Well, I took YinYang in to my vet, For Pet's Sake, here in Atlanta, and things turns out to be more easily fixable than I had feared.
After describing her hair loss and showing the bald spots on the sides and middle of her belly, I got to hear him confirm that, yes, this is clearly a sign of ovarian problems, as I had read (and heard from several on guinea_pigs
). He told me that it's 95% certain that YinYang has an early stage of ovarian cysts, too small to feel but nevertheless causing problems. What happens, so he explained, is that the cysts form on the ovary, keeping the ovary from releasing its egg and moving on to the next stage in the hormonal cycle. This creates a situation where the piggy's hormonal system gets "stuck in gear" and as a result, gets overloaded with one particular sort of hormone -- which makes their hair fall out! Often this goes unnoticed until the patches on the side of the belly (where hair for some reason falls out first) are quite large, but in this case I caught it early. Sometimes these things can get as big as golf balls, in which case they start causing the pig a lot of pain, may be mistaken for pregnancy, and have to be fixed via surgery.
The treatment for YinYang's issue is not surgery, but hormonal injections. The vet gave her a shot of some sort of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone) in the muscle near her rear end and asked me to come back next week for a second (and final) one. What the hormone does is force the hormonal system to switch gears and move on. I should see hair regrowth probably by next week when I bring her in again, and definitely afterward. This is a great relief, as it's quick, minimally invasive and not very expensive either. I'm glad I have a specialist vet who knows exactly
what issues GPs have! The one caveat, as this GuineaLynx article points out
, while the injections will cause cyst shrinkage, it might only be temporary and they could grow again and again. In which case spaying, i.e. removal of the ovaries, is the recommended treatment.
Oh, and here's pigture!( Collapse )