Understanding Salmonella Infection In Guinea Pigs

Posted on: 26 March 2018

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that's usually contracted through contact with infected bedding, urine or faeces. Bedding contaminated with insects or the urine of wild rodents is a common cause of infection in guinea pigs, and those with immature digestive systems or a compromised immune system are particularly susceptible to contracting salmonella.

The salmonella bacteria can also be found on raw vegetables, so ensure you thoroughly clean any vegetables you want to feed to your guinea pig. It's easily passed to other guinea pigs who share the same living space, and infected guinea pigs can also pass the infection to humans. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for salmonella in guinea pigs:


When you think of salmonella in humans, you likely think of vomiting. Guinea pigs can't vomit, but they do display other gastrointestinal symptoms of salmonella, such as a swollen abdomen that's tender to the touch and diarrhoea. Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss are also common, and your guinea pig may develop a fever. Their coat can also become rough, and they may seem lethargic.  

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will diagnose salmonella by taking details of your guinea pig's symptoms and collecting a stool sample, which will be analysed for the presence of bacteria associated with salmonella infection. Your guinea pig's blood can be checked for the presence of inflammation, which indicates their immune system is fighting off an infection, and a urine sample may be collected to check for dehydration, which is common when gastric upset is present.

Once a salmonella diagnosis is confirmed, your vet will prescribe antibiotics for your guinea pig and may admit them as an inpatient for a few days to monitor the progress of their recovery. Intravenous fluids and vitamins can be given to prevent dehydration and boost their immune system. When you take your guinea pig home, you'll need to keep them separate from any other pets and prevent children from handling them until your vet gives you the go-ahead.

Help them to recover by providing a clean, quiet living space and ensuring their nutritional needs are being met. When handling your guinea pig or cleaning their bedding and bowls while they are recovering, wear protective gloves to minimise the risk of you contracting salmonella.

If you suspect your guinea pig has salmonella, or if you have any concerns about the health of your guinea pig, have them examined by professionals at an animal hospital.