Click on the links below to learn more on the subject!
GO TO: A TO Z (Front Page)
The best way to describe this piggy is a long-haired rex with a Victorian bustle. It has the same kind of frizzy hair as a rex but at the rear end it is bushier and looks a little like the kind of bustles that were very fashionable in the dresses of upper class Victorian ladies.
These are parasites that can be living either on or under the skin of guinea pigs. The ones on the skin are usually referred to as running lice. The symptoms are small bald patches, particularly around the shoulders and front legs and hair shafts broke. Sometimes there are raised dots, like human goose pimples on the skin. The running lice seem to cause less hair loss and though they are quite small can been easily seen moving about by parting the hair with the tips of the finger. Rest assured, they are species specific so humans cannot pick them up. I also believe that they are photosensitive for I have never seen them on a white or very light cream guinea pig, and in tri-coloured piggies they seem to stick to the dark hair.
This is the easiest of skin conditions to deal with for there are many products on the market that will kill these parasites without harming the animal. The best by far is the prescription only medicine, IVOMECTIN. If after two, maybe three injections of IVOMECTIN over the course of a week to ten days, the animal is still scratching and the skin still looks raw, then forget looking for parasites for the problem is probably a fungal one.
There are some very effective anti-parasitic shampoos formulated for human beings, and despite the cries of despair that these can be harmful to guinea pigs by members of the veterinary profession, they are not. They may be harmful to the bank balances of veterinary surgeons, for they will want to sell you the more expensive medicines that they stock.
The most common problems are caused by eating apples or other acidic fruits, which weaken the membrane of the lips and leave them open to fungal attack. Many guinea pigs can eat acidic fruit and have no problems at all but as soon as apples are withdrawn from the diet of guinea pigs that do suffer from this problem and the sores on the lips are cured, the problem seldom returns.
The symptoms are dark scabs that quickly form over the open lesions usually staring at the corners of the mouth and sometimes spreading right up and including the split upper lips. The only treatment I use is gentian violet, which in my experience has never failed to work. The unpleasant bit is picking off the scabs with tweezers before applying the gentian violet with a cotton bud, for it will be totally ineffective if just painted on top of the scabs.
Let’s get one thing very clear. All the nonsense that you may hear from your local chemist, vet or any other source that gentian violet has been with drawn because it is carcinogenic is nonsense. This excellent product is not carcinogenic and is available from any good horse feed and tack merchant who stocks a good range of over the counter medicines for animals.
Mycosis is the general terms for all kinds of fungus-induced infections.
Here I come to my number one problem with the veterinary colleges of this country, which seem to spend no time whatsoever in teaching vets about the origins of the animals they are expected to treat. They seem to overlook the fact that guinea pigs came from, and evolved in, countries which have warm dry climates. They have only been over in this country, which has a damp and often cold climate, for about three hundred years. Three hundred years in evolutionary terms is nothing, so naturally these animals are very prone to all manner of fungal infections. They are particularly prone to them in spring and autumn when there are more fungal spores in the air as the new leaves come out and old ones are shed.
The symptom of a fungal skin problem is a greasiness to the coat, which as the infection advances, makes it increasingly easy to tug out. This doesn’t occur with a straightforward parasitic skin condition. There is very heavy dandruff, which forms on the skin in thick layers where it builds up to form a hard crusting, particularly around the jaws and on the top of the head. Many times this cannot be seen, as the hair may still look bushy. If you suspect a fungal problem, then scratch deep down around the jaws and on the head to see if the infection has reached this far.
The guinea pig will scratch a lot and if treatment is not begun it will soon open up lesions on its skin. This scratching invariably causes it to have a fit very similar to those suffered by people who have epilepsy. Though these fits are very traumatic, in all the time that I have kept guinea pigs there has not been a single incident of a guinea pig dying from the shock of them. If your guinea pig begins to have a fit, keep you hands well clear for they tend to bite on anything their jaws come into contact with. Allow the fit to run its natural course, which seldom lasts very long, after which it is fine to handle the guinea pig again, avoiding touching lesions or patches that are bare and itchy for this can trigger a fit again.
The conventional treatment is dipping in IMAVEROL, which is a perfectly effective treatment, but I much prefer my own formula of essential oils. The reason for this is that it is vital to get the infected hair removed as soon as possible to halt the continued spread of the infection and the conventional dip is not as good as the essential oils in loosening up the hair, as it is far more stressful for the guinea pig. By using the oil formula the hair literally falls out of its own accord when it is shampooed.
The formula is as follows. One part each of Patchouli, Lemon Grass, Lavender and Tea Tree oils to ten parts of Neem oil. If you cannot get Neem oil any good vegetable oil may be used. People sometimes get confused about these amounts but to put it more simply, if you use 2.5ml of the essential oils, making a total of 10ml you dilute that with 100ml of the carrier oil.
If there is also a parasitic problem along with the fungal one then this formula will tackle that at the same time.
Massage the oil well into the skin, avoiding the open lesions. Use a pencil brush to do round the eyes and over the jaws and be a bit more sparing here to avoid getting the oil into the eyes. I have never had any soreness in the eyes as a result of this method. In my ‘Piggy Potions’ book I recommended that the oil should stay on for three days but experience has taught me that one day is quite sufficient.
Shampoo off with ALPHOSYL shampoo or a good scalp-cleaning shampoo used for humans. Rest assured, you do not need the expensive shampoos that vets sell you that are formulated for animals. They are far more expensive and you can bet your bottom dollar that all the human shampoos have already been tested on guinea pigs and proved to be harmless!!
Again, use the pencil brush with the shampoo around the head and work up a good lather. After the guinea pig is well lathered, leave it on for about five minutes, tease as much hair out as possible, and then rinse vigorously. This will remove any of the loose hair remaining. Leave for three days then repeat the process again.
In very severe cases where
the problem has become systemic then the prescription only drug GRISEOFULVIN
will be required. As this comes in several different formulations and
strengths, pills, powder and fluid, the dose will have to be determined by a
vet. However, since I switched to my oil formula, I have never had to use this
drug and I hear from research in
Let me make this very clear. Despite the scorn that many conventional practitioners have poured on my oil formula, I have not had a single loss where I can say it was due to this treatment and I would not dream of now switching back to the conventional treatment.
If there are young children who have been handling mycotic guinea pigs it is important to monitor them, particularly their hands. About the only thing a child can pick up from a guinea is this. The strain that the guinea pig has usually shows up as a skin rash, is not a threat to the overall health of the child and can be easily treated with DAKTARIN cream. This is not a prescription only medicine so can be bought over the counter. If this doesn’t quickly clear the problem up then obviously go to your doctor who can prescribe various anti-fungal medicines.