinea pig out for walks. You can pour cedar chips around: fleas hate the smell of it.
- Regularly vacuum (and ideally also steam) your home to kill any fleas that may have gotten inside on your shoes.
- You can also sprinkle baking soda or salt around your carpets. Let it sit for a couple of days and make sure it gets deep into the rugs and the furniture. Then vacuum as thoroughly as possible and take the contents outside into the trash immediately.
By keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean and preventing fleas entering your home, you will reduce the chance of an infestation.
Can Guinea Pigs Die From Fleas?
Fleas themselves won’t kill guinea pigs, but the illnesses caused by an extreme flea infestation can be deadly if left untreated.
A heavy flea infestation can cause anemia in guinea pigs. If they lose too much blood and their red blood cell count drops too low, they can theoretically bleed to death or suffer from organ damage as there is not enough oxygen to circulate around.
Your guinea pig can also hurt themselves when scratching and biting their fur, trying to get rid of the fleas. They can give themselves serious wounds which can become infected if left untreated. If sepsis sets in, your pet could die.
While it’s highly unlikely that fleas will cause any harm to your guinea pig, it’s important to get rid of them as soon as you notice them. Do your best to prevent them, and check for fleas regularly if you also have other pets that could be bringing the little devils into your home.
Wrapping It Up
Guinea pigs are not likely to get fleas. However, if you have other pets (including cats, dogs and ferrets), you do want to give your guinea a weekly flea check during flea season, just to be perfectly safe.