Hair loss is one of the common problems that pet owners face on many occasions. Although it’s worrying, most of the diseases causing hair loss are treatable. Hence, if you’ve realized that your beloved guinea pig is losing hair, you don’t need to panic.
It’s normal for Guinea pigs to lose hair behind their ears. But when they lose hair on other parts of their bodies, you need to have them examined right away.
Several things can cause your guinea pig to lose hair, and they include parasites, fungal infections, or even the guinea pigs themselves.
One of the leading causes of hair loss in guinea pigs is barbering. Barbering is a behavior where the pigs will chew on each other’s hair or their own hair.
This is common in adult males or adult males and young pigs. They usually engage in conflict, which ends up tearing their hair. Besides, guinea pig females under stress may also chew on their hair.
It’s crucial to know the signs to differentiate barbering from other causes of hair loss in guinea pigs. Some of the barbering signs are hair loss in patches, bite marks, and skin inflammation below the fur.
What To Do
Before you conclude that your guinea pig lost hair because of barbering, carry out tests to determine if it has any underlying conditions. The veterinarian will examine the guinea pig’s dietary history, metabolism issues, or if it has any deficiencies.
If the veterinarian concludes that the hair loss is due to barbering, you may have to separate the male adults and provide them with quality hay.
2. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections are also a significant cause of hair loss in guinea pigs. If your guinea pig is always itching itself and has patchy hair, this is an indication that it has fungal infections. The itchiness caused by fungal infections can be extreme, leading to self-trauma.
It’s important to differentiate between fungal and mange mite infections as they have similar signs. Fungal infections usually cause the guinea pig to lose hair and affect the top layer of its skin.
The most notable fungal infection found in guinea pigs is ringworm. Ringworms usually start attacking your rodent friend from around the head area.
What To Do
Fungal infection is usually treated using a fungal shampoo or cream. Even if you notice fungal infection signs, you should not buy a fungal shampoo before asking a veterinarian to examine and confirm the infection.
If the infection is severe, the veterinarian may recommend an antifungal medication.
3. Skin Parasites
Skin parasites can bring discomfort to your rodent. Apart from causing hair loss, they can also lead to intense itchiness, skin irritations, dandruff, scabs, and even seizures.
In fact, the guinea pig might scratch itself so hard that it causes a wound to appear on the skin. If you don’t look closely, you may think it was in a battle with another pig.
Parasites spread quickly in guinea pigs. If one of your rodents is affected, she will likely affect the others. However, you should not worry about the piggy affecting other pets or humans. This is because the parasites are species-specific.
Even though parasites like mites cannot be seen with the naked eye, their symptoms are very obvious. Thus, you should look out for the mite signs such as extreme itchiness and skin irritation. You may also notice yellow and crusty thick skin.
What To Do
The best way to prevent a mite infection and infestation is by regularly checking your guinea pigs. This will help you to eradicate them quickly before they spread to other piggies.
If the parasites are all over your guinea pig, you should use ivermectin to eliminate them. Sprays and bath alone won’t do the cut.
4. Ovarian Cysts
Female guinea pigs can also suffer from hair loss due to ovarian cysts. This is a normal condition in female guinea pigs. It leads to hair loss on the sides of the guinea pig’s body, crusty nipples, and swelling of the abdomen.
Some pregnant piggies also develop the same hair loss pattern in the late stages of pregnancy. However, this is usually resolved after pregnancy.
Unlike mites and ringworm attacks, ovarian cyst doesn’t cause the skin to itch. Also, it cannot be spread from one guinea pig to another. Extra-large cystic ovaries cause the pig to produce high levels of hormones, which causes hair to fall.
What To Do
If the ovarian cyst is enormous, the veterinarian will have to do surgery to reduce it to normal size.
However, if the guinea pig is pregnant, the animal may return its usual self after giving birth. But if she doesn’t and continues having a significantly enlarged ovarian cyst, it will also require surgery.
Another major reason your rodent friend may be losing hair is a poor diet. Guinea pigs need vitamin C in their diet. Therefore, if they have Vitamin C deficiency, they will suffer from a condition known as scurvy.
Apart from hair loss, scurvy can also be indicated by an unkempt hair coat, diarrhea, wobbliness in hind legs, joint swelling, and hemorrhage.
What To Do
Treatment for this condition is painless as you only have to give your piggy vitamin C for at least two weeks. Even after healing, you will have to include vitamin C in your diet. This will help to prevent the same condition from recurring.
Now that you know why your guinea pig is losing hair don’t hesitate to have it checked by a veterinarian. Parasites and fungal infections are the leading causes of hair loss in guinea pigs.
Therefore, you should keep a close eye on your piggy and diagnose it before they spread and cause severe damage to your pet. If left unattended to, parasites can even kill your guinea pig.
Besides, you should not hesitate to visit a veterinarian if you notice hair loss in your rodent friend. The earlier you see the vet, the lesser you subject your pet to pain and suffering.