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Guinea Pig Scabs and sores

TheCzarina

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We have three guinea pigs two males that were in the same cage together and one female in a cage by herself. We had attempted to have the female with another piggy in the cage with her, but that did not go well and it's the story for a different post.

Up until a month ago, the two males were in a cage together and didn't seem to have any problems. I never saw/heard any fighting or agression. They would stand right next to each other to eat and no fighting over food, they often huddled together in the same hide, even though they had 3 available and when they were in the same hide, it didn't look like one was preventing the other from leaving. But obviously, I can't watch them 24/7, so fighting was a possibility. They are both just under 2 years old and have been together in the same cage since birth, they were little mates. ( TRIGGER WARNING: CHILD LOSS I got the pigs from a friend whose son sadly passed away and it was too hard for her to see them, but she needed for them to be with someone she knew, so they didn't feel gone forever) That was about 6 months ago and they seemed completely healthy. About 6 weeks ago, we took the guinea pigs out to play with my son and he noticed that one of them had a scratch on his back that had scabbed over. I kept an eye on it and it seemed to be healing. I chalked it up to a fluke or something. As I mentioned above, I certainly have never seen the guinea pigs fight they are in the center of our home, so we walk pass and interact with them constantly. So I felt like we would have noticed any agression or fighting. We had just given them a new wood hide, so I thought maybe he had managed to scratch himself going in and out of it. I took it out of the cage and sanded it down, even though I hadn't seen/felt any obvious sharp edges. About a week later, I noticed some new scratches only guinea pig.

At that point, I took the pig with the scratches to the vet, but I was not able to go inside with him because of the Covid precautions. When the vet came out, she told me she had examined the pig and she believed that the scratches were bite wounds and not scratches and suggested that we put the pigs in different cages and put some neosporin (triple antibiotic cream).

I separated the pigs and then about 2 days later I noticed the same type of scabs on the other male. He was fine previously, and the scabs definitely were not there when I separated them because I had looked him over very thoroughly. I called the same vet again and she suggested that I get a spray called Vetericyn Plus and spray the guinea pigs with it twice daily, put neosporin on the scratches and see what happens. I did that for about a week. They weren't getting worse, but they weren't necessarily getting better either. Both of them had also started losing their hair and that is still a problem.

I took them both back to the same vet, I didn't have a lot of options as there are limited options for exotic animals in my area. The other vet did not have an appointment available until the following week. She looked them both over and said she had tested them for mites, but she didn't see any. She said she thought that maybe they were scratching because of allergies and suggested that I change their bedding to fleece bedding (I was using the shredded paper) and get my hay from a different supplier and give them both a bath with Dawn dish soap I want to mention that throughout the time period this was going on, they both continued to eat, drink and poop normally, but they did try to avoid being picked up and that was unusual. They eat a mixed diet, they get Timothy Hay based food pellets, generous handfuls of timothy hay anytime their supply seems low(they occasionally get orchard or wheat grass as a treat) and fresh veggies every night, what I give them varies between; parsley, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, cilantro, corn husks/silks (occasionally the cob), asparagus, tomato, cabbage, kale, sweet potato and twice a week or so (sometimes a little more often in evry small quantities if the kids want to give them a treat) apples, pears, grapes, berries, oranges, and plantains are a favorite that we offer no more than once every 2-3 weeks.

4 days after that visit I went to check on the guinea pigs in the morning and the second male, that had initially been fine, had a sore/wound on its side it looked like it was oozing. I found a different exotic vet and took them both in later that same day. She diagnosed them both with ringworm, but she wasn't sure what had initially caused the scratches. She wanted to treat them with an antibiotic, just to be on the safe side. She also suggested that I go ahead and treat them for mites, even though she didn't see any. She gave them both shots of ivermectin and sent me home with three medications; Vitamin C, Trimeth/Sulfamethox and Griseofulvin. She told me to use gloves when handling them so I did not contract ringworm myself and to switch gloves before I switched from one pig to the other. She said to continue with the fleece bedding and to change it daily. She wanted me to keep an eye on their food consumption and make sure they were eating and pooping normally (they are). I have also been giving them some Vitamin C treats. I have been doing this for a week and they seem to be getting better. The oozing wound is gone and healed and the scabbed areas are healing as well, but last night I noticed that they both had two areas where it look like they had been scratching again. There was a small amount of blood on their fur and a new issue. They both have an area where it looks like they possibly scratched off a scab and made themselves bleed in the process(basically what would happen to us when we scratch off a scab too soon and it causes us to bleed and have raw patch on our skin.) The blood was on the area around the border of the wound, they have no hair in the area where the wound is.

I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions of things that I could mention to my vet to ask her to look for or any suggestions for any home treatments that I could do. I will absolutely keep in touch with my vet and run any suggestions by her before I do anything, but she's not an exotic animal specialist and there aren't any in the area. This vet did come highly recommended and she does have experience treating guinea pigs. I also feel like she would be honest with me if she felt this was beyond her expertise. The closest exotic animal specialist is over 1.5 hours away, and due to health issues, I can't drive right now.

I have always believes that you should not get a pet that you can't afford to get proper medical care for and I have never used Google or forums as an alternative to proper veterinary care, also I've already made 3 vet visits over this. I took the guinea pigs because it was what I needed to do to support a very good friend during a very awful time in her life. I need to do everything I can for the piggies, not just because it is the right and humane thing to do, but also because based on the circumstances that led me to have them, their death would be utterly devastating to quite a few people. This was not my usual method of getting pets which involves careful planning and research before acquiring them. I already had one guinea pig, so I knew how to take care of them and what they needed to be happy and healthy, so I wasn't flying completely blind. I didn't think I would still be dealing with quarantine/unemployment for another 9 months, with no end in sight. Financially, I am about tapped out, I have spent about $1,200 over the last month taking the guinea pigs back and forth to the vet. I can only scrape together enough for about one more vet visit, so I want to bring up any suggestions that I can think of, to try and address these issues and get them better. I mention all of this personal information because I have asked for help in a few other forums and some people have said things to be that were downright cruel. I have done everything I can to continue to be able to pay for veterinary care and there is nothing left to sell, pawn or sacrifice, unless I literally let my child go hungry. I am not asking for money or finance suggestions, but after I take them in to be seen tomorrow, I'm not sure I can afford another vet visit after that. I need to make this next one as thorough as possible. If anyone feels compelled to make a hateful or judgmental comment, please don't, I've already heard enough, but I keep looking for advice because I am desperate to get them well.

I have two other general questions and I figured I would ask them here instead of starting several threads at once;

First, the males are still in seperate cages, but once this issue is healed and taken care of, I would prefer to put them back in the same cage, I think they are happier that way. Since I seperates them, I have notices a lot more squealing back and forth between them (I don't necessarily know what that means though.) I wanted to see if anyone had any opinions/advice/suggestions about that. I have the room to add one more large cage. If they stay seperate I am going to combine their current cages to make a large cage and then add one more large cage for the other male. But if I go the route I'm thinking, one of the males will have twice as much space. They are currently in one cage measuring 30x60 and another measuring 30x50, I can DIY some material to connect them, the new enclosure would be 81x73.

Second, does anybody think that a child's play pen(with a few modifications), is a suitable cage environment for the pigs. I don't have a table to put a larger cage on and the ones that come where you can build them up off the floor either; don't work dimension wise, don't have lids, or are prohibitally expensive. I need the cages to have lids because I also have cats. I don't want to buy a larger cage and set it in the floor for several reasons; first, they used to be on the floor and they seem happier on the table(when they were in the floor we kept the door to the room they were in shut to keep the cats out and they didn't get as much interaction) I have cats and even though they have never harmed or shown an interest in the piggies I don't want to tempt fate, I can position them on the table and I have the bottom wrapped in a sturdy canvas in such a way that the cats can't jump onto the table, finally the floor is draftier. I have found a very large child's playpen and I can put a sturdy cover over the top that will keep the cats out and give the piggies a lot more room. The only thing that concerns me is the soft sides of the play pen. I'm worried about them chewing on it and making an escape route, getting their feet stuck in it, or injuring themselves with it some other way, However, I can put some hardware cloth, wood, plexiglass or linoleum around the inside so that they do not come in contact with the soft sides, but it would obstruct their view unless I went with the plexi or hardware cloth. This wouldn't be a permanent solution, I would probably only have them in there for a few months, but all these vet visits killed my cage budget for right now.

I'm sorry for the absolute novel I wrote, but I figured it would be better to give all the information I could, so I don't waste anyone's time and I have the best chance of getting good suggestions.

Thank you for allowing me in the forum and for taking the time to read all of this. I wasn't sure if trigger warnings were only a thing in the US, but I wanted to be safe and not sorry. Have a wonderful day and thank you in advance for any advice.
 

Siikibam

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I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation. I would put them back together now and not wait for them to be better. They’ve both been exposed to whatever it is so there’s no benefit from keeping them separated. When you do put them together, it has to be on neutral ground where neither have been.

How long have they been on the Griseofulvin and is it oral or topical? I’ll tag @Wiebke @VickiA in the meantime read the guide below on ringworm and mites.
Ringworm: Hygiene And Pictures
New guinea pigs: Sexing, vet checks&customer rights, URI, ringworm and parasites
 

VickiA

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It is disappointing that the first vet thought that the piggies had bite marks and didn’t consider ringworm or mites. I agree that there really is no reason for keeping them apart now that active biting has been ruled out. However, I would exercise caution as you are going to have to reintroduce them on neutral territory. I am going to link you in the reintroduction and bonding guides. Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
I’m a bit confused by your cage measurements. A pair of adult boars need a minimum floor space of 150cm x 60cms but ideally bigger at 180cm x 60cms is better.
If you need to create a new larger cage for them there are many examples in our members gallery.
Member Gallery: C&C cages/homemade cages
Many cages can be made using grids and then a waterproof liner on the floor to protect your flooring.
 
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