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Eye removal (post ear infection)

Mynsii

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A few weeks ago one of my boys developed soft poops, and a trip to the vet resulted in him being prescribed fiberplex. Unfortunately, his regular vet (who specialises in exotics) wasn't in, but the vet he did see assured us that was the only issue wrong with him despite him pawing at his face too.

A few days later, I wake up to him essentially bent in half, as his head and neck are turned almost completely to his rump. An emergency trip to the vet (with the exotic vet) determined he had a severe ear infection, so we were given antibiotics, painkillers, a decent probiotic, and critical care. As his eye was also leaking on the side of his head tilt, we were given a barrier gel to keep it clean and fresh.

A week or so later, while the ear infection had cleared up, his head tilt hadn't vanished completely, and we noticed that his eye was getting worse. Another trip to the vet dereminted that the head tilt is likely permanent (though he wasn't in any pain, and it isn't going to impact his life or effect his balance) and that he had an eye infection. Again, more painkillers, antibiotics (oral and topical) and we were told to wait and see. We were also told that his injured eye was less responsive than his healthy eye, and to monitor this.

While the infection had cleared up in his eye, he now has zero response in that eye (doesn't blink, doesn't close, doesn't react to gentle tapping on that side of the face) and the bottom eyelid droops. He also has a slight, but substantially less severe, droop to his lips on this side. Essentially, in some cases ear infections/wry neck can cause partial facial paralysis in guinea pigs, and that's what happened. While the mouth droop is superficial, only affecting his lips and not his jaw, his eye is pretty badly effective as it no longer reacts to any stimuli, and as it cannot close it poses infection risk. We've (the vet and I) agreed to give it one more week to see if his eye can recover, but in the very likely event that it will not, we will be having it removed.

The good news is he isn't in any pain. He eats, drinks, runs, plays, talks normally, and has even gained weight! He had limited vision when we adopted him anyway, so the vet thinks he will adjust well to losing the eye, and as he is in good health, and the vet performing the operation has a lot of experience with cavies, we are tentatively positive he will pull through. But I am worried about aftercare.

He finds it very difficult to be seperated from his cagemate, even for short periods of time (like vet checkups) and will refuse to eat unless they are housed together. Which obviously poses quite a big problem, and I am also concerned that, should I separate them temporarily while he recovers, reuniting two adult boars (when they were initially bonded as a 2yo and 5week old) will end in disaster. Which would be a shame as they absolutely adore each other.

Additionally, I don't know if I will have to drastically alter their set up. They have a large cage, but they do have a ramp "upstairs" system (the wooden castle style popular with several guinea pig YouTubers) that they currently love. While I'm definitely planning on removing it short term, I'm not sure if it would be necessary removing it permanently, as I don't know if having an eye removed would affect his equilibrium.

So, I guess what I'm asking is if anyone has had experience with a one-eyed guinea pig, and if so could you offer me any advice when it comes to recovery and what I should do/can expect? Unfortunately, given the pandemic, my vet wasn't able to go through all of this with me and only the particulars of the surgery itself, so any advice would be more than welcome!
 

Wiebke

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Hi!

I am very sorry!

One-eyed and blind guinea pigs can live a perfectly normal life and don't need any drastic changes. What many owners overlook is that sight is the weakest cavy sense while it is the strongest in human so a piggy is not quite as impacted to the degree that a human is. They still have whiskers that cover the side of the face, orient themselves by scent marks and spoors and have good hearing.

What they generally don't like is being approached from their blind side so try to avoid that. Otherwise there are no issues. The biggest mistake you can make is to wrap them in cotton wool.

The healing of the eye cavity can take some time; some vets have now stopped sewing it shut and prefer to leave it open to allow drainage..

Here are our general post-op care tips: Tips For Post-operative Care

All the best!
 

Scooter Pie

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So sorry about your piggie’s eye!
I dont have experience with eye surgery, but one of my previous pigs did have a large abscess removed and we set up a side by side recovery area so she could be with her sister. I ended up letting them have VERY closely supervised in-cage visits because they were so upset being apart (chewing/shaking the cage bars which they never did!) and just had them separated at night and when we were at work/not able to be right there watching. We also didnt allow them any kind of smaller hidey they could get too close to each other in.
good luck!
 

Swissgreys

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Just to answer a couple of your other questions.

Is there any need to separate them? If they are closely bonded and being together is what makes them happy then i would take both of them along to the vet on the day of the operation, so they can stay together as long as possible, and your poorly one comes back to his cage mate immediately afterwards. Most vets (especially experienced cavy vets) understand the importance of this and are happy to have a companion along.

I would also not change anything about their cage layout either. We have a blind rabbit and I find it is easiest for him if I keep things pretty much the same all the time. Is there a specific reason you would need to remove the ramp in the short term?
 

Mynsii

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I would also not change anything about their cage layout either. We have a blind rabbit and I find it is easiest for him if I keep things pretty much the same all the time. Is there a specific reason you would need to remove the ramp in the short term?
They have a CC cage, and my plan was to split it into one big section and one small (about 30:70) for the first 48 hours after surgery, as the vet advised that as she will likely be leaving the socket open to allow for drainage, keeping him in smaller space will allow me to monitor him more carefully and ensure nothing gets in or disrupts the surgical site

I built the castle myself based off of designs I saw online, and the measurements I used were exact to their cage so I would have to temporarily remove it to make a recovery space for him.
 

Bill & Ted

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How is your little piggie doing now, hope he is making a good recovery x
 
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