Guinea pig scabies: causes, symptoms and treatment

Scabies affects a wide range of living creatures and rodents, including guinea pigs. Guinea pig scabies depends on mites that infest animals, regardless of their size, weight or constitution. It is therefore necessary to pay attention to it. What are the causes of this disease? What are the symptoms and solutions? We propose to answer these questions in order to take care of your pet on a daily basis.

Causes of scabies in guinea pigs

Scabies: development and infestation

Scabies is a microscopic arthropod that lives under the skin of its host and moves between the dermis and the adorned layer of the skin. The arthropod digs tunnels, galleries, sometimes called burrows, which may or may not be visible to the naked eye. While moving, the female arthropod will lay eyes within the tunnels.

The eggs will turn into larvae and dig in turn new channels. The larvae will transform into nymphs, which can continue to dig tunnels, or leave the host to infest other animals. It should be noted that each female can lay between 25 and 30 eggs.

The male arthropod does not stay inside the host and moves quickly from host to host. Scabies can affect all animals, all types of guinea pigs, regardless of the animal’s hygiene and daily care.

Causes external to the animal

Scabies is a parasite that can affect all guinea pigs. However, some external elements can influence the appearance of scabies.

A poor general condition of the animal, such as a vitamin C deficiency or a poorly adapted diet, can be an additional factor.

Age can also have an impact: scabies will affect young guinea pigs more easily.

Hygiene conditions could also have an impact, but are not necessarily related. A dirty litter, a humid and poorly ventilated environment favors the appearance of parasites, whatever their nature. Offer your little companion a litter from the Landes pine trees, ultra natural, for a great comfort and an optimal cleanliness.

A space that is too small or overpopulated can also encourage the appearance of mange. Changes in environment, such as cage changes, can also disturb the animal and weaken its system.

Stress being very present in guinea pigs, a simple traumatic situation can favor the installation and the development of arthropods.

Symptoms of guinea pig mange and consequences

General symptoms

Generally speaking, the itching will be intense at first, then moderate, when the infestation is established.

The first channels, the first lesions, apparent or not, will be initially located on the head, the ears, then will develop towards the neck. Finally, the abdomen and thighs of the guinea pig may be affected.

The lesions will be alopecic in the first phase of the infestation. They will become squamous-crusted, sometimes even suppurated in more advanced phases. Hyper-pigmentation or lichenification may appear in some animals.

Specific symptoms

Scabies is a disease linked to arthropods: there are several types of arthropods. Trixacarus caviae, Chirodiscoides caviae, Trixacarus scabei, sometimes even Notoedres muris and Sarcoptes scabei.

  • Trixacarus caviae cause itching, but apathy and emaciation of the animal may appear. A renal insufficiency or a septicemia can then lead to the death of the animal, in the most severe cases. However, nothing to worry about, when the treatment is taken in time: it is totally effective.
  • Chirodiscoides caviae is a less severe infection. The situation becomes complex when the guinea pig’s immune system is compromised, especially during gestation. On the other hand, in everyday life, the presence of this type of arthropod often goes unnoticed.
  • Trixacarus scabei are much more dangerous. The itching, the desquamations are relatively violent. The infestation can cause a thinning of the skin or on the contrary a hyperkeratosis, changes in behavior, papules and vesicles, sometimes even extreme fatigue of the animal.
  • Arthropods, less common, can sometimes infest guinea pigs. Notoedres muris and Sarcoptes scabei are mild forms. The presence of lice or fleas will cause equivalent symptoms.

Remedies for guinea pig scabies

As soon as symptoms appear, it is essential to separate affected individuals from those without symptoms. The cleaning and maintenance of the cage must be meticulously done. If you are able to determine on your own that it is scabies, do not wait to remove the animal from its usual environment in order to get rid of the arthropods present in its living space.

Preventive solutions

Even before symptoms appear, you can prevent your guinea pigs from this type of infestation. There are solutions, anti-scabies shampoos that you can apply about once a month. You can also use oral treatments, once or twice a year, to fight the infestation before it is present.

These preventions are not always fully effective, or they are done too late. Therefore, do not delay in performing these preventive treatments, for the well-being of your animals.

Essential veterinary consultations

The veterinarian takes into account the clinical signs, especially the itching. To be sure of the type of arthropods your pet is infested with, the mites must be observed under a microscope. However, it is not always easy to find the mites. If you are unable to find one of the arthropods, a more general treatment will be prescribed for your pet.

There are many medical treatments: there are subcutaneous injections to be given at 15-day intervals. There are also punctual solutions, liquid to be applied on the affected areas. Depending on the stage of the infestation, antibiotics can also be proposed.

After the treatments, a veterinary control must be carried out to ensure that the mites are dead.
As you can see, scabies is not to be taken lightly. Considering the fact that some types of mites can also infest humans, you must take great precautions in treating your guinea pigs. Preventive care must be very meticulous, while post-infestation care must be supervised by professionals to maximize the chances of getting rid of these mites.