Hair loss is a frightening experience for new piggy parents. In their inexperience, some nearly lose their minds when they notice bald spots at the back of the ears. In reality, the hairless portions are absolutely normal and do not require any medical interventions.
Even with old age, guinea pigs should not excessively lose hair. With plenty of misconceptions surrounding the topic, most pet owners experiment with risky solutions. Under those circumstances, allow us to clarify the principal causes of guinea pig hair loss and how to control it.
Guinea Pig Shedding
Like human hair, guinea pig furs routinely shed and grow back after some time. During spring, the shedding may escalate. This is an advance preparation for the hot summer months. Still, there are certain long-haired breeds that shed more than others. This can cause a hairy mess around the house and in their enclosures.
If not cleaned well, it can also aggravate allergies to the home occupants. It is not possible to extirpate piggy shedding. However, you can minimize the quantity of hair your pet loses. Before discussing that, here are three common causes of hair loss in guinea pigs.
Fungus infection is a frequent source of agony on guinea pigs. When left untreated, it results in scaly, itchy skin, hair loss and bald patches known as ringworms. Often, the condition starts from the head as it progresses to other parts of the body.
A qualified vet can easily distinguish ringworms from other skin conditions. Mostly, they recommend antifungal shampoo or cream. In severe cases, others integrate oral medication for complete eradication.
Remember that ringworms can spread to other pets and human beings in the household. Thus, it is important to practice excellent hygiene to prevent future invasions.
Start by cleaning the cages and accessories on a daily basis. Then, sanitize the entire environment weekly or twice in a month. Consult your veterinarian immediately and observe excessive dry skin and extra scratching.
Mites spread through contact with other infected animals. Sometimes, infected clothes and bedding easily transfer fully grown mites or eggs from one room to another. Through a naked eye, it is almost impossible to spot mites on your pet’s skin.
Luckily, their symptoms are fairly noticeable. The first signs you may observe include dandruff, extreme itching, scabs and skin irritating. As the situation worsens, some guinea pigs develop frequent seizures. Although some vet may diagnose the condition through symptoms, others use microscopic equipment.
Given that bathing worsens skin irritation, restrain from giving your piggy a bath before the situation stabilizes. Then opt for a treatment program that kills mites and their eggs.
If possible, avoid repeat daily or weekly treatment programs. Instead, request for solutions that provide full month protection.
Sometimes, to display dominance, aggressive pigs pull their counterparts’ hair. This is a common guinea pig practice recognized as barbering. How then can one bring to a halt the detrimental habit? Despite different causes of barbering, it is important to stop it as early as possible.
One effective solution is applying lemon juice or other taste deterrents on the affected pig’s hair. These elements make the hair coat bitter and deter other pigs from chewing on it.
During mating seasons, some guinea pigs may become extremely aggressive towards others. If it gets out of hand, keep the dominant ones in separate cages.
How to Manage Guinea Pigs Losing Hair?
A successful hair loss management starts from checking out your pig’s coat. The chief aim is examining cleanliness and hair consistency.
That way, you can pinpoint some of the common skin problems that affect your pigs like parasites. Here are important measures on how you can control the shedding menace to your pets.
– Regular Brushing and use of De-shedding Tool
Brushing your pet once or twice a week helps to minimize the quantity of hair your pig sheds. In the process, avoid scraping dry patches or skin or putting too much pressure on the skin.
Guinea pigs have overly sensitive skins that can injure easily. It is advisable to use a soft brush or comb to keep the coat shiny. If your pet has excessively long fur, brush more often to remove tangles.
A de-shedding tool simplifies the process by catching loose fur. For that reason, loose hair does not end up scattering all over the place. Ensure not to cut your pet’s skin with the equipment’s sharp edges. Rather, settle for those designed to trim kittens and other small animals.
– Give Enough Vitamin C and Proteins
Inadequate proteins and vitamin C in the diet can cause excessive hair loss. With the high degradation of vitamin C, deficiencies become a common problem. To avoid losing hair because of a deficiency, feed your pets with fresh vitamins, rich fruits and veggies.
Bell pepper and strawberries are rich sources of vitamin C. However, avoid regularly feeding your pigs with fruits because of their high sugar content. If need be, incorporate pellets with vitamin C and vitamin C tablets and drops.
Aim to provide 15% protein meals daily. Plants like soybeans give a generous amount of proteins to your fuzzy friend. If you combine that with fortified meals, your pig may enjoy a healthier life.
– Watch out for Hormonal Imbalances
When hormones get out of control, several health problems crop up. In guinea pigs, you may notice patchy or disproportionate hair loss. Talk to a specialist if your pig’s hair falls out in huge clumps. Even if it is normal for some hair to drop, massive losses should be a major cause of concern.
Rarely pregnant pigs shed more fur because of hormonal changes. Childbearing is a very delicate process for guinea pigs. As a result, provide a healthy diet and keep them in a clean environment throughout the process.
– Monitor Cushing Disease
This is a condition that alters how adrenal glands function. Guinea pigs are more prone to the sickness resulting in bald patches. Testing for Cushing’s disease requires a blood test and physical analysis. Blood test confirms if your pet has infections or adrenal and thyroid issues.
Physical tests check the general wellbeing of your pig like skin condition and temperature. One effective treatment to Cushing is use of antibiotics. Avoid using penicillin antibiotics as they put guinea pigs’ life as risk.
Can You Trim Guinea Pig Hair?
Depending on your guinea pig species, some may require haircuts, while others may not. Trimming your pig hair is important if it becomes excessively long. Not only do haircuts keep your pet clean, but also minimize parasite invasions and heat strokes during summer.
For safety, use scissors to trim the long fur off. Avoid snipping your pet ears or trimming very close to the skin. Experts recommend a broad-toothed comb to hold the hair up as you trim. It is easier to use thinner combs with short-haired species.
Why do Guinea Pigs Pull Their Hair Out?
Guinea pigs pull off hair when in pain or under pressure. In older pigs, this usually happens as a reaction to teething issues or arthritis pain. Self-barbering is a habitual over-grooming practice.
This usually happens where the pigs can access with their mouth. You can manage this by trimming the hair on the front part of the body. Also, mild pulling of hair can be a nervous reaction and social interaction habit when bonding with others. Check for swelling and tenderness around the bald areas.
Remember that cancer and tumors are some of the leading killer diseases in guinea pigs. If a certain part of the body hurts, they may pull the surrounding hair. So, if a healthy pig suddenly becomes lethargic, appears in pain, looses weight and hair, consult a vet straight away.
Do Guinea Pigs Shed When Stressed?
Guinea pigs are naturally nervous and sensitive. The situation worsens if exposed to an unfamiliar environment or an aggressive companion. It is common to witness distressed guinea pigs shed huge chunks of hair. In their distraught condition, some tend to over-groom or self-barber more.
There are high chances of guinea pig contacting deficiencies ailments if they cannot feed well. In such a scenario, a healthy pig may shed because of inadequate vitamins or minerals in the body. It is prudent to remain calm around guinea pigs.
Even as a disciplinary measure, shouting or reprimanding would only leave them more nervous. If your pets become exaggeratedly unruly or scared, take time to get to the root cause of the problem.
Detecting a major cause of guinea pigs’ hair loss takes time. Altogether, the environment, weather and age play a momentous role. For instance, pups lose their baby hair to allow adult hair to grow. This is a natural occurrence and should not be a cause of concern.
Although there is a lot of misconception about guinea pigs losing hair as they age, that is usually not the cause. Whether young or aged, a guinea pig would only lose excessive hair if there is an underlying problem.