Inflammation of the Lungs in Guinea Pigs

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Pneumonia in Guinea Pigs


Pneumonia, the clinical name given to inflammation of the lungs, is the most frequent cause of death in guinea pigs. It is also a contagious condition in groups of guinea pigs.


The most common bacteria that has been found to cause pneumonia in guinea pigs are the species Bordetella bronchiseptica, and to a lesser extent, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus zooepidemicus. In rare cases, pneumonia may be caused by the adenovirus, a viral infection that infects many types of mammal species, including guinea pigs.


All of these infectious agents can cause illness without leading to pneumonia; meaning, an affected guinea pig may just be a carrier of the infection, and may be contagious to other guinea pigs, but not suffer the complication of pneumonia.


Symptoms and Types


  • Dull and depressed appearance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss in body weight
  • Respiratory distress (dyspnea)
  • Discharge from nose and eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Imflammed eye lining (conjunctivitis) or reddening
  • Fever
  • Dehydration




Bordetella bronchisepta, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Streptococcus zooepidemicus are three well known bacterial causes. Adenovirus infection is a less common cause of pneumonia. Transmission of the infection is often through the droplets, which are sprayed into the air by sneezing or coughing. Infection with Bordetella bronchisepta can also be transmitted via sexual contact.




You will need to give a thorough history of your guinea pig's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition, such as recent illnesses of other guinea pigs in the home, or recent sexual contact. Your veterinarian can make an initial diagnosis of pneumonia from a physical examination of the guinea pig. Additional laboratory tests will confirm or rule out a case of pneumonia. Samples will be taken of the fluid that is oozing from your pet's eyes or nose, or from blood samples, so that they can be analyzed for the specific bacterial organism that is causing the infection. X-rays or ultrasound images may also be used to examine the lungs for signs of pneumonia. If pneumonia is present, the images will show inflammation and excessive congestion or fluid buildup.