Six skin diseases are prevalent in guinea pigs but can be prevented with proper care.
Guinea pigs are cute and cuddly and easy to take care of, but some owners take advantage of their low-maintenance care. Poor living conditions and bad hygiene can result in illnesses pertaining to the rodents' skin and fur.
Skin diseases are often treatable, but even more importantly, they are most often preventable.
While many cavy skin diseases exist, six of them are seen most frequently in veterinary hospitals.
Biting insects can live on the outside of a guinea pig's skin and fur, with some parasitic culprits even burrowing under the skin. Mites, fleas, and lice all cause itching. Hair loss is often associated with sarcoptic mite mange and flea and lice infestations. Rough skin patches and rashes can also result due to dermatitic irritation or allergic reactions to the insects.
The sarcoptic mite and the diseases it causes can also be transmitted to humans. The fleas that invade cavy coats are the same ones that attack other household pets.
Two types of fungus are responsible for causing ringworm in guinea pigs, taking advantage of hosts with weakened immune systems.
Rashes on the face can usually be indicators of ringworm.
3. Urine Scald
Sores develop between rodents' legs and sometimes on their feet due to urinary issues. Urine scald is caused by bladder stones which are often the result of an improper diet or filthy living conditions in which the animal holds in its urine to prevent further filth.
4. Skin Abscesses
Pustule infections caused by biting skirmishes between two guinea pigs can develop if a bite wound goes undetected.
Due to the social nature of guinea pigs, many owners don't expect any fights to break out. However, just like siblings fight, so can two rodents that usually get along.
5. Bumble Foot
Pododermatitis, more commonly referred to as bumble foot, is the result of inappropriate habitats, such as hard, rough, or wire cage surfaces. Ulcerated sores on the bottoms of the feet can develop. If not treated promptly, the disease can progress, in which case the infection attacks tissue or bone even further beneath the skin.
Obese rodents are also more likely to contract this illness due to increased pressure on the feet.
Sebaceous (under-the-skin) and ovarian cysts are common in cavies. Hair loss can be associated with the bump of cellular overgrowth as well. Once removed, bald spots will usually disappear.
The cysts can be, but are not always, tumors, and some can be malignant.
Maintaining clean enclosures is one of the easiest and most important ways to prevent skin diseases in guinea pigs. Soft bedding cleaned frequently is key. A nutritious diet, especially with enough vitamin C for guinea pigs, can keep your tiny pet's immune system strong to ward off diseases and parasites.
If your guinea pig is showing signs of a skin disease, it is wise to take him to the vet for a check-up. It is always better to nip these problems in the bud than let them persist and possibly worsen.