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Guinea Pig Hair Loss: Bald Spots + Alopecia

Hair loss, medically known as “alopecia,” is common in guinea pigs. This can manifest in various ways, from small bald spots or thinning of the hair to large areas with no hair at all. Along with the hair loss, the affected skin might show signs of flakiness, redness, scabs, or scratches. These bald patches may be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, so a professional veterinarian needs to pinpoint the cause to ensure appropriate treatment for your pet.

Throughout this article, the term ‘hair’ is used instead of ‘fur’ as this is the more accurate term when discussing guinea pigs.

Guinea Pig with hair loss on one side
Guinea pig with hair loss on one side

Why is my guinea pig losing hair?

While guinea pigs naturally shed hair similar to humans, there are several reasons they might experience more noticeable hair loss, often accompanied by other symptoms:

  • Barbering: This could be due to other guinea pigs or self-inflicted.
  • Fungal infections such as ringworm.
  • During or post-pregnancy associated hair loss.
  • Genetic factors: Skinny pigs and Baldwins naturally have little to no hair.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism: An overproduction of the hormone cortisol, leading to symptoms like increased drinking and urination.
  • Vitamin C deficiency: Also known as scurvy.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Ovarian cysts: Common in middle-aged to older female guinea pigs.
  • Parasitic infestations such as mites or lice.
  • Cutaneous lymphoma: A type of cancer causing scaly patches or lumps.
Hair Loss in Guinea Pigs - why is your guinea pig losing hair?

Losing hair and weight

When a guinea pig displays signs of both hair loss and a decrease in weight, it could be a sign of vitamin C deficiency, commonly known as scurvy. While this condition can account for these symptoms, other factors might also contribute to both hair thinning and weight reduction. 

Given the seriousness of weight loss in guinea pigs, seeking a professional diagnosis is critical. Refer to our article on scurvy to find out about the other symptoms associated with this condition.

Long haired guinea pig

Hair loss on sides

Hair loss on the sides of a guinea pig is often linked to ovarian cysts in older females. Due to raised oestrogen levels, these cysts result in hair loss and thinning on the sides and belly. The skin typically remains unaffected apart from the hair loss. Please read our article on ovarian cysts to learn about other symptoms related to this condition.

Hormonal hair loss can also occur in pregnant guinea pigs or those that have recently given birth. However, the hair is expected to grow back.

Barbering may also be a cause, but will usually lead to shorter hair on the sides rather than distinct bald patches. 

Various skin conditions, like mite infestations, can lead to hair loss, but the specific affected areas can vary.

Guinea Pig Care Sheets - Printable PDF Download - Checklists, Logs and Information Sheets

Losing hair around the eye

Hair loss around a guinea pig’s eye may indicate a fungal infection such as ringworm. This can lead to hair loss on the head and face, often seen around the eyes. Mite infestations can also produce bald patches in this area. For a deeper understanding of the symptoms related to these conditions, please refer to our articles on ringworm and mite infestations.

Hair loss beneath the eye may occur due to persistent wetness from a watery eye, often caused by an underlying infection or eye condition.

Guinea Pig Losing Hair Around Eye
This guinea pig has hair loss under the eye

Bald spot behind the ears

Bald spots behind a guinea pig’s ears can cause concern among owners. Yet, it’s normal for guinea pigs to naturally have sparse hair in this region. This trait is particularly evident in Abyssinians. However, if symptoms like redness, scabs, or soreness accompany this, it might indicate a fungal infection or mite infestation. Learn more about a guinea pig’s ears here…

Hair loss on the back

Hair loss on a guinea pig’s back is often a sign of a mite infestation. It’s vital to have this professionally diagnosed since some mites can cause serious health issues, and treatments are necessary to get rid of them. Besides mites, barbering can lead to bald patches on the back.

Fungal infections are another potential cause of hair loss in this area.

Hair loss on the nose

If your guinea pig is missing hair, specifically on their nose, it’s commonly attributed to a fungal infection, such as ringworm

If the hair loss is confined to this area, a straightforward treatment with an anti-fungal cream is usually effective.

Short an long-haired guinea pigs

Bald patch on the bum

If there appears to be a bald patch on your guinea pig’s bum, you might be looking at the grease gland. While this might not be as noticeable in long-haired guinea pigs, it’s more prominent in their short-haired counterparts. The grease gland is situated where a tail would typically be. 

However, if there’s genuine hair loss in that area, potential causes could be a mite infestation, a fungal infection, or other health issues. Given the sensitivity of this region, it’s crucial to consult a vet for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Barbering in guinea pigs

Barbering involves guinea pigs chewing or plucking their own hair or that of another guinea pig. While there are various reasons for hair loss in guinea pigs, barbering is one of the common causes. For a detailed understanding of barbering, please refer to the barbering section in our article about guinea pig behaviour.

Specks or flakes in guinea pig’s hair

If you notice specks or flakes in your guinea pig’s hair, it might indicate flaky skin from various causes such as a skin condition, a fungal or yeast infection, or mites. Consulting a vet for a definitive diagnosis is paramount to ensure appropriate treatment.

Do guinea pigs shed hair?

Yes, guinea pigs do shed hair. If you pick them up, you might notice some hair on your clothes. Additionally, if you use fleece liners in your guinea pig’s enclosure, it’s common to find hair on the bedding during cleaning. 

This shedding is natural and shouldn’t be confused with conditions that cause baldness. Brushing your guinea pig, especially long-haired breeds, can help manage shedding and prevent tangles.

Do guinea pigs lose hair as they age?

Guinea pigs generally don’t lose hair purely because of ageing. Their coat should remain consistent throughout their life, provided they are healthy and receive proper care. Sometimes, underlying health issues that develop with age can impact the quality of a guinea pig’s coat. If you notice any drastic changes, it’s essential to make an appointment with your vet.

Some of this information was collated from scientific literature from the National Library of Medicine

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