Guinea pigs are delicate animals and can develop many health problems, so as a responsible owner, you need to closely monitor your furry friends for signs of illness. Your guinea pigs may develop skin tumors called trichoepitheliomas. Here are five things you need to know about these tumors.

What are trichoepitheliomas?

Trichoepitheliomas are tumors that form on your guinea pig's skin. The tumors begin in the hair follicles and are made of cystic structures, keratin, hair follicles and skin cells. They form as a result of abnormal growth of your pig's cells.

What are the signs of trichoepitheliomas?

If your pig has this tumor, you may notice a new bump or mass on their skin. These tumors are usually found at the base of the tail, but they can develop anywhere on the skin. If you notice a new growth anywhere on your pig's body, take them to the vet right away for an evaluation.

Are they cancerous?

Trichoepitheliomas are benign, which means that they're not cancerous. Benign tumors are not immediately dangerous, but they still need to be removed. This is because it's possible for the tumors to rupture, and when this happens, your pig can suffer from significant inflammation. It's better to remove it before these problems occur to keep your pig safe.

Are these tumors common?

Trichoepitheliomas are fairly common; they are one of the most common skin tumors that affects guinea pigs. They tend to affect younger guinea pigs. One study found that the average age of guinea pigs with this tumor was 2.75 years. The same study also found that female guinea pigs were more likely to be affected.

How do vets treat these tumors?

These tumors need to be removed due to the risk of rupture. For this procedure, your guinea pig will be given anesthesia to keep them from feeling any pain. The vet will excise the mass with a scalpel, and once it's removed, the area will be sewn up. Your vet may want to do a biopsy of the mass if he or she is concerned that it might be a cancerous mass and not a trichoepithelioma. Your vet will monitor your pig to make sure they recover from the anesthesia, and once your pig is stable, you'll be able to take them home.

If you notice a new growth anywhere on your guinea pig's body, make sure to take them to the vet right away for diagnosis and treatment. For more information, contact a company like West Lake Animal Hospital.