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Is Ivermectin Safe For Guinea Pigs? (What It Does & Side Effects)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: November 28, 2021

Is Ivermectin safe for a guinea pig infected with lice, mites, or internal parasites?

Upon closer inspection, you may notice that the guinea pig’s skin looks damaged or see other signs that tell you that something is wrong with your furry friend.

Yes, go to the vet immediately, as only a skilled professional can tell you how to treat guinea pigs and other animals. 

If you haven’t heard of Ivermectin before, as a concerned pet owner, you want to know more about it.

By the end of this article, you will have sufficient knowledge about 

What is Ivermectin?

Ivermectin is an effective drug that is used to treat many types of skin ailments caused by parasites.

Founded and discovered in Japan around the late 1970s, ivermectin was labeled a miracle drug because it was able to save the livestock of poor countries from parasites.

It’s also used by humans to treat skin conditions like scabies, head lice, and river blindness.

Ivermectin after going through clinical experiments and trials has been approved to be used in animals as well, to treat lice, worms, mites, and other parasites.

Ivermectin can be given by injection, can be used as an ointment, or given orally depending on the parasite and animal.

By selectively binding with the parasite, ivermectin then paralyzes it, rendering it harmless and eventually leading to its death.

This brings us to the next question.

Why My Guinea Pigs Need Ivermectin?

To understand why it’s needed for your pet, you need to know the cause of your guinea pig’s discomfort.

The main culprit behind your guinea pigs suffering and the reason you need to use ivermectin is because of the mange mites.

Trixacarus caviae, otherwise known as mange mite is a highly contagious microscopic parasite that burrows under the skin, and this causes pain for the guinea pig.

They aren’t external parasites so it won’t be easy to locate them and remove them.

Due to the pain and sores caused by the mites, your guinea pig may die due to severe dehydration or starvation.

Only with the proper medication and treatment can your guinea pig recover from the infection.

It’s also important to note that if you suspect your guinea pig has mange mites or your vet found them, you need to bring all your other guinea pigs for inspection.

How To Treat Mange Mites In Your Guinea Pig?

Mange mites can cause severe skin problems and if not treated fast enough will cause your guinea pigs to die.

How Your Guinea Pig Gets Mange Mites?

Due to the highly contagious nature of the mange mites, your guinea pigs can acquire them from other guinea pigs or contaminated environments and other animals.

What Are the Signs And Symptoms of Mange Mites?

In the early stage of infection, there are virtually no signs of the mites and it’s impossible to detect them because they are microscopic.

This makes it hard to notice and by the time pet owners finally see the symptoms of a mange mites infestation, it would’ve already been in the late stages.

For other mites in the late infection period, they can cause mild signs of irritation to the skin and ultimately would not be life-threatening for your guinea pig.

However, the mange mite in the later stages of infection causes severe signs such as extreme itchiness.

The infected skin can become thick, crusty, and sometimes yellowish.

Because of the open wounds, secondary bacteria also cause further complications by infecting the area.

As time goes with untreated mite infestation, the guinea pig can become lethargic and depressed.

How Does A Vet Diagnose Mites?

Immediately you see something wrong with your guinea pig, you should take it to a vet for observation and inspection.

The vet would examine the guinea pig’s fur and skin to look for external parasites.

After that, the vet would look for evidence of skin disease.

Once the vet has all the information that is needed, he will proceed to run diagnostic tests to see if the symptoms are caused by other sources or by mange mites.

After running the tests that conclude that your guinea pig has mange mites, only then would they give you their verdict.

Verdict After Diagnosis

Once the vet has confirmed that all the symptoms lead to mange mites, he would then recommend and prescribe ivermectin-based shampoo powders that you could rub on your guinea pig.

And in extreme cases, he may even recommend topical ivermectin solutions.

Cases, where you would need to use powders, are mild cases and would deal with the mange mites quickly and easily and prevent future infections.

But if the infection of your guinea pig is already severe, multiple treatments over a long period would be required for your pet.

In these cases, the application of ivermectin over a couple of weeks would be the course of action normally advised by your vet.

As a concerned pet owner, you would be wondering, you may have further questions still.

Is Ivermectin Safe For Guinea Pigs?

After careful experimentation and documentation, ivermectin has been approved for animals for treatments and is safe for your guinea pigs.

As a result, it has saved many lives of animals since its approval.

Even before clinical testing, ivermectin, which was discovered in the late 1970s was used to get rid of pests in livestock.

So as a guinea pig owner you don’t have to worry since this drug has been around for a long time and has stood the test of time, with no other solution to your current problem of mange mites.

It’s mainly prescribed when there is confirmation of mange mites and sometimes as well as lice and other parasites.

However, ivermectin is only safe for guinea pigs by following the correct doses and shouldn’t be used unless it has been prescribed by your vet.


Ivermectin is usually administered either orally, topically, or injected in other animals.

For guinea pigs, however, it’s a different case.

If your guinea pig needs to get an ivomec injection, your vet would do it and then give you a prescription for a topical version to aid in the recovery of your guinea pig.

Injection and oral administrations of ivermectin for guinea pigs are normally used when you need to target blood-sucking parasites, as they are usually protected from topical ointments.

It’s important to note that guinea pigs are an exception for oral administrations because they have difficulties absorbing it in their digestive tract.

On the other hand, topical administration is considered normal.

The reason you are given the responsibility to apply the topical drug is that it has to be applied periodically.

Your vet can just show you how to do it, and then you can do it at the comfort and convenience of your own home.

After receiving the prescription from the vet, the ointment would come with a set of instructions you would have to follow to avoid an overdose.

Where Can I Buy Ivermectin?

Ivermectin is an abundant “off-label” drug that you can get in pharmacies anywhere.

However, that doesn’t mean you should get it when you notice your guinea pig is showing signs of mange mites.

The proper and encouraging procedure would be to go to the vet.

Get your guinea pig examined and then get a prescription from your vet and then purchase it there.

By following this procedure you reduce the likelihood of overdosing your guinea pig and can get proper guidance on how to administer the drug yourself.

Now once you have gotten your hands on the ivermectin the next thing you should know is.

How To Administer Ivermectin at Home?

Normally your vet would show you how to do it.

But if you need a written refresher it’s important to know the dosage ratio.

The standard dosage would be 0.5mg of ivermectin per 1000 grams of weight of your guinea pig, so you should weigh your pet and adjust the solution according to that ratio.

It’s very important to follow that ratio as it will help you avoid an overdose.

If you have any concerns, it would be best to let your vet measure out your guinea pig, figure out the calculations and then let him show you how to apply it to lessen the chances of error.

You will have to have purchased an Ivomec Injection and after the correct calculations follow these steps:

  1. Stick the needle into the top of the Ivomec and slowly draw the small amount into the syringe (some syringes allow the needle to be removed to avoid pricking the guinea pig)
  2. If you cannot remove the needle, just be cautious and steady when you place the needle behind the bald spot of the ear and squeeze out the solution
  3. Then fold the surrounding fur and rub (avoid touching so that your guinea pig gets the full dose)

This procedure is usually repeated once every 7 to 10 days with some guinea pigs requiring multiple doses.

By doing this your guinea pig should have no mange mites and can start recovering.

The continued use after the mange mites have died is to ensure that there will not be an infection.

And to prevent more mites from infecting the recovering guinea pig.

After repeating this treatment for a while a new question should come to mind and that question is.

How Long Does It Take for Ivermectin To Work?

Results and recovery time with any of the treatments would vary with each animal.

The severity of the infection, guinea pig weight, its ability to recover, its diet, environment are all factors that decide how long it takes to fully heal.

Every guinea pig is different, some will heal fast and some will take a while.

It’s recommended to take your guinea pig to the vet once a week for a check-up to see to evaluate it.

By taking the guinea pig to the vet you also can make sure you won’t overdose your pet guinea pig.

By now you must have noticed the emphasis placed on overdosing and what happens when you mistakenly overdose your guinea pig.

What Happens If You Overdose Ivermectin?

If what has been prescribed for you is a specially formulated ivermectin for guinea pig injection or ointment solution, and you don’t follow it to the latter, your guinea pig may die.

An overdose can happen when you have given too much ivermectin over a long period.

By accidentally overdosing on your guinea pig, the ivermectin bypasses the Blood-Brain-Barrier which then damages the nervous system, and then leads to the eventual death of the animal.

Signs Of Overdose

If you are lucky to catch the early symptoms of an overdose before it’s too late you should hurry to the vet and get it treated.

By knowing some effects of overdosing you can prevent further damage to your guinea pig.

Here are some noticeable clinical effects of overdosing are:

  • Comma
  • Tremors
  • Ataxia
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling

If your guinea pig has any of these symptoms, head to the vet immediately.

If by some luck you can notice the symptoms and can treat them, then you do not have to worry about the long-term side effects of the mild overdose your guinea pig went through.

Your guinea pig will recover and live normally once it’s healed.

What Are the Side Effects of Ivermectin on Guinea Pigs?

For guinea pigs, the chances of getting side effects are very low.

There are rare side effects of ivermectin but when it comes to guinea pigs, there have been no reports on the matter.

In normal doses, the addition of ivermectin on the guinea pigs has had no reactions.

So as a pet owner you also don’t have to worry about this part of the drug and can be assured.

Can All Guinea Pigs Use Ivermectin?

Some guinea pigs shouldn’t be exposed to such a drug.

We already know that overdosing a guinea pig with ivermectin would cause nervous system damage.

So it’s advisable to not give young guinea pigs ivermectin since their nervous systems haven’t been fully developed yet.

With this information, you would be wondering if pregnant guinea pigs can have ivermectin.

And to answer that question, it’s okay for pregnant guinea pigs to have the correct dosage of ivermectin.

What Are Preventive Measures Against Mange Mites And Other Parasites?

A clean living condition greatly reduces the risk of infection.

By changing the bedding of the guinea pig habitat every so often you minimize the cultivation of mange mites and other parasites that could have been cultivated.

By also keeping your guinea pigs away from other animals that could carry the contagious parasites, like cats and dogs and other dirty animals.

If one of your guinea pigs had the mange mites it would also be a good idea to bring your other guinea pigs for testing.

There is a shampoo that contains ivermectin and is used to regulate and prevent the growth of mange mites and other parasites usually recommended by the vet.

Guinea pigs don’t need to bathe that often so use the ivermectin for guinea pig shampoo every once in a while.

It’s also important to note that other lice or tick shampoos aren’t that effective against mange mites so ivermectin shampoos are the way to go.

It’s also good practice to regularly visit the vet to inspect your guinea pig to make sure it stays healthy and that everything is going fine.

By doing all these you can avoid having your guinea pigs experience the suffering mange mites can cause them.

Final Thoughts

This is the end and hopefully, you’ve got something from it.

Also, hopefully, you longer have to worry about mange mites and the safety of ivermectin for guinea pigs.

Next time your guinea pig has mange mites, you will be better able to assess and act accordingly when your guinea pig shows signs and symptoms of infections.

By using ivermectin for guinea pig shampoo or powders or any other drug and regularly checking up with the vet, you can deal with the problem or prevent it from happening.

By so doing, you get to have a happy and healthy piggy.

If you want to know more, you should ask your vet because they know a lot more about animal care.

So, now that you know more about ivermectin and its uses, don’t slack in providing necessary treatment to your guinea pig when situations like this present themselves.


Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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