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Guinea Pigs/pregnant guinea pig


QUESTION: Hi, I have a guinea pig about 7 months of age who is pregnant with her first litter. She is about 3 weeks into her pregnancy. Her eating and drinking levels have increased remarkably as is expected. In fact all of her behavior signifies that she is in perfect health. The concern i have is that i've noticed her scratching at the fur on her rump a lot and upon further inspection the skin there is very dry. Should this be a cause for serious concern? What can i do to help relieve herself? I did bathe her a couple times a month prior to her pregnancy, dont know if that could be to blame.
Please let me know, thanks!

Ivermectin Horse Paste 1.87%
Ivermectin Horse Paste  
Bag Balm
Bag Balm  
ANSWER: It sounds as though she may have mites, which are invisible to the naked eye but cause this itching and dry skin.

Because she is pregnant you need to be a bit cautious with how you treat this. Most breeders depend on Ivermectin to control mites as it is safe in a pregnant sow. It's not used when they are nursing as it does effect the milk.

Before you treat for mites you might try an ointment topically on the dry spot. Most of us use Bag Balm, which was and still is used on a cow's teats after milking. In the cold weather they get extremely chapped and will bleed. This ointment has been found effective for many other things as well. It's readily available at any drug store and at some grocery stores. It comes in different sizes from very small to very large.

It's a thick ointment with the consistency of axle grease and has a bit of eucalyptus smell. It's remarkable for human use for dry skin, especially on the heels when we build calouses from wearing flip flops during the summer.

Rub a bit on the area a couple of times a day. It should also discourage her from scratching and it lubricates the skin to help stop the dryness and itching.

If that doesn't help and she continues scratching other areas you can treat for mites. Ivermectin is the safest thing to use for a pregnant sow. You can find it at a pet store, feed store or veterinary supply. It says it is for horses for worms. But breeders and exhibitors have relied on it for many years with excellent results.

It comes in a paste form. You give it orally. Use a popsicle stick or the end of a Q tip with the cotton removed. A small amount about the size of a match head is all you need. For a first time treatment you give the first dose, repeat in two weeks, then again in 30 days. That should do it.

If you are able to find the apple flavored gel she will like the taste. I purchase mine online and it's much less expensive that way.  Feed stores always have it as it's a staple in the barn for horses. It typically cost less than $20 for a tube, but online is about $6 per tube.

Here are a couple of pictures of both Bag Balm and Ivermectin 1.87% paste or gel. Hope this helps you out. Good luck with your litter.

An FYI for a pregnant sow;  give her a bit of parsley daily. Kale is also an excellent source of Vit C which is extremely important for her now.  Although guinea pig pellets contain added Vit C her requirements during pregnancy are greater.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your advice.i will treat her as you have suggested.just for peace of mind, do mites pose any serious risk to a pregnant sow other than discomfort? I just want her pregnancy to be as smooth as possible

If by serious threat you mean to her life, no. The threat to her is one of extreme discomfort and stress which may impact her ability to feed her babies. If untreated the babies will be infected as well. My best advice is to treat her at least once for mites. If however, the Bag Balm resolves the dryness and itching I would not treat her if you're not comfortable doing so.

Mites are something of a mystery as to where they come from. They are species specific as are the running lice that pigs can get but are not as common. That means they will not affect or get on anything but another guinea pig. I have seen caviaries where the pigs were so badly infested they literally went insane with scratching and running around in circles constantly.

If the Bag Balm is going to work you'll see an improvement within days. The hair will begin growing back in less than a week. It's worth a try just to keep her comfortable and stress free.

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Pat VanAllen


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.


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.

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.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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