Guinea pigs are susceptible to various skin parasites, such as mites, lice and fleas. These can all cause itchy and sore skin, and if left untreated can lead to serious skin conditions. They can cause your guinea pig to scratch and to have rashes, fur loss (alopecia), dandruff, crusts and scabs. Please monitor your guinea pig closely and contact your vet if you have any concerns.
These are the most common mites to affect guinea pigs, also known as sarcoptic mites, and can cause severe skin disease. They can be so irritating for your pet that they can even cause seizures and can be fatal in severe infestations. They are a burrowing mite, which tunnel their way into your guinea pig’s skin, causing intense pain and irritation as they do so.
The symptoms include scratching, biting, hair loss and can even include seizures in severe cases. If there is even a suspicion of mite infestation, then treatment is recommended with ivermectin (e.g. Xeno spot-on, which is available in our Shop) or selamectin. All guinea pigs should be treated. Antibiotics may also be needed if there is secondary infection.
It is important that all bedding and food are changed and that the enclosure and toys etc are disinfected to kill any mites in the environment. All in-contact guinea pigs should also be treated with an anti-parasitic medication.
Static Fur mites
Guinea pigs can also suffer from static fur mites – these are usually found on the lower back and sides of the hindquarters. They feed on the scales of the hairs, and don’t tend to cause such a serious issue as mange mites but should still be treated if found. Again, Xeno spot-on will effectively treat this mite.
Guinea pigs can also be affected by harvest mites, which are mainly seen in the autumn. They tend to cluster around the ears, feet, head and tummy and are just about visible as small orange mites. Again, they can cause your guinea pig to be itchy.
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Guinea pigs can be affected by three species of lice – the most common is the slender louse. All of these lice are biting/chewing lice rather than blood sucking lice. They can cause damage to the skin and the typical symptoms are itchiness, redness of the skin, patchy hair loss and scabs, often around the neck and ears.
The lice can be passed between guinea pigs or from infected bedding and should be treated with an anti-parasitic medication such as Xeno spot-on.
Fleas can affect guinea pigs in just the same way as dogs and cats. They can jump onto the guinea pig and feed on its blood, potentially causing itchiness and skin irritation.
Various anti-parasitic treatments are available against fleas (e.g. Xeno or Advantage), but it is important that the environment is also treated in order to kill the immature stages of the flea. A spray (Indorex) is available in our shop to use in the environment.