Can Guinea Pigs Die From a Dirty Cage?

A dirty cage can lead to a variety of health problems for guinea pigs. These can include pneumonia and upper respiratory infection, depression and stress, flystrike, bumblefoot, urinary tract infections and many other conditions.

Guinea pigs have a unique and sensitive gastrointestinal system that requires specific and balanced bacterial flora to function properly. A bacterial overgrowth in the intestines can result in serious intestinal problems and gas that can be painful to the animal. This can also affect the normal flow of food through the intestines and cause a slowing down in digestion.

If a bacterial infection is left untreated it can become life-threatening. This is because a bacterial overgrowth can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines and create a situation where the ‘bad’ bacteria (probiotics) are more dominant than the ‘good’ bacteria. This can also cause the ‘bad’ bacteria to eat away at the lining of the intestines and release toxins, which will damage the digestive tract and can lead to severe diarrhea.

Pneumonia and upper respiratory disease

Typically, guinea pigs can live without having a bout of this type of illness but it is important to monitor the condition of your pet so that treatment can be started quickly if they get it. It is also a good idea to have them checked out regularly by a vet, to make sure that any respiratory issues do not get worse.

Ear Infections

While ear infections are rare, if your guinea pig has them they can be caused by an underlying bacterial infection and may need treatment. Symptoms of ear infections include discharge, a swollen or crusty ear, and a lack of hearing. If the infection is affecting the middle or inner ear, the animal may become imbalanced and appear to walk in circles.

Fungal Skin Infections

Guinea pigs are very prone to fungal skin infections, most often caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes. This skin disease can be spread to other animals and humans and is easily transmitted by bite wounds, scratches or scrapes in the mouth or skin, sneezing, genital contact, and exposure to contaminated objects like bedding.

The most common signs of ringworm are flaky, red, and scaly patches that usually start on the face (nose, eyes and ears) and head, but it can affect the entire body. This condition can be very distressing to the guinea pig and if it gets worse, the affected areas can also become inflamed.

If left untreated, this can be a dangerous and expensive problem to deal with. Some guinea pigs develop this problem so severely that they will lose their fur, have bald spots on their heads and face, and suffer permanent deformities to their bodies such as limb length and shape.


Guinea pigs can also suffer from pododermatitis, a skin disorder that causes the feet to swell and become painful. If left untreated, this can be incredibly distressing to your guinea pig and they may have trouble walking.