Guinea pigs are delicate animals and are susceptible to a wide variety of diseases and illnesses. As a new guinea pig owner, you can expect to spend a lot of time at the vet's office. One of the illnesses that guinea pigs can get is ringworm. Here are five things you need to know about this condition.
What is ringworm?
Ringworm, despite its name, is not caused by a worm. It's actually a type of fungal infection. A few different types of fungi can cause this infection. The fungi feed on the outer layer of the skin and can also live inside hair shafts.
What are the signs of ringworm?
Guinea pigs are famous for hiding signs of illness, but fortunately, ringworm is fairly easy to spot. You'll notice bald patches on your pet's head, and they may also scratch themselves frequently. If you look more closely at the bald patches, you'll see that the skin is crusty and flaky.
Is ringworm dangerous?
Ringworm is a very uncomfortable condition and it needs to be taken seriously. Guinea pigs with this condition will be itchy and miserable, and when guinea pigs don't feel well, they may stop eating. Guinea pigs can suffer from liver damage after less than a day of not eating, and they may die.
Can you catch ringworm from your guinea pig?
Ringworm is a very contagious condition, and if you touch your guinea pig, the fungus could spread to you. You can then spread the fungus to other people or to your other pets. If you think your guinea pig has ringworm you need to wear gloves while handling him or her and then throw the gloves out after wearing them. Make sure to wash your hands afterwards as an extra precaution.
How do vets treat ringworm?
Ringworm is treated with anti-fungal medication. Your vet may give you a cream to rub on your guinea pig's skin, or they may give you the medication in pill form. You may also be given a medicated shampoo to use on your pet. Be very careful when you apply these treatments so that you don't spread the ringworm to yourself!
If you have other guinea pigs, you will need to quarantine the sick one to keep the others from catching ringworm. You'll also need to clean the cage well with an anti-fungal disinfectant to keep your other guinea pigs from picking up the fungus. To find a good vet, look at websites such as http://www.1stPetVet.com/.