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Dental Guinea pig not eating after teeth trimming

Monika Sharma

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Hi, my male guinea pig, muffin, stopped eating almost a week ago and was rushed to an exotic vet. He had his teeth trimmed for overgrown pre-molars and was seemingly showing interest in food. But he was not able to eat properly and the doctor suggested he might take some time before recovering fully. He is still on critical care and I feed him 15-20ml four times a day. He is very active and is showing great improvement. He has started eating vegetables but hay and fresh grass are still a struggle. He finds it difficult to manage hard vegetables and keeps dropping them. I am worried that he is still losing weight, he has lost almost 40 gms since his trimming and weighs 778 gms only. It is getting really tough to syringe feed him and he throws a lots of tantrums. Yesterday when I was feeding him, he was making some soft moaning sounds when I touched his stomach. I suspected a pain in his stomach but there was no bloating. His poops are soft and slightly mushy, not properly formed. So I withheld the veggies paste that was offered to him along with critical care and gave him probiotics as well. Today his stomach seems fine but he keeps crumbling into a ball (I don't know if he is licking his penis or is it coprophagy). I was bothered that is it a renal problem that is causing weight loss and troubles with his genitals.🙄
Now again today, when I was feeding him, he started making wheezing sounds. I wonder if I have accidently put water in his lungs while syringe feeding him, or he is exhausted with all the effort he put in resisting syringe feed. I am really stressed about him. I am scared that he might be having multiple health problems and I don't know if he is becoming better or his health is declining. Sorry for such a long post and it would be really helpful if anyone could provide some suggestions
 

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Unfortunately the majority of vets aren’t experienced with treating dental piggies. Even those experienced in treating other things.

He’s losing weight because he’s not eating enough hay. Hay makes up the biggest part of their diet and veg is more of a snack. You will (if you aren’t already) have to start weighing him daily at the same time. Cut veg out altogether until his poos are back to normal for at least 24 hours. Then you can start slowly by giving him a sprig or two of coriander.

With regards syringe feeding, you will just have to be firm with him. Is he on any kind of painkiller?
 

Free Ranger

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I have some experience to share here but the piggy I talk about we think actually had a problem with swallowing and her tooth issues were secondary to this - she struggled to swallow, so she ate less, so her teeth overgrew - and looking at the teeth this was the first thing the vet treated. The back ones were very slightly overgrown and there was a spur which was making a sore spot on the tongue so back teeth were treated.

Upper Respiratory Tract infection?
It is possible when syringe feeding for a while that a piggy can inhale a bit of the food and develop a lung infection but if yours had a general anaesthetic for his dental operation it is also possible that a lung infection developed from then. My piggy had a GA for her dental and then had to be syringe fed - we ended up having to get antibiotics about 5 days later and I was blaming myself a lot, but the vet was very honest and said it could have been syringing but it also could have been from the op. The antibiotics worked, so either way she started to feel better.

Painkiller
Did you get a painkiller from the vet to give him after the operation? We were given 'metacam' to have twice a day for a week after as the mouth can be very sore.

Incisors overgrown?
If he has started to eat some vegetables and is showing improvement that is great but as you know it is important to eat the hay and grass to keep the back teeth down and if he can't manage these or the hard vegetables you might think that there is still something wrong with his teeth... perhaps as well as the back teeth overgrowing the front teeth have also grown too long for him to be able to manipulate the food. This happened to my girl - she was still being syringed two weeks after the dental operation (as I said - we think the teeth weren't actually the problem but at this time we didn't know for sure). I noticed her trying to bite at a piece of wood and mentioned it to the vet when we went back... a new vet was also involved in the examination and between them they could not see any problem with the back teeth but the front incisors had by now grown so long that piggy could not close her mouth properly (this was why she had been trying to bite the wood) so they used a little instrument to 'burr' the front teeth (cut them short but not with a clipper - it was some tiny electric cutting tool). Now she did not have a GA because if they can do it without that it can be a very quick procedure (she was done in about 15 minutes) but my poor girl actually got trimmed a bit too short and she was sore again with a big fat bottom lip. It made me cry to see her looking so gummy, and she was frightened and angry as you might expect, but actually she managed very well with painkiller and the teeth start growing back immediately. Her chewing action was much better straight away so I could tell that the overgrown front teeth had prevented her chewing food properly with her back ones. Does your boy have over-long incisors now... even if he did not when he first went in for his op? There are pigs on the forum that are missing bottom incisors completely (their top ones have to be trimmed regularly!) and still eat on their own, so if these front teeth are too long they can prevent proper chewing but if they are too short for a while it does not prevent it.

Hard to get teeth right
Like @Siikibam said above not every dental op is perfect and even good vets can maybe not have so much experience doing the back teeth. But the fact that he is trying to eat and managing some things is encouraging.

What would I do
I would personally return to the vets to ask for (1) metacam painkiller, (2) whether antibiotics are now needed for the raspy breathing, (3) to look at and maybe trim the front incisors if necessary. If the vet is quite convinced the teeth are fine you might think about whether there is any abscess at the root of the tooth which means pain as he bites... it might be worse with the hard veg. I don't know how you would identify this - maybe if you touch under his jaw does he flinch or squeak? Does he have bad breath or is it OK? But I have no personal experience of this and don't know whether antibiotics would treat such a thing or whether an operation is needed. But check 1, 2 and 3 first because all of these happened to us after the dental operation.

PS In case you wanted to know my lovely girl never ate anything on her own again - although she was hungry and sniffed and sniffed at the tasty things I offered she just did not take the food. Eventually other symptoms appeared - top lip flickering uncontrollably as I tried to syringe a little fluid, a 'choking' face with head twisting sideways as she tried to swallow her syringe food which she could only take a tiny bit at a time anyway. She never did drool like some pigs with dental problems do - she just stopped eating. We could only guess at why. Your boy sounds like he has improved and can still make a recovery. Be hopeful, return to the vet and let us know how you get on. All my very best wishes for little Muffin 💕
 

Monika Sharma

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Unfortunately the majority of vets aren’t experienced with treating dental piggies. Even those experienced in treating other things.

He’s losing weight because he’s not eating enough hay. Hay makes up the biggest part of their diet and veg is more of a snack. You will (if you aren’t already) have to start weighing him daily at the same time. Cut veg out altogether until his poos are back to normal for at least 24 hours. Then you can start slowly by giving him a sprig or two of coriander.

With regards syringe feeding, you will just have to be firm with him. Is he on any kind of painkiller?
We weigh him before every meal
Unfortunately the majority of vets aren’t experienced with treating dental piggies. Even those experienced in treating other things.

He’s losing weight because he’s not eating enough hay. Hay makes up the biggest part of their diet and veg is more of a snack. You will (if you aren’t already) have to start weighing him daily at the same time. Cut veg out altogether until his poos are back to normal for at least 24 hours. Then you can start slowly by giving him a sprig or two of coriander.

With regards syringe feeding, you will just have to be firm with him. Is he on any kind of painkiller?
We weigh him thrice a day before syringe feed. And he never liked hay that much since start, he preferred green grass and vegetables (probably the reason for his dental problem). The doctor gave him meloxicam for pain administered as a dilution of 0.1 ml medicine with 0.4ml water.
 

Monika Sharma

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I have some experience to share here but the piggy I talk about we think actually had a problem with swallowing and her tooth issues were secondary to this - she struggled to swallow, so she ate less, so her teeth overgrew - and looking at the teeth this was the first thing the vet treated. The back ones were very slightly overgrown and there was a spur which was making a sore spot on the tongue so back teeth were treated.

Upper Respiratory Tract infection?
It is possible when syringe feeding for a while that a piggy can inhale a bit of the food and develop a lung infection but if yours had a general anaesthetic for his dental operation it is also possible that a lung infection developed from then. My piggy had a GA for her dental and then had to be syringe fed - we ended up having to get antibiotics about 5 days later and I was blaming myself a lot, but the vet was very honest and said it could have been syringing but it also could have been from the op. The antibiotics worked, so either way she started to feel better.

Painkiller
Did you get a painkiller from the vet to give him after the operation? We were given 'metacam' to have twice a day for a week after as the mouth can be very sore.

Incisors overgrown?
If he has started to eat some vegetables and is showing improvement that is great but as you know it is important to eat the hay and grass to keep the back teeth down and if he can't manage these or the hard vegetables you might think that there is still something wrong with his teeth... perhaps as well as the back teeth overgrowing the front teeth have also grown too long for him to be able to manipulate the food. This happened to my girl - she was still being syringed two weeks after the dental operation (as I said - we think the teeth weren't actually the problem but at this time we didn't know for sure). I noticed her trying to bite at a piece of wood and mentioned it to the vet when we went back... a new vet was also involved in the examination and between them they could not see any problem with the back teeth but the front incisors had by now grown so long that piggy could not close her mouth properly (this was why she had been trying to bite the wood) so they used a little instrument to 'burr' the front teeth (cut them short but not with a clipper - it was some tiny electric cutting tool). Now she did not have a GA because if they can do it without that it can be a very quick procedure (she was done in about 15 minutes) but my poor girl actually got trimmed a bit too short and she was sore again with a big fat bottom lip. It made me cry to see her looking so gummy, and she was frightened and angry as you might expect, but actually she managed very well with painkiller and the teeth start growing back immediately. Her chewing action was much better straight away so I could tell that the overgrown front teeth had prevented her chewing food properly with her back ones. Does your boy have over-long incisors now... even if he did not when he first went in for his op? There are pigs on the forum that are missing bottom incisors completely (their top ones have to be trimmed regularly!) and still eat on their own, so if these front teeth are too long they can prevent proper chewing but if they are too short for a while it does not prevent it.

Hard to get teeth right
Like @Siikibam said above not every dental op is perfect and even good vets can maybe not have so much experience doing the back teeth. But the fact that he is trying to eat and managing some things is encouraging.

What would I do
I would personally return to the vets to ask for (1) metacam painkiller, (2) whether antibiotics are now needed for the raspy breathing, (3) to look at and maybe trim the front incisors if necessary. If the vet is quite convinced the teeth are fine you might think about whether there is any abscess at the root of the tooth which means pain as he bites... it might be worse with the hard veg. I don't know how you would identify this - maybe if you touch under his jaw does he flinch or squeak? Does he have bad breath or is it OK? But I have no personal experience of this and don't know whether antibiotics would treat such a thing or whether an operation is needed. But check 1, 2 and 3 first because all of these happened to us after the dental operation.

PS In case you wanted to know my lovely girl never ate anything on her own again - although she was hungry and sniffed and sniffed at the tasty things I offered she just did not take the food. Eventually other symptoms appeared - top lip flickering uncontrollably as I tried to syringe a little fluid, a 'choking' face with head twisting sideways as she tried to swallow her syringe food which she could only take a tiny bit at a time anyway. She never did drool like some pigs with dental problems do - she just stopped eating. We could only guess at why. Your boy sounds like he has improved and can still make a recovery. Be hopeful, return to the vet and let us know how you get on. All my very best wishes for little Muffin 💕
I have some experience to share here but the piggy I talk about we think actually had a problem with swallowing and her tooth issues were secondary to this - she struggled to swallow, so she ate less, so her teeth overgrew - and looking at the teeth this was the first thing the vet treated. The back ones were very slightly overgrown and there was a spur which was making a sore spot on the tongue so back teeth were treated.

Upper Respiratory Tract infection?
It is possible when syringe feeding for a while that a piggy can inhale a bit of the food and develop a lung infection but if yours had a general anaesthetic for his dental operation it is also possible that a lung infection developed from then. My piggy had a GA for her dental and then had to be syringe fed - we ended up having to get antibiotics about 5 days later and I was blaming myself a lot, but the vet was very honest and said it could have been syringing but it also could have been from the op. The antibiotics worked, so either way she started to feel better.

Painkiller
Did you get a painkiller from the vet to give him after the operation? We were given 'metacam' to have twice a day for a week after as the mouth can be very sore.

Incisors overgrown?
If he has started to eat some vegetables and is showing improvement that is great but as you know it is important to eat the hay and grass to keep the back teeth down and if he can't manage these or the hard vegetables you might think that there is still something wrong with his teeth... perhaps as well as the back teeth overgrowing the front teeth have also grown too long for him to be able to manipulate the food. This happened to my girl - she was still being syringed two weeks after the dental operation (as I said - we think the teeth weren't actually the problem but at this time we didn't know for sure). I noticed her trying to bite at a piece of wood and mentioned it to the vet when we went back... a new vet was also involved in the examination and between them they could not see any problem with the back teeth but the front incisors had by now grown so long that piggy could not close her mouth properly (this was why she had been trying to bite the wood) so they used a little instrument to 'burr' the front teeth (cut them short but not with a clipper - it was some tiny electric cutting tool). Now she did not have a GA because if they can do it without that it can be a very quick procedure (she was done in about 15 minutes) but my poor girl actually got trimmed a bit too short and she was sore again with a big fat bottom lip. It made me cry to see her looking so gummy, and she was frightened and angry as you might expect, but actually she managed very well with painkiller and the teeth start growing back immediately. Her chewing action was much better straight away so I could tell that the overgrown front teeth had prevented her chewing food properly with her back ones. Does your boy have over-long incisors now... even if he did not when he first went in for his op? There are pigs on the forum that are missing bottom incisors completely (their top ones have to be trimmed regularly!) and still eat on their own, so if these front teeth are too long they can prevent proper chewing but if they are too short for a while it does not prevent it.

Hard to get teeth right
Like @Siikibam said above not every dental op is perfect and even good vets can maybe not have so much experience doing the back teeth. But the fact that he is trying to eat and managing some things is encouraging.

What would I do
I would personally return to the vets to ask for (1) metacam painkiller, (2) whether antibiotics are now needed for the raspy breathing, (3) to look at and maybe trim the front incisors if necessary. If the vet is quite convinced the teeth are fine you might think about whether there is any abscess at the root of the tooth which means pain as he bites... it might be worse with the hard veg. I don't know how you would identify this - maybe if you touch under his jaw does he flinch or squeak? Does he have bad breath or is it OK? But I have no personal experience of this and don't know whether antibiotics would treat such a thing or whether an operation is needed. But check 1, 2 and 3 first because all of these happened to us after the dental operation.

PS In case you wanted to know my lovely girl never ate anything on her own again - although she was hungry and sniffed and sniffed at the tasty things I offered she just did not take the food. Eventually other symptoms appeared - top lip flickering uncontrollably as I tried to syringe a little fluid, a 'choking' face with head twisting sideways as she tried to swallow her syringe food which she could only take a tiny bit at a time anyway. She never did drool like some pigs with dental problems do - she just stopped eating. We could only guess at why. Your boy sounds like he has improved and can still make a recovery. Be hopeful, return to the vet and let us know how you get on. All my very best wishes for little Muffin 💕
Thank you for sharing your experience. He was given pain killer for 5 days( meloxicam- 2drops/twice a day). He doesn't seem to have pain in his teeth now. Before the trimming we was visibly having pain in his teeth. Just like you mentioned, he use to make 'choking' face, now he seems better with that and swallows easily. He was able to chew onto a thin slice of carrot and corn cob but still seems to have some issue as he twitches his ear alot while eating hard things and raises his hair. His poops are better now. And the wheezing sound is also less but he's still making soft clicking sound. We kept him in sun for some time with fresh grass (he really enjoys napping in sun). I am really bothered about his dropping weight, he has lost another 6 gms. We are taking him to the vet. I just wish he gets well soon.😔
 

Monika Sharma

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Another thing, he gained a bit weight, almost reaching 806gm from 790gms, before starting to lose weight for last two days. I am feeding him the same amount and he himself is chewing on things. He is more active now. Could it be that he is losing weight because he is exerting himself?
 

Piggies&buns

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You need not weigh him every time you feed him. He needs to be weighed once a day at the same time each day And then you only compare that weight with the one before. If you weigh too much then you pick up too much before fluctuation.

Another thing, he gained a bit weight, almost reaching 806gm from 790gms, before starting to lose weight for last two days. I am feeding him the same amount and he himself is chewing on things. He is more active now. Could it be that he is losing weight because he is exerting himself?
I assume this drop is from one day to the next. This is only a 16g drop - so isn’t significant on its own. It could be down to a normal fluctuation (bladder being emptier for example). It is significant if it continues to form part of a longer downward trend. If he continues to lose weight, then he needs to be syringe fed more.

Hay is the main part of their diet, it keeps the gut functioning normally, keeps weight on them wears their teeth down. Grass will do the same though. If he is happily eating grass, then give him plenty of time on grass (it sounds as if his tummy is used to it so lots of grass shouldn’t cause a problem - if you give too much grass to an unprepared tummy then it can cause a digestive upset and soft poops).
 

Monika Sharma

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You need not weigh him every time you feed him. He needs to be weighed once a day at the same time each day And then you only compare that weight with the one before. If you weigh too much then you pick up too much before fluctuation.



I assume this drop is from one day to the next. This is only a 16g drop - so isn’t significant on its own. It could be down to a normal fluctuation (bladder being emptier for example). It is significant if it continues to form part of a longer downward trend. If he continues to lose weight, then he needs to be syringe fed more.

Hay is the main part of their diet, it keeps the gut functioning normally, keeps weight on them wears their teeth down. Grass will do the same though. If he is happily eating grass, then give him plenty of time on grass (it sounds as if his tummy is used to it so lots of grass shouldn’t cause a problem - if you give too much grass to an unprepared tummy then it can cause a digestive upset and soft poops).
He did not lose, he almost gained 16 gms. And his weight remains almost same throughout the day. I also suspected the same that he might be having empty stomach in the morning but he did not reach above 800 gms again. He likes grass alot but not eating that also now. It's difficult to understand, because the grass we give him is very tender and fresh. Thank you for your suggestion, I will increase the syringe feeding for now.
 

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He did not lose, he almost gained 16 gms. And his weight remains almost same throughout the day. I also suspected the same that he might be having empty stomach in the morning but he did not reach above 800 gms again. He likes grass alot but not eating that also now. It's difficult to understand, because the grass we give him is very tender and fresh. Thank you for your suggestion, I will increase the syringe feeding for now.
Oh yes, I read the figures the wrong way round, although you did say he started to lose again for the last two days. Dont weigh him throughout the day - you pick up too much fluctuation. Just weigh him each morning and compare each days weight agains the previous day.
He really does need to see a vet again if he is reducing the amount he eats for himself. If he doesn't eat hay or grass, then his teeth will overgrow again.
 

Monika Sharma

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Thank you😊, we had words with his vet. He said to take note for another day and feed him more as of now. Muffin seems to be improving.
 

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Could it be that he is losing weight because he is exerting himself?
My neutered boar George is nearly 4 and was 1.5 kilo when he lost his female companion last year. He was eating a lot and not moving very much and got mild impaction. He now has company again (which was not a straightforward process!) and while I was trying to sort everypig out I realised I had not weighed him for about a month. He was 1.4 kilo, and at first I was "Oh no! What's wrong George?" but he's fine, he is just rumble-strutting round more!

You are a brave boy Muffin - and your owner sounds to be very observant for you 💕
 

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Thank you for your reply. We are still trying to stabilize his weight. We had word with another vet today who specialises in guinea pigs, who is only available by tomorrow. As off now, muffin is still fighting syringe feeding. He has always been so curious and playful, always loved his food. He is so full of life even now. It's so sad to see him wanting to eat and not being able to. Everytime I would prepare for syringe feeding, he would start nibbling at something or other, as if wanting to tell me that he can eat on his own and he's fine. He came into my life when I was suffering from depression and he helped me alot. He was never the lovey-dovey cuddling kind of pets but somehow it felt he understood me and everytime I felt sad he would come and sit next to me. We never had his enclosure closed, he loved his freedom so much. He would roam freely from room to room wherever I would be sitting. Would call me out if I ever missed his meal time and would quickly run back to his enclosure to clearly instruct where I should keep his food. He has ways of telling me, exactly what he wanted- hay, fresh grass or vegetables. He is a wonderfully smart piggie, and he is so special to me. It's heartbreaking and seems so wrong to force him while feeding knowing that he always loved freedom. He is so sensible even now. Whenever I start crying at the helplessness and struggle of force feeding him, he would sit calmly and take feeds nicely. As if he understands how much it hurts me. I just feel sad to lose him like this😢🥺
 

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Please don’t lose hope yet. I think with regards the syringe feeding you may just have to be firmer, especially as he’s not eating enough himself. It’s important that he has it to keep his guts going and curb the weigh loss. Have you tried putting the feed in a bowl or offering it to him on a spoon? How is his weight compared to yesterday? Have you now stopped weighing more than once a day?

Hope you can get him seen by the experienced vet tomorrow.
 

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Another poster has recently mentioned a 'clicking' sound her piggy was making and she was diagnosed with a URI and needed antibiotics. If Muffin is still occasionally 'clicking' maybe you can mention it to the vet... it might be another symptom along with wheezing sounds.
 

Monika Sharma

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Please don’t lose hope yet. I think with regards the syringe feeding you may just have to be firmer, especially as he’s not eating enough himself. It’s important that he has it to keep his guts going and curb the weigh loss. Have you tried putting the feed in a bowl or offering it to him on a spoon? How is his weight compared to yesterday? Have you now stopped weighing more than once a day?

Hope you can get him seen by the experienced vet tomorrow.
I weighed him twice, the weight is slightly lesser than yesterday. He doesn't take it from the bowl or with a spoon. I guess he doesn't like the taste. I tried making another paste of some of his favourite fruits and vegs. That helped a bit.
 

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You need to give him fibre not fruit and veg. Does he have pellets? What are you giving him for syringe feeding that’s not fruit and veg?

You need to stick to weighing once a day, as already mentioned. Weighing more than that is inaccurate because of the usual changes during the day.

I would suggest you weight in the morning before any syringe feeding etc. How often are you trying to feed him? And how much is he taking at each feed?
 

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Another poster has recently mentioned a 'clicking' sound her piggy was making and she was diagnosed with a URI and needed antibiotics. If Muffin is still occasionally 'clicking' maybe you can mention it to the vet... it might be another symptom along with wheezing sounds.
Yes, it could be a URI because he seems to have problem breathing. I did not know that the clicking sound could be because of URI. Thank you for mentioning.
 

Monika Sharma

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You need to give him fibre not fruit and veg. Does he have pellets? What are you giving him for syringe feeding that’s not fruit and veg?

You need to stick to weighing once a day, as already mentioned. Weighing more than that is inaccurate because of the usual changes during the day.

I would suggest you weight in the morning before any syringe feeding etc. How often are you trying to feed him? And how much is he taking at each feed?
I feed him 5 times a day, 10-15 ml approx., we are giving him a paste of soaked pellets as mentioned by the vet. The critical care is not available here. The weight has decreased today morning as compared to yesterday morning. We weigh him throughout the day to check for any sporadic change but compare only the morning weight for record purpose.
 

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There’s no use weighing several times throughout the day because it doesn’t give you a clear picture. There is guaranteed to be sporadic change (up or down) due to full/empty bladder or stomach. It’s up to you but it doesn’t actually give a clearer picture of what’s going on. In fact it muddies the waters.

I would suggest you feed him every two hours during the day then once before bed and start again when you wake up. You need to be aiming for 60ml in a 24 hour period.
 

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I did not know that the clicking sound could be because of URI.
Yes, I didn't know this either. I've had a couple of URI pigs... the last one as I mentioned had the dental with GA and then was syringe fed. I didn't hear a clicking sound with either but they had noisy 'rasping' breathing (my Ivy was actually diagnosed over the phone as I was holding her when the vet called me to see how she was doing!) but perhaps it depends on where the infection has started in the lungs. It was only when I read that other post today that I thought of your mentioning this sound... I suppose at first I was thinking it might be teeth catching together or something. Best of Luck for the vet little Muffin 💕
 
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