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Gut Stasis for 2 weeks? Or something more..?

Free Ranger

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Before I blether on, the nub of my question is this: If an otherwise well-looking guinea pig doesn't eat voluntarily for 2 weeks is it possible gut stasis is still the issue? How long can GS take to resolve? I can keep going with the support feeding but my concern is that I'm masking a serious issue like a cancer, and that I'm setting her up to suffer pain or distress in the future. Ivy has me and my lovely vets completely baffled. I've been through the whole emotional rollercoaster and now I'm starting to second-guess myself so I have finally joined GPF (which has proved so helpful over the years - thankyou!) to get a wider perspective.

We've had various guineas over several years. Ivy is 3 1/2 and has not been able to eat for 2 weeks now. I noticed her dropping her carrot chunk and giving up one Saturday (Friday she had been bulldozing through the pellet bowl as normal) - straight down to vets - teeth overgrown (not too much, and we had seen no obvious struggling to chew and no drooling). She had anaesthetic for the dental and then stayed over at vets for round the clock support feeding - extended for a few days as no progress. Painkiller (metacam) and a "high dose" of the gut stimulant emeprid but she was, unsurprisingly, upset by the experience and hid all the time. After a belly shave and scan (nothing except some small ovarian cysts which don't seem to cause her any pain) I brought her home on the Wednesday following and she was delighted to be back. Vet said gut sounds had been very intermittent - healthy sometimes - then really quiet - then louder again later. We took a gamble and also started her on Baytril antibiotic 6 days after the op. Once home she was in much better spirits and although still fought the syringe of 'Recovery' going in was quite settled when sitting and chewing the contents. She was 1 kg when she left and has maintained a weight of 975g since... could just be different scales - her eyes are bright and her coat looks good - no shedding. Walking well, no hunching, no obvious signs of any pain. Occasionally she tries to nibble veggies. She sniffs and 'lips' at things as she's snuffling round but if she tries to nibble some grass / veg / a flake of 'fruit n fibre' (which kept her going through a bladder infection a year ago) she inevitably pulls a 'retching' face - big, wide mouth with head twisting to one side, sometimes with a big drool to wash out the offending fragment. If she can't shift it out she must get it into a better position as she'll then sit and chew... I can feel her teeth going. Poops minimal but OK.

Since then there has been frustratingly little change. We're now doing 20ml of Recovery a day split over 3-4 sessions between 7.30 am and pm (she gets upset any later as she is tired in the evening). She will take water from a syringe or bowl but not from the bottles. She loves her metacam (they say it's sweet) and loves a syringe of 'carrot water' made by pounding fragments with a little liquid in a mortar and pestle but will not touch the more solid 'soup' produced when they were blended (raw) in the nutribullet. She swallows liquids no problem but seems to have to 'gulp' to get the Recovery down: too thick and she just pushes or scrapes it back out of her mouth so we aim for a 'soft toothpaste' flavoured with a little carrot water and spiked with 'bio-lapis' gut powder and 'poop soup' from her companion George. At first she could only take about 0.2 ml at a time but now she will accept almost 1 ml tucked into the cheek pouch which she then sits and chews. She can sometimes take 8 ml in a session - but this takes about 1 1/2 hours so either way I'm syringing 4 - 5 hours a day. She fights it - it's an uncomfortable compromise but you can tell she's hungry, especially in the morning, and she looks depressed as George munches away. After that feed they will both lay comfortably together. She's probably not as perky as she used to be - it's hard to tell - she's as lively as big fat George and doesn't look unwell. She keeps herself tidy and cleans off the 'beard' of Recovery and carrot immediately after the feed. You can tell she worries about the syringe when she is picked up but enjoys laying in the sun on my lap after we've done and being stroked - sometimes she nods off! She's getting tired of the situation though and squeals in protest when collected for the next feed.

The vet will see her again tomorrow which will frighten her but I'm sending her in with George. He'll probably say teeth are fine (2 vets at the practice have checked already) but we are stuck in the same position again. If he feels any lumps or bumps in the throat at least we'll know something...?

So, does anyone have any experience of this sort of situation? My family are supportive and I'm happy to continue our daily Recovery battle if there might be light at the end of the tunnel but if the message is that she's unlikely to start eating again and I'm just dragging things out... I don't know what to do. Has she gone without eating by herself for too long? Or has anyone supported their pig through weeks of gut stasis with a happy ending?

Phew! Sorry for the long post but thanks for listening folks :)
 

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Is your vet an exotic specialist?

So she isn’t eating any hay for herself? Hay being the most essential part of the diet.
The fact she is maintaining her weight is obviously good but If she isn’t eating hay for herself, and if I had read this right, 20ml of recovery food per day is not enough in a piggy who isn’t eating/is unable to eat anything voluntarily. With a complete lack of appetite and inability to eat you need to be getting in more than that and feeding at least once during the night.
I would get the teeth checked again as without the constant abrasive action of hay and grass, there is the potential for overgrowing again.
Otherwise further scans and checks and perhaps a second opinion

Digestive Disorders: Diarrhea - Bloat - GI Stasis (No Gut Movement) And Not Eating
Not Eating, Weight Loss And The Importance Of Syringe Feeding Fibre
 
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Wiebke

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:agr: with @Piggies&buns

Please take the time to read out information links. They are vital for the survival!

Around 80% of the daily food intake is hay. A healthy piggy at its peak is eating about the equivalent of 120 ml in a day. Giving just 20 ml is in the way of replacing an afternoon snack. You need to aim for 60-90 ml in a piggy that has not lost all appetite and 40-60 ml in 24 hours with one that has and where you have to fight for every single ml. You need to feed about every 2-3 hours during the day and once or twice in the night, depending on how much food you get in per feeding session. The less your piggy will take in one go, the more often you have to feed.
It is tough, but they only way unfortunately. I have been there myself more than once.
 

Free Ranger

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Thankyou Piggies&buns and Wiebke for responding so promptly, and be assured I have thoroughly read the info links - I have been a GPF devotee for some years!

Yes, Ivy has eaten nothing herself for 2 weeks now. I chose this vet practice a while back as they have at least 3 experienced vets who keep/have kept piggies themselves for many years so I always make my appointments with these. They warned that the teeth might be secondary to an underlying issue - especially as they did not seem to be especially overgrown and Ivy had been at the hay and pellets only the day before, rather than ignoring these for softer foods. After Ivy had her teeth done they knew the importance of maximising food intake round the clock which is why she stayed in from Saturday to Wednesday to be nursed and syringe fed every 2 to 4 hours round the clock - but even then the rota nurses said she could not manage much more than 20-24ml in 24 hours. They know to expect more - the packets make up 70ml for 24 hours. Of course there is always some protest with syringe feeding but after a certain point she retches and chokes on even the smallest amount in her mouth and it becomes dangerous to continue in case she inhales something. After her scan revealed nothing there wasn't much more they could do and we all felt she would be happier at home with George (so true!) whatever the outcome. I began with 5-6 feeds (leaving a 6 hour gap at night) but eventually tweaked these to try and fit with her wake/sleep pattern. I know she isn't eating or drinking nearly enough. I've tried making the Recovery gruel thicker/thinner to 'trick' her into taking more but this didn't work either: it always ended up being about the same amount of solids with a little more/less water drunk accordingly. I could try grinding up some hay in the nutribullet to add to the Recovery. I've been trying to monitor her chewing by listening to the sound or feeling under her jaw / behind her ears for the vibration so I suppose it might be teeth but the grinding feels pretty smooth and there's no flinching - I mean I'm no expert though so I'm going to see if she'll 'demo' for the vet tomorrow. Some session she chews quickly - other times she just lets it sit in her mouth.

I've had pigs before that have refused to eat and been nursed/fed round the clock but this was to get them over a surgery / tummy upset / through a bad cold and the syringing has only been necessary for 2 or 3 days until they started eating something themselves. I've never had to house one at the vets before now. This just feels different. It was a terrific shock at first of course to realise she was unwell - she was feisty and dominated big George, but he has been so gentle now she has returned weaker - licking her eyes and snuggling. We got her young - unusual for us as we typically mop up local 'leftover' pigs: usually children's pets who have lost their companions and so they tend to be older when we get them and you see more health woes this way. Perhaps I just wasn't prepared for it with Ivy.

I think all I can do is redouble my feeding efforts and hope for the best tomorrow. Many thanks for all your good advice, and thank you also for all the years your forum has provided us owners with sound guinea pig knowledge. They are the loveliest little companions.
 

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Hi!

Has your vet checked for the possibility of oral thrush (fungal mouth infection, usually fairly straight forward to treat with itrafungol, a systemic oral cat fungicide that has been successfully used for years for both ringworm and candida infections in guinea pigs) or something stuck between the back teeth or at the back of the throat that may be visible with only an x-ray?

This could account for the retching you are reporting, which is not a common symptom at all since rodents can't vomit and don't have a vomiting reflex. This argues for either difficulty with swallowing (oral thrush) or a partial blockage/narrowing at the back of the mouth or in the upper throat area.

PS: Thank you for your heads up for our forum! A lot of work is going into keeping this as a friendly place with good information and support in the face of the rapid rise of social media.
 

Free Ranger

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Thanks for those tips! I am writing a list to discuss with the vet this afternoon before he takes her in to examine her. Yesterday she managed 28ml gruel and 6ml of liquid and - this is good news I think - she was more cross than frightened. I told her "Wiebke says you have to fight for every ml!" so if she makes it she might have a few choice words for you in the future. We'll try and up it again today. She had a go at a cabbage leaf this morning and chomped bits out very effectively but then dropped them out of her mouth straight away - not even trying to move them into her mouth. This is the first time I've offered cabbage for a bit. If I offer something novel she'll have a go, if it's something she's tried to eat before and failed at she doesn't bother touching it. I'm going to ration the types of veg offered.

She has been pulling a flickering, curling 'Elvis lip' on one side when water/liquid is dribbled in (carefully!) with the syringe. I've got hubs to film it - at first I thought this was possibly just her drinking face as she usually chugs on a water-bottle while watching over her shoulder but it might be some sensitivity in the mouth. I also made him photograph her poop next to some of George's to show 'form' and as much as he loves her he was a bit, "Really..?" so the vet is in for quite a show.
 

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Thanks for those tips! I am writing a list to discuss with the vet this afternoon before he takes her in to examine her. Yesterday she managed 28ml gruel and 6ml of liquid and - this is good news I think - she was more cross than frightened. I told her "Wiebke says you have to fight for every ml!" so if she makes it she might have a few choice words for you in the future. We'll try and up it again today. She had a go at a cabbage leaf this morning and chomped bits out very effectively but then dropped them out of her mouth straight away - not even trying to move them into her mouth. This is the first time I've offered cabbage for a bit. If I offer something novel she'll have a go, if it's something she's tried to eat before and failed at she doesn't bother touching it. I'm going to ration the types of veg offered.

She has been pulling a flickering, curling 'Elvis lip' on one side when water/liquid is dribbled in (carefully!) with the syringe. I've got hubs to film it - at first I thought this was possibly just her drinking face as she usually chugs on a water-bottle while watching over her shoulder but it might be some sensitivity in the mouth. I also made him photograph her poop next to some of George's to show 'form' and as much as he loves her he was a bit, "Really..?" so the vet is in for quite a show.
Please use our piggy whispering tips and lots of chivvying BUT you need to get really serious about the feeding. I find that they help with mine by asserting my authority gently, but firmly but by also conveying plenty of sympathy and love.
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
Who is the boss - your guinea pig or you?

The symptoms are very much those of a piggy unable to chew and/or swallow, so you have to do things in very small packages but very often and wait until something has gone down safely before you can give the next. Also never give more than 0.1-0.3 ml at any time to a guinea pig with swallowing issues in order to avoid them going down the wrong way or up the nose. But you need to really get serious about getting bulk support feed into her if you want to get her through this!

All the best!
 

Free Ranger

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Thanks for those tips - and don't worry, I'm not rough with her. She figured out straight off that I'm very right-handed so when she's facing that way there's some sort of syringe approaching. I swaddle her in a towel (leaving one front foot free as if there is a problem she needs to be able to scrape a bit out) and squirt a bit into her cheek pouch. At that point she is either released or fights her way free, turns 180 degrees to face the other way and settles in my lap for a long chew. At this point she's really relaxed and loves a stroke - she lets me go all around her eyes and along her nose, she likes her tufty head to be gently pulled from side to side. I rest my fingers in the bald spots behind her ears to feel how well she is managing to chew and she likes to be stroked here. She even likes her ears kissed! I talk to her quietly and mimic her own little noises. Sometimes it's a challenge not to relax her too much as I just have to switch her round and wrap her again and it seems a shame to disturb her. Since she's been better at taking a little more at a time I've tried keeping her swaddled and facing right for two or three goes which has helped keep her focussed a bit more but she always turns in the end. She has definitely been a bit better since the weekend ( 33 ml so far today, and 12 of liquids, and I saw her actually pee) all of which brings me to the vet visit.

I took my list of queries and concerns (and med requests) and both pigs were taken in together so Ivy was never alone in the cat-box. The vet had a good look at the video clips and then got a good look in her mouth with the scope. The upshot was (1) teeth looked fine and even if she doesn't eat hay for the next few weeks they should be OK until about 6 weeks after they'd been done in our case, (2) soft tissues look fine - no signs of thrush (3) no obvious throat lumps or bumps (4) the 'retch' face is probably to do with not being able to adjust the food that has gone into her mouth so not retching as such but more closing off the throat to prevent choking, BUT (5) as the scope touched the roof of her mouth it triggered the flickering 'Elvis' lip on her left side and it was very pronounced. This is apparently not at all normal and looks like a nerve issue and it could be a variety of things with variously good/tragic outcomes. It was unlikely to have been caused by the dental work as these nerves are buried deep in the face - much more likely it was an issue before which caused a gradual drop in chewing ability and thus teeth to overgrow. It could be that there is some sort of infection or abscess in the root of a tooth which has swelled, pressing on the nerve and causing pain and affecting chewing. It could also be that something like a tooth root is just growing and pressing on the nerve making proper coordinated chewing impossible, even if there is no pain with it. Or it could just be something affecting the nerves of her face which was always going to happen. The first can be helped with antibiotics (she's currently 5 days into a 10 day course of baytril - and I guess there are other alternatives if necessary). I had thought she seemed better (more willing to take the gruel?) after a few days of ABs but I'd have also thought there'd be other symptoms if it was this, such as oozing eyes or smelly breath, or not wanting the cheek touched... I don't know. The others are less treatable: if the gut stasis is overcome the challenge will be can she chew anyway? And will it get worse so she can't drink or swallow? The standard approach in cats or dogs is to give it 6 weeks to settle down - if it's going to it will in this time (but we've had at least 2 so far). With the carnivores they can sometimes extract suspect teeth but this is not recommended in guineas as they really need their molars and there is no guarantee it will 'work' and they can easily end up much, much worse off.

Hmmm, so now we have identified a rare but likely candidate it's wait-and-see, but getting more gruel through her and firing out the other end is my primary challenge. I've got 3 weeks of Emeprid, more Metacam, and we're going to get in a ton of Recovery. If we get to a point where she's hungry and taking the recommended amount on board and she's peeing and pooping pretty much normally but she still can't feed herself (even bits of watermelon or sloppy Recovery from a spoon or bowl) it's not looking so good for my lovely fluffy girl. Vet said to keep an eye out for Elvis - if we see more of this the prognosis is poor, but less is good. And it might all take some weeks and a bit of patience but we've got time. I'm going to try and make the most of each day, and take my lead from Ivy who is currently OK enough with the situation to keep me positive. And if these end up being her final w(h)eeks we're going all out to make them good ones.

I might not post for a while as things are going to be busy here and I'll be quite tired and a bit sad, but I will definitely let you all know about GS progress and ultimately what happens - maybe it will be of help to someone in the future too.
 

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Ivy's progress in ml Recovery per 24 hrs: Sun - 28 (and 6 of liquid), Mon - 35 (+28 liquid!), Tue - 49 (+23 liquid) including 1 am feed. Her mouth was getting clagged up with the gruel so I offer water or crushed carrot water to lap at and rinse things clear. Sometimes she is not interested but at the 11:30 slot she is taking on board a lot of fluids which would match with her tendency to drink a lot at night in the past. Not going for water bottles or bowl yet though. She attacked a bit of chard leaf today and vigorously ripped it to pieces but could not manage to keep the bits in her mouth. Still, she is handling the gruel better and we're increasing volumes. Poops improving too. Come on Ivy!
 

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An update for Ivy: frustratingly similar. We increased her gruel and got to 60 ml with round-the-clock sessions but to be honest this didn't seem to suit her... I was hoping her appetite would be somehow magically 'triggered' back into action but she seemed to lose all interest in offered veg (which she hadn't been able to eat anyway, but at least she had gone for it before turning away). So perhaps gut stasis was the symptom, not the problem.
Eventually we compromised around 40ml which she's comfortable with and she still comes out in the mornings when George is sniffing for treats and grass. The sessions had been taking longer and it turned out Ivy couldn't close her mouth properly because of the length of her incisors. My first thought was, 'should these have been done back on the 5th with her molars? Maybe THAT was the problem!' But actually it's been so long since she's been biting or chewing that it could have happened since. She was able to have the incisors trimmed without general anaesthetic and came home the same day with good teeth and a fat lip (poor girl, but I understand it's not an easy job). I was praying for a miraculous return in appetite but no joy: she still seems to have trouble swallowing. On top of everything else she's now developed 'noisy' breathing over the last 2 days but so far only in the evenings - it sounds a little like grunting. She's already on Baytril and Metacam - I guess it could be a cold but will keep an eye on it. Her breathing didn't seem laboured this morning. She's slowly losing weight (900g now) and doesn't have so much joie de vivre, but still looks OK in herself; bright eyes, good fluffy coat, peeing and pooping. Part of me had an idea that if I could just make time she could live out her life on gruel but it would seem the teeth are going to be a problem within weeks and she won't help herself to anything. Sadly, I think all options are on the table now... we've just run out of ideas.
I will update again with the outcome, and thanks for listening. We're about to settle down for the afternoon syringe session - she quite enjoys the 'talking pictures' tv channel with the black-and-white films!
 

Piggies&buns

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Guinea pigs don’t get colds. If she has a problem with breathing and a potential respiratory infection, it could be baytril isn’t the right antibiotic to deal with it.
Unfortunately if a piggy is only syringe fed and won’t eat hay for themselves then there is nothing to wear the teeth down so you will get overgrowth.
 

Free Ranger

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I'm so pleased to hear they don't get colds as my daughter had to have a day off with one so I was feeling guilty!
Yes, I've read that about the hay so I know sadly the countdown is on. Her resp rate was about 60 breaths per min and didn't look laboured but I'm going to mention in to the vet as there is a follow-up call about the incisors at some point. I think she might tell me that if Ivy's problem is swallowing she might be getting into a pickle with gruel retained in the mouth getting in her throat. I thought at first that as she's breathing clearly when the syringe session ends she would be fine but I bet there's remnants in there for a while.
She was having her 'beard' groomed today (the fat lip prevented her cleaning efficiently this week) and was really peaced out until I accidentally went too low and touched her chest between her front legs - she instantly reacted as if this area was painful or sensitive - she gave me a proper warning chutter and twisted away. I thought we might have missed some sort of lump in the chest but couldn't feel anything and she was writhing to get away all the time. She doesn't like her underside touched generally but she doesn't respond like this. I'm going to do the same to George tonight and see what he does - mind you, he's a big fat bag of nerves so anything could happen. He's also on Baytril and metacam - I think the stress of Ivy's change in behaviour triggered a sudden bout of impaction and he got a bladder infection on the back of that. He's through the worst though. She was dominant and used to lead the eating... he's gained weight this past month because she's not bossing him about.
I'll monitor the breathing closely, thanks for your input x
 

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I'm so pleased to hear they don't get colds as my daughter had to have a day off with one so I was feeling guilty!
Yes, I've read that about the hay so I know sadly the countdown is on. Her resp rate was about 60 breaths per min and didn't look laboured but I'm going to mention in to the vet as there is a follow-up call about the incisors at some point. I think she might tell me that if Ivy's problem is swallowing she might be getting into a pickle with gruel retained in the mouth getting in her throat. I thought at first that as she's breathing clearly when the syringe session ends she would be fine but I bet there's remnants in there for a while.
She was having her 'beard' groomed today (the fat lip prevented her cleaning efficiently this week) and was really peaced out until I accidentally went too low and touched her chest between her front legs - she instantly reacted as if this area was painful or sensitive - she gave me a proper warning chutter and twisted away. I thought we might have missed some sort of lump in the chest but couldn't feel anything and she was writhing to get away all the time. She doesn't like her underside touched generally but she doesn't respond like this. I'm going to do the same to George tonight and see what he does - mind you, he's a big fat bag of nerves so anything could happen. He's also on Baytril and metacam - I think the stress of Ivy's change in behaviour triggered a sudden bout of impaction and he got a bladder infection on the back of that. He's through the worst though. She was dominant and used to lead the eating... he's gained weight this past month because she's not bossing him about.
I'll monitor the breathing closely, thanks for your input x
All the best! It is so difficult when your piggy has not been well for quite a while and medication doesn't seem to be working. We are seeing increasing especially with respiratory illnesses selective resistance so your vet can either try a number of antibiotics that are mostly unlicensed for guinea pigs or to a rather expensive and not very quick lab test to see which of the possible safe antibiotics she is reacting to. There may of course be another cause that can impact on the lungs from the inside of the body. :(
 

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Thanks for all the advice and support, it's really appreciated :)

Vet called and we got cut off almost immediately so I was getting on with Ivy's evening meds when she phoned back. I had Ivy tucked under my neck during the call and luckily she could hear her breathing down the phone and immediately said "Sounds like respiratory infection. Is she still on the Baytril?" then suggested Septrin to be collected tomorrow - the idea being that we've really got nothing to lose at this point although it might take 2 to 3 days to kick in. She very charitably said it might not necessarily be that she's inhaled gruel as her swallow deteriorates (although it might be) but that perhaps it was from when her incisors were done. Also had a very sensitive conversation about the fact that she would be working herself all this weekend and although normally it's 'emergency only' just to call her anytime if Ivy decides she's had enough. She's really rooting for Ivy: of course she's a fluffy charmer but in part it's because it's so frustrating to have a pig that appears well and behaves pretty much as normal but hasn't eaten voluntarily for nearly a month. Tonight was cage-blitz night and they both take themselves off out of the way until it's done. Then they come trotting back in and, as usual, make straight for the pellet bowl but now while George gets stuck in she has a nose and then turns away into the bedroom. Hubs was all like, "She's in the bowl! She's in it, look!" then he was gutted. Even Big George looked a bit guilty chowing down. Your heart lifts for a minute then you have to remind yourself of the reality. I've lost half a stone this month and I think it was all tears.

So - Septrin starts tomorrow and we'll keep a close eye for signs of change. Perhaps it'll just ease her breathing in what may be her final days or maybe by some miracle it'll target an infection we couldn't spot all those weeks ago. Just touching her chest tonight made her flinch and squeak. I know she can tolerate both Baytril and Septrin well as she's had trouble with a bladder stone and UTI in the past and tried both at that time - the Septrin really cleared the UTI up but she had to stay on it for 3 weeks if I recall, and then after two more weeks had to go back on for a second time. This is also how we found out more about Metacam tolerance: the standard dose for a 1kg pig should be 0.2ish mls per day of the dog metacam I think - which translated to 4 units on the special little syringe we were given (they worked that out, not me, but it looked about right) but we were told that we could double that or even triple it if we had to! We found that 4u twice a day was fine but that fitting in a third dose didn't suit her and neither did 6u twice a day - it was too much and her appetite dropped off. Luckily she got through it on 2 x 4u and we found out that trying to get her to drink more (which I thought pretty much impossible) was actually dead simple: put the bottle near the door of the 'cave' with the spout pointing in so she can drink without anyone seeing. Suddenly her teeth are rattling that spout all night long (and waking us up) but no more UTI or stones!

I really do appreciate my vet practice - it was the third one I tried in the days when I first had pigs and they were the first to suggest pain relief - none of the others had even mentioned such a thing as 'Guinea-pig Calpol' and I was surprised something even existed! One of these vets had an old boar with a large bladder stone and she explained how he was happy enough with his daily dose as he had no chance of surviving a surgery. The big bonus was, "...and they like the taste of it!" I don't think any of them describe themselves as specialists but the fact that they kept piggy pets themselves was good enough for me.
 

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South Oxon UK
Sad news from us for a Sunday night I'm afraid. I've been crying my broken heart out all day but it was the right decision.

The Septrin tackled Ivy's lung infection and her breathing was much better within 48 hours but when she perked up a bit it was very obvious that her original problems were still there and had gradually gotten worse. Ivy just couldn't eat: she could just about swallow her gruel and any other fluid intake was almost nil... she could only manage a drop of water at a time from the syringe which her tongue came out to take. Any more, or any large mouthfuls of Recovery and there was an immediate 'retch' face where her mouth opened as wide as it could and her head and shoulders twist right round to one side (her foot even came off the floor) in a terrible silent roar. I think she was just trying to stop things going down the wrong way - or there was some narrowing of the throat which compromised her airway. This had gotten much more pronounced this past week and led to several feeds being cut short. In some ways the worst part was that last night and this morning; with the infection under control she came out with George to forage for food, but just couldn't eat it. She was desperately sniffing and snuffling in the new expensive 'feeding hay', in the fresh grass, in the pellets and muesli, but whenever she tried to take solids she 'retched'. This morning, with a massive effort, she carefully took 3 or 4 little bits of veg and her favourite muesli pellets one by one into the cave... a minute later she came out looking for something else. When I examined the stash there wasn't a toothmark in anything- the poor girl just couldn't eat and she looked so down. I made a last batch of extra-special gruel and some carrot-water and we sat for a gentle syringe session and a nice comb to make sure she had a full belly for when she went to sit with George. I lined out the cat-box with fleecy blankets and a not-too-hot water bottle so they went in there together but she went right to the back and curled up on her own. So I called my lovely vet and asked to bring her in. Hubs had a little fuzzle, then I took her for a little walk in the back garden and reminded her of all the lovely times and told her not to be frightened because her old friends Daisy and LouLou would be waiting for her. Then we went.

Vet Fiona brought her out afterwards in her little shoebox lined with hay so I could make sure she was OK. She'd been so gentle and said Ivy had not struggled at all which comforted me that I'd made the right choice as she was normally my feisty girl. So I got to hold and stroke her one last time before tucking her in for her final journey. We've been blessed to have her - she was only 3 1/2 - I just wish it could have been longer. I suppose we're all going to the same place but some of us get there a little quicker.

We will probably never know what was wrong but I think that the overgrown teeth were a secondary issue. Maybe some lump in the throat, some sort of strange cancer, some facial nerve problem, I have no idea. At the end she didn't like her chest to be touched, her lip and cheek sometimes flickered and flinched uncontrollably and she struggled to swallow but until this weekend she was pretty content in herself bopping about with George and watching black-and-white films with me. She was my 12th pig and because of the month of nursing she's the one I've handled most. Funny but all this time my pigs have just lived a semi-feral life in their bit of the kitchen and done as they pleased. I know when we got LouLou she was pretty tame and hubs was like, "Wow... a pet you can actually pet!" Mind you, she'd been living alone in a shed for some time and was glad of any company - human or guinea-pig! She was the only one who braved the main kitchen area: she used to bring Ivy in and would step on the foot of whoever was looking in the fridge to get their attention. Ivy learned to go for the other foot and when hubs looked down he used to say, "look here - a pair of fluffy slippers!"

I know I'll remember the good times, it's just been a heck of a month and I'm due a good cry. Thanks for being there, GPF, because there aren't many who realise how a little fluffy girl can touch your heart.
 
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