Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Help! I Think My Guinea Pig Has Mites!

Do you think your guinea pig has mites?  Well, I have news for you. . . the answer is YES!  All guinea pigs are carriers of mites.  However, most of the time they lay dormant, and don't cause any problems.  

My guinea pig started having seizures and I thought it was due to high blood pressure or something related to old age.  When I took Lucky to the vet, I commented about the seizures.  The vet tickled him on the back, and said, "Seizures like this?"  Sure enough, Lucky had a seizure.  Usually you don't want to let a guinea pig have a seizure, they can hurt themselves, or hurt a human.  (I will likely have a small scar where Lucky's jaw clamped onto my wrist while I was trying to support him and keep him safe during a seizure.).  So, you don't want to do anything to CAUSE a seizure.  (In the vet's case, he did it to see if it was mites.)

Another sign a guinea pig has a mite flare up is if they have scabs on them from biting at themselves or scratching.  Mite flare ups can be caused by being around other guinea pigs with active mites, a guinea pig who hasn't been feeling well, stress, or even old age.  Be sure to not confuse mites with ringworm -- that is another issue entirely and needs different treatment (as well as more care because humans can catch ringworm from a guinea pig)
The one thing you don't want to do is give a guinea pig with mites a bath.  That can cause the mites to burrow deeper in the skin and cause more pain and discomfort for the guinea pig.

The good news is mites are relatively inexpensive and easy to treat.  

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.Would you believe the exact same ivermectin paste used for horses can be used for guinea pigs -- only in a MUCH, MUCH smaller amount.

The ivermectin can be given once every five months to help prevent mites, but if you are treating active mites in a guinea pig, once a week for three weeks should take care of it.

The way to use this is get a very small amount (almost none) on your finger and rub it to the back of the guinea pig's ear.  The skin on the back of the ear is thin and it will soak in and treat the guinea pig.

Be aware that you may think things are getting worse as they are getting better -- the guinea pig will often increase scratching and biting as the mites are dying.  It's miserable but they will feel so much better afterwards.  

This should be part of every cavy owner's well stocked first aid kit for their guinea pig.

*legal disclaimer:  I am not a vet, I am merely relaying what my vet told me.  I am providing this information for information purposes, it is up for YOU to decide how to best treat your guinea pig, and by reading this article I am not responsible for your actions.*


  1. How have you used this paste used for active mite issues? Do you apply it directly to the area? Our GP seems to have areas only around her eye and ear at the moment.

    1. I'm sorry I am just now seeing this. Yes, you can use this for an active mite issue. You put a very small amount of the paste on the back of the ear. The skin is thin there and it can soak in. I am no vet, but areas that are affected may be ringworm -- the mites dig into the skin and go all over a guinea pig.