View Full Version : Scratching Could it be from the hay?

12-22-09, 02:14 am
I just got my two girlies about 3 days ago. First time cavy owner down here in new zealand. I am going to use fleece as their bedding but currently they are in my bathtub with hay over newspaper (bad i know but its only very temporary until i get their cage built)

Just yesterday when i spent like 2 hours watchin them i noticed they would scratch themselves quite a bit. a few times they would chew their feet afterwards. and by scratching a lot i would mean sometimes if they got really itchy, they would scratch abt 2-4 times within a minute, mostly all over. and they would have not itchy periods where they're just fine. i got them from a petshop (sorry!) but for the hour or so i spent watching them they didnt scratch themselves there.

So i was wondering, since my temporary bedding is hay and newspaper (the hay sometimes i find has little moths in them, not sure about other little bugs) maybe the hay is causing their itch? One is snow white and the other is browny. iv checked both to the skin and i see absolutely nothing, they smell very clean too. another thing is iv seen a few little black bugs crawling around the bathtub (from the hay most likely) and they're tiny, like 1.5mm? 6 legged. and i saw one little white thing like a red spider mite but white, crawling around my bathtub too. could these little things be itching my piggies????

12-22-09, 10:23 am
While I'm not certain what those bugs are (some sort of chigger perhaps) they are very likely the cause of your pigs itchiness. I doubt they are coming from the hay. Bugs on animals can be very hard to see. You can try treating yourself with Ivermectin or taking the pigs to a cavy experienced vet.

12-22-09, 06:25 pm
Hm okay thanks. I don't know if this helps but this morning when I changed their hay for new one, I found a moth in the bag. Also, when I'd changed the hay and the girls were inside for about 5 minutes, i started noticing these little black bugs, the same ones, crawling upwards onto the wall. There were about 8 or so of them, tiny 1.5mm things. They were crawling away from the pigs? I would take a photo but I don't think my camera would catch something so small

12-23-09, 06:00 pm
Im not sure its your hay because i was just noticing my piggies scratching and when i was brushing him today, by his bottom i noticed that i oud just pull the hair right out.=[ I have no idea what this is though.

12-23-09, 07:27 pm
Sometimes hay comes infested with mites. It probably would be best to throw the hay out and treat the pigs for mites. At the very least you need to freeze the hay to kill the bugs and get your pigs treated.

12-23-09, 07:39 pm
Mites need a living host to survive so hay being infested with mites is pretty much an improbability.

These bugs that are in the hay are not mites. I'd return the hay for a refund, treat your pigs for mites as they most likely have them from being petstore pigs and get some hay that is not infested with moths or bugs.

12-23-09, 07:57 pm
Mites need a living host to survive so hay being infested with mites is pretty much an improbability.

Interesting. I've seen freezing hay to kill mites before feeding it to your pigs advocated more than once on different sites. I always figured they were either like bed bugs and could survive a while off the host or their eggs were easy to pass on. Good to know that's not the case.

12-23-09, 11:55 pm
Freezing the hay? My mum aired it out under the sun today (its summer here)...
I'm determined to think its not mites! :( What are some of the syptoms other than excessive scratching and hair loss? I've just check both girls to the skin, and their skin is still nice and soft and pink/smooth. And their fur is absolutely clean, and no patches (how long do those take to appear after the initial excessive scratching?)

Also another question, can pigs sweat? Do they get itchy from that? Because they do have some fiddlesticks and they both like to cram themselves under and come out to scratch...

And worst case scenario.... If it IS mites... where do I get this Ivermectin stuff? As in, is it prescribed or do I get it from a shop? And also, I live in New Zealand... so... yeah.

12-24-09, 08:00 am
Soupz, you can't see the mites, ever. You can only see what's happening to the GPs skin after the infestation gets bad enough for the pig to scratch through the top layer of the skin.

Why are you determined to think it's not mites? That much scratching is unlikely to be caused by the hay, and may be totally unrelated to the bugs in the hay.

Ivermectin is sold in New Zealand -- in fact, it's manufactured there. It's used, there and here, for treating cows, horses, sheep, etc, so a good farm supply store should have it.

See Guinea Lynx (http://www.guinealynx.info) for information on dosing.

12-25-09, 02:34 am
Okay... I really am going for worst case scenario now. So this Ivermectin, in NZ, farm supply stores as in...? Could I possibly get it from the pet shop, in a pre-packaged dose for pigs? Do those things exist? I ask now since its Christmas and nothing is open for me to check. I will go hopefully before the new year.

One last thing, I noticed (on the brown piggie) some little white things on her stomach... It looked like dandruff to me, but could it be nits? There are no lice in her fur. And if it was lice, and as precautions I treated them with both Ivermectin and lice shampoo thingy, is that safe and okay for them?

12-25-09, 05:40 am
Soupz, not sure if there's a farmlands in Auckland but thats where i'd go, also if it is used for livestock expect to buy it in industrial amounts.

If it is them little black bugs in the hay, then it's not mites. I think there incredibly small flies but i honestly have no idea. It might be worth just doing a chick vet check with them anyway to make sure they're healthy, and also the vet will let you know exactly what the problem is.

Hope i've helped a bit, you could also just Google local farms tores in Auckland

12-25-09, 08:22 am
You never want to mix two medicated things like the lice shampoo (which you shouldn't use anyway) and the Ivermectin. Just use the Ivermectin. If they had lice you'd be able to see them fairly easily. Especially around the eyes and ears.

12-26-09, 02:16 am
Okay, so it's definitely not lice. I'm taking them to the vet tomorrow since I haven't had a full health check with them yet either, so 2-in-1. Hopefully the vet will give them some Ivermectin. I've heard they do a skin scrape sample thing? :( Poor piggies... for their health!

12-26-09, 09:32 am
The skin scrape may not prove anything at all -- it can be negative and they still have mites. Ivermectin is relatively inexpensive -- I'd just treat them and skip the skin scraping.

12-26-09, 06:00 pm
Do you have to pay for the skin scrape? I have heard that they don't work... I didn't go to the vet today but made an appointment for Tuesday (after the holiday surcharge) I went to the pet shop and they said to get Ivermectin from the vets. Could I just ask for it anyways? Even if the vet's scrape thing turns out negative?

12-26-09, 06:31 pm
I'm sure they'll charge for the skin scraping. Did you read the information on Guinea Lynx on mites and ivermectin?

Start at www.guinealynx.info (http://www.guinealynx.info). It's got links to information on both mites and medications.

12-26-09, 07:50 pm
I wouldn't let them do a skin scrape. It can be painful and its ineffective. I would just treat for mites. It won't hurt them to be treated even if they don't have mites. Also you can find Ivermectin at feed stores or online if you would rather. I would still get them checked by a vet anyway as they came from a pet store.

12-27-09, 11:36 am
I wouldn't let them do a skin scrape. It can be painful and its ineffective. I would just treat for mites. It won't hurt them to be treated even if they don't have mites. Also you can find Ivermectin at feed stores or online if you would rather. I would still get them checked by a vet anyway as they came from a pet store.
Ditto. Skin scrapings are very painful and often turn up with false results. Don't put your pig through pain for that.

12-27-09, 04:36 pm
Oh okay, I'm pretty sure they have it because I found a little chunk or fur (10-15hairs on it or so) with a scabby bit of skin at the base... Poor piggies! So I should tell the vet to treat for mites straight away?

12-28-09, 04:20 pm
Okay went to the vet today and got some topical cat/dog ivermectin (in the right dosage for piggies) u inject onto der skin at the neck... Just got them home about an hour ago... And now they are still scratching. How long would it take to see them stop scratching?

Also, the vet only had topical or injection. They didn't have an oral version as I was hoping for.

12-30-09, 01:51 am
Okay I had a post about my piggies possible mite problem before but that seemed to be getting off track.

So the new problem is, the vet has given them some topical Ivermectin to apply through a syringe onto the skin at the back of the neck (like flea treatments I assume). They don't have oral, only other option is injection. I think there is about 1mL of stuff for 100g of pig, approx? The thing is I don't see much change. Because they didn't have patches or scabbing or anything and looked healthy on the outside apart from the excessive scratching, I can't see much difference. They are still scratching quite a bit, maybe not as aggresively as they used to but they're are still scratching a bit more than what I deem to be normal (they're scratching around 3-4 times an hour maybe).

How long does the Ivermectin take usually for noticeable difference to happen?
Is the topical Ivermectin less trustworthy in getting rid of mites?
Because it had been raining I hadn't had the other set of bedding ready for when they came home, could it be they re-caught it straight away from their dirty bedding?
Could it be because they're crammed up in their little house a lot and are just itchy from the stuffiness?
What about a mosquito bite? Mum said she found a huge one lurking around their cage.

They are eating healthily and all is fine, just scratching more than the 3-4 times a day... I have 2 more treatments for each pig waiting, 2 weeks apart and plan to do the next one much more thoroughly... But could it be that I'm bein paranoid? Also, I don't know if its relevant to mention but one of my girls is popcorning but twisting her head and upper body while she does that, and then sometimes scratch all over when she's stopped. Is that kind of popcorning normal?

JD In Van
12-30-09, 08:16 am
If it's lice (rather then mites), injected Invermicine may not work. If that's the case Advantage or Revolution applied topically seems to do the trick (my guys with lice the Advantage reduced itching noticably within 24 hours and completely within 72).

I believe Invermicine requires a followup dosage within 10 days as well? (Oral and Topical does I'm not sure about injected).

That kind of popping that's more seizure than hop can be a sign of mites/lice.

12-30-09, 08:30 am
Ivermectin can take a week or more to work, and will require more than one treatment. JD, I don't think she's injecting it -- just using a syringe to apply it to the back of the neck on the skin.

JD In Van
12-30-09, 08:38 am
Oh my bad I read that wrong.
Yes you need a second treatment after 10 days.

12-30-09, 09:08 am
Mites can actually flare up after the first treatment. Give it time.

12-30-09, 09:31 am
Sorry, akstrohm. I don't know much about piggie. I do have the same problem.

One of my piggie also popcorning but twisting her head and scratching quite often. I did took her to the vet and got injection twice, still she is scratching like usual. But my the other girl does not popcorning and rarely scratch. I thought after 2nd injection of invermectin she be fine. Since I plan to take them for a whole body check up, I should make appointment to the new vet and ask for recommendation of vet by calling the shelter. The previous vet not cavy savy - so sad.

Hope the other members will give advice.

12-30-09, 09:50 am
Yes, I would switch vets and see what the new vet says. How far apart were your Ivermectin treatments? They should be 7-10 days apart. It could be that you just need another treatment or that there's a different problem. Next time do an oral or topical treatment--they're less painful and possibly more effective.

12-30-09, 11:46 am
When you have an existing thread on the same topic, add to it, don't make more threads on the same subject no matter if the other is "off track" or not. We like to keep relevant threads together so members don't have to go dig up older threads to find the rest of the story. This thread is being merged with your other thread.

12-30-09, 09:35 pm
Oh, sorry Ly I didn't know that.

The Ivermectin is topical and I have 3 doses, first was already done, next is in 2 weeks, and last 2 weeks from then.

And yes JD, the popcorning is more seizure than hopping, so 99.9% sure its mites as I cannot see anything on their skin or hair. Would all the mites be completely gone by the third application? And can guinea pigs get mozzie bites?

12-31-09, 12:41 am
Ufortunatly, im having he same problems with my guinea pig. He's been scratching and lossing hair and bleeding. I've taken him to the vet to get treated for mites and he's been getting Ivermectin treatments for the past two weeks.
Today was his last treatment and he still scratching. And right now i've notice that he's bleeding from all the scratching and crying from the open wounds.
could he have something else besides mites??

12-31-09, 12:41 am
Three treatments is normally sufficient, but really stubborn treatments can require more.

12-31-09, 02:26 am
The Ivermectin is topical and I have 3 doses, first was already done, next is in 2 weeks, and last 2 weeks from then.Two weeks between doses is too long and it will not be effective. They should be given about one week apart and at the most 10 days.

12-31-09, 05:08 am
Really? The vet did say 2 weeks apart. How long does it take from egg to adult? Or is that not a deciding factor?

01-06-10, 09:06 pm
Okay, still need help guys so here's an update.

I've given the piggies their second dose of the topical Ivermectin (7 days from the first dose). This time when I gave them their doses, I also completely cleaned out their cage at the same time including soaking their fiddlesticks in hot soapy water and baked it under the sun for about 4 hours.

And they're still scratching! I don't think as much but I can't be sure because I don't sit by their cage for hours on end anymore... But I'm pretty sure they're scratching more than 10 times a day. I still don't see any balding or anything so is it just because I have itchy piggies?

Just a side question, how much fur do they lose? Because they seem to lose as much as a long haired dog because their tunnels and cosies where they prefer to stay is like <i>covered</i> in fur...

01-06-10, 10:04 pm
I am also concerned about my piggies. I noticed my piggies itch a lot as well. I really started noticing it when I got my piggie Wendall. I knew he had a problem. I took him to the vet and they said lice. So I put Revolution on him (a few drops on the back of his neck) once a month for 3 months. I went back and they tested and found no lice, no mites and no fungus. They said he was just an itchy pig. I dont know if I notice the rest of them itching because I was worried the rest of my herd was going to catch it because I was doing something wrong with the quaranteen, or what but it was bad. I took him and another piggie in for the scratching and they found nothing again (they didnt do a skin scrape but the plucked a few hairs, looked under the microscope at the hairs and at some dandruff they brushed onto a piece of paper and also looked at the skin and hair with a black light.) None of them seem to be uncomfortable, 3 of them have perfect skin and fur. Wendall unfortionately has this horrible scaly white skin stuff (which the vet said was NOT ringworm). We keep him shaved because he is a texel (and he seems to like being furless and he popcorns ONLY when he is furless) and when we shave him we also bath him with a human dandruff shampoo like guinealynx suggests. But we cant figure out what it is either. We are all stumpped. But they are not uncomfortable, they eat, drink, play and cuddle just fine. Its been 3 months since we took him to the vet last where they found nothing wrong. So I felt that if it was something more serious than itchy pig with dandruff/dry skin, then it would have gotten worse. So my suggestion is to try both invermectin and/or revolution. It also makes a difference if you go the injection route or the topical route because some parisites are blood sucking (so the topical wouldnt work because they dont get enough of the poison thats in the skin) and if they are bitting (in which case the injection wouldnt work because they arent getting blood which has the poison) so if you dont have the right diagnosis then it will take longer than 3 treatments or you will have to switch treatments until you get the right one. I hope this all makes sense. Well good luck to everyone out there that has itchy piggies I know how hard it is. When in doubt shave them! At least then they are cute! Just kidding they are always cute... Its real fun to shave a pig though! I have pics if anyone wants to see!!!!

01-07-10, 08:57 am
Actually topically applied ivermectin is still absorbed and so it works to kill internal parasites.

It sounds to me like you just have itchy piggies. Give the third dose, and if they're still scratching, don't worry about it unless it gets worse.