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Guinea Pig Has Bumps And Is Losing Fur

Why would a young guinea pig have scabby bumps on its skin and be losing fur?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: November 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EST

Q: I have a male guinea pig that is 9 months old. He has these scabby bumps on him and is losing fur. His mom had it but not as severe. I took her to our vet and she was treated with Frontline and Baytril and made a full recovery. I have since taken him, and he has been on the Baytril for about nine days. Some parts looks better and others look worse. He has it really bad around the eyes and under his neck. I had him out tonight and took off some of the stuff and it looks white — kind of like dandruff but hard. It attaches to the hair follicles kind of like lice. He acts like he doesn’t feel well but he is eating and drinking as usual. I’m going to call the vet but am looking for another opinion. So any info would be greatly appreciated and helpful.

A: Because the guinea pig's mom was treated successfully with a medication for external parasites (Frontline) and another for a superficial bacterial skin infection (Baytril) secondary to the parasites, it would be a fair assumption that the male guinea pig now also has external parasites. Your description is exactly what we see with external parasites — the hair easily comes out (epilates) and there are “bumps” attached to the hair. These bumps are probably lice nits or eggs attached to the hair base and they resemble a “hard” dandruff.

The reason it is not surprising that the parasites have returned is that guinea pig parasites are very tough to remove from the environment. You can easily treat the guinea pig(s) but you also need to treat the environment. Your veterinarian can help you tailor an extermination program that is safe for your guinea pigs, other pets and your household. In general, you need to remove the adult parasites and their eggs from your house. This will include a combination of cleaning, vacuuming and throwing out any material that cannot be properly and safely cleaned. You may also need to treat the mom guinea pig again to make sure she is not re-infected with parasites.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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Reader Comments
Mites are indeed the problem, and I agree with answer you received and the recommendation to call the Cambridge Cavy Trust but also to have any other animals in your household inside or out treated as there are many types of mites and many types inflict quinea pigs. The advantage of your first answer is that a vet can treat internal parasites, which most gp's have, with the same meds that will treat the mites, and please note that the mites must be treated again and on a 3 time schedule, then periodically, to first get the mites that hatch from those eggs, and to get continued protection from subsequent hatches. Mites are hard to eradicate but very much worth it as your pets will be much more comfortable and healthy. A small population of mites can expand exponentially if another disease strikes, making his continued health and ability to recover more problematic and potentially expensive. Don't blame yourself, mites are hard to erradicate, most arrive in your home with them or get them from another pet, even a dog or cat, but it's well worth the effort
Sandra Oliver-Poore, Portland, OR
Posted: 1/18/2011 5:56:19 PM
Don't take the guinea to a vet. Call or visit the Cambridge cavy trust. Vedra who runs the hospital for piggies gives them a free mot and will treat every type of problem and you won't pay extortionate vet bills for treatment that does not work. No vets have small animal training at vet college and usually diagnose incorrectly.
Maggs, London
Posted: 12/4/2010 5:00:47 PM
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