Ringworm in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs can be affected by many types of fungal infections and one of the most common ones is the ringworm infection. This particular fungus is very transmissible to humans from infected guinea pigs and can also infect other animals in the house. It is critical that if you suspect ringworm you go see your vet as soon as possible.

Guinea pigs are very prone to ringworm due to their confined environment and sanitary conditions. As an owner of guinea pigs, and likely other pets, you’ll need to know the signs and things to look for with ringworm and your guinea pig.

What does Ringworm look like with Guinea Pigs?

Even though it’s called “ringworm” it’s not actually a worm. It is a fungal infection caused by a specific type of fungus and is termed ringworm due to the circular lesions that appear on the infected parts of the skin. These lesions are hairless and flaky and often appear very red, almost like cherry red. These lesions will likely start to form on the face focusing around the eyes, ears and nostrils.

Example of ringworm under a guinea pig's eye.

If it’s not treated, ringworm will move from the face to the rest of the body. A majority of guinea pigs get this infection from another infected species or guinea pig. It often comes from infected objects like bedding material and it is critical that you enforce proper cleaning and care for your guinea pig.

Signs and Symptoms of Ringworm Infection in Guinea Pigs

The most obvious sign of ringworm in guinea pigs is to look for round hairless areas of the body likely starting on the face near the eyes, nose or ears. This is the only way, without doing testing, to know if your guinea pig has ringworm. If you spot these hairless areas you’ll want to get your guinea pig into the vet as soon as possible.

The infected ringworm areas are often raised, red and flaky. They can spread across the entire body but will likely originate in the face. If you notice that your guinea pig is losing hair or if there is excessive dandruff on your guinea pig – talk to a vet immediately as these could be signs an infection is there.

How do Veterinarian’s Diagnose Ringworm in Guinea Pigs?

A vet may diagnose ringworm infection based on the common clinical signs of ringworm in guinea pigs, as described above. For example, the presence of hairless patches on the body would lead the vet to believe it’s ringworm.

A vet may use ultraviolet light to understand the depth of the infection and to ensure it isn’t just scabbing. In some cases, the vet may take skin samples to send for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the Treatment for Ringworm Found in Guinea Pigs?

A fungal infection in your guinea pig is actually quite difficult to treat compared to others as it takes longer for the infection to go away. The treatment for ringworm is no different and will take some consistent medication to fully get rid of the infection and get your guinea pig back to normal health.

The vet you see will likely prescribe anti-fungal drugs to be administered orally to treat the ringworm infection for 5 to 6 weeks. Depending on the extent of the skin lesions on your guinea pig they may also give you some anti-fungal ointment or other ointment to use to help keep those wounds clean and even soften them up so they don’t hurt as bad.

Your veterinarian will likely suggest some changes to your guinea pig’s diet to ensure you’re giving them the proper vitamins and nutrients to help fight off the infection.

How to Prevent Ringworm in Guinea Pigs?

The best way to prevent ringworm in guinea pigs is to build a daily care routine and checklist for your guinea pig. You’ll want to regularly clean their cages and remove any soiled bedding and old food. By cleaning their cage weekly you can almost avoid ringworm entirely as most ringworm infections start from bad living conditions.

You should provide clean and new bedding for your guinea pig every few days. Make sure you completely remove all bedding and old food and try to find any food the guinea pig may be hiding. It’s necessary to keep your guinea pig ringworm free.

If you have a guinea pig that is suffering from ringworm you will want to move them into their own cage immediately. The ringworm infection is very contagious and can infect the other guinea pigs in a really short time. Do not skip out on medication for the infected guinea pig as any missed medications can lead to the infection coming back. It’s critical to ensure it’s completely gone before returning the guinea pig back to the others.

Further Questions on Guinea Pigs & Ringworm

Can you get ringworm from your guinea pig?

Yes, ringworm can be transferred from animal to animal or animal to human. If your guinea pig has ringworm you will want to always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after touching your guinea pig. You will want to avoid making direct contact with the infected parts of your guinea pig and your guinea pig in general until the infection is under control.

As your guinea pig works through the infection you will want to make sure anything they touch gets washed, especially their cage and bedding. You should be constantly cleaning their habitat until the infection is properly medicated and gone.

Will ringworm in your guinea pig go away on its own?

Yes, it is possible for the ringworm to go away without medication if you’re properly cleaning the cage, have a balanced diet and routine and are taking all proper hygiene protocols for your guinea pig. It is not recommended to allow it to go away on its own as it is highly contagious and can infect other animals and even humans.

If you think your guinea pig has ringworm you should see your vet as soon as possible.

How long are guinea pigs contagious with ringworm?

It’s hard to predict without talking to a veterinarian or knowing how long the guinea pig has had the ringworm but most guinea pigs remain contagious with ringworm for 1 to 2 months if they are taking their medication. This will depend on the severity of the infection and how long the guinea pig has had the infection.

Article Sources & Research

  1. PetMD Editorial. (2016, March 21). Ringworm Infection in Guinea Pigs. PetMD. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.petmd.com/exotic/conditions/skin/c_ex_gp_ringworm_infection
  2. vetsonbridge.ca. (2014, March 1). Vetsonbridge.Ca. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://vetsonbridge.ca/2014/03/01/ringworm-in-your-guinea-pig/