Please help to make an old idea go away

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:21 am

Over here, people think that elderly pigs can get bald (read: over 4 years old). I gave the hair loss link from here, but this is a stubborn old wives tale that doesn't go away. I need your help.

I keep insisting that hair loss has different causes. But people don't believe me on the Dutch piggie forum. They say it's just stress. Yeah right, sigh.


Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:17 am

Perhaps lots of photos of fully furred, elderly piggies?

Trying to change the views of those who believe such stubborn myths is tricky.

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:11 pm

They have seen enough pics of old hairy pics, but that doesn't help.

I was hoping for a link that says "old piggies don't get bald", sorta, if you catch my drift. Or people on here, in this thread, saying getting bald over 4 years of age has a reason, not old age.

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Cavy Slave since '05

Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:55 pm

I have 4.5 and 5 year old guinea pigs, and they still have thick hair. My 2.5 year old has thin hair in spots because of mites, not age related.

You can quote me

Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:36 pm

My husband and I have had 15 guinea pigs since we got our first in March, 2001. These were all rescues, but are all pets. We are not full-fledged rescuers, nor do we breed. We have four now.

Two were severe stone pigs. The other nine (9) all passed well over the age of 6, and a couple were 7+, perhaps close to 8 or even older.

NONE of these animals exhibited hairloss of any kind, anywhere on their bodies, as they aged. NONE. The only hairloss I have seen has resolved, completely and thoroughly, with treatment with ivermectin (orally or topically) or selamectin (topically). (We have had fewer females than males, so I have not yet had to deal with ovarian cysts, one symptom of which can be a distinct pattern of hairloss on the animal's sides. This is commoner in sows over about age 3, but can happen at any age.)

We had one bad bout of lice. Fortunately lice can be seen with the naked eye, so the entire group was treated before any hairloss became evident.

There is some merit to the "stress" idea, but in a secondary sense only. There are many theories as to where the guinea pig mange mite comes from, but one of the commonest, and the one I subscribe to, is that mites are always subclinically present in small numbers and a healthy animal's body keeps them naturally in check. As any animal ages (human included, this is the voice of experience ;-), the body's ability to respond to stress slows and self-healing mechanisms may weaken. Older animals could in theory be more vulnerable to a mite flareup from stress, but it is still the mange mite causing the hairloss and not stress per se.

The only animal I know of that loses hair strictly as a function of the aging process is the human male. Don't tell my husband I posted that on the Internet. ;-)


Post   » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:52 pm

I can think of one caveat. Some older sows do lose hair but it is not all of the hair and this is usually due to hormone problems because of ovarian cysts. It's a sign of a medical condition and not normal, though!

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:40 am

Thanks both, keep these comments coming!!!!

I've been saying all of this, but most people don't believe this. I know we don't have that many vets in both Dutch countries here who actually have knowlegde, so people here depend on the internet a lot. The more statements I get, the better. Then they would actually take the pigs to the vet.

I myself have had piggies from the age of 4, I'm now 45. My dad used to bring all piggies home from people at school where he worked that didn't want to keep them anymore. That's how it started. I've had pigs up to very very old ages, I've had friends with pigs of 10 years old too, several, not one, not a single one lost hair at old age, unless there was a medical problem.

Maybe it can even be added to the hair loss link on here that old age doesn't cause hair loss? Is that a good idea?

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Contributor in 2020

Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:23 am

I've been searching PubMed for any articles regarding hair loss in aging guinea pigs. The only thing I can find is hair loss in the inner ear of aging animals including guinea pigs.

However, trying to get people to change their way of thinking is sometimes impossible. The main concern isn't so much about what they believe, but getting medical attention for guinea pigs who may need it. You could suggest that they get a checkup or routine mite treatment etc. to rule out the possibility of illness without saying specifically that you think they are wrong.

For what it's worth my Skinnies have become less fuzzy as they age, but that is another matter!

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:59 am

Ooh, why did PubMed elude me till now. Thanks! I will take a peek at it and bookmark it!

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Cavies 'n Cobwebs

Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:44 am

I have a pig suffering from hairloss. I can guarantee that after 4 months of more than one mite treatment orally and topically - it's not mites. Several fungal treatments have also not cured the problem. She's also been spayed so it's not hormonal. I am thinking the stress of her cagemate being so ill and getting medicated is a major factor but we're still trying to sort this out. It is most definitely NOT due to old age - Tiggy is still only 2 years old. :·)

My oldest girl Sparky, died at the age of 7 and had an excellent covering of thick fluffy rex hair till the very end. Chilli may have a host of medical issues at the moment but at the age of 6 and a half, hairloss is not one of them. :·)

Hairloss can happen at any age for any reason but just because a pig is old or stressed are not acceptable reasons to ignore seeking treatment.

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Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:03 am

pigjes, good idea. I'll go add that comment to the top of the hair loss page.

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:36 am

Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That will help a lot!!

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