It is lovely to be visiting this forum after so long. I only pop back in when there is a medical crisis, or when there is a big event coming up that will be impacting the pigs. I regularly get emails from members requiring travel or India tips, so that helps me feel connected.
I feel I owe everyone some updates, since the pigs have made it this far, thanks primarily to all of you out there in the wonderful world of GuineaLynx!
The pigs moved out to Atlanta at the end of 2013, and we all got to meet STF! She's AMAZING, and has some of the friendliest piggies. One gorgeous girl in particular makes it a point to walk out and welcome other piggies into her home, and then secretly checks their carriers for goodies. Her entire family (doggy and piggies included) was incredibly warm and welcoming. Thank you, STF! You made our stay in Atlanta so much easier, and I hope our paths cross again.
In September of 2014, we all moved back to California, and the pigs were more relieved than I to be back home. They re-discovered their human treat machine (my dad), and were treated to fresh mint and basil on a daily basis.
About 2 months ago, I was accepted into a Residency Training program in Dearborn, Michigan, and we will be moving there on June 3rd! It breaks my heart to take the pigs away from Dad, but they need more care than before, and he will not be able to manage that. They are not emotionally prepared to move, and have become very attached to him. I am merely a medicine-giver, bum cleaner, and cage cleaner. So, clearly, there are very few positive feelings attached to me!
So, back to the pigs, here is their medical history in short, since the last time we spoke:
In 2014, Peanut broke a tooth. It has healed very well, and he was a champ. Around the same time, he started developed some difficulty in pushing out cecal pellets and we started to do regular bum cleanings. (He is approximately 4.5 years old) In January of 2015, Peanut developed a pea-size swelling near his bum on the right side. The vet said to keep an eye on it, because it felt like a lipoma, and he wasn't comfortable sticking a needle into an area that was so close to his spine. It seemed to fluctuate in size, but the vet poo-pooed my observations. One morning, I woke up to what was clearly a ruptured abscess. I spent a good amount of time squeezing out what pus I could, and then called the vet for some antibiotics. Within a month or so, he was back to normal, and we decided to continue hot compresses and daily checks after stopping the meds. He is currently a master at hay-hiding, and seems to be content.
Sugar (Mr. Phats) is our beautiful boy from OCCH. Up until now he has been pretty healthy and lively. A few months ago, just as Peanut's swelling was healing, he developed a very large swelling in almost the same region. This time around, we called Dr. Sari Kanfer. She lives far away from us, but is THE BEST vet I have ever encountered. Unfortunately, she was booked, so we made a trip to the vet that had treated Peanut. We were put on antibiotics and sent home. They worked for a few weeks, along with hot compresses, but then suddenly the swelling seemed to get bigger and Sugar started to waddle. We took a sample and it tested positive for inflammatory cells, so, the antibiotics continued. The vet was hesitant to operate, due to location. After 2 weeks, when there was no change in size, we finally got an appointment with Dr. Kanfer. She suggested we operate, regardless of what the diagnosis was. If it was an abscess, it needed draining. If it was a tumor, it needed to be removed. So, Sugar underwent major surgery 2 days later, and Dr. Kanfer removed a tumor almost as big as my fist!! We didn't send a biopsy, but Dr. Kanfer is keeping the tumor in case I want to biopsy it in the funture. Regrowth is a possibility. Sugar is recovering well, but it has been a scary road, and I felt very guilty for putting him through so much pain and medication, rather than insisting on surgery earlier on. He has decided to take his frustrations out by occasionally being mean to Peanut. Peanut has had experience with ill cage mates, and seems to avoid the fight, which is very nice of him!
So, lots has been happening in both the pig and the human world! Aside from completing my licensing exams and getting into residency, I also got court married!! My boyfriend did not get into a residency program this year, and we decided it would be best for him to move to Michigan with me. So, the next step for him was to propose. Within a few weeks, we got court married! We will have a proper wedding later on, once he is also professionally settled.
That's our story up until now! I hope to be able to meet some of the Detroit GuineaLynxers in the near future!
P.S. The pigs have been flying In-Cabin with me on Frontier Airlines. The airline sort of sucks for human beings, but is very pet friendly. So, they've got a loyal customer for as long as I have fur-babies that need to travel.
I am glad you are such a responsible owner and can recognize when something is going wrong. If you have time, should you wish to add more detail about your two guinea pigs in the medical forum, perhaps I could transfer it to the Records forum for future readers? Esp. pics if you have any (to show location/size of lumps). So at one point, Sugar's swelling grew quickly?
Lynx, I don't have many pictures, unfortunately, but Dr. Kanfer does. I'll check with her office to see if they can be emailed to me. I got a picture of the tumor after removal. In general, I have been negligent in tracking the progress with photographs, and I apologize for that. I would definitely like to write about the progress of Sugar's tumor in the medical forum!
Honestly, Lynx, I feel like Sugar's swelling appeared overnight. I can't say for sure, because at the time he had been getting less attention than Peanut, but he was still out for lap time very regularly. Also, Sugar is a bigger pig (1440 grams), and the tumor was located over his hip and knee. So, the swelling sort of blended in with the normal rounded shape of his bottom. I looked into his cage one day and noticed that his bottom looked asymmetrical. Things took off from that point.
While taking antibiotics and warm compresses, I felt like the swelling reduced a bit - it's possible that there was some sort of inflammation or infection in that area, which was causing him to waddle. Antibiotics continued, but in the span of a 3 to 4 weeks, the swelling increased from 1.5 by 1.5 inches to at least 2.5 by 2.5 inches. Very aggressive.
Dr. Kanfer said she has seen similar tumors (usually they are sarcomas) in rabbits, but never in a guinea pig. They usually regrow, but the time it takes for that to happen is variable.
There was no weight loss, and appetite was great. The only time he seemed to be in pain was post-op. I will try to write in more detail some time next week after the boys are settled in to their new home!
However, it is nice to be back for the time being! I think of everyone on here very often. Peanut *knock on wood* has traveled more of the world than most people, thanks to everyone's support from this forum. I hope all of you and your piggles are doing well!!
Wheekers, I couldn't believe my own eyes when I saw it! My fist is small, admittedly, but we all were pretty shocked that Sugar had been managing so well up until the surgery.
- Supporter in '17
Good luck with the next move. I'm sure your Dad and the piggies will miss each other but atleast they were able to spend time together again.
Another year has passed and not a day goes by that I don't think of this amazing board that has rescued my piggies from ill health and boredom over the years.
Today, as I was looking for pig sitters, it dawned on my that I should be coming back to my hand-dandy guinealynx, and I should be giving some updates!
Peanut (almost 6 years old), Sugar (almost 5 years old), my husband, and myself are now living in Ann Arbor, Michigan! The boys are doing well, albeit advancing in their age. Both of them require frequent disimpactions, but are spunky (read as bratty/demanding) as ever.
Sugar did very well postoperatively, and I will forever be grateful to Dr. Kanfer. He popcorns less, but zooms around just fine! Peanut has developed some follicle blockages (similar to blackheads) around his foreskin, but I leave them alone because he doesn't seem bothered by them. Both boys have a great appetite and seem to have settled in well! They admittedly get less attention from me than I'd like, but get a consistent supply of snacks, so I don't think they mind. Peanut now recognizes the sound of the zipper on my lunch bag, which somehow always has a few leftover veggies/fruits just for him.
I hope everyone here is well!
- Supporter in '11
Before leaving California, Dr. Kanfer made some recommendations of vets that she trusted, mostly in Detroit from my recollection. I believe I may have an email from her that I can forward to you, in case you are interested?
About the rescue: Is it RASA or Tiny Paws? If so, I've been stalking your Facebook page!
Dear Lovely Lynxers,
It's that time again, where I pop in to give you all updates and let you know how our past few years have been, and remind you that you are always in my thoughts despite my lack of posting. <3
On a personal note: Residency has finished, and I've been working as a Hospitalist with the University of Michigan for the past year. My husband finished his residency last month! Late last year, we decided that it was time to move back home to California, to be with our parents. We both have signed contracts with the Loma Linda University Health System in Southern California. He moved back about a month ago, and I'll be leaving at the end of August. We have absolutely LOVED Ann Arbor, and are very very sad to leave it. I doubt any city could be as amazing and perfect for us, but it's worth it to know that we are moving back home to be with family.
SkittleandTwix, we have a vet that we adore! Her name is Dr. Fisher, and she works at the Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital in Ann Arbor. There is another exotics vet there, Dr. Lake, who is also good. Bonus, the veterinary hospital is attached to an Animal Sanctuary, so you always get to see some fun animals.
Onto the Piggly updates:
When we moved here, we had Peanut and Sugar. As a reminder, Peanut came back to the US with me from India. Sugar was adopted from OCCH in Orange County, California. We lost Peanut about a year and a half ago. To be honest, I'm not sure what happened. Just prior to his death, he had broken a tooth, and was requiring syringe feeding. The night before he died, he ate and drank well, and seemed in good spirits. When I woke in the morning, he was on his side in the cage, completely floppy, eyes glazed over, with labored breathing. We rushed him to the emergency vet hospital, where he was given high flow oxygen, with little improvement. The decision was made to allow him to pass pain-free. So, we gave him pain medications to help with air hunger and physical pain, and stayed with him until he passed (which was shortly after).
Sugar was not himself for the first few days (keep in mind that at this point, he was 6.5 years old and had been with Peanut most of his life), and so we decided to get another pig. Deepak (husband) and I wanted an elderly boar, because we had been stuck in this loop of lose-a-pig-get-a-pig for a while, and didn't want it to continue. At the time, only female guinea pigs were available, so we sent out feelers and continued to stalk the internet for elderly boars. Within a week, Sugar made a significant turn around and seemed to enjoy his space. He was relaxed, had a good appetite, and seemed to enjoy being the Alpha. When we dropped him off at the pigsitter's, he was more interested in the cat than the other pigs. So, we decided to keep him as a single pig who got more lap time. Since then, he's been roomed with other pigs on multiple occasions, and seems happiest when he is left alone.
Currently, Sugar has ongoing dental issues, and goes for weekly trims, which has helped to keep his weight steady. Other ongoing medical issues are fecal impaction (we use warm water for weekly cleanouts), possible bumblefoot (we do epsom salt soaks), and possible arthritis (he gets an oxbow supplement for joint-support). He's sweet as ever, but spends more time lounging around and sleeping than before. We shred his carrots and really thinly slice his veggies, since he has difficulty with biting/tearing his foods. He eats his orchard grass just fine. He's turning 8 this year!! Because of his age-related cataracts and arthritis, we've removed the ramps, so he now has a 6x2 CC single level cage.
Initially, we were not sure if he'd survive long enough to move back to California with us, but things are looking optimistic, and I do believe he'll make it. Our next challenge will be the flight and finding a new vet in Redlands, CA that will do weekly trims for him.
I hope that everyone out there in Piggy-Land is well, and thank you again for your support.
I hope the move goes well and you find a great vet. For what it's worth, I would see if your current vet who is doing the trims could provide some guidelines to the new vet. Before and after pics for the trim could be helpful. Every vet has a different technique and if what this vet is doing works, that is great. Some guinea pigs are in considerable pain after a trim and require hand feeding for a while afterwards. It sounds like he can eat right away and they are small trims?
Lynx, great idea to take before and after trim pictures. I should probably even take a video of the trim. It took about 8 months of tweaking Sugar's trim schedule and trim length to find a sweet spot where Sugar didn't stop eating before or after the trims. Initially, I would let him go until he was not eating well, but this always led to discomfort and weight loss that we would spend the next weeks trying to catch up on. It also would lead to more extreme trims that he was uncomfortable with. So, finally we started trimming frequently and minimally. Our goal is to have his teeth even and short enough only so that they are not grinding against each other or poking him. I do give him a dose of meloxicam before the trims, just in case.
I've thought about learning how to trim his teeth myself, but I don't think I have the guts to do it.
- Supporter in 2019