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Lizzieejoyce

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Hi everyone

TL;DR - ongoing skin problem and hair loss. Been to the vets 3 times and she’s still not better, any suggestions please?!

My guinea pig, Agnes, has had a skin problem since late August. Another guinea pig of mine had a fungal infection when Agnes started to lose hair so I treated her for fungal too (daktarin oral gel & canesten cream).

Went to the vet a few days later, they said to continue treatment.

A few days later the back of her ear began to go red so I gave her ivermectin thinking it was mites.

Went back to the vet, they gave me Xeno. She’s had 1 dose and is to have her next this weekend.

She wasn’t improving so went back to the vet again and they now think she has a skin infection and prescribed hibiscrub and baytril.

Her treatment ends on Friday but she’s not improving at all.

Her skin isn’t as raw or bleeding anymore but her hair loss is bad and she’s still itching.
Vets seem clueless! Does anyone have any ideas or recommendations, please?!

I’ve attached pictures, those taken in brighter lights are from a couple of weeks ago, the others are from tonight.

I appreciate no one here is a vet and we shouldn’t self medicate but I’ve tried the vets 3 times already and taken advice from a local rescue centre and have gotten nowhere so I’d really appreciate your views.

Thanks so much in advance.
 

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Wiebke

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Lizzieejoyce

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Hi!

Which country are you in?

Baytril and hibiscrub is totally ineffective against both ringworm (fungal skin infection) and mange mites (skin parasites).
Please read up on both ringworm and skin parasites via this link here:
New Guinea Pig Problems: Sexing & Pregnancy; URI, Ringworm & Parasites; Vet Checks & Customer Rights
Ringworm: Hygiene, Care And Pictures
Hiya,

I’m based in the UK, Essex. Vets think it’s a skin infection now, not fungal or mites. She’s had daktarin oral gel for fungal and ivermectin for mites, plus half the dose of Xeno for mites

Thanks
Lizzie
 

Lizzieejoyce

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I should add that’s she’s been with 4 other guinea pigs during this time. 1 had the fungal infection beforehand and the other 2 have been completely fine the entire time.

Agnes’ hair loss did not start on her face, nor does she have hair loss around her face, only her chin, along her side and down her tummy.
 

Free Ranger

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Possibly a pointless addition but seeing as it seems to be on her underside she couldn't be having a reaction to any of her bedding?
My mum gets terribly itchy when she uses one type of biological wash powder. If Agnes is on fleece are you are washing it with bio? I'm so sorry to hear of her problems. I would seriously consider trying a different vet x

I'd be most concerned about fungal issues as they can be trickier to shift because the spores linger in the environment... have you had any signs of Ringworm yourself?
 

Lizzieejoyce

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Hiya, thank you! Yes I might have to at this rate 😔. She’s on fleece bedding, haven’t changed the type or washing routine in months though

Thanks
Lizzie
 

Veggies Galore

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Has your vet taken any skin scrapes to look into this in more detail? Getting a diagnosis is paramount in making sure your guinea pig gets the right treatment .

Personally , I'm suspecting your guinea pig's problem is fungal - I understand that she has already been treated topically for fungal - but some fungal infections require extensive treatment to clear.

The links Wiebke has posted are very informative.

You may also want to consider getting a second opinion from another vet

we have a vet locator of recommende vets


Recommended Guinea Pig Vets
 

Lizzieejoyce

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Hello, thank you!

I might continue with the canesten cream in that case, the vet said it couldn’t hurt to continue.

I am moving house tomorrow so need to get a new vet anyway so that’s on the cards. Vet said they can take skin samples and send it off but I’d obviously like to avoid that if possible - Agnes is old and frail as it is and it’ll cost an extortionate amount. Obviously I will go ahead if need be, I’m just trying to cover all options first.

Thanks
Lizzie
 

Free Ranger

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@Wiebke have you mentioned in the past that there is a very effective systemic cat antifungal that can be prescribed by vets in the UK (Itrafungol?) Is it still considered a good way to tackle fungal infection? If this poster can phone round and find a vet that has the option of prescribing this treatment for piggies they might make better progress if it turns out to be fungal.

@Lizzieejoyce I'm not a vet, but usually mites/lice (which we've seen a few times) are more easily diagnosed and pretty straightforward to treat whereas generally fungal issues can hang around and be a problem for much longer because of the spores that spread it. Older piggies can certainly be frail and with poorer immune systems so they may suffer from fungal infections when their younger, healthier cage mates do not. I was in this exact position myself with an old girl who had to be treated when my other piggies were fine and I should add did not develop any fungal infection themselves as they reached the ends of their lives in turn. However, it was not ringworm - which is hard to get rid of - but something milder, and she had a shampoo treatment for that (repeated every so many weeks - I forget the regime now) which was effective for her fungus.

Red ears are not a standard flag for mites/lice (there is a common pattern/type of hair loss vets look for as well as debris/egg casings in the fur on certain parts of the body) and I do understand that having a mystery problem that won't go away can make you feel a bit desperate - I have absolutely been there - but if you are going to treat for parasites it should be done properly. For xeno spot-on that is usually THREE treatments of the correct dose, each TWO weeks apart and EVERY pig treated at the same time which for 4 pigs is expensive. (There is an alternative of injections as a treatment although this is not something we have ever had prescribed). Also blitzing the cages/fleeces/ houses/tunnels a day or so after each treatment (although I only use hot water and vinegar for this rather than the big guns F10!) Treatment is effective this way. Wrong doses/spacings/repeats or just treating one pig of a group will mean the problem inevitably returning as the mites/lice/eggs have an escape route or an alternative host.

I think with such lovely fluffy piggies you won't have an overnight solution if it turns out to be a fungal issue as the invisible spores will be in the 'environment' for a while. It might not necessarily be ringworm - like my old girl, your Agnes might have something quite easy to shift that her cage-mates don't suffer from although they may still carry it and reinfect her. Even if you are rubbing Canesten cream into a bald patch she can carry the spores all over her fur/friends/owner/cage and you can't coat her in thrush cream - nor would you want to as she would be so miserable. As anyone who's had thrush knows the cream can feel like it is burning as it works on the fungus and make poor piggy cry. If she'd had a fungus-y ear and Canesten had been applied to it that might well explain why it went red. Have a good read of the fungus guides linked in above and if you need to get some of that F10 cleaner for the cage and surrounds I hear Amazon do it and it's very effective. I am not personally familiar with daktarin oral gel but as far as I can tell it's a 'people' antifungal medicine for oral thrush... it is not a systemic treatment which kills fungus throughout the body, it's just local - like Canesten for inside the mouth - so although it's not toxic (for people at least - I don't know about pigs) I can't see it doing anything for piggy unless piggy has been diagnosed with oral thrush and I'm not sure I'd be happy dosing my piggy with it regularly 😕 If Agnes has a fungal infection these people medicines aren't going to cure it... they haven't so far and I reckon you're wasting your money. But far more dangerous is the next step in thinking... "Well it can't be fungus, because I've treated for fungus and that hasn't worked" I'm not sure you can say that you've had effective treatment for guinea-pig fungal infection so it still can't be ruled out.

By this point there may well be a secondary bacterial infection as piggy will be very itchy and biting/scratching till the skin breaks so you can easily get bacteria in the wound... but using hibiscrub and baytril just won't tackle fungus, or parasites, or even some kinds of bacteria - I don't think that's your primary problem.

Vet prescribed treatments are at a strength that is very effective if used correctly but dangerous if used improperly... that's why they need prescriptions! Some pigs are too young/old/small/pregnant/have medical issues for everypig to get the same treatment without a hands on exam from a vet who hopefully knows what they're doing - and it's true not all have the experience. Off-the-shelf items sometimes contain the same active ingredients but always at lower doses because they have to account for people who can't interpret the instructions and might therefore apply too much or too frequently, or use them on baby pigs when it says not to. So using off-the-shelf anti-fungal or off-the-shelf ivermectin will only scratch the surface of a problem whereas the correct vet prescription should knock it on the head (at least that's the ideal). Again, perhaps the most dangerous thinking is that, "...it can't be mites/lice(fungus) because we've treated with the ivermectin(daktarin)" when actually it was not an effective treatment. This happens in other countries where you can buy over-the-counter antibiotics... people end up thinking they don't have a bacterial infection because the ABs didn't work without realising it depends on dose/course length/partial resistance/ gram positive or negative type etc (sorry, ex-scientist)...

So I think after you've got the house move out of the way your fastest route to success for poor Agnes is to find another vet and start again. Not what you want to hear I know and I'm really sorry - it's a b*tch of a situation but hopefully you can get on top of it for her sake and yours too x
 

Lizzieejoyce

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Hello, Thank you so much!

Another piggy with her is her sister, same age, breed and she’s fine!

Agnes never had any issues around her face. Her skin and hair loss does not look like ringworm, fungal or mites either. I’m guessing it must be a bacterial infection of some kind so would have thought the hibiscrub would have worked but clearly not.

Definitely feeling desperate and that I’m letting her down which breaks my heart. Definitely need to get a second opinion!

Thanks so much again.
 

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My old fungal girl just had general thinning of hair all over her body but it was mostly visible on her back and flanks - it looked a bit like the sparse hair on very old ladies. I wondered whether it was a hormonal issue as she didn't seem to scratch and I was a bit skeptical about the anti-fungal shampoo but then it worked. Vet said she didn't scratch much because her arthritis made her too stiff to do it properly, poor lass, but after treatments she was a lot brighter and moving round more and her hair started to grow back and her skin looked great!

The awful thing was that during her final rinse of her last treatment she snuffed up a tiny drop of water, sneezed, and within 24 hours... 😪 Broke my heart. Cried at the vets getting an antibiotic injection to try and save her but her lungs were already full of fluid - kind vet pointed out that she was so susceptible for exactly the same reason she got the fungus in the first place - she was a frail old girl who came to us for her retirement years. She had a lovely nature 💕
 

Lizzieejoyce

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I’m so sorry to hear, that’s so sad 😭.

What did the vet prescibe & What shampoo did you use?

Thanks
Lizzie
 

Free Ranger

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I genuinely can't remember the active ingredient in the shampoo as it was some several years back but it was definitely prescription-strength as when she talked about shampooing I didn't immediately understand and said, "Oh I don't ever bathe them!" because I thought she was trying to say my girl'd had a bad reaction to something I'd shampooed them with. So she said no, this wasn't a normal shampoo, it was a proper prescription in shampoo form which you put on and leave for a few minutes and then rinse off and allow piggy to dry somewhere warm. It wasn't something that could be bought in a shop - not even from the vet without a 'script - because after either 2 or 3 shampoos (again can't remember) she was properly cured, whereas with something 'off-the shelf' like human 'Head n Shoulders' you basically have to keep using it your whole life (or until your greasy teen years end) to keep those flakes at bay. One desperate poster had even tried this but it's very harsh on piggy's sensitive skin - and their skin is so much more sensitive than ours 😢

I didn't know about the effective systemic anti-fungal treatment until I joined the forum and tbh it came up when posters from the middle east were desperately trying to find treatments for their poor piggies and both piggy vets and piggy meds were really thin on the ground - in some societies it seems even keeping a companion animal is frowned upon so to front up at any vet with a sick guinea pig really takes some nerve (especially for women). It was a real eye opener as to how fortunate we are here with our access to vets and meds - also for the existence of the PDSA so people on limited incomes can still access veterinary care. When I was a kid I thought 'PDSA' was the official name for all vets as it was the only one we ever went to with our random animals... sick people went to the doctors and sick animals went to the PDSA. Luckily it was right next to a bus stop!
 
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