03 3489728 Straven Road Vet
03 3525749 Papanui Vet
Parasites and Fungal Conditions in Guinea Pigs
Mites and lice and fungi can be picked up from other guinea pigs and their environment. All of them tend to spread rapidly amongst your guinea pigs so it is very important to isolate or quarantine your guinea pigs and treat ALL of them not just the ones showing signs (all the ones who may of had contact or are in close proximity of the affected guinea pig)
This mite lives under the skin and causes your guinea pig to become very itchy. Signs include thinning of coat, with dandruff and itching. Itching will becomes so bad that the guinea pig will rip its skin leading to open sores. In later stages the skin is so badly affected it can cause the guinea pig have convulsions (fits), stop eating and become aggressive when handled. If left untreated you guinea pig will finally die.
Mange is even more life threatening to pregnant sows as they may develop toxaemia from this. Mange is contagious and all guinea pigs should be treated, even ones that aren't showing signs as they can become carriers remaining symptomless sometimes for several years.
Hay mites are tiny mites that live off dandruff and skin debris. They are usually found around the rump area on the mid-section of the hair shaft. They are also commonly know as 'static lice' and 'fur mite'. They are hardly visible but in cases where there are many of them they can be easily seen. They are a greyish colour and are easier to see in black and white coloured guinea pigs.
Often your guinea pig will have no symptoms from these mites.
Lice are small yellowish-white coloured worm looking insects about 1m long that can be seen by the naked eye. They do not suck blood but live off the debris on the skin. Area of damaged hair (different length to rest of coat) are often the first signs owners notice. The areas are caused from where the guinea pig has become itchy and chewed its coat. They will not necessary be seen scratching like they do with mites.
Fungal Infections/ Ringworm
Fungal infections are spread through direct contact or airborne spores that contaminate the environment. It can be transmitted to humans so care should be taken to isolate the infected guinea pig/s and hygiene is very important to stop it spreading.
Fungal infections often appears as areas of hair loss and scaly scabs The most common areas are the nose, ears, head and neck area although any area can be affected. Ringworm tends to spread everywhere but you can also get localised infections (normally found on the ears) that appear less scaly but still abnormal looking.
Fungal infections can be treated with antifungal dips, shampoos or tablets. It is very important that all animals in the household are treated. The environment should be disinfected as well to minimize environment contamination.
There are a treatment options available for all of these conditions, however the products are nearly all off label use and therefore can only be used in consultation with your veterinarian.
If your guinea pig is showing any of the above signs, contact us and make an appointment for your guinea pig and we can diagnose and prescrib the appropriate treatment for your guinea pig.
In addition, make sure your guinea pigs are getting enough vitamin C too. Plenty of good food (variety of greens, carrots, hay, pellets etc.) This speeds up recovery and helps prevent them getting sick.