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Thread: Germaphobia

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Germaphobia

    Okay, I'm kind of a germaphobe, and I wash my hands like 3 times after touching my piggies or any of their stuff. I heard they can carry diseases, and I don't want to get any one sick. Am I over reacting? Also, I see a lot of people letting their pigs have floor time on their carpet. I never do this because I fell like I have to wash my carpets after. I would love to do it, but I feel all gross walking on it. I think I need help, haha. Is that okay, I obviously pick up the poop or wipe up the pee with a Clorox wipe, but is it healthy to let them run around on my bare carpet? Any ideas or comments are welcome.
    *I can obviously put down a blanket and grids, but I feel like full range of my piggie safe room would be more fun for them, you know?

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    Cavy Slave Kieri's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    i think unless you find a guinea pig out in the wild they aren't going to be carrying any diseases. if they live in unhealthy conditions, they could develop illnesses or infections, which to be fair to guinea pigs, obviously makes sense.

    however, if they are kept in clean environments and you take very good care of them, i don't see them getting sick and passing it to you or anyone else. it's not bad to wash your hands though! some people wash their hands after petting dogs, i think it depends on the person.

    if your pigs are healthy, there's no problem with floor time. i vacuum or sweep up poops and scrub any urine from the carpet. if you absolutely cannot stand the thought of them roaming on your carpet, you could create an area for them by covering your carpet with a shower curtain and some towels or fleece. this technique should ease your germ worries. i think your pigs will be happy either way- full room roam or a "man made" area to run in. it's all the same to them.

    i know what you mean about washing hands and spreading things. i am taking two fitness classes which means my hands and clothes are touching mats and workout machines- i'm questioning my school's cleanliness because my guinea pigs developed some sort of fungal infection (my vet believes it is ringworm, but i won't know the results of the culture for 2 weeks). my vet told me i could have contracted ringworm from school, but never was infected, however it passed onto my guinea pigs.

    ever since she told me that, i have been scrubbing my hands and body. i have had my fitness classes 4 times this week and after the classes i scrubbed myself in a hot shower just to make sure i didn't contract anything harmful again. i'm actually very paranoid about it and i don't want to touch the mats or machines anymore

    i haven't let my guinea pigs out for floor time at all since i noticed the white growths and hair loss, because i don't want the ringworm or fungus or whatever getting into my carpet. i've bleached out their cage completely (all towels, fleece, grids, etc.) and i'm going to do it again once they've been treated.

    i rambled a bit- i'm sorry. anyway, don't worry about being too paranoid about germs (better safe than sorry), however you shouldn't be afraid of your piggies or floor time!

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    Cavy Slave CrazyMom's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    Need help? Maybe.... Kidding. I doubt if they have been in your house for a while and no one has gotten sick that they are carrying diseases. I don't let them on the bare floor because of pee and mine are not "potty trained". Do you use Clorox wipes in their cage? If so I personally wouldn't because of the chemicals. I cannot quote you any facts about it being harmful, so don't quote me on it. I don't think that it is unhealthy inherently to let them out on your carpet.


    P.S. Sorry about the redundancy, I think the post about and I posted at the same time

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    No, I use the clorox if the pee is on my carpet- not in their cages

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    Cavy Slave CrazyMom's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    Oh ok...i kinda figured that

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    It sounds as though you are overreacting. Perhaps you need to make a choice and do what is comfortable for you? Keep in mind that your piggies are not outside, are not with other animals, and are pretty safe from many nasties that they could carry. And, I could never understand how people could kiss a dog or cat who had been outside.

    I have to confess that all that has changed. We keep our boy's cage picked up and cleaned regularly, and he always seems to smell good. I just love to kiss that fat piggy belly.

    We have always had difficulty with floor time and with finding a suitable space. When we had two boys, I used to put them in the bathroom and let them wander around and poop and pee to their hearts' content. However, my husband couldn't stand the thought of all that in the bathroom and felt that he needed to clean from top to bottom each time. That soon ended the bathroom floor time.

    Now that our one remaining boy is older, there's not so much of an issue with him using the toilet everywhere. Sadly, floor time seems useless because he will just head for the nearest warm radiator and stay under it. In the summer, I have a covered run that I put in the backyard so that he can get some exercise, and he literally will sit in the exact spot where I place him.......for a hour. He won't move around, eat grass........or use the toilet. If possible, he "holds it" until he can go home to his cage.

    I'm in the process of building a much larger cage in hopes that at least he can run laps there and perhaps get more exercise. And BTW, we keep a box of exam gloves next to the cage to spot clean and tidy the cage.

    Figure out a system that you are comfortable with and stick to it. You may already know this, but you can zip-tie grids together to make your desired exercise space, join the ends with binder clips for floor time, and then the entire thing will fold up afterward. Choose something that you can throw in the wash like a vinyl flannel-back tablecloth for covering the floor.

    Bottom line is that it doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks. You have to do what is comfortable for you.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I heard they can carry diseases, and I don't want to get any one sick. Am I over reacting?
    Yes, probably. Most things that affect guinea pigs don't affect humans, and vice versa. The main exception is fungus (like ringworm), and they're equally as likely to get it from you as you are from them.

    I wouldn't let them run loose on carpet for two reasons. One, they might eat it, and two, the accumulation of urine might smell. But you could put two or three blankets down and let them roam on those.

    But here's an article you might want to read about excessive cleanliness: Link found between cleanliness, hepatitis A, asthma Is there a childhood health risk in overly clean environments?.

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    The other thing, my parents don't let me use the washer for anything pig- other wise I would still use fleece, but hand washing didn't seem to get it clean enough. I've heard guinea pigs can carry salmonella is this true?

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    Cavy Slave Kieri's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    Quote Originally Posted by spy9doc View Post
    And, I could never understand how people could kiss a dog or cat who had been outside.

    I have to confess that all that has changed. We keep our boy's cage picked up and cleaned regularly, and he always seems to smell good. I just love to kiss that fat piggy belly.
    i'm completely guilty of smothering animals with kisses.

    i'm a little grossed out to admit this, but when i discovered one of my pigs losing fur around her eye last week, i gave her a peck on her forehead and told her she'll be okay. admittedly, i probably shouldn't have done that but i'm a softy and i don't think before i give kisses.

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I never had problems with my cat I kissed him all the time- I would let my aunts dog lick my face- I've even kissed a few frogs/toads and no, they don't turn into princes! But for some reason my parents dislike rodents and always talk about how disease ridden rodents are The pigs aren't allowed downstairs or really out of my room at all, except for the bath room on ocassion

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    Cavy Slave Kieri's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    well there ya go! that is probably why you feel this way towards your guinea pigs. a lot of people believe rodents are disgusting and destructive creatures. a victim of this belief is definitely rats, but i've heard they make such wonderful companions.

    i was apartment hunting back in august and asked every place i looked at if they allowed guinea pigs. a lot of the apt managers had no idea what guinea pigs were. when i said they were large rodents, a lot of them squirmed and made faces and told me, "no," or, "absolutely NOT." i was lucky enough to find a great apartment complex and the manager was more than happy to allow me to own guinea pigs.

    i can't touch frogs or toads, let alone give them kisses. my grandma has always been terrified of frogs, so it's sort of passed onto me and i don't even like holding them anymore.

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    Cavy Newbie Wildcavy's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I get really upset at the bad rap that rodents & rodent-like critters get, sort of like pigs (swine) but worse. From what I've seen, though I'm no expert, ratties and mice are meticulous about their grooming and care very much for their babies. Super smart too. We have city rats where I am, but considering where they have to live, it is no wonder they are dirty and can carry critters that cause disease.

    I know we can all compare stories but the worst animal-related injury I've gotten was from a cat bite -- the infection, not the bite itself. I take immuno-suppressants for my muscular dystrophy and the piggies have never caused me an illness. I am, however, obsessive about using gloves, washing, etc. when I work with rehabbed wildlife -- different game, and since your piggies are inside, that is a major difference.

    Have your parents ever sat and watched your piggies for awhile, to see how well-groomed they keep themselves? You've probably already tried to ask them; it's just funny how addictive I find them and (poo habits aside) they really are good about their personal hygiene.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I always wash my hands after handling my guinea pigs. They can carry salmonella but you can also get it from eating veggies that aren't washed. Parasites and ringworm can also be transmitted if they are infected. Good hygiene is the key and watching for signs of illness in your guinea pigs so you can have them treated. I'm not concerned about them being on the carpet. I put down a sheet on the carpet. I regularly steam clean my carpets and don't eat off the floor so I feel comfortable that my carpets are clean.

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    No, my parents aren't really fond of my pigs they say "hi pigs" or "hey boys" sometimes and they have each held them like once. My dad hates that they sit in their own poop all the time. I just wish they could see them like I do I love my piggies, but they just see them as rodents. And I'm having a really hard time giving them floortime and lap time because I can't touch anything after touching them, and can't do homework or anything.
    One thing that really worries me is that the other day my mom said something like "I know you love them, but if something happens we aren't going to spend hundreds of dollars for the vet".
    They just don't get it, so I'm going to add to my vet savings, because in my parent's eyes they aren't worth it...it kills me

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    PetMD says that salmonella infections in guinea pigs are very rare, and are the result of eating something contaminated with salmonella. If you're eating the same vegetables you feed your pigs, you're probably at risk from the veggies more so that from the pigs.

    Most parasites are species specific -- the mites/lice that live on your guinea pigs might bite you but won't set up housekeeping on your body, and vice versa.

    Squint, you said:

    And I'm having a really hard time giving them floortime and lap time because I can't touch anything after touching them, and can't do homework or anything.
    Is that because your mom won't let you touch them, or because you're afraid of being contaminated by them? If it's the latter, maybe you need to talk to a good therapist about this, because it's likely to be a problem that will affect you in other areas of life. Guinea pigs are not at all likely to give you any kind of disease, and there's really nothing to worry about.

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    Cavy Slave Squint96's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I am worried about them being on my floor because I can't wash the blankets or let them on the floor because there is a home daycare in my house and I can't tract hay and waste downstairs we have babies through school age kids, and I've heard they shouldn't be exposed to guinea pigs (under age five) which I don't really believe, but because they aren't my kids I don't get to make the decision

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    Cavy Newbie Wildcavy's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    We don't let the pigs loose in our rooms for floor time, because of the open floorplan it would be bad news. We have an area that we put down a carpet pad with a couple of layers of old sheets, and set them up. It's a large space for them to bounce around but then we can just fold up the sheets, shake out the poo into our compost, and then wash the sheets. We wash hands after but I don't do the protective gloves -- but the glove idea is a good one if it helps you with the germ issue and you are more comfortable with handling your piggies.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    Most external parasites are species specific. Intestinal parasites are not. Giardia can be transmitted between species and causes diarrhea in guinea pigs. I had one with Giardia that I believed was probably infected by its previous owner housing it in a fish aquarium. I had to have all of mine treated to be sure that none of the others became infected by the protozoa. Internal parasites that dogs and cats have can be transmitted to guinea pigs and to humans. Good hygiene and thorough hand washing should protect you.

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    Cavy Slave SeeSpotSit's Avatar
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    Re: Germaphobia

    Wow! This is my kind of thread and I have had plenty of therapy appointments surrounding this and related issues. I too am a "germaphobe" - specifically, I have been classified OCD and OCPD. 2 years ago, I wouldn't have even imagined my future self having guinea pigs!! Everyday I struggle with the gross factor. Although (with really no rational explanation) I have set procedures that help me cope. I wash my piggies...this helps me feel more comfortable handling them. I figure if they get more love with a slight possibility of drier skin, it's worth it (I do the same thing with my dogs). Honestly, after observing them more, they actually seem cleaner than my dogs. I use specific towels only for them to sit on etc and change them a lot. I already wash my hands a million times a day so that's not an issue for me. Thankfully I'm an adult and I know how to wash animal stuff separate from clothes, in warm/hot water, I use XO AND an antibacterial/fungal with those loads. This allows me the freedom to feel ok washing my clothes in there after

    Honestly, if you want encouragement...I highly doubt (with about 98% certainty) you will ever catch anything from your guinea pigs. Yes, Giardia is an interspecies parasite...however do you eat their poop? Or do you handle their poop and then put your hands in your mouth? Probably not. And you're more likely to contract ringworm or lice from those young germ factory kids in your house than the pigs.

    As far as the carpet goes...I have to say piggies running around on just carpet without a protectant tarp or something is one of the grossest things I've ever seen (number one being the bed). A clorox wipe is just not getting that pee out of the padding underneath (sorry, but it's not). I found floor time in the bathroom to be my best solution. I can disinfect the floor after I also have hardwood floors since I believe installed carpeting to be far grosser than the fleece/U-haul pads in my pig's cage!

    There are my 2 cents on the whole gross factor...the fact is - I love them and logically I CAN wrap my head around the fact that they're not going to give me anything. That's it.

  20. #20
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Germaphobia

    I use specific towels for floor time. That makes it easier for me to deal with. Also, my boyfriend tries to kiss the pigs and I do not allow it! The thought freaks me out. Also because I have allergies haha

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