Thursday, August 23, 2012
Guinea pigs and mites
So our little guys got mites a few months ago. I didn't know that was what they had because these are our first experience with guinea pigs. They are all a year old now. What they had was a scaley back. Like they had some scabby dandruff. No bugs present. They were scratching much more than usual and were miserable. Chocolate Milk was the worst. Twix was mildly bothered. Speckle was fine. In fact Twix and Chocolate Milk did not want to be handled and Chocolate Milk looked like he had a seizure when we did try to brush his back. So when I Googled mites, they had the symptoms. Mites are a bug that burrow under their skin. Now the only way that I read about how to treat them was go to the vet and get a certain medication. There is nothing over the counter you can use for it. This past year our pups have cost us a fortune. They had Parvo, we got them fixed, Dobby got sick after a run down the road, he got x-rays, Yoda has a bum leg. The pups are killing me here. But I was not going to let the 3 little pigs suffer. I did read you could use a horse paste but give them very little. Don't worry, nobody would sell me any and I didn't feel good about doing that either. I read about using bag balm on them. I tried that. Don't do it. What a mess. Bag Balm is great stuff, But... Slathering it on 3 guinea pigs is no fun for you or the little piggies. It has lanolin in it and it is wildly thick. The little guys didn't like it and they moved very little while it was on them and they sure greased up the pen. So I tried to wash it off of them. More trauma. Even using Dawn dishsoap did not degrease them all that much. I am brainstorming how to fix this mess. Cornstarch. I powdered them up with cornstarch. It is not toxic at all and it absorbed the oil. They were a little powdery white and I just pet them a lot to work it in. Then I left them alone. They were greasy no more after a second powder session. There was a little improvement with the mite problem. Most of the scaly stuff came off. Now with mites, they hatch again so I knew I wasn't done but I was not going to do bag balm again.
When my girls had lice forever ago, we had no luck with all that toxic stuff to kill it. The school nurse gave me a recipe to try with olive oil and several other oils. We got rid of them. I also shared the recipe with several friends who went round and round with lice and after they used it, they were finally rid of them. So if olive oil can kill lice -- it is suppose to suffocate them -- it should work with mites that burrow under the skin. So that is what I did next. I oiled up the little guys with olive oil. I did NOT use any other essential oils on them. I don't know if they're safe for guinea pigs. Olive oil is pretty much food. Besides, guinea pigs don't really lick themselves. I treated all 3. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN THE SUN if you try this. I didn't do that don't worry. I left the oil on them a couple of days. It was not nearly as bad as the bag balm. They were not as miserable with the olive oil either. Then after a couple days I put corn starch on them again. When their heads were still oily after a couple days, I powdered them again. Guess what? No skin issues. Healthy hair all over their bodies now. Their mites are all gone. They did not have to suffer through another bath or have to have any nasty pesticide either. By the way, we don't use any cedar bedding. I'm sure that would have been a mess with it sticking all over them. We have a C & C cage with washable fleece bedding. The boys are pampered I tell you.
The recipe for head lice (not guinea pig mites) was 1 cup Olive Oil, and a few drops of citronella oil, Tea Tree Oil and Cedarwood oil mixed together. It really does work. No pesticides and it also deep conditions hair if you have tried the other stuff first.
Edit- This blog post has had a lot of traffic. Since I've had several comments asking questions about the Olive Oil treatment, I figured I had better do a follow-up. The guinea pigs are 2 years old now. We have had NO MITES since my Olive Oil treatment. Using ONLY Olive Oil worked. Covering them in cornstarch afterwards gets rid of all the oil in their fur and skin. I'm sure it helps that we don't keep them in a cage with any bedding material in it but fleece. We wash their bedding in hot water as well. You could keep the guinea pigs in a laundry basket with old towels in it while you leave them covered in oil for a couple of days. The longer you leave it on, the better. Then you can wash the towels in hot water afterwards to get rid of any possible mites if there are any there. We left the boys in their cage and just changed the fleece bedding daily and did a thorough wipe down of the plastic. That was it. We are mite free. My guinea pigs do spend time in the grass outdoors quite often and we still have had no issues.
I hope this works for you as well as it worked for my 3 guinea pigs.