Lonely pig

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zygote

Post   » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:06 pm


Six years ago, we got a pair of female guinea pigs. One of them unfortunately passed away on Halloween. Backstory here:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=76123

The remaining pig was always the more social one. She seemed not quite herself after C didn't come home, but was still eating and drinking normally. However, lately she's seemed more listless and has slowly lost a few ounces. She just kind of sits in her house, doesn't beg for food as much, etc. Still eating and drinking, just not as enthusiastically. We've been having trouble finding an older friend for her. We live somewhere that doesn't have a big guinea pig rescue presence, and most of the older pigs come in pairs. We don't really have room for three pigs (two is already tight), and we aren't ready to commit to a young one again. We finally found three single males who are 3+ at a rescue an hour away (our guinea pig is spayed). We're going to take her to meet them and see which one she clicks with the best. However, we won't be able to make it out there until the end of the month due to some upcoming travel.

What can we do in the meantime? We've tried introducing a small stuffed animal, and she was just scared of it. We've tried more cuddles and extra floor time. We've also been hanging out in the kitchen more and talking to her constantly. I can't think of anything else to do. At least she will have other pigs to talk to when she is boarded at the vet while we're gone.

Also, is it safe to have her meet the new pigs briefly? We will quarantine whoever we take home in a separate cage for a few weeks and get him checked out by our vet, but we want to make sure the new addition will actually make her happier vs. cause more stress. It seems important that we see how she interacts with them before we commit. They are at someone's house, not a shelter.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:34 pm


I am glad you are trying to find her a companion. For now, you might get some ideas from this page:
www.guinealynx.info/alone.html

More about quarantine here:
www.guinealynx.info/quarantine.html

zygote

Post   » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:26 pm


Thank you for the link. We moved her to the living room for a change of scenery and that seemed to help somewhat. She's still not herself, though, so we decided to take her to the vet this evening for peace of mind. It just seemed so strange that she was okay for two months and then really took a downturn now.

Well...the vet heard a heart murmur that she's never heard before with this guinea pig. The vet didn't want to prescribe meds without knowing more about the cause, so we're running some tests in the next week to see whether drugs will help and, if so, which one(s). I think the vet is reluctant to put her through a lot of testing, but we agreed it makes sense to do one or two things if it will get us a clear treatment path. Hopefully whatever the tests say, we can get her her energy and appetite back.

So it seems like there may be an underlying health issue, not just loneliness. The vet recommended we hold off getting another guinea pig until we're sure this guinea pig is healthy.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:58 pm


Some helpful information on heart issues here:
www.guinealynx.info/heart.html

zygote

Post   » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:15 am


So after bloodwork and an echo, we don't have a clear answer. Her heart looked physically normal, though they still hear the murmur. Bloodwork was also okay except for a low red blood cell count.

I suppose it's possible the anemia is why she hasn't had as much energy, but we don't know the cause of the anemia. These are just the preliminary results, though. The vet is going to get back to us in a day or two after she's had a chance to review everything more thoroughly. Maybe she will have an idea of how to keep her more comfortable.

Has anyone every experience a guinea pig with anemia? What are the causes and/or treatments? I am having a hard time finding info about it.

Edit: I forgot to say she's had a mysterious abdominal mass her whole life. It's why we got her spayed at the beginning of 2016; we assumed it was a reproductive mass. But it wasn't. Based on an ultrasound in 2017, it's an enlarged lymph node. We did a biopsy at the same time, and there was no sign of cancer then. It's hard to say whether it's grown or not. It only becomes apparent during palpation of her abdomen. It's always possible that something has changed and it has become cancerous. I always forget about it because she's had it so long it's just a part of her.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:34 pm


Sorry you are not getting completely helpful answers.

What brand of pellets are you providing? Does it list an iron content? Do you feed spinach? While it is not recommended for guinea pigs with stone issues, it appears to be one of the better vegetables for iron.

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ItsaZoo

Post   » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:42 pm


https://avianandexoticvets.com/anemia-in-avian-and-exotic-pets

There isn’t much on anemia but this site has some good information to share with your vet. Some sites mention vitamin C deficiency anemia. And apparently high cholesterol foods can cause anemia but that was a study I read about. I hope you find a solution to this.

zygote

Post   » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:44 pm


Oh, that's a good point. We use these Oxbow pellets: http://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/our-products/fortified-food/essentials-adult-guinea-pig-food/ Doesn't look like there is iron content.

We don't feed spinach. It's mostly out of habit because our other guinea pig who passed away had issues with stones. This one doesn't, so we could start up again.

And thank you for the link, ItsaZoo. Funnily enough, that link is from my vet's website, so hopefully she'll know what to do!!

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:19 pm


It was using a quick search I turned up spinach. You may be able to find more detailed information on vegetables commonly available to you at the USDA site.
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

zygote

Post   » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:51 am


I realized I never followed up on this topic. We decided not to go down the rabbit hole of testing for causes of anemia because none of the obvious possibilities have easy treatments (the vet suspects it’s her mass), and we are a hard no on surgery between her age and what happened to our other guinea pig.

But we did start feeding her spinach, and she was back to normal after a few days! So I do think the anemia was playing a role in her lethargy, and the extra iron really helped. Our vet is wary about giving her a new companion now that she’s stable in case the change stresses her out in a bad way and she goes downhill again.

The bottom line is that the lethargy seems to have been medical, not emotional. So our plan is to keep her as a single guinea pig as long as she stays healthy and happy. Thank you again for all your advice as we figured things out! It’s so good to have her acting like herself.

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ItsaZoo

Post   » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:07 pm


Thank you for the update! I’m so glad she’s feeling better and I’m sure she’s happy about the extra treat of spinach!

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sef1268
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:02 pm


That's great news! Sounds like a good plan.

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