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Mrs Guinea Pig

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Hi there. Frankie is a sow who is about 2. We've spent over £1000 on different vets for her, including exotic specialists and they don't have a clue. She was a rescue pig and when we got nearly two years ago she was very small and had little hard poops. we were told she was the runt of a litter. She is long haired and very soft and fluffy (merino guinea pig?) and all her hair grows backwards towards her head. I've never seen this before. She we got her she looked like a grey version of Justin Beiber's hair. But she grew big and strong and confident and pooped away like a normal piggy, very happy and lively but then a year ago she started having lots of little illnesses, first she got a cold and since then it's been one thing after another. Now there seem to be two problems that are recurring. We suspect the first is scurvy recurring as it's pretty much all the classic symptoms and it seems to respond to extra vitamin c in her syringe food and the second is poops getting stuck, not sure if they are related - I'll give more details:

1st problem - every month or so Frankie displays scurvy signs - first her back in particular is very sore to touch, she runs off and squeaks as if in pain if you stroke her (very unlike her) then two days later there will be the beginning of jaw trouble when she eats. the jaw problem gets really severe over the next 3 days and is horrible to see; she will try to eat and it's like she can't close her jaw properly, I worried she was choking at first, and she puts her head back and tries to paw at her cheeks and works her jaw with her mouth open. At this stage we end up feeding her oxbow critical care with syringe until she gets over this as she will struggle to eat most food, even her favourite will just get dropped and she'll do the jaw thing. Her fur goes very rough at this stage and she gets sunken eyes and loses weight quickly. She also passes smaller, harder poops at this stage and then a few days later diarrhoea happens very suddenly. We then have to make sure we give her lots of liquid and feed through the night and clean her up. After this comes the second problem - constipation (?) but it usually clears up and soon she is back to her self until next time in about a month or a few months. This has cycle has happened maybe 4 - 5 times now and each time she takes longer to recover from the tummy trouble symptoms although the jaw problem clears completely in a week - 10 days.

2nd problem - poops getting stuck. After her last cycle of scurvy the tummy trouble has continued for weeks. The diarrhoea took a few days to pass and then came the hard little poops. These started to get stuck. (this happened the time before and my husband read that sows can get impaction on very rare occasions and when we massaged the sack gently they all popped out with much squeaking and she was fine for weeks after that). When they get stuck they are the fecal pellets not the ones she eats. They seem stickier and sometimes harder. They poke out and she will run up and down or jump on the spot or try to duck under and pull it out, when this doesn't work we pick her up and gently help pull it out or massage out a few that are stuck. Then she seems better for a while.

We took her to the vets and they did an ultrasound and couldn't detect any stones in her bladder or urinery tract but they said it was probably a urinery infection. So Frankie's been on antibiotics and anti inflammitories and they seemed to help at first but now it's like the poops are getting stuck again and it distresses her. This is co-inciding with her jaw problem starting up again and I'm really worried for her, although thankfully the jaw doesn't seem as bad as we've really upped the amount of pepper in her diet and other vitamin c rich veg. the poops are not smelly, they seem normal but sometimes they are harder and smaller. Definitely sometimes they seem stickier and stick to her fluffy fur. I've noticed that the pooping and squeaking became worse these last few days since her metacam ran out. It's almost as bad as when she started the antibiotics. Did we think the anti biotics were working when in fact it was the metacam doing the work?

I'm really at a loss now. We've tried everything, including changing her food from guinea pig cereal to vit c rich pellets, increasing veg; first we tried more vitamin c in water, in pellets and guinea pig viatmin tables, plus lots of kale and pepper and carrots but as we worried the kale caused stones we have cut that out and switched to more lettuce, cucumber and pepper which she really loves. We try to get her to eat a little bit of orange now and then but she doesn't want to know. We are going to try mango next for her vitamin c intake. She seems to like really sweet things. We used to feed her grapes but cut back as we were worried this was a culprit as she really loves them. We used to give her one every other day.

She lives with Persephone who is a very kind piggy to her little friend and Persephone has not had any of these symptoms. She is getting a little fatter though because of all the extra treats we put in the cage for Frankie.

They live indoors, with fleece for bedding and a big run. They have floor time every evening and drink about half a bottle of water a day, eat plenty of Timothy hay and are quite active. Last night Frankie was having a little run around and enjoying herself. Eating lots of pellets and hay and generally seemed happy but this morning looks quite sad. The vets won't prescribe metacam unless we bring her in and I'm really fed up with vets prodding and poking her and upsetting her when they don't even notice any of the symptoms when I've left her with them to investigate. I'm so frustrated as they used up all our insurance for both our guinea pigs on Frankie and not one even acknowledged they noticed the jaw issue or poop issue while they were keeping her in for observation. The exotic specialist did every type of scan, looked all inside her mouth and found nothing. in the end this vet specialist wanted to take a liver sample! We said no. Took her home and found out online about scurvy, treated it with vitamin c and she got better. Poor Frankie. She is so lovely and cuddly and brave. She just a little piggy and has been in and out of 3 different vets constantly for a year now. We just want to help her with her pain and make her comfortable and keep her as stress free as possible because maybe it's a genetic thing and there is no cure. And if there is a cure the vets certainly don't even know what the problem is. I hope someone here can help? Everything I've read about this kind of thing in Sows ends badly :-( and they never find out what it was. I have some tramadol drops the exotic specialist gave us when she had the initial scurvy problems and I'm going to be very tempted to give her some if her pain seems to get worse.

Thanks for reading my long post. I really hope someone can shed some light and offer a solution.
 

furryfriends (TEAS)

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I know it's about an hour and half trip but I'd advise a visit to see Simon Maddock at Cat and Rabbit Care Clinic in Northampton. He's not a specialist but people travel the length and breadth of the country to see him as he's probably the most knowledgeable guinea pig vet.
 

Wiebke

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I second that recommendation. Simon Maddock's clinic is specialising on only cats, rabbits and small furries and has been for a good number of years, so they see a lot more guinea pigs on a daily basis than your average vet or even exotic vet. It is well worth the trip if you can get there. As he is not an exotics, his fees are not on the exorbitant side, either.

I travel there if necessary by train with any piggy issues that surpass my local general vets capabilities, which is taking me around an hour from door to door if all goes well.
 
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