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Specialist Guina pigs becoming ill with lice

Coco&Luna

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Hi, all 5 of my pigs are absolutely infested with lice.
I've looked at them under a loupe and they are flat red insects that appear to twirl in circles round the hair shaft. There are thousands of them. Particularly around their neck, rump and face.
Vet diagnosed them as lice.

My teddy coarse furred pig has lost around 40% of her fur. They are all scratching chronically and holding their eyes shut with pain. My teddy pig has lost alot weight.

Xeno 50 has been used 3 times on each pig.
Applied once, repeated 7 days later and then a 3rd application 14 days after this.
This had no effect on the lice.

I have bathed them twice with lice and easy gorgeous Guineas shampoo 7 days apart.
When I wash them with the shampoo all the lice rise to the surface of the fur and I'm not exaggerating when I say infested. The first shampoo appeared to get rid of alot of them. But after a second shampoo they are still scratching and looking though their fur under a loupe they still have many of these insects crawling though their fur. I can no longer see them as black specks on sight anymore however.

I have boil washed all of their fleece and disinfected the entire c&c.

I'm really struggling and the pigs are being tortured by this. Writing here because I'm lost and I dont know what to do do next.

Any help would be amazing. Thank you.
 

Coco&Luna

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Also, their fur is clean and healthy looking, no broken skin of dandruff, a little too pink maybe.
 

Wiebke

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Also, their fur is clean and healthy looking, no broken skin of dandruff, a little too pink maybe.
Hi!

I am very sorry; can your vet and you try a combined ivermectin and bathing regime? Please note that you will have to wait for at least 48 hours between any topical (i.e. on the skin) treatment to allow the previous application to be fully absorbed.

Lice get the species specific blood by biting the skin, so it will be rather painful. But this means that ivermectin is not as effective with lice as it is with mange mites that burrow their eggs in the skin. Unfortunately there are some strains that can be rather resistent to any treatment and drive you to distraction.

The other approach, which is not quite short term, is to strengthen their immune system by a good balanced grass hay based life-long diet and to discuss with your vet any vitamin C boosters. A healthy immune system is a crucial part in fending off and keeping skin parasites under control.

How old are your piggies, how long have you had them and where have they come from? Where is your hay from?
Are you support feeding?
 

Coco&Luna

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Rather than tell everything I feed them I'll just show you pics but its Two types of timothy hay one is long and tough and the other is soft and really green, i order on ebay and I think they come from a farm in England. I also use readigrass sometimes.20200924_073920.jpg20200924_073725.jpg20200924_073615.jpg20200924_073737.jpg20200924_073817.jpg20200924_073705.jpg
I'll speak to the vet about a regime. In your experience do you feel the shampoo or spot on invermectin works best with lice and do you think theres a better shampoo i could be using?
I honestly considered shaving them all bald and putting heat pads down and keeping the central heating on until the fur grows back...I'm honestly at that crazy stage lol
 

Wiebke

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Rather than tell everything I feed them I'll just show you pics but its Two types of timothy hay one is long and tough and the other is soft and really green, i order on ebay and I think they come from a farm in England. I also use readigrass sometimes.View attachment 154208View attachment 154209View attachment 154210View attachment 154211View attachment 154212View attachment 154213
I'll speak to the vet about a regime. In your experience do you feel the shampoo or spot on invermectin works best with lice and do you think theres a better shampoo i could be using?
I honestly considered shaving them all bald and putting heat pads down and keeping the central heating on until the fur grows back...I'm honestly at that crazy stage lol
Any antiparasite shampoo that is safe to use on guinea pigs (ask your vet for it) should help but it is the two-pronged approach that may hopefully do the trick. You may have to bathe twice weekly but have to adapt that to give the spot on xeno (ivermectin) 2 days time to get absorbed into the skin. Unfortunately panomec is generally no longer stocked in small animal pet clinics; it is injectable ivermectin, which tends to be that bit more effective.

Extreme cases like yours are thankfully rare; basically you have to try and see what works. There is unfortunately not one single effective treatment that we can pull out of the bag. :(

Has one of your piggies come with lice/got them soon after arrival in or have they suddenly hit?

Checking the diet and seeing whether or where you may be able to tweak it in order to optimise it is a secondary measure to to help boost general health and the immune system to help your piggies fight back.

The hay was mostly because it could have been a source of food the lice could have come with if they have all got them badly quickly at the same time; although hay is more typically connected with more a more resistant strain of hay mites. But as the industrial way of havesting mass grown internationally branded hay is churning up a lot more soil than more traditional harvesting methods, there are more bugs getting into the hay. But I can only speculate and see whether there are areas that you might want to look at in terms of throwing the kitchen sink at it in the hope that the combination will do the trick.

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
A Comprehensive Hay Guide for Guinea Pigs (incl. providers in several countries)
 

Coco&Luna

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Ah right ok, ive got an insecticidal shampoo from the vets now and more xeno 50.
I'm gunna bathe them with the shampoo today, wait 2 days and do the spot on.

Nah I've had the pigs for a few years, its definitely come in a box of hay i bought from a famer seller on ebay in the last new months. I stopped ordering hay from that supplier.
Do you think theres a chance I'm not cleaning their environment well enough and in somehow keeping them infested?
Also, on a serious note, if I get desperate and should this combo not work, would shaving their fur off harm them in any way or permanently damage their coat in a way that would be more harmful than the lice?
 

Wiebke

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Ah right ok, ive got an insecticidal shampoo from the vets now and more xeno 50.
I'm gunna bathe them with the shampoo today, wait 2 days and do the spot on.

Nah I've had the pigs for a few years, its definitely come in a box of hay i bought from a famer seller on ebay in the last new months. I stopped ordering hay from that supplier.
Do you think theres a chance I'm not cleaning their environment well enough and in somehow keeping them infested?
Also, on a serious note, if I get desperate and should this combo not work, would shaving their fur off harm them in any way or permanently damage their coat in a way that would be more harmful than the lice?
Hi!

Have you deep cleaned the cage and everything in it with a vet grade disinfectant like F10? That may help.
Some of the recommendations in our ringworm hygiene guide may help you. Lice are species specific, so - unlike with ringworm - you need not worry about catching them and do not need to take any precautions in that direction.
Ringworm: Hygiene And Pictures


In the case of lice, shaving the fur won't do anything since they do not fix any eggs to the hair (that is hay mites, with which you seem to mix lice up). Lice basically crawl on the skin and live on the blood of guinea pigs, which get from biting. The discomfort of this is leading to baldness and inflamed skin. Unfortunately a few strains of lice can be very, very hard to shift. It doesn't have anything to do with bad ownership but seems to have more to do with where you source your hay from. That is why I have included our hay guide.
PS: Any hair will always grow back to the genetically determined length, so that is not a worry.
New piggy problems: URI - ringworm - skin parasites
 

PigglePuggle

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You mention here Xeno 50, but unless your piggies were babies then Xeno 450 would be much more effective- it is 9x as concentrated as Xeno 50 and quite safe for any piggy weighing over 1kg, in fact our vet prefers to use Xeno 450 all the time and just apply half a pipette to piggies weighing 500-950g. So you might ask the vet about the stronger Xeno treatment.
 

Coco&Luna

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@Wiebke I really do mix the lice and hay mites up. It confuses me because I thought mites were invisible to the naked eye and I could see them as black specks everywhere on them and so assumed they were lice because the were visible on spec and when the vet gave me the xeno and it didnt work I assumed static lice were definetily what they were because it didnt touch them.
Oh I'm sure they have the F10 on amazon, I'll definitely get it. I've been cleaning everything with the pet safe Zoflora disinfectant up till now.
Thank you so much for all your help, I'm reading through the links just now.
@PigglePuggle Thank you so much! I've bought the xeno 450 online. All of my pigs are in the high 900 grams, but one is 870 would. I just give everyone half a pipette?
I'm going to phone my vet to speak about it when I get them delivered too obviously but just asking for your opinion because it always helps to ask you guys too.

Oh, here are some pics of my worst off pig, just on the off chance the balding pattern means anything to you or pics help with any advice etc.
20200929_233341.jpg20200929_233330.jpg20200929_233322.jpg20200929_233312.jpg20200929_233255.jpg20200929_233249.jpg
 

Wiebke

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@Wiebke I really do mix the lice and hay mites up. It confuses me because I thought mites were invisible to the naked eye and I could see them as black specks everywhere on them and so assumed they were lice because the were visible on spec and when the vet gave me the xeno and it didnt work I assumed static lice were definetily what they were because it didnt touch them.
Oh I'm sure they have the F10 on amazon, I'll definitely get it. I've been cleaning everything with the pet safe Zoflora disinfectant up till now.
Thank you so much for all your help, I'm reading through the links just now.
@PigglePuggle Thank you so much! I've bought the xeno 450 online. All of my pigs are in the high 900 grams, but one is 870 would. I just give everyone half a pipette?
I'm going to phone my vet to speak about it when I get them delivered too obviously but just asking for your opinion because it always helps to ask you guys too.

Oh, here are some pics of my worst off pig, just on the off chance the balding pattern means anything to you or pics help with any advice etc.
View attachment 154612View attachment 154613View attachment 154614View attachment 154615View attachment 154616View attachment 154617
Poor boy!

My piggy savvy vet gave my Nye (who did arrive with a nice lot of hay mites) Stronghold injections two weeks apart. That did the trick.
Stronghold (sold in the USA as Revolution), has the active ingredient selamectin and can be used as an alternative to ivermectin based products. It may be the next step if the joint approach of spot-on and baths doesn't work. Hay mites are the most difficult to get at because they live off skin debris but not off blood nor do the burrow into the skin.

In this case, a haircut will indeed help to remove egg cases fixed to the hairs to cut down on the number of emerging mites. Don't be radical, but if you can cut out the worst clusters that will reduce the problem somewhat; all hair will grow back in any case. Never underestimate the simple mechanical measures - like the regular hand-washing for Covid-19. What you can simply shift out of the critical area you don't have to fight chemically. ;)

PS: Forget about 'static lice'. That is a hangover from the olden days of Peter Gurney (70ies/80ies) when the hay mite eggs were mistaken for lice living from debris on the hairs from a time when little was known about guinea pig specific problems and vet care for small pets was minimal. Hay mites live off the debris but what you see are the eggs and not the bugs. ;)

All the best! Unfortunately we have seen a sudden spike in hard to deal with hay mites since pet shops started selling imported hay brands some years ago of hay that is grown and harvested on an industrial scale; before we only had the occasional case of very easy to deal with hay mites that typically turned up in autumn in cheaply sourced local farmers' hay; a single bath was usually enough.
I would recommend that you switch to one of our recommended UK hay producers that are listed in the hay guide instead. I get my hay from a local farmer via an independent local pet shop and have never had hay mites myself apart from what Nye came with.
Once you are over this and change where you get your hay from, you will also hopefully never have to deal with them ever again!
A Comprehensive Hay Guide for Guinea Pigs (incl. providers in several countries)
 
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