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Do Guinea Pigs Shed? Top Reasons and Remedies for Hair Loss

Owning a guinea pig can be fun and rewarding. Before getting one, however, it’s worth asking: do guinea pigs shed?

Yes, guinea pigs shed their fur throughout the year. However, certain types will shed more hair than others. There’s even a hairless guinea pig breed called the skinny guinea pig—they’re not as cute, though! 

Keep reading to know which breeds shed the most and how to reduce guinea pig shedding!

Key Takeaways:

  • Guinea pigs shed in seasons, most especially during spring and summer. Short-haired guinea pigs shed the least, and long-haired guinea pigs shed the most.
  • Stress, parasites, fungal infection, and underlying health issues are common causes of excessive shedding in guinea pigs.
  • Brushing your guinea pigs’ fur, reducing stress, and getting them checked by a veterinarian can help prevent excessive shedding.

CHECK: 5 Facts About Guinea Pigs

Why Do Guinea Pigs Shed?

Like most furry creatures, guinea pigs also shed their fur. Aside from specific health reasons (which I will discuss below), guinea pig shedding is normal and happens in seasons.

guinea pig on lape, do guinea pigs shed

It can also be because of your guinea pig’s particular breed and length of hair. Certain breeds of guinea pigs will shed more. Long and curly-haired guinea pigs will need more attention than short-haired guinea pigs.

Which Guinea Pig Breed Sheds the Least?

One of the things you should consider when choosing a guinea pig is how often they shed. Depending on the breed of your guinea pig, it could shed more than others.

Short-haired Guinea Pig Breeds:

Short-hair breeds obviously will not shed that often. You’ll notice them only having seasonal shedding. They shed their fur to grow new ones for the season. These breeds include:

  • Skinny guinea pig
  • Himalayan guinea pig
  • American guinea pig
  • Rex guinea pig
  • Teddy guinea pig

Long-haired Guinea Pig Breeds

Breeds known for their long, luxurious, and soft hair will shed more often than other breeds. They must also be brushed often to prevent their hair from getting dirty and knotted. Long-haired breeds include:

  • Peruvian guinea pig
  • Silkie guinea pig
  • Abyssinian guinea pig
  • Texel guinea pig
  • Coronet guinea pig
  • Sheba guinea pig

What Season Do Guinea Pigs Shed?

Guinea pigs are seasonal shedders, with spring and summer seeing much more shedding than usual. This is normal, so there’s nothing to worry about.

skinny guinea pigs, do guinea pigs shed

During the cold months, they lose their light coat and grow thick winter coats. This allows them to stay warm throughout the colder seasons.

Guinea pigs will then eliminate extra fur on their body to remain cooler during summer.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Shedding So Much Hair?

When guinea pigs shed too often, they may have an underlying health issue. While every guinea pig will shed a bit, excessive shedding means they might not be feeling well.

A number of conditions can cause them to shed excessively and lose a lot of hair. Below are the top reasons why your guinea pigs may shed more than often:

1. Ringworm

One of the top reasons for excessive shedding in guinea pigs is a fungal infection commonly known as ringworm [1]. This causes bald spots on their skin that becomes dry, itchy, and very sensitive.

It will usually start around the area of their head. If left untreated, the ringworm can quickly spread through the rest of the body. Your pet may even lose its coat.

To avoid fungal infection, keep your guinea pigs’ nails trimmed and ensure your pet’s cage is always dry and sanitary. Vets may also prescribe an anti-fungal cream for your guinea pig.

2. Parasites

Parasites are another common reason for shedding in guinea pigs, particularly fleas. Flea infestations can cause skin irritation and scratching, which leads to shedding.

If you notice excessive shedding, check your guinea pig cage for signs of fleas. Also, ensure your guinea pigs don’t have flea collars on since they could be irritating.

3. Fur Mites

Guinea pigs might also be shedding excessively due to mites on their fur. If they have mites, the usual symptoms[2]will be thick, crusty skin and hair loss.

The guinea pigs will have difficulty relaxing as mites cause itchiness to their skin. If left untreated for a long time, it could result in prolonged stress, weight loss, depression, and lethargy.

4. Other Medical Issues

Other medical conditions include ear mite infestations, ovarian cysts, abscesses, and yersinia infections. These types of health conditions require immediate veterinary attention.

5. Stress and Barbering

You may notice your guinea pig losing a lot of its hair for no apparent health-related reason. If this is the case, your guinea pig may be barbering [3] itself or pulling out its hair because of stress.

Below is a quick video on the signs of stress and depression in guinea pigs:

Do Guinea Pigs Shed When Stressed?

Yes, guinea pigs can shed hair when they are stressed. If your guinea pigs are shedding at a different time than they should, they may be stressed.

You need to find out what’s causing them to be stressed. Reasons they’re stressed could include losing their cagemate, another pet in the house bothering them, or having an illness.

Prolonged exposure to stress will cause them to lose their hair and develop health issues.

How To Stop Guinea Pigs From Shedding?

There’s no way to stop guinea pigs from shedding, as this is natural. However, there are things you can do to reduce shedding.

1. Give Them Enough Protein

Make sure your guinea pigs get plenty of protein every day. Protein helps with their growth, development, and maintenance. They’ll also have healthier coats if they eat a protein-rich diet.

Aside from hay and leafy vegetables, feed them high-quality fresh pellets which contain 18-20% [4] crude protein.

2. Trim Their Nails Regularly

Regularly trimming your guinea pigs’ claws will help prevent them from picking at their fur and getting cuts. It will also give them a better grip on their cages.

3. Brush Your Guinea Pigs Often

Regular brushing can help reduce the amount of hair the guinea pig sheds. When they shed a lot in the spring and summer, brushing them will remove the loose hairs and grow new hair back quickly.

If you have long-haired guinea pigs, daily brushing is required. This is to prevent their hair from knotting together.

When brushing them, always use a soft baby brush. If they have bald patches on their skin, don’t brush over them, as it could hurt your little piggy.

4. Boost Their Vitamin C Levels

Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy in guinea pigs, which leads to excessive shedding and hair loss. Guinea pigs need a lot of this vitamin in their diet each day to stay healthy.

Guinea pig pellets usually come with vitamin C, but the vitamin in them will degrade over time. The longer the pellets sit on the store’s shelves, the lower their vitamin C level will be.

The best way to ensure that the guinea pigs always get plenty of vitamin C each day is to feed them fresh fruits [3] and vegetables that are high in this vitamin.

5. Reduce Stress

Since stress causes your guinea pig to pull their hair out, you want to ensure they’re always as relaxed as possible.

Try to keep your guinea pigs away from other pets. Make sure they have enough space to run around and play. They’ll enjoy being outside more if they aren’t cooped up all the time.

6. Keep Their Environment Clean

Cleanliness is key to keeping your guinea pigs happy and furry. Guinea pig owners should keep their pet’s environment healthy by regularly washing and sanitizing their cages.

Consider using a litter box instead of using paper towels. Paper towels can harbor bacteria that can spread to your guinea pig.

Additionally, avoid letting your guinea pigs eat food off the floor. Food left on the ground can attract pests like mice and rats.

Read more here to check how to clean guinea pig cage.

7. Consult a Veterinarian

If you’ve tried everything so far and nothing seems to be working, you may need to consult a veterinarian. A vet can diagnose your guinea pig’s condition and recommend treatment options.

It’s also best to take your guinea pigs for a routine checkup every six months to ensure they stay healthy.

Check out this video “4 Ways You Could Be Harming Your Guinea Pig – Without Realizing It!

Do I Need To Bathe My Guinea Pig?

Guinea pigs groom themselves often and do not require regular bathing to stay hygienic. Bathing your guinea pig too frequently can dry out their fur and cause them discomfort.

Long-haired guinea pigs may need to be bathed every three months [6]. On the other hand, short-haired and hairless guinea pig breeds with sensitive skin can even go a year without bathing.

It’s only when they’re visibly filthy or are experiencing skin-related problems that you should bathe them. You can also use baby wipes to spot-clean your guinea pig’s fur.

Watch this video to know the proper way to give your guinea pig a bath when you need to:

FAQs

How long does it take for guinea pigs to grow back hair?

It takes about four weeks or a month for a guinea pig to grow new hair on their bald spots or after being shaved.

Do guinea pigs need haircuts?

Short-haired guinea pigs don’t usually need a haircut. On the other hand, long-haired ones may require grooming every 4-6 weeks [7] to maintain their mane.

Are guinea pigs hypoallergenic?

Guinea pigs are not 100% hypoallergenic. They produce dander, which makes them likely to trigger an allergic reaction in people who are prone to allergies.

How to avoid guinea pig allergies?

Opt for short-haired guinea pigs or the hairless, skinny guinea pig breed. If you already have a long-haired piggy, wear gloves when handling it and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Can guinea pigs live indoors?

guinea pig in a women's hand

Yes, guinea pigs have no problem living indoors if you give them enough space to roam around. Consider having them stay in your room or getting a wide, open-top cage for them to house in.

Conclusion

So, do guinea pigs shed? Yes, they do shed, and it’s something they usually do throughout the year.

The problem is when your guinea pig starts to shed excessively. Check if they are stressed or have underlying health issues causing the shedding.

skinny guinea pigs, do guinea pigs shed

So, what do you think of guinea pig shedding? Let us know in the comments section!

References:

  1. Melissa Witherell. Ringworm in Guinea Pigs [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/exotic/conditions/skin/c_ex_gp_ringworm_infection
  2. Laurie Hess. Mites in Guinea Pigs [Internet]. www.vcahospitals.com. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/mites-in-guinea-pigs
  3. What is Guinea Pig Barbering and How to Stop It [Internet]. www.theguineapigguide.com. Available from: https://theguineapigguide.com/what-is-guinea-pig-barbering-and-how-to-stop-it/
  4. PetPlace Staff. Feeding Your Guinea Pig [Internet]. www.petplace.com. Available from: https://www.petplace.com/article/small-mammals/general/feeding-your-guinea-pig/
  5. Bathing Guinea Pigs [Internet].guineapigsaustralia.com. Available from: https://guineapigsaustralia.com.au/bathing.htm
  6. PetMD Editorial. How to Groom Long-Haired Guinea Pigs [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/exotic/how-groom-long-haired-guinea-pigs
Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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