Alopecia or hair loss in guinea pigs is a scary experience for most pet owners. It is worth noting that piggies lose hair seasonally and not from old age. Therefore, expect your little friend to lose more fur in spring and the beginning of summer.
However, Alopecia has several other probable causes. For instance, lone guineas out of boredom may start chewing off their hair. Likewise, when grouped, they may tear each other’s fur during dominance fights. This is recognized as barbering which tends to crop up with patches, bite marks, and sometimes skin inflammation.
Hair loss can also occur due to metabolism, hormonal or genetic issues. The most affected victims are postpartum mothers and weaning young ones. Other causes include parasitic invasions, bacterial infections, and low protein and vitamin diets.
Causes & Treatments For Balding In Guinea Pigs
Although some owners may prefer a bit of shedding on the long-haired guineas, sometimes there is an underlying hormonal and infection problem around it. Here are effective treatments for common hair loss in guinea pigs.
– Mites, Ringworm, and Fungal Infection
These are common causes of hair loss mainly resulting from poor grooming and unsanitary conditions. Ringworm is a fungus transmitted from the environment or other animals. Even though not visually detectable, they may stay dormant on the animal’s skin only to become active in the right environment.
Almost all furry animals carry tiny fungal spores on their skin without depicting signs. Mites on the other hand follow an almost similar transmission process. When active, the infection becomes very itchy and depressing.
Keep in mind that the conditions are easily transmittable to human beings. So, a regular cleaning routine is necessary to keep everyone safe. While some pet owners opt to treat their guinea pigs with over-the-counter parasitic drugs, book an appointment with an exotic vet for a deeper analysis.
For ringworm patches, your vet may recommend seven to ten days of antifungal ointment application. An ideal mites treatment involves a spray or powder application on the affected skin. Depending on the level of infestation, they may recommend a sequence of injections.
Even after providing excellent housing and enough food, some pigs may develop a habit of tearing off other’s hair. The main solution here is isolating the aggressive guinea pig.
However, considering that piggies are sociable creatures, keeping them away from others may result in lonely-related complications.
As a lesson to your offending pet, instill some discipline lessons. One effective method is applying bitter apples to the mouth of the offender once they attack others. For the self-barbering victims, take time to identify the root cause. Sometimes, barbering can be a sign of discomfort or pain. In rare cases, tumors have been detected in the barbering location.
To get early detection and treatment, visit your vet immediately you notice unusual behaviors. Additionally, do not miss the yearly vet’s appointment.
– Nutritional and Hormonal Causes
Here, the main causes of hair loss are female ovarian cyst, lactation, and pregnancy. For excessively bred sows, the balding may worsen during the last trimester and lactation period.
Mostly, it is believed to be a result of diminished anabolism of the mother’s skin as fetal growth increases. The situation becomes worse if the pig is on a poor nutritional diet.
Therefore ensure that you feed your pets balanced diet meals each day. Lack of enough Vitamin C greatly leads to hair thinning and loss. Guineas require at least a minimum of 10 mg per kg of Vitamin C daily.
When pregnant, you can increase the levels to 30 mg per kg. Additionally, you can introduce vitamin-rich food like spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, or green peppers. Most importantly, include plenty of zinc in the food or water to enhance hair growth and skin improvement.
In adult female guinea pigs development of cysts in the ovaries is another major cause of Alopecia. Moreover, it can happen after hormonal imbalance caused by cancer adrenal glands.
Apart from resulting in uncomfortable skin conditions, it also leads to life-threatening conditions such as bone marrow repression and urinary tract blockage.
In such a situation, adrenals treatment may be a basis for better hair growth. An ultrasound would also make it easier to diagnose even the smallest of the adrenals. That way, your pet manages to get the right treatment and lead a healthier life.
– Mechanical Hair Loss
Guinea pig living quarters may worsen the hair loss process. For instance, if the cage has rough edges it can rub off some hair when the pets run around. Usually, guinea pigs develop bald spots in the front legs.
While grooming may lead to it, regular cleaning of fecal material from the floor by the pigs worsens the situation. To prevent that, always ensure that the cage is clean, safe, and habitable. For the sick pets, seek treatment before the problem escalates.
How to Prevent Hair Loss in Guinea Pigs?
Since parasitic infections play a big role in Alopecia, regular examination of your pet’s skin is vital. Bear in mind that these parasites cause stress and discomfort. So, part the hair and have a good look at the condition of the skin.
Remember that transmission often happens during direct contact. Hence, ensure that the animals that your pets come into contact with are healthy and free from parasites.
Whereas lice infestation may go unseen for a long time, a veterinarian may confirm its presence through microscopic examinations.
There is nothing much you can do to prevent genetic hair loss, but ensure that you feed your pets with an adequate and nutrients rich diet like the long-stemmed hay.
Given that stress soar up mite’s invasion, keep your pet in the company of others and provide safe toys.
Compared to short-haired pigs, long-haired ones, such as Peruvian guinea pigs may shed more fur. Even so, excessive shedding can be an indicator of parasite invasion or other health ailments.
While the local vet may give you a successful solution to the problem, start by giving your pet a clean environment. Then, incorporate it with a proper diet and minimal stress to your pet.