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5 year old male guinea pig, kidney cyst & weight loss

RhiannaGP

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Hi there,

I have a guinea pig around 5 years - well, I’ve had him 4.5 years and he was a young, fully sized g pig when I got him (and his friend) from the rescue. Both of them have been healthy, a joy and no trouble - up until now. Huxley has dropped a lot of weight. I took him to the vets who said he had a large ‘irregular, suspicious’ mass in his intestines and needed an ultrasound and possible x-Ray.
Hux has seemed to be eating less but so has Orwell. Eating loads of grass and veg, some hay, just not so much their pellets... so I bought a different brand but they’re not into those either. I may just buy another bag of their normal food in case the one I got is ‘bad’ for some reason (have had this feeling with bunnies in the past). *Anyway* - after managing to get the ultrasound down to £75, I went ahead. Turns out the mass was gone, so was faecal matter (I did ask at the time, when vet also gave metacam and empered), BUT Hux does have a kidney cyst and enlarged liver.
He’s dropped around 320g in weight. 110g in two days since vet first weighed (although faecal waste gone) ... Orwell is fine.

Vet said would have to transfer to exotic vet for further investigation but I know that will cost hundreds... (spent £200 already)... Hux is now on Baytril too.. vet said critical care had vit C in it so didn’t need extra, although my dad, who used to be a vet & have a practice, recommended extra..

I have Hux in but really looking here for extra knowledge of kidney cysts or any other expertise from people who have kept a lot of Guineas. Given Hux’s age I’m reluctant to transfer to exotic vet.
Taking him to work tomorrow so I can feed him extra during lesson breaks.

Oh, my other question is about guinea pigs and grief... I’m convinced one of my French lops died due to grief after his litter mate passed away.... I know Guineas are highly social, so if Hux is near the end, is Orwell likely to mourn? They are both unneutered males... I think they are less territorial than bunnies? Would introducing a young male boar slowly work? Orwell’s never been particularly dominant.

Many thanks & apologies for rambling x
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome

I am very sorry about your bad news. They are sadly not uncommon in older guinea pigs, and there is not all that much (but rather expensive) treatment that can buy you more than a few more weeks at the very best when you get to kidney or liver problems.
I have currently got an old lady developing kidney trouble myself, so I feel for you!
However, you are always welcome to see another vet for a second opinion and an open discussion about the advisability of any possible treatment.

Guinea pigs do mourn, and in thankfully rare cases, they go into acute pining (stopping to eat and drink and giving up on life). Sometimes, you can stimulate the appetite by syringe feeding when this happens.
More common is a phase of withdrawal but when bereaved guinea pigs still eat and drink. these will typically come out their deep mourning after about 4-5 days on average.
Then you have those that are seemingly unaffected and carry on like normal.

Some more guinea pigs, especially frailer older guinea pigs with underlying problems can lose out when their immune system lowers through the stress of the loss and their health problem takes over. Please always have a bereaved piggy vet checked if they are not eating properly and are losing weight or not looking quite right. It is easy when you fear acute pining to overlooked the health angle, which may be treatable.

You can find more information and tips on what you can do for a bereaved piggy immediately afterwards, in the days after and in the longer term in this guide here: Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Please also be aware that your grieving process starts the moment you get news of a potentially terminal problem. In that moment, you experience the same jumble of emotions as somebody who is losing a piggy unexpectedly. This is what you are currently experiencing. Apart from when you lose a beloved pet, relative, partner or friend, this the biggest low you will experience.
As this link here will explain (which contains a chapter on the grieving dynamics when looking after a terminal piggy), it is however not all sad and you can control to a good extent how you spend this precious extra time. Personally, I have taken to set the clock back to zero whenever I get bad news or nearly lose a piggy to a serious problem; from then on in, every day more is a precious gift I try to cherish much more consciously and I try my best to fill it with love. You can fill a mere moment with a lifetime's worth of love as I learned when taking leave of my dad.
Human Bereavement - Grieving, coping tips and support links for guinea pig owners and their children

I hope that this helps you in this very difficult and anxious time for you!

PS: Please start support feeding your boys, as much as they will take voluntarily. The grieving guide also discusses how to best handle this.
Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
 

RhiannaGP

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Many thanks for your replies.., I had high hopes for him yesterday late morning as he seemed happier an dwas eating a few Burgess pellets after a morning of critical care etc and scampering a little around hutch with his friend... I left him for around three hours to go see my boyfriend, who had had an operation... came back to find he seemed a little shaky and wasn’t walking quite right... gave evening medicines and food but having been up with him all night, he seems like he might be on the way out (although brighter for last hour, drinking when I hold the bottle up for him), he seems like he can’t walk properly. Have been administering cuddles and keeping him warm. I think I will wait for a different local vets to open and PTS unless they can come up with a magic solution... wishing I had ignored the vet when they said critical care had all vitamins needed and crushed up a little of a vitamin C tablet to put in for extra. Have read a combination of C and E can help.. but who knows.. I guess he is an elderly man... Hoping the metacam has prevented pain 💖 x

Will read through the info on bereaved pigs... I noticed when I brought Orwell into be with Hux last night that Orwell was being a little too vigorous with him... which he is never normally like, so separated again x
 

Wiebke

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Many thanks for your replies.., I had high hopes for him yesterday late morning as he seemed happier an dwas eating a few Burgess pellets after a morning of critical care etc and scampering a little around hutch with his friend... I left him for around three hours to go see my boyfriend, who had had an operation... came back to find he seemed a little shaky and wasn’t walking quite right... gave evening medicines and food but having been up with him all night, he seems like he might be on the way out (although brighter for last hour, drinking when I hold the bottle up for him), he seems like he can’t walk properly. Have been administering cuddles and keeping him warm. I think I will wait for a different local vets to open and PTS unless they can come up with a magic solution... wishing I had ignored the vet when they said critical care had all vitamins needed and crushed up a little of a vitamin C tablet to put in for extra. Have read a combination of C and E can help.. but who knows.. I guess he is an elderly man... Hoping the metacam has prevented pain 💖 x

Will read through the info on bereaved pigs... I noticed when I brought Orwell into be with Hux last night that Orwell was being a little too vigorous with him... which he is never normally like, so separated again x
HUGS

It is always heartbreaking when you realise that the time to say goodbye has come. It sounds like your boy may have had a minor stroke or several or that him going into full organ failure has impacted on the brain; and there is nothing you can do about that. :(

I sincerely doubt that any extra vitamins would have made any difference in this respect or that they would have bought him more time. Looking for faults or shortcomings in your treatment, feelings of failure and guilt are however a very normal part of the onset of the grieving process, which is already fully underway. Your mind has a tendency to latch on something, whether a symptom, alternative treatment etc. to allow you to go down the route of the 'if only's as expression of that self-searching that all of us do to some extent or other.

Be strong for Hux to allow him to make the journey to the Rainbow Bridge in as much comfort, love and assurance as you can give him; you can cry all your want afterwards, but with the added consolation that you have done right by him and put his needs before yours. Guinea pigs don't have a concept for an expected life span; they judge a good life by the quality of life and the happiness of each new day. You have done your best for Hux to give him many good days until his body could no longer cope and old age has got the better of him.
At the sharp edge of old age, it is either something in the body (usually one of the major organs) giving way or it is a weaker and slower immune system that is no longer up to the job. You can never choose which or when this happens; but you can take pride in having got Hux as far as that. Pets, by their very nature live shorter lives. They give us the immeasurable gift of allowing us to love them unreservedly, but that also means that we grieve to the same measure we have loved.

BIG HUGS
 
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