Guinea pigs can be cute and adorable, but they can also be susceptible to mites, such as with other animals. It can seem troubling trying to figure out their source so you can avoid this situation again. But if you do believe your guinea pig has mites, it’s best to address the issue quickly, and to understand what happened so you can avoid an infestation in the future.
What Are Guinea Pig Mites?
Mites are tiny insects that can live in the fur close to the skin of your guinea pig. There are dozens of different mite types, but generally, the two that most affect pet guinea pigs are Trixacarus caviae (sarcoptic mange mite) and Chirodiscoides caviae.
Can Mites Can Issues in Guinea Pigs?
Mites can definitely cause issues in guinea pigs and other animals too. The mites can cause itching which leads to excessive scratching. This may lead to dry scaly skin, or worse, the scratches on the skin can become infected and need antibiotics. A guinea pig can feel distressed when they constantly have to scratch their skin. The sooner the mites are treated, the happier your guinea pig will be.
The Chirodiscoides caviae is less serious and may not even cause any issues in your pet. The other type, the Trixacarus caviae mites, also known as sarcoptic mange mite, are the ones that can cause major problems. While this may never happen to a dog or cat, it is possible that the itchiness can drive your guinea pig to extreme distress, and they can even have seizures and die.
How Did My Guinea Pig Get Mites?
Your guinea pig may have had mites before they came to live with you, so you don’t have to blame yourself for the issue. Your guinea pig can pick up mites from other infected guinea pigs. If you have more than one pet, you’ll need to have them all treated for mites.
Mites don’t discriminate either. They can affect a young or old guinea pig of any age, male or female. Your guinea pig may also get mites from infested bedding. It’s important to wash your guinea pig’s habitat and bedding at least once per week to prevent future occurrences.
How Can I Tell My Guinea Pig Has Mites?
Besides the incessant scratching, you can also examine their fur and skin. The skin may be yellow in color, and crusty and dry. You may see some fur loss in the affected regions. These sites may have secondary infections that will definitely need to be treated. Mite infestation can also lead to depression and lethargy in your guinea pig. They may experience weight loss or have trouble moving around.
How Will a Vet Diagnose My Pet?
You’ll have to book an appointment at your local veterinary clinic so you can take your pet in to be examined. The vet will check your guinea pig’s fur to see if there are mites or other parasites or fungi there. They may already find the issue, but if not, they will take a skin culture sample to be tested. If your guinea pig has distressing symptoms, they may need some diagnostic tests to determine if other diseases may be a factor in your guinea pig’s health.
What Are the Common Treatment Plans?
The good news is that no matter what type of mites may be infesting your little furry pet, the mite condition is fully treatable. Usually the guinea pig will be treated with products meant for dogs or cats. Your guinea pig may also need supportive care if the mites are affecting their general health. Advantage or Revolution are some of the common treatments.
There are also injectable anti-parasitic medications that work to eradicate mites and other pests from your pet’s fur. It’s important to allow your vet to do these treatments, as they understand the proper dosages, rather than buying something off the shelf at the grocery store and attempting to do treatment yourself.
Other ways to treat your guinea pig include using topical flea powders, spray, and even pest exterminators, if your entire home is infested. But do ask your vet first before you attempt self-treatment.
What About My Other Pets?
Dogs and cats in the same home as an infested guinea pig should also be treated for mites, so they don’t pass them back and forth. Ask your vet during the time of your guinea pig’s visit. As long as you’re not constantly moving your pets inside and outside where they interact with other animals, you should be able to eradicate the mites and never see them again.
Do I Have to Treat My Furnishings?
It’s a good idea to wash all bedding and fabrics that have been in touch with the pets inside your home. You should treat carpets and rugs, as well as fabric-covered furniture. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it to kill any mite eggs or adult mites that may have fallen off your guinea pig or other animals in your home. Plus, you can consider your spring cleaning done early this year! Ask your veterinarian about this too, as you want the cleansers and sprays to be pet-safe before you use them in your home.
What Products Should I Avoid?
The organophosphates and permethrin products have been proven to be harmful to cats, so you should never use them around your guinea pig or other small mammals. In fact, buy something else to treat your dog’s fleas. Again, chat with your veterinarian about this. They have pet-safe parasitic treatments for all animals that are safe for your home, and to use if you have babies or young children too.
What About Mites on Humans?
There are certain types of mites that affect humans, but guinea pig mites and pet mites do not like us. This is because of all the scented products we use, deodorants, and the fact that we wash once a day, and sometimes more often. The natural washing process eradicates these mites. But again, if you have itchy or infected skin, go see your doctor!
A guinea pig is an important family member who needs good health and care every day. If you believe they have mites, or you know something is wrong but aren’t quite certain why, please book an appointment at your local veterinary clinic. Prevention is better than treatment, but either way, your guinea pig is certain to live a long and happy life!