Q: I have a male guinea pig that is 9 months old. He has these scabby bumps on him and is losing fur. His mom had it but not as severe. I took her to our vet and she was treated with Frontline and Baytril and made a full recovery. I have since taken him, and he has been on the Baytril for about nine days. Some parts looks better and others look worse. He has it really bad around the eyes and under his neck. I had him out tonight and took off some of the stuff and it looks white — kind of like dandruff but hard. It attaches to the hair follicles kind of like lice. He acts like he doesn’t feel well but he is eating and drinking as usual. I’m going to call the vet but am looking for another opinion. So any info would be greatly appreciated and helpful.
A: Because the guinea pig’s mom was treated successfully with a medication for external parasites (Frontline) and another for a superficial bacterial skin infection (Baytril) secondary to the parasites, it would be a fair assumption that the male guinea pig now also has external parasites. Your description is exactly what we see with external parasites — the hair easily comes out (epilates) and there are “bumps” attached to the hair. These bumps are probably lice nits or eggs attached to the hair base and they resemble a “hard” dandruff.
The reason it is not surprising that the parasites have returned is that guinea pig parasites are very tough to remove from the environment. You can easily treat the guinea pig(s) but you also need to treat the environment. Your veterinarian can help you tailor an extermination program that is safe for your guinea pigs, other pets and your household. In general, you need to remove the adult parasites and their eggs from your house. This will include a combination of cleaning, vacuuming and throwing out any material that cannot be properly and safely cleaned. You may also need to treat the mom guinea pig again to make sure she is not re-infected with parasites.