Can A Dirty Cage Kill Your Guinea Pig? (Find Out Now)

All pet parents want their guinea pigs to be safe and secure. For example, cages are meant to keep guinea pigs safe. But, if they don’t stay clean then the cage can be a death trap. 

On average, dirty cages have many hazards that can be fatal to guinea pigs such ammonia build up and wet, urine-soaked bedding. The environment risks of filthy cages include causing guinea pigs to contract bumblefoot, upper respiratory infections, and other serious health issues.

Can a dirty cage kill you guinea pig - can guinea pigs die from a dirty cage

This blog post will give you an overview of the types of illnesses that are caused by dirty cages. There’s also tips on how to keep your guinea pig’s cage as clean and safe as possible. Let’s get to it!

How Can Living In A Dirty Cage Kill Your Guinea Pigs?

A dirty cage creates an environment that can kill your piggies, because it breeds two things:

  1. Neglect of Guinea Pigs: Changes in your guinea pig’s urine output and droppings is one of the ways you know if your fur baby unwell. If you don’t keep a clean cage and neglect your little friends, then you won’t notice when they become ill.
  2. Damp, bacteria-ridden conditions: These conditions create a setting that where diseases and pests can thrive. The illnesses or their side effects can be tough for your guinea pig to recover from. If they even recover at all.

Bottom line?

If you want your piggies to live happily and healthily, regular cage cleanings are a must.

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Dirty Cage Health Hazards

A dirty cage can lead to a bunch of different health hazards for guinea pigs. Your piggies could get pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection.

Additionally, your piggie can get bumblefoot. Depression and stress, flystrike, and urinary tract infections are also unfortunate side effects of a dirty enclosure. Let’s take a look at these diseases and afflictions in detail to see how a dirty cage.

can a guinea pig die from a dirty cage

Depression and Stress

Guinea pigs are naturally tidy animals. So, making them live in dirty cages has a negatively impacts their mental health – causing stress and depression.

And guinea pig stress and depression should be taken seriously.

Piggies with these issues show symptoms such as:

  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • irritability
  • sluggishness and lack of activity
  • bar-biting
  • hair pulling (also called barbering)

Bumblefoot (Or Pododermatitis)

When piggies are forced to walk and sleep in wet, filthy bedding (or abrasive surfaces) they can develop bumblefoot. Sore, reddish feet are the primary symptoms of bumblefoot. It’s is a skin problem that is caused by not taking care of your pig.

If your fur baby is experiencing this issue, make sure to get your piggie to a vet right away. Unfortunately, if left untreated the prognosis for a recovery might not be good.

Upper Respiratory Infections / Bacterial Pneumonia

The damp, bacteria-laden environment of a filthy guinea pig cage is a breeding ground for upper respiratory infections.

Upper respiratory infections and lung infections (bacterial pneumonia) can kill guinea pigs. When not cleaned properly, the urine begins to smell strongly of ammonia, which makes the problem worse.

Guinea pigs with upper respiratory and lung infections need to see a vet and be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible.

Symptoms for these diseases include a combination of :

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • crusty eyes and nose
  • labored breath
  • loss of appetite

Some piggies are known to die quite suddenly from these diseases. Although cage cleaning isn’t the only cause for upper respiratory infections or pneumonia, keeping your piggies in a clean environment is a step in the right direction to keeping them safe and comfortable.

Fly Strike

“Flystrike” is when blowflies lay their eggs on guinea pigs. The eggs hatch into maggots that begin to eat your piggies. This can take less than a day. Your little friend’s health can deteriorate quickly and he can die. That’s why you need to get help fast.

Wet bedding (and feces) is a major cause of flystrike. The blowflies love the smell. If your piggie’s cage is soaked in urine and dirty, then flies are going to come and breed there, which puts your little friends at risk.

Urinary Tract Infection  

Urinary tract infections can be a huge problem for piggies. And their short legs are to blame. Their short stature keeps them close to the ground.

In a dirty cage, that’s downright dangerous, because they’re likelier to come into contact with wet, dirty bedding and droppings filled with bacteria.

You need to take your little friend to the vet for an x-ray and urinalysis if you see these signs:

  • pain and crying when urinating
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of energy
  • blood in the urine

6 Little Known Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

There are several mistakes that pet owners make when cleaning a guinea pig’s cage. Avoid the mistakes below will keep your guinea pigs healthier and happier than ever:

  1. Not cleaning leaky water sources. Whether you use a water bottle or a water bowl, make sure you inspect the bedding under it for dampness. If you have a leaky bottle, fix or replace it. If your piggies knock over their water bowl, then clean it up as soon as possible.
  2. Not cleaning dirty bedding regularly enough. Some pigs are messier than others. So, some cages might need to be thoroughly cleaned 2 or more times a week, depending on how much mess the piggies makes. Also, you should change certain types of bedding more often than others, such as hay and newspaper.
  3. Not using properly wicked fleece or fleece liners. If you use fleece as bedding, make sure that your guinea pig’s urine can pass through it to an absorbent layer underneath. Otherwise, your piggies will end up standing and lying in puddles of their own pee.
  4. Using a bleach or strong chemicals for cleaning. Piggies have a very sensitive sense of smell. Harsh chemicals can irritate their nose and lungs. Use a solution of half water and half distilled, white vinegar to deep clean your piggie’s cage. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it all over the surface of your guinea pig’s cage. Allow time for cleaning solution to do its work, then wipe down with a clean cloth or towel. Then let it dry.
  5. Failing to remove old food. Leaving old food behind is an open invitation to bugs and vermin to invade your piggie’s home.
  6. Not making cleaning a routine. Life gets hectic. Make sure that you schedule time in to make sure that your guinea pigs are safe and comfortable in a clean habitat.

How Often Should You Clean A Guinea Pig Cage?

Can a dirty cage kill a guinea pig?  Can a guinea pig die from a dirty cage?

On average, guinea pig cages should be spot cleaned daily and deep cleaned at least once a week.

However, some guinea pigs make more of a mess than others (little stinkers), so a deep cleaning twice a week is necessary.

In other cases, the owners choice of bedding requires more frequent cleanings.

During a guinea pig cage spot cleaning, owners trash all leftover food and waste before you leave. If the hay needs to be topped off, do that now too. Sweep up droppings with a stiff, little broom or brush. If there’s wet, urine patches in the bedding, replace them. Empty the old water bowls and water and then refill with fresh water.

Deep cleaning a cage requires more time. It’s a very thorough clean of the cage. so owners should prepare beforehand by putting their piggies in a safe location. To clean the cage, you must take everything out and clean it.

Throw away all soiled bedding. Wash all fabric items with a conditioner free detergent. Add vinegar to help remove any urine odor. Wipe down all non-fabric items with vinegar and scrub off any droppings. Wash water bottles and food bowls thoroughly.

What Are The Signs Of A Guinea Pig Dying?

As a whole, dying guinea pigs have a persistent lack of appetite and are very listless and lethargic. Other symptoms include weakness, thin and dull-looking coats, and failure to drink water. However, the symptoms can vary according to the disease or illness the guinea pig is suffering from.

If you notice that your pet is exhibiting symptoms of illness, it’s important to contact an exotic veterinarian as soon as possible. A piggie’s health can deteriorate quickly.

Take Action: Don’t Let A Dirty Cage Kill Your Guinea Pig

You now know how a dirty cage can harm and even kill your guinea pig. You even know what you need to do to avoid it.

Why not take action today and start caring for your guinea pig’s living space? Start keeping your little friend safe?

Today is the day, my friend, because now know what to do and when to do it.

In short:

You now have a proven guidelines you can follow to keep your guinea pig’s cage in tip-top shape.

It’s time for you to join the ranks of joyful, piggie pet owners. It’s time for you to make some real, strides towards keeping your pigs happy and healthy in their cage.

It’s time to get started.

And, of course, it’s time for your little fur babies to start living the life of a princess or prince!

Are you ready?

Of course, you are!

AMMONIA BUILD-UP IN ANIMAL BOXES AND ITS EFFECT ON RAT TRACHEAL EPITHELIUM. (n.d.). SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class research journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1258/002367776781071477

Does vinegar kill germs? (2020, March 26). David Suzuki Foundation. https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/does-vinegar-kill-germs/

Guinea pig care and husbandry. (n.d.). Cornerstone Animal Hospital | Small Animal and Exotics. https://www.cahcares.com/guineapig.html

Guinea pig pododermatitis (bumblefoot, sore hocks). (2020, September 3). Veterinary Practice | The UK’s leading monthly veterinary publication. https://veterinary-practice.com/article/guinea-pig-pododermatitis-bumblefoot-sore-hocks

Health problems in Guinea pigs. (n.d.). vca_corporate. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/guinea-pigs-problems

Management of husbandry-related problems in Guinea pigs. (n.d.). ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277731892_Management_of_husbandry-related_problems_in_guinea_pigs

Orcutt, C. (n.d.). Care of Pet Guinea Pigs. Putnam Veterinary Clinic – Topsfield, MA. https://www.putnamveterinaryclinic.com/sites/site-6748/images/CARE%20OF%20PET%20GUINEA%20PIGS.pdf

Respiratory infections | Arizona exotics | -Guinea pigs resources. (n.d.). Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital | Veterinary care for exotic pets in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert AZ. https://azeah.com/guinea-pigs/respiratory-infections

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