What Chemicals Are Dangerous To Your Guinea Pig?

Like any small animal, guinea pigs can be poisoned by the chemicals found in and around most homes. You guinea pig can be poisoned if she:

  • Drinks a tainted substance
  • Cleans a chemical from her fur
  • Chews wood that contains poisonous chemicals

    Most of us fill our homes with hundreds of different chemicals, many of which can cause a violent reaction in your guinea pig. The products listed below are examples of some of the most common offenders.

    The Worst Offenders: Peteroleum Products, Acids and Alkalis (Caustics)

    Caustic chemicals are the most dangerous substances to your guinea pig. Caustic chemicals burn your guinea pig's mouth and through. If your guinea pig swallows one of these type of chemicals, do NOT induce vomiting, which can cause even further damage.

    • Kerosene
    • Gasoline
    • Lighter fluid
    • Drain cleaner
    • Lime
    • Floor, shoe and furniture polish
    • Toilet bowl cleaner
    • Paint thinner
    • Paint remover
    • Wax
    • Oven cleaner
    • Wood preservatives (creosote)
    • Dishwasher soap
    • Lye
    • Battery acid
    • Phenol-based subtances (disnfectants, fungicides, photographic developers)
    • Solvents
    • Chlorine bleach
    • Etching solutions
    • Ammonia

    Symptoms of chemical poisoning include:

    • Dull-looking eyes
    • Diarrhea
    • Listlessness
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Lloss of appetite
    • Wet, runny nose
    • Burns around the mouth and tongue
    • Dull-looking coat, or hair loss

    Other Toxic Chemicals:

    • Bleach
    • Detergents
    • Dyes
    • Pesticides
    • Aerosol sprays
    • Herbicides
    • Phosphorous (non-safety kitchen matches)
    • Glues
    • Acetone (a solvent)
    • Naphthalene (mothbolls)
    • Boric acid (shaving lotion)
    • Carbon tetrachloride (fire extinguisher, liquid)
    • Borax compound (fire extinguisher, powder)
    • Deodorants
    • Fabric softener
    • Pine oil

    Symptoms of poisoning from these chemicals include:

    • Vomiting
    • Panting
    • Abdominal pains
    • Drooling
    • Trembling limbs/difficulty in walking
    • Convulsions
    • Crying
    • Fever
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weakness
    • Diarrhea
    • Depression

    What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Has Been Poisoned

    Observe your guinea pig's symptoms carefully. If she's vomiting or has diarrhea, you may want to take samples to the vet to help with the diagnosis. The treatment will vary according to the poison, and whether it has been ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

    Always have on hand a good animal emergency handbook and a first-aid kit. And stock your medicine cabinet or pantry with these items:

    • Liquid antacid
    • Vegetable oil (to coat the intestines or remove substances on fur)
    • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting, if indicated)
    • Diluted vinegar or lemon juice (to help neutralize an alkali)

    Know how much your guinea pig weighs, because treatments are often measured out in proportion to the animal's weight.

    Safeguarding Your Guinea Pig In Her Cage

    Pay particular attention to the chemicals that have to do with wood. The wood in the your pet's cage may be treated with one of the chemicals listed above. Guinea pigs like to chew on things, especially if they are bored. Some of the wood preservatives have phenol in them, which is a corrosive substance, so do not induce vomiting if you suspect your guinea pig has eaten treated wood.


    While chemicals are abundant in your household, and if you put your guinea pig out of doors there is the added risk of herbicide, pesticide, insecticide and weedkiller poisoning. Herbicides and weedkillers can be absorbed through the skin after they have been walked over. Your pet may also ingest these while she is cleaning.

    If you see your pet walk through any chemicals, or have them spilled on her, do not let your pet lick herself. Wash the fur with warm water and a gentle soap, and rinse several times.

    What to do if Your Guinea Pig Has Been Poisoned

    If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, the first thing you must do is find out what substance is responsible. Read the product's label for the list of ingredients and for any instructions on accidental ingestion. Immediately call your vet, the nearest animal-emergency clinic, or the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888)4-Ani-Help (264-4357. If you take her to the vet, take a piece of the substance you think poisoned your pet with you to the vet. This will help your vet with the method of treatment for your pet.