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Guinea Pigs/guinea pig with loss of hair from mate & broken leg


Our two year old guinea pigs have been great companions. Dora's leg became entangled in a part of the cage. She doesn't use it, eats normally and recently has lost some of her hair in the neck and back area. Minnie, her companion, has been pulling out Dora's hair. I took her to the vet and she said that she was sure that her leg is broken. She did a skin scrape to see if there were mites, etc. Since there weren't any, she confirmed that Dora's hair was being pulled out by Minnie. There were broken off hairs of different lengths. Dora was shrieking when this would happen. Dora is on pain meds and separated from Minnie. I did purchase a new cage (actually a dog kennel) that has a divider. The vet thinks this is a good idea, since they can see each other. What will happen to Dora with this leg problem? I refuse to put her down, unless she will be in pain the rest of her life. Why was Minnie biting Dora's hair off?

I don't mean to second guess your vet buy my many years of experience raising cavies has always been that skin scrapings almost always come out negative. Presumably that's because the scrapings were just not in the right place. But I can tell you that if she's missing hair on her back she most likely has mites.

Both pigs should be treated. You can get some Adams spray at your pet store, spray them thoroughly and let them drip dry. You don't need to go through expensive injections of Ivermectin at the vet.

Mites just seem to appear and we don't actually know where they come from. But any owner who says their pigs have never had mites probably is fooling himself. I would treat for the mites anyway. Most animals carry these almost invisible mites all the time. They don't cause any issue until the animal becomes stressed. Then they take ahold and wreak havoc.

The most typical sign is a v shaped spot on the back where the pig has been chewing on both sides trying to reach the mites. If you have seen Minnie chewing on Dora then there would be hair loss in different places. BUT, that doesn't exclude the issue of mites. Most breeders and exhibitors treat routinely every couple of months just to keep them at bay.

As for the leg injury: NO, don't even consider putting her down. You didn't say which leg it was, but if it were a rear leg you can put a tape splint on it just by positioning the leg in a normal position, up against the body. Tape it all around the body to hold it in place. Eventually this leg will heal.

It may never be as useful as if it had not been damaged, but if it stiffens in a normal position it won't prevent her from moving around. If it is a front leg you can tape it in the same way. The goal is to support the leg in as normal a position as possible so it cannot be further injured. It may not be useful to her, but it will be stable enough so she can still navigate to where she wants to be.

Animals have a remarkable way of healing and just going on with whatever their disability might be. Obviously in the wild these injured animals would be subject to predation and be quickly killed. But in captivity they will just learn to adjust to what fate has given them, and they go on.

Definitely keep the two separated for Dora's safety and comfort. The pain medication will help keep her comfortable until the healing has begun. She will learn to get around in spite of a handicap and she will live a happy life for whatever time she has. That injury should not shorten her life. It will just require her to compensate in other ways.

Animals do not have the capacity to feel sorry for themselves. They take what they have and make the best of it. So don't even consider euthanizing Dora simply because of an injury. It's not necessary.  Give her a chance to heal.  

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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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