Itching in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs can suffer very acutely from itchy skin. This is mainly caused by either fungal or parasitic skin infestation, Scabs caused whenever the skin is broken can also be troublesome.

If you can get in early before any lesions have been opened up by scratching, then Eurax ointment is excellent. This is formulated for use on humans but is perfectly safe to use on guinea pigs. More often than not the damage has already been done and the only course open is to use the ‘baby bootie’ technique or ‘full body stocking,’ in the shape of Tubigrip bandage.

I have never been successful with the back feet binding technique, which is done by using an initial layer toilet tissue and then binding over with Micropore tape and ends up by looking like a pair of baby’s booties. However, many people have great success with this method, managing to fit them sufficiently tightly to stop their patients kicking them off without interfering with the blood circulation in the foot. Everytime I have tried this method my patients have kicked them off within a couple of minute with Houdini-like expertise!

I always use Tubigrip support bandage which is available from most chemists. Use the large size, designed for the human knee. You simply cut off about six to eight inches, depending on the size of the guinea pig, cut a couple of holes for the front legs to go through, about an inch and a half along the bandage. Expand the bandage with your fingers, slip it over the head and down onto the body, manoeuvring the feet out through the holes.

Be warned, for the first five minutes the patient shakes itself alarmingly as it desperately tries to shake bandage off. However, I have never lost a guinea pig through any kind of cardiac arrest, brought on by the initial stress of using this method.

The bandage usually has to remain in place for about two weeks. When I remove it, I massage in Calendula oil, for the skin is usually very dry and flaky, which I shampoo off the following day.

These techniques are only effective of course, where the itching is around the shoulders and down most of the trunk of the patient, but as ninety nine point nine of the serious itching problems are in this region they usually do the trick.

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