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Weight Loss and Life Expectancy

SusieW

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Hi,

It's been a while since I've been on here but was just wondering if anyone has any advice.

I have a 4 plus year old guinea pig. He lives with his best friend (slightly younger one eyed boar) in a 6 storey C&C cage (5x2 grids ground level layer, then 7x1 grids mezzanine floor, then 4x2 level on a table, then 6x1 hayloft, then another 4x2 level and a 6x1 level on the top) Their cage just sort of expanded over time and I'm pretty proud of it😂 They have runaround tubes that connect the layers and lots of houses and enrichment etc. They have puppy pads and blankets and they seem really happy and like snuggling in the blankets and racing up and down and around the levels. 3 of the levels have hay (constant access), they get nuggets and a variety of veg and when the weather is warm they go out in a large run in the garden. I clean them out every day (usually) and always thought they had a good quality of life. However I'm starting to get really paranoid because my guinea pigs never seem to live that long- one died at 2 (but he had a suspected autoimmune condition and was a rescue from a very bad situation so it wasn't unexpected) but my original pig went downhill very suddenly and died last September aged about 4. (He lived in a trio with my two current boys and they were very happy, no fighting)
Now Cashew is losing weight and doesn't look that good. He's still eating loads but he has little poos and lost 89g in 12 days. At his best he was 1317g (a couple of years ago), now he's 893g. He's fine in himself though and very chatty and interacting. I would usually take him to the vet but our vets are only doing emergency appointments because of the Coronavirus and I don't think it is an emergency? Also, when I've taken them in the past there never seems to be that much they can do for the pigs/they aren't really sure what's going on. I just can't understand why he'd be losing weight? Could it be possible he's just reaching the end of his life? They never have overgrown teeth or anything and constantly chew on hay/their wooden houses etc.
I feel like I must be doing something really wrong as there's loads of people on here who seem to have guinea pigs that reach really old ages. Is 4 not a good age?
What am I doing wrong?
I'm also really worried about him dying as then I'll be left with a single pig and I've been worrying for ages about that as I don't want to get into a constant guinea pig cycle (I love mine very much but I am a dog person really and only got my guinea pigs because the original one needed rescuing, then I didn't want him to be lonely and the herd grew)

Sorry for the long post!
 

Piggies&buns

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You aren’t doing anything wrong. Mass breeding of these days means health problems can come along with them and there is nothing you can do about bad genetics.

In terms of your current piggy and his weight loss, weight loss can be tricky if it is unexplained but he absolutely does need to see a vet as there could be an obvious reason for it. It would constitute a health issue which needs to be checked out and a vet should see him. You can’t know he definitely isn’t brewing dental issues as you can’t see the back teeth yourself. But, piggies can hide their illnesses so he may appear fine and not be.
It is importanf for you to now weigh him every day at the same time each day to see out what is happening on a shorter term basis. 30g weight fluctuations per day is not a worry as it can be the difference between a full/empty bladder or tummy (which is why you weight at the same time each day, so you are weighing at the same stage in the feeding cycle) but if the general trend of weight loss is down, then there is something going on.

You should step in now with support syringe feeding him to help his weight. You can use mushed up pellets in place of critical care if you don’t have any in your supplies

I would highly recommend looking at our vet locator and seeing if you can find a more cavy savvy vet

Weight - Monitoring and Management
How Soon Should My Guinea Pig See A Vet? - A Quick Guide
Not Eating, Weight Loss And The Importance Of Syringe Feeding Fibre
Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
 

SusieW

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Thank you so much for such a helpful and reassuring reply, Piggies & buns! So you think it would be okay to contact the vet even though it's not an emergency as such? Will weigh him daily- thank you!
 

Piggies&buns

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Weight loss is absolutely something which needs to be seen. It does head into emergency territory when they aren’t eating enough to maintain their weight over a short period of time.
I have edited my post to add in guides, so please do give them a read and step in with support syringe feeding him now
 

Pound Shilling & Pig

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Hi, I agree with @Piggies&buns Also you say his poos are small. Small poos are the result of not eating enough but you say he eats loads. Do you mean nuggets and veg? Hay intake is much harder to judge but piggies need to spend up to eight hours a day grazing on it to get enough. His small poos suggest his intake is too low. This could be down to any number of reasons and I agree he should see a vet.
 

SusieW

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Thanks everyone. Yeah I think he does eat loads- he eats a lot of nuggets, lots of veg and readigrass and hay too- they have constant access to hay and nuggets. I think I read that small poos means a lack of fibre but his diet is normal/as it always has been for the last 4 years. Every time I go in to their room they are both eating. I have always known that not eating is an emergency for guinea pigs as everything shuts down so fast but it's the fact that he's been eating normally and is his usual self personality and activity wise that has confused me/made me think it can't be an emergency. Thanks a lot everyone for the help. Will be getting him to the vet ASAP and will keep you posted. :)
 

SusieW

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Just been in to see them now- they are both eating as I type this! His poos are tiny but there are a lot of them- more poos than his friend's 'normal' size ones. Could that be relevant? Anyway, thank you all!
 

Piggies&buns

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Thanks everyone. Yeah I think he does eat loads- he eats a lot of nuggets, lots of veg and readigrass and hay too- they have constant access to hay and nuggets. I think I read that small poos means a lack of fibre but his diet is normal/as it always has been for the last 4 years. Every time I go in to their room they are both eating. I have always known that not eating is an emergency for guinea pigs as everything shuts down so fast but it's the fact that he's been eating normally and is his usual self personality and activity wise that has confused me/made me think it can't be an emergency. Thanks a lot everyone for the help. Will be getting him to the vet ASAP and will keep you posted. :)
They should not have constant access to nuggets. They are an unhealthy food source and should be kept limited to one tablespoon or less of pellets per pig per day (it equates to roughly 5g of pellets per day). Pellets are basically empty calories, contribute a large amount of calcium into the diet (calcium can cause other health issues) and fill them up without providing the nutrients they need While preventing them from really eating enough hay. Readigrass is very rich and can be given but limit it to a treat.
I would limit his pellets right down to the recommended amount to encourage him to eat more hay.
80% of their food intake should be hay, 15% veg (which amounts to one cup of veg per day) and just the tiny amount of nuggets as mentioned above.
 
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