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Hello,

I have a guinea pig who has a problem that is hard finding what her problem is. We are leaning towards Cushing's disease, mange mites and possibly bladder stones. I have brought her to the vet and I am not sure, but I think I remember the skin culture test turned out positive for something. I stopped going to the vet because they kept trying to reel me in for money.

I will include a link near the end of this post, that leads to all the forum posts along with included pictures of the hairloss. She had a history of hairloss on her rear end and she squeaked when urinating. We treated it with monistat 7 (and sometimes anti-biotic ointment like neosporin generic) and she became better and normal again and very healthy after 1-3 months I believe, if I remember correctly. This occurred right after her daughter passed away, who had lost weight and had hairloss under her, around her stomach area and spreading up the bottom of her body.

2 years later, she had hairloss again, this time on the back of her trunk. She did not lose weight, just hairloss around her trunk and spreading up, slowly. This started in December and 5 months later it is worse. She has now lost weight and she seemed to have a yellow color on the hairs of her rear end, a week ago. It also smelled. I believe this was diarreah and might be because we gave her too much of the probiotic, which we later found might have dairy in it, so we stopped it. She has solid feces now.

She also drinks more often. She still eats by herself. I fed her a week ago an hour of hay. I saw her go to her pellet bowl by herself to eat. I see her squeak for 5-10 seconds and her back sorta raises a bit as if she has pain. I believe I also saw her rear end seem to sorta open up. Then, she curls up and seems to scratch her rear end area or bite it. Sometimes after this process, she goes to drink water for 10-15 seconds. When the problem started she always curled up to scratch/bite herself there, but she never raised her back a bit as if she has pain or went to drink a lot of water.

I found out that she squeaks when she urinates, which was the problem she had 2 years ago, but this time it seems worse.

I also found that her rear end area (genital and anal) looked cracked (cracking resulting from dryness it seemed) and infected and we treated it with an anti-biotic ointment.

http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?p=2101838#2101838

The link includes every information and pictures.

Thank you so much for any answer you may give. I really appreciate all the help I can get. I just hope she gets better.

Answer
I've had similar situations with my sows, usually the older ones. What you are describing sounds like two different issues.  #1 - The hair loss sounds very classic of mites. Mites are always present microscopically on many animals.

If they have a strong immunity system it doesn't become a problem. But if for any reason the immunity is compromised the mites take over and make the animal miserable. They will chew at the spots the mites bore into and that will cause hair loss. If left untreated they can become systemic and kill the poor animal.

Most breeders treat every four to six weeks with Ivermectin paste. It's actually made for treating worms in horses, but has been used successfully for many years to treat mites in cavies.

A very small dab on the tip of a popsicle stick or the wooden end of a Q tip is all that's needed. If you have a bad infestation you treat the first time, wait one week and dose again, then again in four weeks.  After that you can treat about every six to eight weeks.

#2 - What you are seeing on her genitalia is a yeast infection. That's why the Monistat worked for this. It's a fungal thing and can be difficult to get rid of. Again, a compromised immunity leaves them more susceptible than an otherwise healthy one. The problem becomes recurrent.

It seems that older sows tend to be more prone to it, especially those who are overweight. But before you apply the Monistat or Clotrimazole (which I believe works better than Monistat and is a generic for Lotrisone) you need to treat her with a sitz bath.

This is something that is still used in hospitals for similar things. There are specially made containers that fit onto the toilet seat to allow for proper soaking of the area needing treatment.

At home all you need is a small container maybe the size of a small plastic shoe box. You could also use a small bowl. Put warm water about two inches deep. You can use either Betadine which is an iodine preparation, antimicrobial, used in hospitals and doctor offices for cleansing wounds, or another product called Hibiclens (a non iodine solution).  It only takes about a tablespoon or two in the water.

Sit the pig in the container and let her soak for about fifteen minutes. I've never had a problem with any of my sows fussing or trying to get out of the water. It seems to be very soothing to them and they don't mind it at all.  Mine will sit until I pick them up out of the water.  To me that's indication that it feels very soothing to them.

After the soak you want to try to gently remove any scabbing and buildup on the vulva. Very gently pat the skin dry with a clean soft towel. Then you apply the Lotrisone, Monistat or whatever you're using.

Neosporin ointment is okay, but it's not an antifungal. Yeast is caused by a fungus and grows in warm, moist places. I find that the antifungal works better, but once the area looks healthy and clean you can apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin for another several days until the skin appears supple and normal again.

Some sows need to have a moisture barrier such as simple Vaseline applied on that skin daily. That helps to keep the urine from touching the skin and starting the whole infection again. Mothers still use it today on their babies diaper area for the same reason. It helps prevent diaper rash as the ointment keeps the urine for making contact with the tender skin.

The reason she's squealing when she urinates is because a yeast infection is very painful. The acid in the urine burns the skin and causes intense itching as well. Women are far more prone to yeast infections than men, so we know what it feels like. It's no picnic.

My experience has been that these things tend to be recurrent on some sows. I've never had it happen on any of my boars. It's very possible that the vaginal secretions (that are also present to some degree in guinea pigs) may have an altered pH that is condusive to these types of breakouts.

Give this a try and I think you'll have better luck making her comfortable. But please remember that this may be a chronic recurrent issue and will require periodic treatment and effort on your part to help her get over it.  

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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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