There are a number of infections that guinea pigs can suffer from, including ones in their urinary and respiratory tracts, and even in their eyes. It’s important to learn about the different types in order to know what you can do to keep your guinea pigs healthy and to prevent any kind of infection. Read these blogs for more information on urinary tract infections and upper respiratory infections, both infections that can endanger your guinea pig’s life. We also have a post on eye infections you can read here.
When it comes to fungal infections, they can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for your piggies, so let’s learn about the reasons why they occur and what to do if your guinea pig suffers from it.
What is a fungal infection?
Fungal infections usually involve patchy, itchy skin and hair loss, and often initially shows up on a guinea pig’s face. There are some main kinds of fungal infections that guinea pigs can suffer from: ringworm, lice, and mites. It’s important to be able to at least generally identify whether your guinea pig has any of these so you can consult your vet on what the next steps are and how to immediately treat them. The sooner you are able to treat your guinea pig, the faster you can ease their suffering and keep them comfortable.
Ringworm in guinea pigs is a fungal infection that affects their fur, skin, and nails. The particular fungus that is at the core of ringworm infection is known as dermatophytosis, and it feeds on the top layer of the guinea pig’s skin.
This infection tends to be found in immunocompromised guinea pigs, including young and much older piggies, as well as pregnant ones. Generally, ringworm can infect normal guinea pigs whose immune systems are weak from stress as well, or from overcrowded and unsanitary living environments.
Symptoms of ringworm in guinea pigs
There are a few visual indicators that your guinea pig is suffering from ringworm. These symptoms include irregular patches of fur loss, crust at the edges of lesions in their skin, redness or inflammation on their face and/or feet, and rough hair coat. Whether the patches on their skin are itchy depends on some other factors, such as other infections that they might suffer from. It’s uncommon, but sometimes the guinea pigs will also suffer from the infection in their nail beds as well.
Treatment for ringworm in guinea pigs
Once your guinea pig has ringworm, they may also have secondary infections from bacteria that comes with the symptoms they have of ringworm. These accompanying infections can cause ulcers, itchiness, and other types of self-injury. This is why it’s important to see your veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your guinea pig has an infection! It’s important to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent anything else from afflicting your piggy.
An important part of treating guinea pigs with ringworm is making sure that their living conditions are kept as clean as possible because we don’t want to worsen the infection or foster new infections. Make sure to spot clean their cage often and make sure that their cage bedding is absorbing their urine quickly enough and that they have fresh, dry bedding.
If you don’t want to worry about having to change their bedding often or you don’t have time to, consider investing in some fleece bedding! The GuineaDad Premium Liner and the GuineaDad Liner are both perfect options for keeping your guinea pig cage clean and healthy, as well as comfortable for your piggy. They’re ultra-absorbent and dry quickly, so your guinea pig won’t be walking around in their own urine, and the liners will prevent any bacteria from growing, which keeps infections from getting worse.
Prevention of ringworm in guinea pigs
We already know how ringworm can be contracted, so we know that it’s imperative that we keep our guinea pig cages clean and sanitary in order to prevent ringworm!
Once your guinea pig has already had ringworm and has recovered from it, it’s important to prevent re-infection. You can do this by starting with fresh bedding and new, fresh hay that hasn’t been in contact with them while they were infected. Things that won’t be able to be disinfected would be objects made of wood, so it might be best to throw these items out and get them new ones.
When it comes to disinfecting the cage itself on a large scale, you should consult your veterinarian in order to know what is safe to use around your guinea pigs, but will also thoroughly clean the cage. A 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water is an easy DIY disinfectant, and you can disinfect fleece bedding by throwing in a splash of white vinegar in the washing machine as well.
As many know, lice are a type of insect that lives in the coat and skin surface of affected animals, and in this case, guinea pigs.The two types of lice that usually affect piggies are referred to as biting lice, which means they feed on the surface skin cells. The type of lice that sucks blood aren’t usually found on guinea pigs.
Having lice can make your guinea pigs feel very itchy and can result in some skin lesions, which includes hair loss, scabs and hardened, thickened skin.
Lice can pass from guinea pig to guinea pig very easily if they are in close contact with each other. If one of your guinea pigs has lice, it might be best to keep that piggy separated from the others while they undergo treatment! This way none of your other piggies will have to suffer from lice too.
How to identify lice
You’ll be able to see these insects in your guinea pig’s coat, usually around their butt or on the back of their necks! They’re usually around 1 mm long, and are cream colored.
Treatment for lice in guinea pigs
Always consult your veterinarian before choosing to put your guinea pig through any treatments! For lice, one of the most common treatments utilize insecticides that are applied topically to your guinea pig’s coat and skin, along with some anti-inflammatory medication to help ease itch and discomfort.
There are different kinds of mites that affect guinea pigs! There are Chirodiscoides caviae, which are non-burrowing mites that produce very mild symptoms, or sometimes no symptoms. They don’t necessarily require treatment, but if they do, injectable antiparasitic agents are utilized.
The one that most visibly affects your guinea pigs would be the trixacarus caviae, which is a type of mite that burrows into the skin. As a result of the mite behavior, this will cause high levels of itchiness and pain. Hair loss is common in guinea pigs if they are carrying this kind of mite.
Similar to ringworm, secondary infections often develop when guinea pigs have mites. Your guinea pig may display some signs of illness due to pain, and will sometimes be lethargic, have a loss in appetite, and weight loss as a result.
Treatment for mites in guinea pigs
The most common treatment for this would be an injection of antiparasitic agents, as well as some pain medication to help with their discomfort.
Once treated, you should make sure to disinfect your guinea pig’s cage and bedding! If you use paper shreds or wood shavings, replace those with fresh bedding. If you use any kind of cloth-type bedding, make sure to wash and disinfect it.
You can disinfect their cage using a 1:1 mix of vinegar and water, which is known to be safe for use around guinea pigs.
Keep your guinea pig healthy!
The best way to do this is to make sure that your guinea pig is living in a comfortable and safe environment that is sanitary and cleaned often! Infections first start in dirty living conditions, so do your best to stay on top of the cleaning as best as you can.