A Medical and Care Guide for Guinea Pigs


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Before the advent of ivermectin (a systemic parasiticide), mite treatments could only provide a degree of control, rather than complete elimination of mange mites in guinea pigs. Given its apparent safety and effectiveness when used in correct doses, ivermectin is the preferred treatment for mites, especially mange mites.

Seeing a competent vet will assure that this medication's use is indicated and that it is appropriately administered. A vet may also provide topical treatment for open sores and infection caused by scratching and for crusty skin and other complications related to the mites.

Because skin scrapings (which would confirm mites) are painful and unreliable, many savvy vets forgo them. Scratching an area of skin infested by mites by hand may produce such pain and irritation in your guinea pig that it looks like it's having a fit. Often a vet will administer ivermectin in the presence only of itching and hair loss, treating for other conditions such as fungal infections in the absence of improvement. It is important to note that your guinea pig may be suffering from more than one condition.

Do everything you can to get proper treatment if mites are suspected. Remember that mange mites can kill.

When mites are properly diagnosed, all your guinea pigs will need treatment and their living quarters must be cleaned. Avoid future infections by quarantining and treating new animals if suspected of being carriers and practicing good husbandry. Some breeders will routinely treat new guinea pigs in quarantine (since they can carry mites while showing no signs) rather than risk infecting a whole herd of guinea pigs. It is advised that a guinea pig weigh at least 12 ounces (340 grams) before treating with ivermectin. Ivermectin is reportedly safe when administered to pregnant animals.

Ivermectin is administered by a formula specifying the dosage in milligrams per kilo of weight for the individual species. Therefore it is essential to know the weight of the animal to be treated, and the dosage rate in mg /kilo for that animal. Your vet should be able to find medical references to determine the correct dosage. J. Harkness DVM and J.Wagner DVM list dosage information on page 175 of "The Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents" (publisher Williams & Wilkins - a Lea and Febiger Book).

While online sources suggest 0.2 mg ivermectin/kilo is the correct oral dosage, it is expected that the responsible guinea pig owner will consult a veterinarian for treatment. All liquid forms of ivermectin list strength in mg/ml. In the paste, it is indicated by a percentage by weight of the total. Check the source itself for the exact amount of ivermectin per ml or per oz, as there are other forms of ivermectin than those listed. Read all precautions specified for the product.

Cattle, sheep, and horses are generally treated also at 0.2mg/kilo when ivermectin is used orally or by injection and treated at 0.5mg/kilo when it is used topically (FDA - NADA 140-841). Ivomec Pour-On (topical application, 5mg/ml ivermectin) and Ivomec Injection (10 mg/ml ivermectin ) both use the same active ingredients and are diluted with the same inert ingredients. However, the Pour-On is more diluted, probably to facilitate the spread of the active ingredient over the skin. While the injectable form could be diluted further and used topically, the Pour-On would not be used as an injectable product.

Remember that you are advised to SEE A VET to ensure your guinea pig is properly treated for mites. The preceding discussion is intended to put ivermectin dosing into perspective. Go Up


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