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Sick URI, Thanks Petco!


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Mar 13, 2012
Well, I knew better and still did it. I fell for a cute little piggy at a pet store about four days ago. He seemed healthy and it was a store I used to work at, so I know the animals there are well cared for. I figured "just one won't hurt" (stupid, stupid, stupid!) and bought him. I haven't had cavies in a few years so a lot of my judgement was being clouded by excitement, I'm sure.

Well, of course the poor little guy is sick. Petco says they will take care of the illness but their method of doing so is to have me return him, they bring him to a vet, and then "you can have him back in two weeks if he lives".

Uh, yeah, no thanks.

I called my vet this morning- he used to look at my piggies when I had them a few years ago and always did a great job with them. His recommendation was that I wait it out and see if this get worse.

Right now the symptoms are minimal: occasional sneezing and coughing. No discharge from the nose. My vet told me to keep an eye on him and see if there is any discharge and if the discharge becomes slightly yellow in color- that would be cause for concern.

I asked him about Doxycycline and he said that for guinea pigs with serious illness they usually give Baytril, but since my guy isn't that sick he doesn't want to do that yet. My concern is that Baytril can usually affect bone growth. My guy is probably about three or four months old. I would much rather avoid Baytril.

So here's my question: Should I be waiting it out to see if this gets worse or hope that it clears up on its own? He is on fleece bedding now- I just put him on it yesterday. He was on aspen shavings at the pet store and I had him on some aspen before I set up the C&C cage. I have no idea what he was eating at Petco but I've got him on timothy hay pellets, timothy hay, and lots of fresh veggies. Is it possible that general good care will help him get over this or should I medicate anyway?

Also, a follow-up question, I'm getting him a companion soon from a much better place. How long after symptoms disappear would it be safe to introduce these two?

Thank you for your advice :)
I'd watch -- but I'd watch like a hawk. It may be that fleece bedding will help. But as the vet says, if you see any signs of him getting worse, you should take him in.

They do mostly avoid Baytril for young pigs, but it's the most effective antibiotic for URIs, so if one gets well established, it may be the only choice. And at 3-4 months, they're not as vulnerable to growth disruption as pigs that are only a few weeks old.
Thank you bpatters! I am on spring break right now so I'll be watching him very closely. He's eating well so far so that's a good sign.

Good to know about Baytril and growth disruption.

Thank you!
My piggies will sneeze a few times a day by their hay rack if I don't fluff their hay outside.Some pigs just may be more sensitive to things like that. I also hear an occasional cough when they're eating their veggies too fast.

When I first got them I didn't know what was and was not normal for them. I took them into the vet about 4 times in the first month of having them! I got them from the pet store (which I regret) and that added to my concern over their health.

Hope your piggie turns out just fine!
my one pig sneeze every day and coughs.... i taker her to the vet when it gets really bad but every time i get the same answer... "she just has allergies" XD so shes fine, but your piggie could just have allergies.
My piggies will sneeze a few times a day by their hay rack if I don't fluff their hay outside.

Ours do the same. They also occasionally sneeze when they have their noses buried in their pellets. We give them Oxbow but if we don't wipe their pellet dish out we can get a bit of dust on the bottom.
Also, a follow-up question, I'm getting him a companion soon from a much better place. How long after symptoms disappear would it be safe to introduce these two?
Standard practice is quarantine for 3 weeks, are you sure you don't have to quarantine the new pig?
If it were me I wouldn't wait. Coughing? Guinea pigs usually don't cough--do you mean that choking noise they make when eating? Guinea pigs, especially young ones, go downhill fast. I would weigh him daily, and if he loses any at all take him in right away.

If you get a new pig from a rescue (note I did not say shelter), usually you won't need to quarantine. However, since yours is possibly sick, I would wait three weeks.
The new pig is from a breeder of Peruvians- new guy is pet quality, hence why I'm getting him. Yes, I know the general consensus regarding breeders here. Not looking for a debate on the subject- I just have no issue with what I deem to be a responsible breeder.

I would quarantine regardless of where it was coming from though. They will be kept apart for a minimum of three weeks whether anyone is showing illness or not. My main concern is that something like this could go on longer than that (obviously if he is still sneezing next week, I'll have him at the vet). I guess my question is, if I do go to the vet next week and get him treated with antibiotics, how long would it take before introducing him to the other cavy is recommended? I am going to ask my vet the same question of course but trust your judgements as well.

He hasn't lost any weight- gained some, actually. I've been weighing him and keeping a close eye on him. Still no mucus from the nose. Eyes, ears, and nose are all clear. Eating fine. Popcorning around his cage like a psycho all morning. Absolutely no signs of going down hill.
Update: So my guy is still sneezing occasionally but not nearly as much as he was. I'm weighing him at the same time every day and he hasn't lost or gained any significant amount of weight (always within .5 oz of 14 oz).

I also haven't heard any coughing lately.

What are the odds that he's getting over this himself? :)

I do wonder about the lack of weight gain. It's only been about a week but he isn't getting any bigger. He is young (my guess would be about four months old).

Is there anything else I should be doing? I'm feeding him fresh leafy green veggies twice a day (he's getting quite a bit too, about two cups per day). He has a constant supply of timothy hay based pellets and timothy hay. Eats like a pig!
Sounds like he's doing a lot better, cheer up=D and spring break already? so early
If you hear a coughing type noise again when he isn't eating, I'd still take him in. I don't think there's any hopeful chance of a guinea pig getting over a URI on his own. It could just be that he was never sick in the first place.

I wonder if baby guinea growth comes in spurts or is gradual? Perhaps it's different for each pig. My pigs weight seemed to shoot up there fairly quickly, but I only weigh once a week.

I've been avoiding Petco like the plague recently. I went in there for a toy and I peeked into the guinea pig aquarium to have a pity party for the pigs stuck in there. One had a rather large sore on it's head. Since this Petco had a Banfield vet attached to it, that should have been taken care of sooner. I got an employee and they took him away. Bleh. I wish I could save them without supporting breeders and Petco. I rather spend extra money on Etsy guinea pig stuff now.
Dont beat yourself up. Most of us have bought store pigs at some point. I hope he gets better soon.
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