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Tips For Vet Visits

Discussion in 'Health & Illness' started by Wiebke, Jan 22, 2016.

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  1. Wiebke

    Wiebke Moderator
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    Before you need to see a vet

    Accustoming your guinea pigs to their carrier
    If possible, get your guinea pigs used to their carrier during run time and in a positive setting, so they don’t have negative associations. A little veg or grass treat inside the carrier is a great lure.

    Finding a good vet
    - Recommended vets UK: Guinea Pig Vet Locator
    - Recommended vets in other countries (courtesy of Guinea Lynx): Veterinarians - The GLX-Files

    - How to find an out-of-hours vet in an emergency:
    If there is an out-of-hours service for emergencies in your area, you can usually pick up the contact number from your regular/local vets’ answering machine. Prices for out-of-hours services can vary enormously. It is worth looking for cheaper out-of-hours services if you are living in or near an urban setting, especially in the UK. Be aware that it is potluck what kind of vet to get on an out-of-hours service, so don't hesitate to ask what the vet is injecting etc.

    IMPORTANT: Please be aware that vets require upfront payment in many countries.
    Make sure that you set aside a small amount each week or each month, so you can afford any necessary medical care whenever needed. Illness and emergencies never happen at a convenient time! Insurance for guinea pigs is sadly pretty rare and patchy.


    Care until you can see a vet

    Please syringe feed and water any guinea pig that is not eating/drinking properly straight away.
    Go on alert at 30g/1 oz short term weight loss and start syringe feeding when the weight loss is exceeding 50g/2 oz.

    It is absolutely vital to keep the guts from closing down (gut stasis) and to keep the body weight up as much as possible, so a guinea pig has a better chance to fight any illness. This also goes for ongoing eating/drinking issues after a vet visit and, if necessary, after an operation. Your care in keeping your guinea pig going is as important as the medical care it is about to receive!
    A guinea pig that is losing 100g/ca. 3 oz from one day to the next is a guinea pig that has not eaten or drunk in 24 hours and that needs to be seen by a vet as an absolute life-and-death emergency!

    You can find lots of tips on how to go about syringe feeding with what you have at home, get from a vet or can order online in our step-by-step guide: Complete Syringe Feeding Guide

    Weigh your guinea pig daily at the same time in the feeding cycle (ideally before their dinner), so you can check the actual food intake until it has fully recovered again. Just watching a guinea pig nibble on a piece of veg can be misleading as to the overall food intake since up to 80% should be unlimited hay.

    Skin problems:
    Home treating mange mites with a low-dosed broad-spectrum shop brand on spec or bathing guinea pigs with skin problems before the consultation can delay the appropriate treatment or be misleading for a diagnosis. Mange mites and fungal issues can look very similar especially in the early stages, so you should never treat at home and seek a vet diagnosis instead. As unpleasant and upsetting as it is, it is much better to wait with any measures until you have seen a vet.
    Using low-dosed products to prevent mites is not necessary and can lead to resistence to ivermectin products. We have got warnings that this is increasingly happening. Please see a vet promptly in an acute case and treat with a full course of at least three treatments, spaced 1-2 weeks apart, depending on the product used.

    If in any doubt, please ask the clinic/vet if there are things you can do safely at home until your ill guinea pig can be seen when you book them in, especially if it is not on the same day.

    First Aid Kit For Guinea Pigs


    Transport to the vet

    Travelling tips
    Guinea pigs can generally travel longer distances quite well, whether that is by car, train or bus.
    A collection of travelling tips can be found in this thread here: Travelling with guinea pigs

    Provisions during a vet visit
    A little hay or a small handful of freshly ripped grass helps to mask any strange scents and nibbling on it can be calming when you set out. Please only use a little and only soft hay; stalks can cause injuries. Too much hay acts as an insulator and can cause overheating, especially on a warm day. NEVER leave any living beings in your car on a warm day!

    If you are taking your guinea pig for an operation, you are always welcome to take its favourite (clean) cosy and its’ favourite treats for the pre-op wait and the post-op recovery.
     
    Bella123, Critter and ChewyTheGuinea like this.
  2. Wiebke

    Wiebke Moderator
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    “Paw-holding” companions

    For regular visits and check-ups
    If you have got just two guinea pigs, taking both together is much less stressful than a separation. Being able to snuggle up to the mate during the trip goes a long way, especially if your guinea pigs are still young or closely bonded. It also helps getting your guinea pigs accustomed to vet trips. The first few trips are always the worst ones, but guinea pigs can get used to them and will eventually no longer be fussed about it all. Some chronically ill guinea pigs can even come to really enjoy their trips to the place that makes them feel better in themselves!

    Be encouraging and give lots of praise and support to the treated guinea pig. Keeping up a gentle soft chatter can help to de-stress your piggies. You can also make use of the tricks in this link here.
    How To Understand Guinea Pig Instincts And Speak Piggy Body Language

    I also have a specific sing-song phrase that I use whenever I am putting my guinea pigs back into their cage. At the vets, this signals that the ordeal is over and we are on the way home.

    Emergency, severe illness, euthanasia/pts
    There is no hard and fast rule in these situations. A lot depends on the bond and the nature of the actual problem. If a guinea pig is getting away as much as it can from its companions because of its illness/it is dying, then please take it alone. If it is snuggling up or has a devoted mate watching over it, then it may be best to take them together.
    Please make sure that you keep a severely ill or potentially dying guinea pig warm, but without the danger of it overheating.

    Some vets welcome a companion for guinea pigs they are to operate on, others prefer the opposite. Please ask your vet beforehand as to their policy. Most companions make caring nurses for an ill companion, but not all. Use your common-sense and your knowledge of the piggy bond in question.

    The same also goes when you have to take a guinea pig to be put to sleep. Being there can help closely bonded companions, but it can also upset them greatly. I have witnessed either. Upsets are more likely when death or the decision to euthanise (based upon the vet's examination and diagnosis) comes unexpected, so you cannot always brace yourself or a companion for it.
    Guinea pigs are usually well aware if one of their mates is severely ill or dying. On occasion, it has been the behaviour of the mates that has alerted me to an illness.

    Here is more information on what should happen during euthanasia. You are perfectly in your rights to ask the treating vet as to their procedure before you consent to it or to request a different (kinder) procedure if you are not happy. Euthanasia - What happens when it's time to say goodbye?
    Tips on how to care for a bereaved guinea pig: Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig


    Questions to keep in mind for a vet visit
    Write down any specific questions that you want to ask your vet before you set out and check your list before you leave the vet!

    If you are in an emotional turmoil, deep apprehension or very likely to be upset by an unfavourable diagnosis and therefore unable to take in properly what is being said, try to take a second person with you to listen to what the vet has to say and to be able to repeat it to you afterwards, or, if you can't rustle up human support, write down the important bits for the care during the consultation.


    If your guinea pig is not eating properly or needs an operation, please ask your vet:
    - for recovery food for piggies off food or post-op care if you haven't got any at home
    - gut supporting probiotics if they are going on an antibiotic and you haven't got any at home. However, not all vets believe that probiotics are necessary or helpful.
    - a gut stimulant in case a guinea pig hasn’t been eating/drinking at all for a day or more (potential gut stasis) or has got bloating/digestive problems
    - make sure that a guinea pig with a painful condition has got a painkiller or ask how soon after an operation they can have painkillers again in case of a sudden deterioration. Pain is often at the root of loss of appetite.
    - ask whether your vet would consider diuretics and/or a mucus dissolving medication (like bisolvon powder) in order to help clear badly congested airways in addition to the antibiotic. The need to breathe comes before the need to drink and the need to eat, so please ask for recovery food if the appetite is impacted and make sure that you have got some at home in case there is a deterioration.
    - when you have a bloated guinea pig, please ask how often and how much you can give any medication, as bloat comes in waves and can worsen. Also ask for a painkiller and syringe feed. Bloat is very painful.

    Warning! Things you should check and double-check with a vet, especially in an emergency:
    - Please note that you'd better consult with a vet before you give metacam or other painkillers before a consultation, as it can clash with certain medications they may want to prescribe or if they need to conduct an emergency operation where painkillers are part of the medical cocktail.
    Always tell a new/different vet if your guinea pig is on metacam for another issue for the same reason!

    - Steroid injections or oral steroids are not recommended for guinea pigs; they can be detrimental if not fatal in certain situations. Always check with any vet, especially with an emergency vet, as to what kind of injections they are giving your guinea pigs and why! Don't accept them blindly. If you ask politely, a vet is usually willing to tell you the what and why of what they are doing.
    The Problems With Steroids And Why They Shouldn't Be Used.

    - Sadly not all general vets are yet aware that any form of penicillin is fatal for rodents. Please check with your vet that your antibiotic isn't a penicillin brand, especially when seeing an emergency vet that is using an antibiotic you don't recognise the name of. We sadly still see the odd case on this forum.

    Guinea Lynx :: Dangerous Medications (courtesy of Guinea Lynx)


    After a vet visit

    If you struggle to syringe any medication, you can find tips and pictures in both links:
    Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
    Administering Medications

    If you have doubts about any of the medication or dosage you have been given, you can always ring up the clinic and speak to the vet for confirmation.

    Please contact your vet as an emergency if there is a noticeable deterioration (going off food and/or becoming apathetic or fitting/falling over/losing control of the legs etc.) or promptly if there is no improvement whatsoever over the course of a treatment. Don't wait until it is too late!
     
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