You can recognize a fungus in guinea pigs by the mostly clear symptoms. However, a distinction must be made between skin and intestinal fungi. It is important that you have the fungus in guinea pigs treated quickly and do not infect your rodent.
You can reduce the risk of fungal infestation by keeping your guinea pigs in a species-appropriate, loving manner and by eating them well – Shutterstock / Reinhold Leitner
Fungi are among the so-called zoonoses: This means that a fungus in guinea pigs can also spread to humans. You should therefore always wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect them after contact with a sick furry friend and wear disposable gloves when caring for the rodent.
Identifying skin fungus in guinea pigs: symptoms
• Circular, hairless patches on the skin, mainly on the head, neck and limbs. The areas around the eyes, ears and muzzle are often most affected.
• There are also types of skin fungus that mainly cause bald spots on the stomach or back.
• The edges of the bald spots may be reddish.
• Occasionally, whitish scabs can also be seen.
• Itching and frequent scratching.
Danger: For anatomical reasons, Meeris have a bald spot behind the ear – this is completely normal and does not indicate a fungal infection.
Ultimately, the veterinarian must make the diagnosis. If possible, do not lose any time when you see the first signs of a fungus in your guinea pig. In the worst case, fungi can affect the organs and have life-threatening consequences there.
Fungus in guinea pigs: what to do?
A fungus in guinea pigs is only treated by the veterinarian. Only he can make the correct diagnosis and adapt the therapy to the respective type of skin fungus. In most cases, the doctor administers a solution adapted to the specific pathogen for dabbing the infected areas or an ointment. These are locally acting antifungals. Sprays, tablets or injections are also conceivable.
Important points for fungal treatment:
• Use and duration of use: Follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully!
• Do not order your sick Meeri to be kept alone. This would only cause additional stress and possibly negatively affect the healing process. Although your other piggies can get infected from sick fellow pigs, this rarely happens when the immune system is weakened. In this case, you must also treat the other rodent.
• Do not bathe your guinea pig – if a doctor suggests this method, ask others or get a second opinion from another veterinarian.
Guinea pigs: prevent fungal infestation
There are a few factors that increase the possibility of fungal disease in guinea pigs, including:
• Severe stress, for example from the wrong location of the cage or from fierce battles for hierarchy.
• Inadequate hygiene and uncleanliness (particularly damp areas in the cage are good breeding grounds for fungi).
• Diet that is not appropriate for the species or is of poor quality, especially a lack of vitamins and nutrients (tips on how to avoid nutrient deficiencies can be found in the guide “Guinea pigs: nutrition and food for rodents”).
• Other diseases that weaken the fur nose’s immune system.
Fungus in guinea pigs: recognizing and treating intestinal fungus
Another form of fungal infestation is an infection with an intestinal fungus, which must be distinguished from a skin fungal disease. In guinea pigs, the intestines can sometimes be massively colonized by yeast fungi, for example the fungus Candida albicans. The symptoms for this are:
• weight loss
• Damage to skin, teeth and fur as a result of intestinal fungal infestation
If you suspect it, take a stool sample with you to the vet, who can examine it on site or have it analyzed in a laboratory.
Treating intestinal fungus in guinea pigs is usually straightforward. As a rule, after a precise diagnosis (as part of a stool sample), the veterinarian will prescribe a remedy that you must give to your rodent according to the veterinarian’s instructions. Don’t forget the doctor’s follow-up examination of the feces after six to eight weeks.
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