The exotic vet said it could be ovarian cysts because the hair loss is somewhat symmetric (it wasn't obviously symmetric to me). She felt her sides but could not feel any lumps. She didn't do any further testing and sent us home with mite treatment(Revolution) for Beef and her cage mate. Neither Beef nor Duck have been scratching any more than usual and Beef's bald spots aren't flaky/inflamed/irritated at all. Is it still possible that Beef's hair loss is because of mites even if she doesn't show any signs of irritation?
A possibly important detail is that around the beginning of this year, she started rumble strutting A LOT. She would wake up from her nap and walk over to Duck just to rumble strut. Any time Duck passed by she would start rumble strutting or making a whimpering sound. She would even rumblestrut at us when we pet her. Duck was sick at the time, so I assumed Beef was trying to establish herself as the dominant pig, which Duck previously was. But maybe it was something hormonal this whole time?
I am quite worried that whatever is wrong with Beef will require surgery as she is an old pig so I'm not sure if she could handle it. What is the likelihood that it is just mites? or something that a little extra vitamin c can fix right up? We have a follow up appointment in 2 weeks where the vet will evaluate progress with revolution and do some diagnostics like bloodwork/ultrasound as needed. But I am so nervous thinking about the possibility of Beef needing surgery. Input/advice is much appreciated!
So there seems to be extra loss on the sides of the abdomen? Read the page and note the picture at bottom:
The behavior you observed sounds like classic hormonal behavior, often a sign of ovarian cysts. It is also possible to provide hormone treatment (vs. a spay).
Is her skin changing, becoming more coarse? Can you post a picture? Have you read over this page for ideas?
The weight loss may be problematic. Are you weighing regularly, at least once a week? There can be weight loss with ovarian cysts. If the skin is not inflamed and there is not lots of scratching, it is not likely there are mites - but getting a treatment with Revolution is still a good idea to rule it out. Unless the diet you are giving is poor (low quality pellets mostly with deteriorated vitamin C, no fresh greens) it is unlikely a vitamin C deficiency is the cause. That said, increasing the vitamin C is still a good idea.
So if this is hormonal/perhaps ovarian cysts, medications can counteract some of the issues.
- And got the T-shirt
If we go the hormone treatment route, would bloodwork be enough to confirm the cysts/hormonal problem? Ultrasounds and xrays are insanely expensive where I am and I would rather not do them if bloodwork is enough to know that Beef's problem is hormonal.
Beef does have hair thinning that resembles the picture on the ovarian cysts page but she also has some random bald spots around her body. I found a bald spot a little less than an inch in diameter by her hip and the area around it is not thinning whatsoever. Her skin doesn't have any changes that I know of. I haven't really seen her skin until she started losing hair. Here are some pictures of a few balding areas.
https://imgur.com/WrncrCA This is on that V area by her butt. It's hard to see but there are some flakes (?) at the root of her fur. I wonder if this could be mites.
I could not see your pics with chrome and had to find a different browser to view them. I am adding them here so nobody else has this problem (let me know if that is okay):
Yes, quite a bit of hair loss. Not sure I would attribute the hair loss we are seeing to ovarian cysts though. However the behavior pattern is still typical. You might want to do some research on medications like HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and see if your vet would be willing to try them, given the signs she is showing. I do not know if blood work would give you a definitive answer. I forgot how well the vitamin C worked for bpatters' guinea pig - definitely focus on that.
Weight loss is serious. Having food moving through the system is extremely important. It sounds like the vet tech wants to bully your guinea pig into eating on its own. This is not how weight loss works. In my opinion, anything it takes to maintain weight and keep food moving through the system is important. One trick some people use (if the guinea pig likes the Critical Care) is to make a soft moist ball or small amount of mash and put it on a plate to eat. Self eating is much better than having to be hand fed, for both parties but there is nothing wrong with Critical Care being the thing eaten.
You may opt to continue with a higher dose of vitamin C to see if the hair loss can be controlled or reversed, while continuing to monitor behavior and weight, and looking for any other signs of illness.
- Supporter in 2022
My 5-year-old had an ultrasound recently and the vet saw a mass on her right side. She couldn’t determine for sure what it was and she advised against any surgery at her age.
And regarding the ultrasound, stray masses can also be cancerous growths. One of my guinea pigs had a tumor that spread to several internal organs. Her hair got coarser - I don't think it thinned though.
Bookfan, it seems like she didn't like the hormone injections because they aren't guaranteed to work whereas the spay would be curative. She also mentioned that the injections work well for a certain type of cyst (I couldn't catch the name), but that type does not happen to be the most common type.
I have to decide if Beef gets an ultrasound with our regular vet ($90) or with an ultrasonographer (over $500). With our regular vet she would only be able to look for obvious things that are wrong but the ultrasonographer would do a more thorough check of all of her organs and the scans would be sent to a radiologist for reading. I was originally going to do the ultrasound with our vet, but it seems that your experiences with ultrasounds weren't so definitive? Maybe it is worth it to get the ultrasound with the ultrasonographer..
Has a set of xrays been done? It is also possible to gather information from an xray that could, for example, identify the ovaries and whether they are enlarged.
An update: We actually just got the ultrasound done today. I decided to get it done with our vet and she was not able to find anything (no obvious cysts or tumors). She said that if it is cysts then they are likely small and not too serious of a problem at the moment. She also did some bloodwork so we will see in about 3 days if that tells us anything new.
We went ahead with a lupron injection. I would have preferred cystorelin of HCG, but my vet does not use those and was not willing to get them. She said if lupron is working, we should see her hair growing back in about 3 weeks and I'm going to hope that it also stops Beefs rumblestrutting and grumpiness and weight loss!
Does anyone have experience with lupron injections? How often do they need to be administered? My vet said lupron absolutely must be administered monthly or it will be ineffective but I was under the impression that hormone injections are on an "as needed" basis. She recommended the deslorelin implant if the first shot of lupron works because they apparently work the same way? and the implant would turn out to be cheaper than monthly injections. In my research the implant has a really low efficacy rate whereas lupron seems to be fairly successful. So when my vet said the two are basically interchangeable it made me doubt her expertise in pigs. As always, input is appreciated!
I too really hope the shot helps with behavior and weight loss and most importantly, HAIR regrowth!
Periodic updates are greatly appreciated.
Beef might be due for yet another vet visit :(
I noticed that she has a tiny area on her butt that has some flaky skin. When I tried to get the flakes off, a tiny clump of hair would come off with it. I noticed a very small amount of flakes in this exact area over 2 months ago (I believe there is a picture in this thread), but didn't think anything of it. It is only slightly more flaky now. I am wondering if this could be residual flaking from a possible mite infestation? She was treated with revolution about 6 weeks ago.
I have read that fungal infections usually cause flaky skin and hair loss in clumps that start around the face. Her butt is the only place she has flaky skin. It has been over 2 months since i first noticed the flakes but her cage mate doesnt show any signs of fungal infection, so I am hoping for the possibility that there is no infection going on. Could this just be a fungal infection that is progressing slowly? What else could it be? I am thinking about giving her butt a thorough shampoo to get rid of all the flakes to see if they come back.