URI and Trouble Syringe Feeding

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Post   » Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:15 am

Good Morning,

While I've been reading helps from the website for just over a year (since we got our first piggies), I took the plunge today to join so that I could potentially get some help/advice to try and help save one of our girls.

On Sunday evening, I noticed for the first time that 2 of our girls (we had 6, now we're down to 5 :sad: ) had frothy mouths and were slobbery. I had just fed them supper and they'd each had some banana/peel and both had started coughing from it so I removed it from the plates and cleaned them up right away, figuring they were having a reaction to it. Monday I didn't really notice anything wrong..... but our kids (11, 12, and 13 typically clean and feed) did their typical daily chores and I wasn't too involved with the girls that day. Tuesday evening I noticed that the same 2 girls were VERY slobbery and one (Peppercorn) was lying listless in the cage in the open. She didn't even try and move when I picked her up. Cue me freaking out. So we grabbed the other one that was slobbery (CocoaBean) and I went online to try and figure out what was wrong.

After googledoctor, I figured they had URI's and off to the emergency animal clinic we headed at 11 pm. Got home around 2:30 with antibiotics and instructions for 10 days and to call our vet if they got worse.

Well, Pepper crossed the Rainbow Bridge last night around 7 pm. I couldn't get her to eat most of the day yesterday and she just went downhill pretty quickly. Cocoa hasn't presented as sick as Pepper did, so I've now doubled down my efforts to save her.

Problem is, she fights being syringe fed. Acts like she's gagging and choking on the syringe and winds up spitting a fair amount of the critical care out. I'm doing it just like the help page on here shows to (watched the YouTube video about 6 times to verify I knew what I was doing) but she still gags soooo much. Also, she seems to sneeze and cough out some of her food.

I'm having to also syringe feed her water, so I'm trying to handle her once an hour or so for water, and about every 2 to 2 1/2 hours for 2 ml's of CC in a syringe. She's also getting 64 drops of Vitamin C a day, poop soup 2 hours before and 2 hours after her antibiotic (Baytril), and I've got a probiotic gel coming.

Her typical, pre-illness weight is around 3 pounds, she's holding steady since Tuesday evening at 2 lb 4 oz (gained some yesterday after weighing less in the morning).

After losing Pepper last night, I can't stand not doing everything in my power to try and save Cocoa. Not to mention my kiddos have been distraught watching Pepper die (we held her as she went since it was obvious she was going).

Any suggestions? Should I request an antibiotic injection and subQ fluids from our vet? Vaporizer? She's still got an oral discharge but she is pooping a bit more than she did yesterday. She's quarantined in a large bin with a water bottle, pellets available, and hay.


Post   » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:44 pm


As of now (3:45 EST) she hasn't pooped in hours and no pee.

What can I do? Can our vet help? Currently waiting on a call back from them....

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Post   » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:13 pm

Yes, this sounds like an emergency. Let us know what the vet says.

You wrote, "64 drops of Vitamin C a day" I don't know the concentration, but this sounds like an awful lot of vitamin C.

Do not give banana peel. If I remember correctly, it is high in phosphorus and may be bitter. I am sorry for the loss of your other guinea pig. See if the vet or one of his technicians can show you how to feed Cocoa. It does sound like you are doing the best you can.


Post   » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:45 pm

64 drops equals the 100 mg that the packaging recommends for scurvy or sick pigs so that's where that came from.

Unfortunately the vet didn't call back today....

It is looking like she's got bloat. Is there anything I can do other than lots of poop soup to try and remedy it?

You can quote me

Post   » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:20 am

Were her teeth checked?

Motility drugs such as Reglan can help with stasis/ileus/bloating. If she is defecating at all, forcefeeding, as difficult as it is, is absolutely vital. She will die without food moving through her GI.

Was the vet you saw cavy-knowledgeable? Most dog/cat vets, while well-intentioned, don't know much about rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds etc.


Forcefeeding is much easier if two people do it. One holds the pig, the other holds the pig's head (careful of her eyes) and works the syringe in from the side, behind the incisors.

Vibration often helps incipient bloat. There are little vibrating pads you can get at Walmart and at drugstores. The more she moves around, the better; don't chase her, but try to encourage her to move as much as possible.


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Post   » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:10 am

Read all you can about bloat here:

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Post   » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:33 pm

How is Cocoa? Did you get a call back from your doctor or head in with her for ER care? Has she had any poop?

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Post   » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:58 pm

I looked at the video and I have fed mine quite differently. In fact, I have fed nearly all of mine differently one from the other. They each have had preferred ways of eating that I have needed to figure out. But it's harder when you need to figure them out in a very big hurry.

IF she is pooping (not experiencing a blockage) and you are still trying to feed her, attempt different positions. Think of how she usually chooses to drink from her water bottle. Any certain angles? Does she prefer receiving syringe from the left or right, or closer to center? Does she have favourite foods or vegetation? You can make a juice or puree using her favourites, grass is also helpful, or can grind treat to dip the tip of syringe into to hide the smell of Critical Care (or pellet mash) if she might be turned off from it. You can add juice/puree to the mix to flavour, varying until you find some she seems more responsive to. Flavour is the first step in preventing the food fight, in my book. Then comfort. I hold mine on a pillow. Some have preferred being partially covered by light blanket for feeling of protection. Some have preferred looking straight ahead (their backs to my stomach. The stomach helps to block them if they attempt to back up to get away as well), some prefer a side. Then the angle at which the syringe is introduced. Eating from the left, right or straight? Ideally aiming at an angle and not toward throat to prevent choking, gagging or aspiration, but I have had some who will take it like a straw and it is less stressful to them. So if you can find Cocoa's preferred style there may be more going in instead of dribbling. If she turns her head to a side, you can gently hold a thumb to the side of her face to block her from turning as you insert syringe. if she lifts her head up to get away, you can use thumb on upper section of her nose to prevent her from going too high applying just around the time of syringe insertion.

Let us know how she is and what you are needing for her.

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