My pig is too skinny, always thirsty, history of wheezing. Please help!

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Post   » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:06 am


I really need help with treating my guinea pig, Rory. I got him a few years ago and he seemed healthy for at least a year but has had medical issues for over 6 months now. His symptoms are:

- Incredibly skinny even though he has an appetite and I watch him eat
- Very thirsty when eating pellets and pees himself all the time. He has to be bathed because his fur gets so gross from it
- For several months he was wheezing badly on and off. He got three rounds of antibiotics and hasn't wheezed in a while
- Crusty eyes
- I haven't noticed it as much but at one point he started walking funny like he couldn't keep his balance

Other than that, he eats plenty and is active and fairly energetic. There was a time when he was really lethargic but he seems OK now. I've gone through everything in my mind... URI, kidney disease, diabetic, or maybe some combination of everything.

I just don't know where to start treating him. My vet is a small animal vet but hasn't been super helpful. All he has told me is that yes, he is underweight, and that it likely could be a kidney disease in which case there's really nothing I can do for him. He said in order to tell he would need to put him under to get blood and I'm not willing to take that risk.

Should I start taking him to different vets? Feed him a special diet? Separate him from his buddy (don't know how that would help but my other pig does try to steal all the food, which is why pellets are unlimited now)?

I've stopped actively looking for answers because I just don't even know where to begin.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:39 am

First off, a small animal vet is a vet that treats dogs and cats. They're not trained in the care of exotic pets unless they've done some post-graduate work in exotics or have taken the time to educate themselves on the issue. So yes, another vet would be a good choice. Google "exotic vets name-of-your-city" without the quotes and see what comes up. Go the websites of the vets and look at the staff bios. You're looking for someone who's certified in exotic medicine, or has had a lot of experience in it.

How much does he weigh? Is his weight stable, or is he losing regularly?

Is there any odor to his urine when it's fresh? If so, he may have a urinary tract infection. Did the vet x-ray him to see if there's a stone in his bladder? That may cause incontinence problems.

What exactly are you feeding him? What brand of pellets? What kind of hay, and how much? Which veggies, and how many of each?


Post   » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:15 am

Thanks for the response. Sorry, I meant to say that the vet I go to is an exotic vet. I think he is knowledgeable but I also think I need a second opinion.

I need to get a scale to weigh my pig asap. In August he weighed 746 g and I think his weight has gone up very slightly but otherwise is stable. My vet didn't mention an x-ray and I haven't noticed an odor to his urine. Should I ask about this?

He gets Oxbow pellets for adult guinea pigs and unlimited hay - a mixture of orchard and timothy. He usually gets daily veggies. I aim for one type of lettuce (red, green leaf, or butter usually) and then add one to two more options like peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and occasionally broccoli, cabbage, and fruit. I try to avoid things high in calcium.

TBH, I could stand to feed him more veggies. His buddy is dominant and eats much faster so I have to make sure he's getting a fair sure. There are also some days where I've run out of good veggies and don't have a lot of options.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:30 am

Scales are readily available for $15 or less at places like Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc. A scale is the best thing in your pig's medicine chest.

746 is at the low end of what boars usually weigh, but he could just be a small pig. Here's a paragraph from an article on this site about determining whether your pig is the proper weight:
How do you know if your pig is too chubby? Thanks to the already rectangular shape of the guinea pig body and natural lack of a waist, combined with their thick hair coat, it can be a little bit of a challenge to tell what is lurking under the surface. The easiest way to tell the status of your pigs’ fat stores is to regularly run your hands down the entire length of the body, starting right behind the ears. In a well proportioned pig, you will be able to feel both the ribs and the backbone going “bump-bump-bump” under your fingers. These bumps should not be sharp or obvious, but palpable. If you are unable to feel those bumps – the fat stores are too thick and your pig is too chubby. If the bumps are very noticeable, then your pig may be too skinny. Both underweight and overweight pigs may have underlying medical conditions resulting in their abnormal fat stores, and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.
You can always take one or the other out of the cage to feed vegetables. Most pigs just plow through them, so it doesn't take long. When I've had to separate a pig for it to be able to get enough to eat, I just put one or the other in a laundry basket until they've both eaten.

It wouldn't hurt to drastically increase his intake of bell peppers -- more of them, and daily, or to supplement him with vitamin C. Pigs are like people, they can't manufacture vitamin C, so they have to get it from their diets. Bell peppers have a lot of C without a lot of sugar, and so are a good way to make sure they're getting enough C.

Some people have had good luck sprinkling a few rolled oats on the veggies to help fatten a piggy up.

Has he been checked for hyperthyroidism? It would require a blood test. I'm ordinarily reluctant to agree to those, because it can be hard to do on a guinea pig. But sometimes that's the only way you can get answers. I wouldn't worry about the anesthetic -- they' just "whiff" them under with gas, and they come out of it immediately. It's sticking the pig to get the blood that I'd worry more about, and would only entrust to a vet who's had experience doing it.

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Post   » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:53 am

It looks like a serious health problem and really only blood test -a biochemistry panel - can help diagnose it. No matter whether it is diabetes, kidney problem or hyperthyroidism, it can be treated.
If you find an experienced vet, the blood test can be done without anesthesia. I have assisted many times in taking blood from my piggies and it wasn't a very traumatic experience for them, no more - and even probably less- than a regular injection. The blood is taken from a vein in one of rear legs.

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