How To Handle The Guinea Pig Shedding Process

Guinea Pig shedding is a natural process that shouldn’t worry you. However, this shedding might be too much, especially for guinea pigs with underlying conditions or those with long hair. But you can always manage the shedding process. In this post, we’re going to look at how much guinea pigs shed, the common causes of the excessive shedding, and how to reduce it. So, be sure to read on for more information! 

Do Guinea Pigs Shed

Guinea pigs also shed their coats, just like cats and dogs. What’s surprising is that they shed more coats in spring and early summer after losing their winter coat. And this is completely normal for them. But during late summer, you can expect your guinea pig to shed less coat. As such, they’re seasonal shedders. 

But, guinea pigs with long hair shed more coat than their short-haired counterparts during these seasons. You might wonder why guinea pigs shed some of their coats. The reason behind this phenomenon is to pave the way for new fur growth. 

During the shedding process, all the loose fur falls to the floor, and new fur grows to make a replacement. And the result of this is always a revitalized look for your guinea pig!

While coat shedding is a completely natural process for guinea pigs, it increases the risks of having allergic reactions for some family members around these beautiful creatures. As such, you should always tend to these pets, so they don’t increase such risks. 

Brushing your guinea pig outside each morning in spring and early summer is a good start. This will also ensure that your guinea pig doesn’t shed much in its hutch for the rest of the day. 

What Causes Hair Loss in Guinea Pigs?

Little white guinea pig

All animals with coats undergo the shedding process. This means that guinea pigs are no exception since they are coated animals or pets. But the shedding process depends on a few factors such as the length of the hair and the animal’s breed. Besides, we’ve already seen that long-haired guinea pigs tend to shed more coats than short-haired ones. But just what could cause excessive shedding in guinea pigs? 

Mites

Mites are gross, annoying, and inconvenient parasites that might infest a guinea pig. They mainly spread from one guinea pig to another through direct contact. But they can also infest a guinea pig indirectly when the guinea pig comes into contact with bedding or clothes tainted by a mites-infested guinea pig.

Although you can’t see mites with a naked eye, you can tell if they have infested your guinea pig. The symptoms are visible, and this is how you will tell that your guinea pig has been infested with mites. Some of the symptoms of mite infestation are itching, skin irritation, dandruff, excessive shedding, scabs, and sometimes, seizures. 

Therefore, mites are not good for your guinea pig as they will cause excessive shedding and seizures, among other inconvenient experiences. So, what’s the best way to deal with mite infestation? First, you should note that bathing your guinea pig will not get rid of the mites. Instead, it will make mite infestation worse and difficult to treat. But you can use a highly effective medication – Ivermectin – to kill all the mites that might be sucking your guinea pig’s blood, thereby wreaking havoc on its life. 

To increase its effectiveness, use this medication repeatedly, making sure you space out the treatment sessions by 7-10 days. After 3-4 uses, your guinea pig will be free from mites, and this will reduce the shedding process. 

Revolution is an alternative medication for killing all the mites in guinea pigs. However, you don’t need to use this medication as frequently as Ivermectin since it is more powerful. It thus protects your guinea pig from mites for a longer period, probably a month.

Ringworm

At this point, you already know that parasites could cause excessive shedding in guinea pigs. But what you may not know is that fungus that causes ringworms can also cause excessive hair loss in these pets. 

Ringworm not only causes excessive shedding but also causes itching, bald patches, and scaly skin. Therefore, you need to address the problems they cause by killing the fungus that causes ringworm – Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Since mites and ringworm cause the same symptoms, telling them apart might be challenging. But your vet will be able to do so.

The major difference between mites and ringworm infection is in the area they start to affect. Ringworms start around a guinea pig’s head while mites start as “V” shape on the back of the pet. For general ringworm cases, the vet will prescribe anti-fungal cream or shampoo for Guinea Pig. But for severe ringworm infection, your vet will prescribe an oral medication.

But for dogs and cats, the common fungus that causes ringworms is the Microsporum canis. When treating a guinea pig with ringworms, you should practice good hygiene. This is important since ringworms can spread to other animals and humans, especially kids since they’re more susceptible. You can practice hygiene by cleaning and sanitizing your guinea pig’s cage, accessories, and the environment. 

Ovarian Cysts

This is a problem that only plagues female guinea pigs. It mostly plagues guinea pigs younger than three years old, but it can also affect older guinea pigs, although this is rare. This is yet another cause of hair loss in female guinea pigs. 

A guinea pig with this condition may not show any symptoms. But the symptoms include bilateral hair loss around the flanks, moody behaviors, and crusty nipples, just to mention a few. Sometimes, hair loss due to ovarian cysts may cause a guinea pig to act as if she’s on heat 24/7 when that’s not the case. A normal female guinea pig will be on heat for a day or two after every two weeks. 

Spaying the guinea pig is normally the recommended treatment for this condition. But it might not be ideal for senior guinea pigs even though they’re the majority with the condition. You should make sure to talk to your vet about how to look after your guinea pig when spaying isn’t the right procedure for her. 

Barbering

Sometimes, your guinea pig may lose hair but not from the roots. This is referred to as barbering, and it is usually self-inflicted. A guinea pig may barber himself as a result of stress or pain. And this is true, especially for older guinea pigs that may barber themselves due to pain from a tooth problem or arthritis.

But sometimes, other guinea pigs may barber your guinea pig to show dominance or just to bully him. If there is a guinea pig that likes to pester others, you might want to keep a closer eye on the guinea pig that is usually being picked on since he’s likely to lose some fur through barbering. 

How Can You Stop Your Guinea Pig from Shedding

Young girl is grooming the Guinea Pig with a brush

First, it’s important to note that you can’t completely stop your guinea pig from shedding. You can only reduce this process. And that’s what we’re going to look at here. So, you can reduce the shedding process through the following ways:

Regularly Brush Your Pet

Brushing your guinea pig’s coat twice a week is essential for reducing the shedding of the coat. You want to use a soft baby brush here since other brushes may hurt your guinea pig’s skin. Besides, guinea pigs have very sensitive skin. If you have a long-haired guinea pig, you may want to brush him more often. 

Brush Your Pet with a De-shedding Tool

De-shedder works to remove all the loose fur on your guinea pig’s coat. To excellently remove all the loose fur, make sure to use a de-shedding tool that is designed for small animals such as cats and kittens. Remember to brush your guinea pig with one of these tools gently. You don’t want to hurt the sensitive skin of your guinea pig, do you?

Clean the Cage Regularly

You might wonder how cleaning a guinea pig’s cage can help reduce the shedding process. Well, guinea pigs don’t get immunizations, unlike cats and dogs. As such, they could easily become ill. 

To avert any illness that could cause excessive hair loss, you should regularly clean your guinea pig’s cage. Use mild soap and water to clean the cage, and let it dry before putting your pet in it. Alternatively, use water and vinegar solution to clean the cage. 

Feed Your Pet with Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C deficiency could lead to excessive shedding and hair loss in guinea pigs. As such, your guinea pig needs the right amount of this vitamin. Feed your guinea pig with fresh fruits and vegetables as they’re a rich source of Vitamin C. Bell pepper and strawberries are a great Vitamin C supplement. However, don’t feed too many fruits to your guinea pigs, which could be a dangerous practice. 

Feed Protein-rich Food to Your Pet

Protein deficiency in guinea pigs could also result in excessive hair loss through shedding. As such, you should make sure that your guinea pig has sufficient protein intake in its daily diet. Make sure that 15% of your guinea pig’s diet is proteins. 1/8 cup of good pellets per day will provide enough proteins for the pet. 

Treat Ant Fungal Infection

Fungal infections will cause bald spots and excessive shedding. If they’re the cause of the excessive shedding, you will need to treat them. Be sure to visit your vet for prescriptions and treatment recommendations. 

Avoid Using Cedar and Pine Wood Chips

Cedar and pine wood chips might have a pleasant smell and temp you to use them for bedding. But you may be unaware that they could irritate the sensitive skin of your guinea pig, thus causing excessive shedding. Therefore, you should not use them on as your guinea pig bedding. 

Eliminate Stressful Encounters

Sometimes, excessive shedding may emanate from stressful encounters in the hutch. Your guinea pig is likely to shed more coat if he’s stressed out. If another guinea pig is bullying him, he will be stressed out and shed heavily. The solution for this is to put a physical barrier between the two pets but letting them see each other. Also, be sure to keep your guinea pigs in a quieter environment since loud noise could stress them out. 

Take Your Pig to a Vet

If your guinea pig is shedding heavily, but you don’t know the reason behind it, then maybe it’s time to see a vet. The vet will assess the condition of the guinea pig and offer the best remedy. Issues such as pregnancies, Cushing’s disease, and hormonal imbalance could lead to excessive shedding in guinea pigs. You should, therefore, seek a vet’s help when you can’t seem to know the exact cause of the excessive shedding. 

Conclusion

You can’t completely stop the shedding process in guinea pigs. You can only reduce it. But for you to efficiently reduce the coat shedding process, you will need to know its cause. That’s when you will do a good job of combating excessive coat shedding.

Fortunately, we have looked at a few causes of excessive shedding. Also, we have looked at how to control hair loss. You should, therefore, have an easy time handling your guinea pig.

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