4 Things Guinea Pig Owners Need To Know About Dermatitis

3 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Dermatitis is an itchy skin disease that can affect people, but surprisingly, guinea pigs can also develop this disease. Here are four things guinea pig owners need to know about dermatitis.

What are the signs of dermatitis?

If your pig gets dermatitis, you'll notice that their feet are swollen. You'll also notice that the hair on their feet has fallen out. If you take a closer look at their feet, you'll see that they have large ulcers in various stages of healing on the bottoms of their feet.

Why do guinea pigs get dermatitis?

Guinea pigs get dermatitis when Staphylococcus aureus, a common type of bacteria, gets inside their skin. These bacteria can enter the skin through wounds in the feet, which may occur as a result of standing on wire-bottomed cages or other abrasive surfaces. Obesity also plays a role as this puts more pressure on your pet's feet.

How do vets treat dermatitis?

Treatment for this condition first involves getting rid of the bacteria. This can be done with an antibiotic cream. Applying cream to a guinea pig's feet can be challenging, so if possible, have someone else hold your pig while you apply the cream.

It's also important to make changes to your pig's environment to keep them from getting dermatitis in the future. If your pig's cage has a wire bottom, cover the bottom with a soft bedding material like paper to protect their feet. If they're obese, work with your vet to put them on a safe weight loss regimen.

Can you get dermatitis from your guinea pig?

The bacteria responsible for dermatitis in guinea pigs, Staphylococcus aureus, also causes disease in humans. It can lead to dermatitis, as well as other skin diseases like impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis and abscesses. The bacteria can also lead to more serious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, or endocarditis.

To avoid exposing yourself to the bacteria, wear gloves and a mask while holding or caring for your pig, and don't forget to wash your hands afterwards. Once your pig has recovered, it's also important to disinfect their cage to get rid of the bacteria.

Disinfecting the cage protects you from your pig's bacteria and also keeps your pet from getting re-infected. This can be done by wiping the cage floor and bars with a solution of two tablespoons of bleach and one liter (about one quart) of water.

If your guinea pig's feet are swollen and ulcerated, they may have dermatitis, an infectious skin disease. Take them to a vet like those at the Foothills Animal Hospital right away for treatment.