Preventative Spay?

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Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am

We have two female guinea pigs who turn 5 this month. We chose not to spay them because we have read so many horror stories about the procedure in guinea pigs. However, when they were 3, the vet felt a lump in one guinea pig's abdomen so we spayed her. Everything went smoothly and she recovered well. The vet did not think it was necessary to spay our other guinea pig unless she developed an issue.

Due to ease of scheduling, we did their most recent checkup with another vet at the same practice (The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in NYC, though we have never seen Dr. Pilny and he doesn't appear to be listed on the website anymore?) and she thinks it would be smart to spay her while she is healthy. She says in her experience the spayed guinea pigs don't necessarily live longer, but they have a better quality of life. Though she prefers to do it when they are younger, she didn't seem worried about performing the surgery on a healthy 5 year old.

We're torn about what to do. This guinea pig gets stressed out in new situations more easily than the one who is already spayed, but this medical center is high quality and would focus on the appropriate after care.


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Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:17 pm

Dr. Pilny is likely a skilled and experienced vet. You can also ask about outcomes of spay surgeries. I understand your reluctance. A spay does mean your guinea pig should not suffer from any reproductive issues in the future.

Avoidance of routine spays has the most to do with the quality of care available for the procedure and rate of success. But there are still risks to any surgery. Find out what techniques this vet uses for a spay.

p.s. your guinea pig could still live another 5 years!

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:29 pm

It's a hard choice to make. There are always risks to surgery, even in a healthy guinea pig. There's no guarantee that she'll ever have reproductive system problems, and no guarantee that she won't. If it were my pig, I'd probably vote no on the surgery. But there's certainly plenty of good arguments to have it.

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Catie Cavy
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Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:05 pm

Yes, I would be cautious on doing a spay on an older guinea pig to prevent problems she may never have anyway. I’m not aware of spays giving guinea pigs a better quality of life other than preventing them from developing uterine and ovarian tumors and cysts. You could ask the vet how may spays she has done and what the outcome was and how many spays she has done on older guinea pigs.


Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:33 pm

I had one pig spayed as the result of an ovarian tumor. She survived the surgery without complications, but they left one ovary behind because they thought it was best for hormonal reasons. That ovary ended up turning cystic and we treated it with HcG. She died of non-reproductive related illness. I had another with ovarian cysts and we treated her with Lupron. She also died of non-reproductive related illness. I would never do a preventative spay on a guinea pig. To me, there is no point in risking my animals life on the chance something will happen. Especially, when if something like ovarian cysts happen there are alternatives to surgery to try first.


Post   » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:15 am

Thank you so much for all of your thoughts. Soon after posting in this thread, the guinea pig in question had a flare-up of some chronic bladder sludge. It happens every year or two for her - she gets blood in her urine and loses weight. We have to cut down on veggies with calcium and vitamin c to prevent crystals and give her a course of antibiotics. She was fine after treatment, but it put us off wanting to put her through a surgery.

Yesterday I noticed she felt a little light when I picked her up, so I weighed her. She has lost 2 oz since her weekly weigh in on Sunday. I see her eating and drinking constantly, so I was surprised. I don't think it's another flare-up of the bladder sludge because I haven't seen any signs of blood (though it's possible I missed it in the bedding). I have noticed two other changes in her behavior though: 1) she is wheeking more loudly for food than is normal for her; it almost sounds like she's screaming at me when I enter the room and she only quiets down once I give her some veggies 2) in the last day or two, she has started humping her cage mate as if she's in heat.

I have an appointment to take her to the vet tomorrow, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about what to ask for. Dr. Google tells me it could be ovarian cysts (though she does not have any hair loss on her sides) or possibly hyperthyroidism, any other thoughts? I will see what the vet says after manual exam, but I wonder if there are any obvious tests for her issues beyond maybe an X-ray or an ultrasound for cysts.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:25 am

You want an ultrasound for cysts. Hyperthyroid test requires a blood draw. I'd do the ultrasound first, only draw blood if it doesn't turn up anything.


Post   » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:18 am

Based on the exam, she doesn’t suspect cysts. She couldn’t feel anything, and her nipples and hair on her sides are normal. Before I even said anything, she suspected a thyroid issue. So we are doing the blood work first. If that comes back normal and she’s still losing weight, then we will schedule an ultrasound.


Post   » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:36 pm

All of her bloodwork came back normal (they did a standard panel and the additional thyroid test). Her weight has been stable all week, and she's gained back 0.5-1 oz. The vet suggests keeping an eye on her and scheduling an ultrasound if her weight goes down any more or we see any new symptoms. The vet did say that sometimes older guinea pigs will slowly lose weight due to the normal aging process (muscle wasting, etc.) but thought that 5.5 was young for that.

On a more anecdotal note, she is not displaying any more heat behavior (no more humping or rumblestrutting). Now I'm wondering if she was just off because she was in heat last week. She's only ever been in heat a few times that we have noticed. Can going into heat make a guinea pig lose an ounce or two temporarily?

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