Guinea pig losing fur and messy bottom


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:01 pm

Please help me with medical concerns regarding my piggies. First know, I have been to the vet several times over these issues and am on a waiting list to get into Cornell for diagnostics and treatment of whatever may be going on. I am in constant contact with my vet and trying many at home treatment options.

Here we go- Butterscotch is a 4 year old female (intact) rescue. She and her son (neutered) share a 2x4 cage with fleece lining.

In July of last year we had a flood so the piggies are now in my bedroom which is dryer than they are used to but it is the safest place for them at this time while we work on rebuilding.

In January of this year, she went in for her usual physical. The vet found dandruff in her fur and a very abnormally low heart rate of only 140 beats under extreme stress. Vet suspected hypothyroid but I guess piggies don't get hypo. Vet tried to get blood but was unable to get a large enough sample so she could only look at it under a microscope. Everything seemed ok. Red blood cells and white blood cells looked normal but not a big enough sample to check for anything.

To handle the dry skin I upped the vitamin c with both bit c tabs and daily veggies containing high vitamin c content.

She has gone back several times for a heart check. Also had X-rays done. No obvious enlargement. Consulted with Cornell and was told to just watch her. Not given meds because her rate is too low, not high and she has no signs of fluid on her lungs.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago- her fur looks much worse (self barbering) and she had a messy bottom covered in matted urine. Took her ASAP to vet. Vet found further symmetrical hair loss on her belly and back legs. Suspected Cushings Disease. Also possibly felt tumor on kidney but then thought maybe it was not. Can not test for anything at that office and was referred to Cornell but Cornell has a several months long waiting list. Also, there is a concern that her heart can not take the sedation needed for most testing.

Now- fur continues to look worse, bottom messy again. I am bathing weekly in a warm water rise, sometimes with Castile soap. She is lethargic but this so close to her nature and probably caused by low heart rate.

In contact with vet daily asking about possibly treating for UTI (due to messy bottom) or mites (due to itching and hair loss) but what I really want is to help her feel better. I have been told by Cornell that there is nothing they can do for her heart but I feel as though her lo heart rate might be causing the scessive lethargy leading to urinating on herself and not cleaning herself? Concerned this has only been going on for two weeks though, if it had been a long term habit of hers I would not be as worried but the sudden onset concerns me.

More details- Butterscotch is overweight. I try cutting down on pellets and only feeding hay and fresh veggies (no fruit) but she still is overweight. Very lethargic, I can't get her to move around and get excercise at all even though I try.

I had added a humidifier to the room to help with dry skin if that is the reason for scratching and barbering hair. Began skin and fur supplement by oxbow. Spot clean cage daily and full clean weekly (on flexed bedding)

I did notice that her son began to fight and bully her 2 weeks ago after the vet appointment and that she is not allowed in their hut anymore to sleep. I am working on a solution for this. Still does not explain the messy urine soaked bottom though.

No signs of diarrhea, No signs of blood in urine. Good appetite. Bright eyes. Normal water consumption. Just very lethargic and messy, scratching and itchy fur, and low heart rate.


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:25 pm

Have you looked into the parasite page or even considered it to be a digestive deficiency?


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:26 pm

I’d inquire with your vet about testing for these


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:31 pm

Kailaeve- interesting thought about the digestive issue. You know, I did wonder about that when I began upping her vitamin c intake because she really was getting enough before hand but it occurred to me that maybe she was not absorbing it or digesting it. Vet has never mentioned anything ,Ike this but I will bring it up and see what they say. Thanks!


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:33 pm

UPDATE- since this posting earlier today I got my vet to recontact Cornell and push for help. Cornell called and are trying to get her in for an appointment next week. What should I make sure they look for? I am thinking heart condition and possibly metabolic disease? I am hoping for blood work, a heart ultrasound or X-ray, and an abdominal ultrasound or X-ray but again, these may be limited by her heart condition. What other tests or diagnosis should I be looking for?

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:38 pm

Why do you think she's overweight? What is her actual weight?

Bullying by the other pig can be a sign that something is wrong with her. Pigs can usually tell when another pig is in distress, and may follow/sniff/mount/whatever the sick one.

Upping the vitamin C is a good idea. Natural vitamin C from veggies is generally preferred, but it wouldn't hurt to give her 50 mg a day or so for a week and see if that helps anything.

And I'd treat her for mites -- you don't need the vet for that. See

Was she x-rayed for a bladder stone?


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:48 pm

I’d consider dropping the pellets if your sure she’s overweight. How many veggies are you feeding her daily and which ones? I’d also considering taking a poop or two, even if you find it gross, to see if your vet wants to test or look at it.


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:47 pm

She was X rayed but to check for her heart. I am going to see if they can get imaging of her abdomen and will have them look for stones and the usual superstar (i.e. Cysts on ovaries, etc) they suspect there is an internal tumor near her kidneys. Hoping they are wrong. Could be cushings possible as well.

I give her leafy greens (no iceberg) like red leaf lettuce, romaine, green leaf, mesclun mix, mustard daily along with parsley, cilantro, peppers (usually red or yellow but sometimes green) and an extra vitamin c tab by oxbow.

Her. Et saw she is overweight. She has been since I rescued her 3 years ago. I don't know her exact weight but it's over 3 pounds. Also, she almost never moves (due to the heart problem?) so that does not help. She's very fat, it's not really muscle.

Yes, I asked the vet last week about treating for mites and the vet agreed today to put her on meds (revolution maybe ?) to rule that out.

Her neutered son bullies her. He always has but after the last vet trip 2 weeks ago it got even worse. He went along too for a nail trim and I think he takes it out on her. Any way to calm him down? He's neutered but nips her and sort of pushes her away from things. Not food, just her favorite hut or lounging lad.

Any thing else to watch out for?

I am worried the news is going to be very bad since we have gone to the vet many times and she does t think it's vitamin c deficiency or mites and instead thinks it is a serious heart problem and cushings. Not a great prognosis with either of those things.


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:47 pm

*her vet said she is overweight. Sorry. Can't seem to find an edit button. I am new to posting.


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:49 pm

Floor time can help with exercise. Also the bullying sounds like normal guinea pig dominance to me but keep an eye out. Also males do generally need a larger cage so a 2x3 c and c may be too small if that’s what you have.

Please keep in mind Romiane lettuce, mustard green, parsley and cilantro are all known to cause calcium deposits or lead to stones when given daily. Colorful peppers don’t have as much vitamin c as green ones do (little difference but if your aiming for more vitamin c it may help).


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:08 pm

I have tried floor excercise. She just sits like a blob. I guess that could be the heart? For example, I took her out this morning and she never moved. I am working on having a laundry room built and when it is done I plan to make it a piggie mansion and double her cage (I already have all the supplies set to go) but now I am afraid she won't make it long enough to enjoy her new cage. I thought it would help by giving her more room to move around and by getting her son to leave her alone a little bit.

I was giving colored peppers because I thought I heard they had more vitamin c. Green peppers are soooo much cheaper where I am so I will be thrilled if green turn out to be higher in vitamin c.

Also, good news- she is going in to Cornell Monday morning at 9:00 am. They said this does sound like a very serious issue. They are prepared to do an exam, X-rays, blood work and even an ultrasound right then if needed. I am terrified that it is as bad as they are concerned about (the tumor the vet thinks she feels on her kidney was not there a month ago which would aggressive cancer) but I am so glad we will have answers soon. Her main vet kept saying anything that could be done could risk her life because of her heart and also did not want to treat for anything (UTI etc) without clear confirmation because that could be harmful but Cornell seems convinced that they can at least get clearer answers without putting her life at risk.

Thanks everyone, please keep the suggestions coming. I want to help her as best I can regardless of her prognosis.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:08 pm

I'm very glad you got an appointment at Cornell. Please do keep us posted on how she's doing, and what the results of the appointment are.


Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:16 pm

I will keep everyone updated. If you can think of any further tests I should run or things I can do to help her, please let me know.

User avatar

Post   » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:21 pm

At the very least, get your two guinea pigs treated for mites with either ivermectin or Revolution.


Post   » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:27 pm

Help! Things have taken a turn for the worse! Yes, I have been in contact to my vet about this and we have been seen by Cornell emergency overnight last night. Butterscotch is home resting now waiting for her big exam on Monday morning. Cornell said she would get better monitoring at home until then unless she fell into crisis. But, Saturday at 5:30 pm and again at 9:25 pm, she had seizures.

The first one I noticed because I heard banging in her cage. I looked over and saw that her laying down with her legs splayed behind her. Her front end was ok, raised and she looked shocked but alert. Eyes bright and shiny, no signs of the whites of her eyes (maybe Guinea pigs don't have whites though?) but her back legs were twisted and spasming in a seizure like way (spastic, not rhythmic) as though she had no control over them. It ended in about 10-15 seconds and she was able to struggle and get her legs and body back under her control, she wobbled for a second and and then walked away ate a full meal, had some water and looked totally fine. In fact, she seemed more alert than normal.

I called Her vet and she said at this time to keep an eye on her but that Cornell does not have their usual exotics staff in on weekends so they would not be able to do much for her. Vet said she did not sound critical and that home care would be about as good as hospital care due to the shortened staff on weekends. She also said her quick recovery was a good sign and maybe this was just a fluke. I did wonder if seizures were causing the messy urine bottom since maybe she is having the more often without me knowing and she is urinating on herself each time.

I stayed by her side from 5:30-9:25 with no incidents. At 9:25 pm she ate more hay and was walking across the cage when she suddenly flipped in the air and landed on her back and her legs began convulsing in the air. Again, it lasted about 15 seconds. She was able to roll over and get back up and then wandered away again.

This time I called Cornell amd told them I was bringing her in. She arrived at 10 pm. Heart rate was good, eyes alert, no sign of current neurological problem. I told them about the skin issues, low heart rate and cushings disease concerns. They said they could not do any testing then and could not give medication for anything anyway because the pharmacy was closed. Not even treatment for mites. Took a drop of blood to check for hypoglycemia. Blood sugar was good. Not high. Not low. Said she might have multiple issues going on such as parasite issue and heart or cushings or maybe all three. Suggested she get better care at home and so she here with me now. I stayed by her all night with only a little cat nap here and there in between. She is itchy but eating well and drinking well. Hiding a little bit due to the vet trip but mostly acting herself.

One thing we did not check for was an ear infection since an ear infection can rest on the brain and could cause seizures. The vets at Cornell seemed to think it was not a seizure and that she was just itchy and have a scratching fit. They said she seemed fine to them. They said maybe she just fell over itching herself. But, I can tell the difference between scratching and uncontrollable spastic movements. Although, from what I have read, it could be that mites cause seizures. Can anyone clarify this? Does mite infestation cause excessive crazy itching that looks like itching or could is actually cause the convulsions I was describing?

I am at a loss for what to do for Butterscotch. Please advise me on what I should be directing the vets to look for on Monday. I need to bring up the ear infection idea, mites, heart problems, and any tumors or enlargements in her abdomen. Anything else?

User avatar

Post   » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:12 pm

Yes, a severe mite infestation can result in fitting. Have you completely read over ? Note the treatments listed on the page.

Read over too.


Post   » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:33 pm

Thanks. I saw all the articles on mites and wanted to get started but My vet said that mite treatnets can kill so they need to be carefully dosed. It made me afraid to try it on my own this weekend knowing she will be seen again by Cornell Monday and they have a pharmacy on site.

Can anyone tell me what the fits look like ? I have seen frantic itching but that was still voluntary. The things she experienced which made me think it was seizures were more like her body involuntarily twitching. When her back legs went out from u dear her I actually thought she was paralyzed but she was able to get them working again.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:01 am

I am extremely skeptical of your vet NOT immediately treating for mites. There is actually a fair margin of safety if you are treating with ivermectin. He/she should have jumped on this. This site lists specific doses but there are even studies where somewhat higher doses are used safely.

The information you need is on that mites page.


Post   » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:59 pm

If the might treatment doesn’t work it could be seziures. Was she ever dropped? I would immediately treat for mites though.


Post   » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:11 pm

UPDATE- we had our consult at Cornell today. They suspect mites and are treating her for it with Revolution. I begged my vet for weeks to treat for mites and she just agreed. She kept saying you can see them but I read in this site many times over that that is not the case. Anyway, at least we are headed in the right direction now. They also noticed her heart issues. 120 bump which is very low. Noticed arrythmia as well. We have an echo cardio gram scheduled in a month. I wish it were sooner so I am going to try to get on their wait list. Other things to note- they do not suspect cushings. Instead they suspected ovarian cysts. They did an ultrasound and found ovarian cysts as suspected. We are going to recheck in 6 weeks to see if her hair has grown back and to try to see if they have grown and if they are hormone defendant or not because of they are she could start hormones to help. She is not a candidate for surgery due to her heart issues. Final thing- they prescribed melaxicam for possible arthritis. I am to do a 2 week trial on it. Anyone have info on this drug? I did not start her on it yet because I wanted to research it first. Any thoughts on this med? We are staggering her medical appointments so that she does not have too much done at once to keep her calmer and help her heart. Doing our best to keep her comfy.

Post Reply
63 posts