X-RAY - good idea or bad????

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:21 pm

Ok, brief update for those who haven´t been following the ongoing saga called "Days of My Pigs´ Lives" at CG.

Root Beer and Cream - both females

Dr. Pepper, Butters, Walnut - all males, born to Root Beer on January 15, 2002.

I separated the 2 girls from the 3 boys on February 5 (at 21 days of age) using a 15 inch dividing wall.

On March 7, Cream jumped the wall and spent some time with the 3 boys. I was afraid she got pregnant for the first time, and she is approximately 11-13 months old now, so that wouldn´t have been a good thing.

At this point, March 28, she is showing no signs of pregnancy, and I´m beginning to think she´s either infertile, or was fixed before I got her, because I know for a fact she has been exposed to males on more than one occasion and did not get pregnant.

I´ve also moved the boys across the room in a totally separate cage from the girls so there will be no more wall hopping.

But anyway, to get back to the story, Root Beer is now pregnant, presumably by one of her sons (unless it was immaculate). The only way this would be possible is that she jumped the wall, spent a few minutes with the little boys, and jumped back over the wall, which is why I never knew about it until she started to get really big from the pregnancy. At least when Cream jumped the wall, I caught her hanging out on the wrong side of the cage, so I knew.

If I had to take a wild guess just from looking at Root Beer, I´d say she´s due sometime between April 17 and May 1.

My question is rather simple. I know that there are potential dangers anytime radiation is involved. But considering the relatively high risk associated with inbreeding, would it be worth the possible long term radiation damage (that a single x-ray could cause) to know exactly how many babies are inside her? I´m thinking that if I know for sure there are 4 babies in there, and I only see 3 come out, I can rush her to the vet and save a lot of valuable time for her.

Also, do you think an x-ray could reveal other potential problems?



Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:38 pm

Hi there Scott, I work at a vets, i am a vet nurse. We dont often do x-rays on guinea pigs at our practice but we definately do not do them when they are pregnant, with any species. The safest way to find out how many are inside her is to do an ultra sound. There are not many practices with these facilities. As you probably know Guinea pigs pelvic bones fuse after a certain age, usually around a year of age. This means that they can get pregnant, but are not able to give birth, or may have difficulties. If everything goes ok with the birth, you will find that the mother and her babies are all ok, no continuing bleeding. All looking bright and the mother feeding them all. Good luck and i hope all goes well with Root Beer and the babies.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:45 pm

These sound like good questions to ask your vet. I would think he/she would be able to accurately address all your concerns and at the same time you´d be letting the vet know you are worried about the pregnancy and want to do everything possible to make it successful.

Josephine will probably know more about the potential dangers of radiation. A pig is also put under sedation and there might be problems there. An ultrasound might give you the information you want more safely.

Alternatively you could just try to be very well prepared, knowing that despite everything you´ve done, you might be away or sleeping during the birth.

It is agony worrying about the health and well being of your pigs. I would talk to your vet for his/her advice.

Oh, and I would not assume Cream was infertile or fixed. It is possible she was not in heat when she jumped the wall. I would make sure she had no other opportunities to get pregnant in the future.


Note: If I remember right, the bones don´t actually fuse but the cartiledge stiffens. Pigs that are overweight can have problems too because there are fatty deposits in the birth canal making delivery more difficult.
Last edited by Lynx on Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:58 pm

Paulatidey - Since Root Beer has littered before, there is no concern about the symphysis, the "tightening" of the pelvic ligaments. That caution applies to sows who have their first litter when they are over a year old.

She should have no problems delivering due to being over one year old.

CenterFielderNo5 - Cream may not have been in heat the times she was with boars. I would not consider her infertile simply because she hasn´t got pregnant.

I´m not sure, but I think the age of the fetus figures in the safety of xrays. Josephine would know for sure.
Last edited by pinta on Thu Mar 28, 2002 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:09 pm

The vet will immediately tell me to bring her in for the x-ray. I know this, because every other time I´ve talked to the vet about a potential pregnancy, the first words out of her mouth were X-RAY.

Now that I hear about the sedation, that might explain why the first x-ray (during her first pregnancy a few months ago) took so damn long.  X( Ugggggh. Forget about the x-ray or the ultrasound. Sedatives are bad. Root Beer will be fine because she´s my baby and I will make sure she´s fine. We don´t need no stinkin drugs.

Assuming that there are deformities due to inbreeding (which may not be the case - but there´s obviously no way to tell until they´re born), what are the chances that such deformities would cause complications during birth? That´s really my only major concern, despite the fact that she only had a few weeks between pregnancies. She´s very strong and active (which is probably one of the reasons she got pregnant again so quickly :rolleyes: ) and eats like a horse, so I don´t think the almost-consecutive pregnancies should have much of a significant impact. Like I said, the main thing I´m afraid of is that a baby will get stuck in her or something like that.


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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:16 pm

I don´t think you have to worry about deformities interfering with the birth process but that´s just my uninformed opinion. I don´t know if it will help, but Peter Gurney has some emergency advice for babies not coming out well. I think there´s a link to it on the Guinea Lynx labor page.

There are no guarantees all will go right or that it will not. We´ll be hoping for you. Do let us know how the birth goes.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:24 pm


Don´t get me wrong - I know to never ASS_U_ME anything. As soon as I pulled Cream out of the boys´ side of the cage that night, I checked her and checked her again, and she did not seem to be in heat.

When I got them in early November, they were in the pet store with 4 other pigs - a total of 6. The people there said they´re all female, but of course, a few months later I see one (of the 4 pigs I did not take home) by himself in a separate cage.

"Oh, he´s a boy," they told me. I also figured out that he´s also the father of Dr. Pepper, Butters, and Walnut, because he looked EXACTLY like 2 of them.

During the time that the 6 of them were in the cage together, I figure it must have been at least a week before I bought them. So the chance that Cream was exposed to him while she was in heat is somewhat significant.

That´s the only reason why I thought she might be infertile - it just seems that she´s always finding herself with males, and she´s yet to get pregnant. I´m not saying I know for sure, and I certainly have no plans to test my theory. But it does seem to defy the percentages.

The other thing that I don´t know is how often did either Root Beer or Cream jump the wall to be with the boys and then jump back? Maybe they were doing it every night, and I didn´t catch them for a month. I will never know for sure unless they grow vocal cords and tell me.

Lynx, I will check out all the information I can get. I will report back in a few weeks as soon as I know how the birth goes.

Last edited by CenterFielderNo5 on Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:26 pm

I bought a sow pregnant by her son. She delivered four babies, one dead, one a runt, and the others normal. No problems with the delivery (except it caused a flare-up of mites that almost killed her!).


Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:43 pm

CenterFielderNo5 - All I know is what you post.

They can fool us. Vicki of Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue had an older couple brought to her. Boar and sow. The sow had littered before, but had been with the boar for a couple of years (maybe 3) with no pregnancies. It was assumed the boar was infertile. He was over 5. They were bonded and stayed together. Within couple of months, the sow was pregnant.

So that was over 2 years of them living togerther with no pregnancies.

They are now separated.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 10:25 pm

Alrighty, I read everything that Peter Gurney has on his site about complications, and I´ve decided against the x-ray, mainly because of the sedation. I figure even if I know the exact number of babies, if I´m expecting 4 babies, what are the chances that 3 will come out fine and there will be a problem with the 4th? If the first 3 come out, chances are she´ll be able to get the 4th one out no problem. No matter how I try to rationalize it, the x-ray is more for my benefit than hers, and I don´t want to subject her to sedation, especially when she´s pregnant.


Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 10:34 pm

You don´t always have to sedate with xrays. The vet techs can wear special gloves and hold the pig in place.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 10:37 pm

I wish more vets did that. I think given a choice, most pet owners would rather not have their pet sedated. It might also depend on how calm the animal is too. I´ve seen some that would not sit still if there were a brick sitting on them.

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Post   » Thu Mar 28, 2002 10:42 pm

LOL..... i like the brick idea. Hell, forget about the special gloves....... i´d be happy to hold the piggy in place myself..... I´m probably the only one she´d trust anyway.......

but NOOOOOOOO there are "LIABILITY LAWS" that are intended to "protect" me. Total load of crap if you ask me. If I want to expose myself to radiation for the benefit of my pet, I should be allowed to. But that´s a political argument that´s already been lost.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Fri Mar 29, 2002 2:13 am

Re: Xrays

Xrays need to be taken after the bones have calcified. I believe (don´t quote me) that it is approximately 2/3 of the way into the pregnancy, therefore, about 6 weeks gestation for a cavy. Other than for a head count or to check for pregnancy in an animal not showing much, there isn´t a real reason to do xrays. They can´t accurately predict problems with delivery. One has to take it when the time comes.

Biological effects are higher for younger animals, that is the fetuses especially. That is why people under 18 are not allowed to take xrays or be in the same room in a vet clinic. Ideally, all operators should be out of the room or as far away as possible. That is why is is nice to sedate certain animals. I WOULD NOT APPROVE OF SEDATING A CAVY FOR ANY XRAY. Why?

There are many things, even without the questionable lead gloves, that can help position and keep a cavy on the plate to get diagnostic pictures! A simple way to do a DV (dorsal-ventral view) is to place the cavy in a paper bag or box. The xrays go through the paper and the pig will not usually move much if it is a small bag/box. No harm done to the pig or the xray tech. No anesthesia. 30 seconds at most! A side view (lateral) is a bit more challenging, but towels, tape, gauze, wooden spoons, gloves, etc. can all be used in various ways to get a good cavy radiograph.

While there are some biological effects to rapidly growing cells and young animals, a single xray will not harm anyone. An xray every day long-term might. People are exposed to natural radiation every day in the environment. They can´t escape all radiation.

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Post   » Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:00 am

I still think that Cream may be a boar... Maybe a "small" boar, if you know what I mean.

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Post   » Fri Mar 29, 2002 6:45 am

Ah, that´s an interesting idea. And then there are supposedly those few pigs with both sex organs......

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