Guinea Pig Lice: Treatments & Info

guinea pig at veterinary

Just like our cats and dogs, guinea pigs are prone to getting lice as well. 

There are many things you can do to kill the lice and prevent them from coming back. Do not wait too long to get your guinea pig lice treatment. You will have to go to your veterinarian to purchase lice medication.

How Do Guinea Pigs Get Lice?

There are several different ways that your guinea pig can contract lice. One way is for them to contract lice is to be outside, because they get it from the local birds and rodents. Lice does not live in grass, because they need to stay close to a blood supply. Their primary method of transportation is through birds, squirrels, skunks, foxes, and other wildlife. Even a quick encounter with one of these infected animals could cause lice to invade your guinea pig.

Another way for guinea pigs to contract lice is to get them from the veterinarian or an animal shelter. Being in close contact with other animals, especially animals that have been neglected or roaming around the street, like the ones that come to the veterinarian or shelters, will give your guinea pig lice.

Signs That Your Guinea Pig Has Lice

The disease of your guinea pigs having lice is called Pediculosis. The signs that your guinea pigs have Pediculosis are tough to notice. If the investigation is just beginning, your guinea pig will show absolutely no signs of lice. It is only when the infestation of lice becomes too severe that the guinea pig will actually start to show signs of stress. After the outbreak has gotten severe, the guinea pig will begin to scratch at themselves, bite their feet, become lethargic and hide because they are too stressed. 

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What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Has Lice

If you realize that your guinea pig has lice, there is one primary method of treatment you must pursue. It would be best to take your guinea pig that has the lice to a guinea pig certified veterinarian. Not all veterinarians are trained to care for guinea pigs, so you should have scouted around your area and found a veterinarian that does so. They’re most likely exotic pet veterinarians.

Take your guinea pig in for treatment. The veterinarian will give you the final say on if they have lice or not. If they do have lice, the veterinarian will provide you with a guinea pig lice shampoo. This shampoo will be different compared to cats and dog flea shampoo.

guinea pig lice

Listen to the instructions to use the shampoo from the veterinarian. The shampoo medication will be calculated by your guinea pigs’ weight and height. Since guinea pigs differ significantly in weights and heights, it is not a good idea to use an old medicated shampoo that a guinea pig or gives you.

When you return home from the veterinarian, you must wash everything in the guinea pig’s cage, especially anything that is fabric. Take out all of its hay and grass, wash its hidey-hole in hot water, and clean its sleeping nest. If your guinea pig’s home is on a carpeted area, you may even have to move your guinea pig to a different area, especially one with hardwood or non-carpeted floors.

What Not To Do

Do not, under any circumstances, use human lice treatment on your guinea pig. This also means that you cannot give your guinea pig cat and dog flea medication either. Guinea pigs need their own specific lice treatment that is compatible with their body. Human, cat, dog flea and lice treatments are too powerful for a guinea pig.

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Also, do not try to treat your guinea pig with homemade or holistic remedies. Although lice may not seem like a big deal to humans, it is a severe condition for guinea pigs. Treating guinea pigs with holistic treatments will not be as effective as the actual medication, and they could end up suffering longer with their disease getting better.

Can You Contract Lice from Your Guinea Pig?

No, a human being cannot contract lice from a guinea pig. The lice that infest rodents and birds are far smaller than the ones that infest humans and their hair. In fact, human hair lice are much different than guinea pig and rodent lice.

Also, the lice that infest guinea pigs cannot digest the blood from a human, cat, or dog. However, guinea pig specific lice can infest or at least travel on other rodents.

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How to Prevent Lice

When you first get your guinea pig from either a shelter or a pet store, it is best if you either throw away all of the stuff that they were given or not accept it at all, and buy them all new supplies. If your guinea pig is from a shelter, it would be best to take them directly from the shelter to the veterinarian to get them a check-up. You never know what shelters may have missed is because of their strained resources.

If you wish to keep the stuff that they were given from the pet store or shelter, it is advised that you take the possessions they came with and place them in the freezer for 24 hours. This is a standard and guaranteed method to kill all lice or fleas that may be living within their stuff. It will also kill the eggs of the lice.

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  • An infestation of lice in guinea pigs is called Pediculosis
  • Signs of guinea pigs having lice is very rare.
  • Only a severe infestation will show guinea pigs being stressed.
  • Guinea pigs get their lice from shelters, veterinarians, or other rodents.
  • You will need to find a veterinarian that specializes in guinea pigs. They are not standard.
  • Guinea pigs need special shampoo for their lice.
  • Do not apply human, cat, or dog lice or flea shampoo on a guinea pig.
  • If there are lice on a guinea pig, you must wash all of their possessions.
  • Freezing a guinea pig’s possessions in the freezer for 24 hours will also kill lice and their eggs.
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