Guinea pigs can be infected with ringworm just like us, cats, dogs and other animals. Ringworm is a fungal infection (not a worm, despite the name). This type of fungi is able to take nutrients from keratin; the substance that makes up hair, nails and skin. Therefore ringworm is literally feeding and thriving on the (usually top layer of dead) skin and fur of the animal (or human) it has infected.
Ringworm is a fungal condition that is highly contagious. So if one of your guinea pigs has been found to have ringworm, there’s a good chance they will all get it.
Other guinea pigs can catch ringworm without necessarily physically touching other guinea pigs – they can get it from bedding that’s infected. This is why it’s so important to make sure your guinea pig’s bedding is always clean and hygenic.
Red, crusty areas as well as patches of baldness or thinned fur is a sign of ringworm. See your vet if your guinea pigs are showing these signs.
Ringworm can cause infections when not treated quickly and thoroughly, so don’t wait to “see if it will clear up on its own” – because ringworm will not clear up on its own. People can catch ringworm as well, so make sure you get vet treatment right away to protect both your guinea pigs and the humans in the house.
After handling a guinea pig who has ringworm, always wash your hands thoroughly with soapy water and take care when handling other pets that may live in your home. Wash all towels and bedding and allow to fully dry in the sun if possible.
Ringworm is considered common in guinea pigs. Some animals may carry the fungi without showing symptoms, they can still be carriers and transmit ringworm to other animals or people (when a human can catch a disease from an animal it is called a zoonosis).
It’s uncomfortable, irritating and highly contagious so if your guinea pig is showing signs of ringworm, you need to act fast to get rid of it.
Signs and Symptoms of Ringworm in Guinea Pigs
What does guinea pig ringworm look like and how can you tell if your piggie(s) might have it?
It’s a fungal infection of the skin, so it’s usually very noticeable in the form of missing patches of fur which may, but not always be in the rough shape of a ring or circle.
Whatever it might look like, it goes without saying that a trip to the vet should be the first port of call when any signs of skin irritation or infection are showing. When it comes to ringworm, acting quickly is important because you’ll want to get on top of this infection before it gets worse, and to stop it spreading to other pets and humans in the house.
Preventing Ringworm in Guinea Pigs
Once you’ve successfully treated a ringworm problem, what can you do to make sure it never comes back again?
Can guinea pigs get ringworm from stress?
Although exposure to the ringworm fungus is needed for a guinea pig to get ringworm, if a guinea pig is under stress then their immune system can suffer; and this can make them more susceptible to a variety of health problems. This includes infections and ringworm which they can be more likely to succumb to with a compromised immune system. For overall health and wellbeing, guinea pigs should lead a stress-free life. Guinea pigs who have been rescued from poor conditions or mistreatment, or bought from pet shops where they’ve been kept in substandard conditions, need extra TLC to get their immune system back into strong condition; and it’s during these times that we should be extra vigilent in looking out for the signs of ringworm, as well as any other health problems.