Wheeky Piggy

Coping with guinea pig-related allergies

I love taking care of Freya and Ellie, and I love playing with them. My boyfriend loves them too, but there’s one problem: he gets allergic reactions whenever he handles them. He sneezes a lot around them and his nose gets all runny and irritated, until he stops handling them.

I’m sure some can relate to this situation. You may love having guinea pigs in your home but some family members, or even you yourself, have guinea pig allergies. Some would readily sell or give away their cavies once they notice this, but some (like my boyfriend) would try to work around this problem. So what do we do?

First, we must remember that guinea pig hair itself does not cause allergic reactions. Urine, saliva, and other secretions are the ones that distribute allergens, and since these secretions come in contact with the piggies’ hair (especially when they groom themselves), the hair might be able to trasmit these allergens when you come into close contact with your piggies. To reduce the chances of allergic reactions, you can find a place in your house where there’s enough ventilation and space. In cases like this, keeping the cage in a bedroom or carpeted areas (where guinea pig hair can stick) is not recommended.

There are also some cases where you may not be allergic to the guinea pigs themselves. Instead, you may be allergic to other things in their surroundings such as hay or bedding, so try to rule these out first before concluding that you are indeed allergic to guinea pigs. Some materials can be more irritating than others so try to switch to other brands or other alternatives and observe changes in your body’s reaction. This happened to me with the girls’ first hay; I thought I was developing allergies for guinea pigs but it turns out that the hay I bought was too dusty and not very fresh, so I was getting those allergic reactions. I don’t buy that brand anymore, and I don’t get all sneezy and itchy anymore when I go near the cage.

Another thing that my boyfriend does is handle the guinea pigs in a towel or cuddle cup instead of holding them directly. That way, the piggies’ hair won’t stick to his clothes and give off another allergic reaction. It’s also not recommended to hold the piggies close to your face or neck when you have allergies. Finally, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after handling guinea pigs. Remember to take antihistamine too! It really works and it does lessen, if not completely eliminate, allergic reactions and one antihistamine lasts for several hours.

Have you ever had to deal with guinea pig-related allergies? How do you cope with allergic reactions?

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