In general, guinea pigs do not need to be regularly wormed unless your guinea pigs’ vet confirms they have worms, as intestinal parasites are uncommon in guinea pigs. This is despite common advice that they should be wormed every three months.
What intestinal parasites can guinea pigs carry?
Coccidia is a protozoan (single-celled) parasite that lives in the wall of the intestines. Infection in guinea pigs is generally harmless but can cause significant disease in young pups. Infections are more common in breeding colonies due to overcrowding, poor husbandry, and concurrent disease.
Guinea pigs may become hosts to the caecal worm, a worm that lives in the caecum and colon but does not invade the wall of the tract. Infections are often mild and subclinical, although heavy infections lead to anorexia, diarrhoea, weight loss, and a poor coat.
How do I know if my guinea pigs have worms?
Signs of worm infections in guinea pigs may range from very mild (or no) signs to diarrhoea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, dehydration, and death. However, many other diseases can look like this, and so if you are concerned, you should take your guinea pigs to a guinea pig vet for an examination and testing.
How and when do I treat my guinea pigs for worms?
Your guinea pig vet can advise you on whether your guinea pigs even have worms, before starting a treatment course. Newly purchased guinea pigs should be tested (and treated) before been introduced to the other guinea pigs at home.
But the advice to worm every three months for life is usually ‘overkill’.
Can my children get worms from my guinea pigs?
No. There is no evidence that guinea pig can pass worms on to other animals, especially humans (and vice versa).
Johnson D (2019) Parasites in Your Pocket (Pets): Companion Mammal Parasitology. Wild West Veterinary Conference