Desperate for answers - running out of time

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Post   » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:39 am

Hi all,

I have lurked on these pages for a long time and gleaned many great tips regarding diet, grooming care and symptoms for my guinea pigs. It has alleviated a good few worries in the past, so first I would like to thank you all for that.

I am writing in a state of desperation now regarding my beautiful 1.5 year old guinea pig and to be honest, I fear it may be too late. But I am reaching out now for some wisdom, answers or guidance from anyone really.

For the last few weeks she has been gradually losing weight. I first noticed a change in her approximately 2 months ago when I introduced a neutered male to my female pair. I first isolated him for a while as standard, he appeared perfectly healthy so I moved him to an enclosure adjacent to my 2 healthy females (Mo, 1.5 & Lee, 2). Over the following week I had him in and out of the enclosure in short bursts to try to accustom them to each other with a view to perhaps putting them altogether in the future. Unfortunately he badgered Mo quite a bit as she is the smaller one, and she was having to spray him with urine to deter him from her behind. She became a bit withdrawn and anxious, so I resigned to keeping him in his own enclosure permanently. He could still see and interact, but not physically badger them.

She appeared to get back to her old self towards start of June, albeit remaining slightly withdrawn. When I weighed her mid-May she was 802g and not showing any signs of illness (she was 693g when I got her 1 year ago, adopting the female pair from someone who was leaving the country).

Around 2 weeks ago I noticed she seemed a bit smaller and was more picky about her veg - I weighed her and she was 748g. That seemed a big drop to me, so I was worried. The next day I noticed she was wheezing and clicking slightly when breathing. I visited the vets the following day who heard her lungs and confirmed the issue - I was given Baytril 2.5%, 1ml twice per day, diluted solution.

Having read GL I knew that a probiotic was needed with the AB so I bought acidophilus powder capsules and Vit C tablets from the pharmacy, and had been giving her some of these powders on hand fed veg 1-2 hours after each syringe of Baytril.

6 days later the Baytril was finished and her breathing issue was gone; but her weight was down to 665g. I had been feeding tiny slices of cucumber, carrot, apple, lettuce, parsley, and she had not been eating them as enthusiastically as usual. However she was going at her hay fine, pellets (slower than normal), and drinking plenty. She has always been a big drinker but the last 2 weeks she has been at the bottle half the time.

Her 2 year old cage mate, who is 1.3kg, has had no issues whatsoever. Similarly the 1 year old, 950g male next door has no issues. So I don't think it is a contagious issue, it seems to by systemic within her.

I took her back to the vets 1 day after the AB ran out as something just did not feel right, with the weight loss. I thought after a day off the Baytril she might perk up with the eating, but it did not happen. Her breathing had cleared up but she seemed quieter and slower than normal.

The vet advised me it was likely a chronic renal issue due to the excessive drinking and excessive urination and gave me another 10 days of Baytril, same dosage, in case it was a short term kidney infection. He also said she was anaemic due to whiteness the flesh of her mouth. He gave a multi-vitamin injection and a Baytril injection.

She does urinate a great deal; cleaning them out yesterday the puppy pads were almost saturated after 4 days compared to only a few small wet patches in the male's cage. However there is no blood, no smell, no apparent pain upon urination. It sounds strange but the last few days, when she urinates I can 'hear' it coming out onto the fleece, as you might hear yourself urinating on the toilet. I don't know if that is important or not but could it perhaps signify some blockage in the urinary tract?

The vet has advised the next step would be general anaesthetic for blood samples but that it would be difficult with her losing so much muscle mass. I have also seen that a lot of GP's have died after having anaesthetic, and most were probably in a better state than my little Mo now.

I am scared to weigh her now but at last count it was 619g. She is hopping on her back legs, likely due to a reduction in muscle mass. She is still puttering about the cage sometimes, speaking to her mate and drinking, eating small pieces of hay. No pellets though. I made a mash this morning of pellets, banana, cranberry juice, Vit C tablets and acidophilus to give her after the AB and she ate some willingly. I left some next to the pellet bowl in case she can no longer eat the pellets. She was picking at the lettuce, which is better than yesterday. She fought me not to have the Baytril this morning and I get the feeling from her she is sick of me trying to help her; the last couple of days she just wants to sit in one place, puffed up.

Does anyone have any advice or guidance? I would appreciate any input at all, even if it is now a case of making her as comfortable as possible before the inevitable. I am worried if I go back to the vets they will just say that there is nothing more they can do as she is too tiny now. Would pain relief help?

Thanks in advance. I am trying to prepare myself for the worst because this will be a massive blow. She has been an amazing friend, so funny, such a character and so, so loved beyond words. I have been sitting cuddling her every few hours (when not working) and I know she can hear me speaking to her. But at this point I just want to do anything I can for her, if there is any last hope I would give anything to bring her back from the brink. Similarly, if there is nothing else I can do for her then at least I will know for sure. Apologies for the length of this post.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:52 am

My guess would be that the Baytril is what's killing her appetite -- it almost always does that. And one day off of it is not nearly enough for them to be interested in eating again.

Hopping on her back legs is more likely to be a sign of vitamin C deficiency than loss of muscle mass.

I'd take her off the Baytril, feed her some Critical Care several times a day, and see what happens.

Is this an exotic vet? Baytril is not usually given by injection.


Post   » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:38 am

Thanks so much for your reply bpatters, I really appreciate you reading my long post. I had suspected that the antibiotics may be doing more harm than good at this point, since a kidney infection is not confirmed and the URI has cleared up. Because of her weight I was too scared to discontinue the Baytril in case I screwed up her chances. Either way I think you are right and the best chance now is to see if she can get her appetite back. It seems she does want to eat, she thinks about it, goes to the pellet bowl, looks at it and then walks away. She has not completely given up.

Hopefully I still have enough time to try her off the antibiotics and give her a fighting chance with the critical care and some crushed Vit C tablets. She did have a bit of a hop on her front paw a week prior to the URI...I put it down to a slight sprain/sharp piece of hay, as it only lasted 36 hours or so, then she was back to normal. But it is a bit suspicious that she is hopping again, so Vit C deficiency would make sense and maybe came about due to the lack of veg intake. I really hope I can turn this around for her. At least there is a glimmer of hope, if it's possible that the Baytril is the problem now.

You can quote me

Post   » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:18 pm

Ditto bpatters. Feed Critical Care; you can also try making her a pellet stew by softening pellets in warm, clean, fresh water, then mixing them with carrot baby food. Many pigs will eat this readily off a little plate.

Some pigs cannot tolerate Baytril at all. Sitting puffed up is one sign they're having a really hard time with it. Don't give up, do try to get her weight back up.

Excessive drinking/urination can also be a sign of diabetes. Diabetes in guinea pigs is not as serious as it is in humans; it can be treated with an oral medication. You might want to consider this (I think it'll show in a urine sample), but getting her back eating and her weight up first is most critical right now.

Good luck and blessings to her and to you.

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Post   » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:30 pm

It does sound like Diabetes or renal failure. The only other thing I might suggest, is to consider having x-rays done just to see if anything obvious shows up with her organs. What kind of pellet diet was she on prior to becoming ill? Any supplements given, other than probiotics and vitamin C?


Post   » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:22 pm

Just wanted to post an update here and thank everyone for their advice and input. I had hid rock bottom and was starting to accept defeat - sometimes all you need is someone to help you snap out of a stupor and do something, anything!

I took her off the Baytril the same evening and started force feeding the Apple and Banana flavoured critical care by syringe.

Miraculously my baby started to recover slowly but surely. Over the course of the 3-4 days of force feeding, 3x per day only getting through 10cc or so at a time, and offering fewer vegetables more often (to stop my bigger one scoffing the lot) she held her weight around 630-640g. This was good news as she was up from 619g at the lowest weigh in (she did get even smaller but I got too disheartened to weigh her on the downturn).

Since last Wednesday she has gained over 40g and her appetite is returning more and more every day. I credit her weight gain to her returning to solid pellets around Monday or so, I was nearly crying with relief to see her at the pellet bowl once again.

She is slowly but surely recovering and I think we are out of the woods for now due to the continuous weight gain, hunger for pellets and the fact I can hear her wheeking through 3 closed doors of my house when a bag is rustled!

I am so relieved, happy, grateful for this forum and also humbled to know I am one of the lucky ones who gets more precious days (hopefully many years) with my beloved. I know many don't and I have a glimpse now of the unbearable pain most of you have gone through :-( it has been a wake-up call that they don't last forever.

If it helps anyone I would note the following which worked in my particular case:

- only give Baytril for the minimum length of time required to fix the problem at hand. My girl was completely clear of her original URI after 1 week but the non cavy savvy vet decided to keep her on it for longer to combat an undiagnosed guess, as I was worried about her weight loss. This was poisoning her in my opinion.

- my girl would only eat cucumber, apple, parsley and coriander whilst ill in very small quantities. Usually I cut their vegetables into tiny bite size portions to make it easier for them to eat and digest, but I changed tact and provided large chunks. For some reason this attracted her to the vegetables more.

- this may sound daft but talk to your pig, I cuddled her every night and talked to her asking her not to give up and that I wanted her to keep going. This may have helped her keep her will to live.

- my girl was sub 600g and basically on her way out. Wobbly legs, pencil thin, lethargic, puffed up, not interacting with her cage mate, barely eating anything except small pieces of hay. I thought it was the end. Never give up on them, they are so fragile but I am amazed at how much her personality and energy levels have bounced back in just 9 days. She really pulled through for me.

I am planning on taking her to a cavvy savvy vet I found 1.5 hours away on Monday to get some diagnostic tests run to see if there is anything else I should be doing for her in the long run. But for now things seem to be stable and improving.

Thanks again all, glad that we are one of the happy stories for now and I trust our story can give hope to others out there who may be experiencing similar issues.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:20 pm

So glad to hear she's improving.

One thing I want to comment on. There's no need for you to dice veggies into small pieces. Their teeth are like razor knives, and their molars grind down hay. Veggies give them no difficulty whatsoever. And some of us think larger chunks are safer, as they're less likely to get choked on a big chunk than on a bunch of little ones.

I only ever cut veggies into small enough pieces to give every pig a chance to get some.

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Post   » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:27 pm

Very good news indeed!

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Post   » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:32 pm

Yes, I hope she continues to improve!

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