Gassy Senior Pig

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:15 pm


I could use an opinion or two. We adopted a senior male (at least 4 years old, possibly older) last month who had been a 'classroom pig' his entire life. The teacher was no longer able to care for him over the summer, and surrendered him to our area rescue. Rescue described him as active, friendly and "eats anything and everything...green leaf, cucumber, green pepper, you name it." We got him on a Friday afternoon (he is an absolute love-bug), and he seemed perfectly fine. I fed him about a half cup of green leaf lettuce along with a little shoe-string carrot, green pepper and cilantro that night, which he enthusiastically ate, along with a small amount of Oxbow pellets and unlimited hay.

Next morning, Saturday, same thing: fed him a mix of green leaf, small amount of carrot, green pepper, and I think a small bit of zucchini or cucumber plus pellets. Ate it; no problem. In retrospect, I should have been a little more careful with a new pig's diet, but the rescue (which had only had him a couple of days) had said that he could eat practically anything.

Saturday evening, however, same general foods but he wouldn't touch them at all and looked uncomfortable. Upon picking him up, I realized that his belly was distended and there were no fresh poops. I didn't have Reglan on hand at the time, but gave him a warming pad, fed Critical Care, pushed fluids and gave stomach massage. A couple of hours later he started producing poops again and got his appetite back.

After that episode, I asked our vet for Reglan. A few days later there was a repeat of the gas/distended stomach, but a dose of Reglan and a few minutes of stomach massage did the trick.

Since then, I have had him on a lower, daily maintenance dose of Reglan. We upgraded his cage and started giving him floor time every night, which seemed to help. He is doing better, but if I inadvertently skip a dose of Reglan, feed one too many veggies, or fail to give him floor time, he develops a sizeable gas bubble again and stops eating.

I'm a little at a loss as to what could be causing this. I'm currently trying an 'elimination' diet, just feeding him green leaf for a day or two and then gradually adding the other veggies back in to see if there's a clear trigger food, but this just seems odd to me. Does anyone have any other suggestions? He eats a ton of hay and stays well-hydrated, and his poops are large and healthy-looking.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:21 pm


I was going to suggest the elimination method - glad you are trying that. Any way to get in contact with the original owner and find out what the diet was? The rescue may have been giving less vegetables and a different selection than you have and jumped to the conclusion that he would eat anything.

Have you tried simethicone for the gas?

I am very glad you are so observant. I hope you can find a diet that works well for him.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:29 pm


Thanks. I did ask the rescue if they knew what the original owner fed him, but they have a weird thing about contacting former owners. Not sure why. I'd be very interested to know what he ate. My vet had an interesting theory that maybe, as a classroom pet, he was fed a lot of treats and crap over the years by the kids and has developed a sensitive stomach.

I'm not too sure about simethicone in this case. I've had some bad experiences with it in the past and would hate to make things worse. I know it works by reducing surface tension but also by combining multiple gas bubbles into one large one, and I sometimes wonder if this would actually be more uncomfortable when a guinea pig already has a large bubble to begin with. I'm open to others' thoughts on this, though.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:33 pm


Good point with the simethcone. I had hoped it would help him pass gas more easily.

Lisa12

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:26 am


I can tell as you know we had a lot of issues with this kind of stuff. Irie cant even handle pepper,salad,fresh grass together. He gets pepper in the morning than grass at like 11 if you know what i mean..and salad in the afternoon when he goes for running on the floor so he can poop easily.
In the meantime he is eating hay. And a bit of pellets in the morning and evening

I dont know about yours, but maybe is something smiliar. What helps is ias crazy as it sounds i dry vegetables there aint no drop of water with hair drier, sometimes when he has soft poops. Hope it helps:)

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:37 pm


Actually, when his poop is soft, you'd do better to cut out the vegetables than to dry them with a hair dryer. The extra water isn't what's causing the soft poop.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:45 pm


Lisa12, I appreciate the suggestion. He is being given a very small salad in the morning (for now, only consisting of green leaf and a bit of carrot; I'm trying to rule out any trigger foods) and a small quantity of Oxbow pellets; unlimited hay. Even so, he's developing gas. I don't know what to make of it.

No soft poops, fortunately. They are large, moist, healthy-looking poops for the most part.

It's just very puzzling. I emailed my buddy at the rescue again, asking if she'd be willing to ask the former owner about his previous diet. She relented and tried to call the lady, but got a message saying it is a non-working number. Rescue does remember that he came to them with a bag of Kaytee pellet with all of the seeds and colored bits in it. Could a life-long crappy diet account for his sensitive stomach now?

I also contacted Sherwood Animal Health the other day with a question about their pellets. They claim that, because their pellets do not continue molasses, grains, etc., they are easily digestible and therefore ideal for gas/bloat-prone guinea pigs. The downside is that this is an alfalfa-based pellet. That's all he needs at this stage of his life -- bladder stones. I'm really reluctant to try the sample they sent me.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:16 pm


I had a thought today. Harold likes chewing on paper. Although I haven't actually seen him eating his paper bedding, could it in theory cause this kind of gastric upset if he's chewing on it and ingesting too much of it? I don't recall seeing any cases of it here, but maybe others will recall.

I'm tempted to switch him to fleece for a few days to see if that makes any difference.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:27 pm


I would.

Mine ate paper regularly, but without any gastric problems.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:50 pm


Are you giving lots of probiotics? I wonder if he has some sort of bacterial imbalance with too much gas producing bacteria.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:20 pm


No, I honestly hadn't thought about probiotics. I guess I assumed that if he had a flora imbalance, I'd tend to see small, or odd-shaped poops whereas his poops are all very large and healthy-looking. There are just a lot fewer of them when he gets gassy and distended. It might be worth a try, though. Can't hurt; might help! I just ordered a bottle of Garden Acidophilus the other day, so I think I'll mix it with his food in the morning.

Remind me...was Cisapride taken off the market in the US?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:58 pm


I do think we can't get cisapride here.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:31 pm


I don't want to speak too soon, but...so far, so good. Switched Harold over to fleece earlier this evening, and in the meantime I also added some 1st cut timothy to the mix and added the probiotic. This is the first evening in a week that his belly hasn't felt distended. I'm still thinking it could primarily be the bedding, but we'll have to see. Fingers crossed.

I'm going to keep up the probiotics and order a small bag of 1st cutting Rabbit Hole timothy. I'll be interested to see if it's the same quality as their 2nd cutting.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:04 am


Could it be that he already had digestive distress and that was why he was eating paper? I don’t know if guinea pigs do that, but I have a dog that eats grass or pieces of hay when his stomach bothers him. It’s like he’s trying to get some fiber.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:13 am


I don't think so, but I guess it's possible. If the problem seems to fix itself while he's on fleece, that may solve the mystery.

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Ibepatience
Supporter in '13

Post   » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:19 am


One of my girls started eating the carefresh paper bedding when she was battling a stone. I read they will do that when they’re in pain or uncomfortable.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:28 am


I can't say for sure that he's eating very much of the bedding, but everything goes in this guy's mouth (pig-proofing the house before floor time is a must!) Paper bedding is the only other thing I could think of that changed when we got him; he was on pine with his original owner; rescue had him on fleece.

He is very bright and active again this morning, whereas he is usually a little sluggish after breakfast. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a combination of higher fiber hay, fleece bedding and a good daily probiotic (nod to Lynx for the suggestion) will help get his gut back on track. I lowered the Reglan a little this morning. My goal is to get him off the daily dose.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:11 pm


I wanted to post a quick update on this. It has been a week since I changed Harold over from paper bedding to fleece. Again, I hate to speak too soon, but *so far* he has not had a bad stomach episode since I made the switch. He has gotten a couple of small air pockets a couple of times, but nothing severe enough to cause major discomfort or make him stop eating (which had happened several times previously).

He's still on a low daily maintenance dose of Reglan, plus the probiotic. I have been mixing a little 1st cutting hay with 2nd cutting, just to help boost fiber. Hopefully this combination, along with fleece bedding vs. paper, will help prevent any serious flare-ups.

I would definitely recommend to anyone who has a pig with a history of gas/bloat/GI issues and who houses the pig on paper bedding to try switching to something else to see if it makes a difference. None of ours have ever had a problem with eating small amounts of the bedding, but I'm guessing a sensitive gut might somehow make it less digestible.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:19 am


Hoping you see continued improvement/stabilization! I know how much you care about your guys!

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:38 pm


Update: Harold continues to do well on fleece and a daily probiotic, and I was able to wean him off the daily dose of Reglan last week. **So far,** he has not had another severe gas/distended stomach episode since making the switch almost three weeks ago. He's eating green leaf lettuce, celery, carrot, zucchini, cilantro, tomato and green beans without any issue. I have to think ingesting too much paper bedding was the culprit.

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