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Guinea Pigs/Guinea Pig Belly Hair Loss

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Question
We just noticed that one of our guinea pigs that is about 4 years old has lost most of the hair on her belly. We have 3 piggies in one cage, all are female and all get along well. Diet has not changed. Why would the hair fall out all of a sudden.....there is really no hair on her underside at all.

Answer
Bag Balm
Bag Balm  
I've seen this in my own sows that were seniors, and it's usually those who are particularly pudgy. Oddly enough mine all seemed to have white hair on their bellies. For some reason the skin under white hair, because it is pink usually is more prone to skin issues.

Is it all over the belly or fairly limited to the lower half? That's the part that most often is making contact with the floor, thus staying warm and moist and not getting as much airflow. One of my most dependable standbys is Bag Balm. It's available at any drug store and also at many grocery markets that have skin products.

Here is a picture of the can so you can recognize what you're looking for. It's a very old product and is the only thing this company makes. It was originally formulated for us on the udders of cows whose poor teats would get bloody chapped from milking in the cold winter months.

That's not its only use today. It is excellent for dry skin on literally anything for calloused feet, elbows, etc on not just animals but humans as well. It's very thick like axle grease and has a mentholated smell. It takes very little to do the trick, and it comes in many sizes from very small to very large.

Try rubbing that on her bare belly where the hair is gone. If this is from chapping or a fat belly it should help.

There is one other thing that can cause this but is thankfully fairly rare in guinea pig sows and that is ovarian cysts that are sometimes, but not always, associated with ovarian cancer. Usually a sow with that problem will have a lopsided belly, which the cyst making the affected side much fatter and more protruding.

There isn't anything you can do for that other than expensive surgery. But at four years old I wouldn't put any sow through that. So let's just go on the assumption that this is something that is far more simple and try the Bag Balm. Rub just a little in once or twice a day.

If the hair grows back you can discontinue the use. If it does not then continue a daily treatment to keep her from getting chapped on the bare skin.

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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