Buster's Thread (need opinions)

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Post   » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:51 pm

Hey everyone! I am going to do my best to keep this as short as possible while including everything that I think may be medically important (if that is possible!) I would love to hear any opinions/feedback/thoughts you may have! Thank you!

I have 2 boars, Buster and Poppins, who are bonded but don't live together. They live in separate cages that are pushed together so they can see, talk, and lay next to each other. Buster is 3 y/o, almost 4, and Poppins is 1 y/o. I have not had Buster his whole life, I adopted him from a shelter over a year ago. Most of this is about Buster but I felt it was important to mention I have another guinea pig in the house.

Buster has had 2 major problems lately: impaction and a lump on his throat.

I took extensive notes that the vet didn't even want to look at. This made me feel like she didn't care or think I had any useful information for her. Here is Buster's history in the past month.

-Jan 4: stopped eating everything except veggies; not acting like himself
-Jan 5: stopped eating and drinking altogether; not pooping
-Jan 6: wouldn't come out of house, couldn't move at all; I noticed he was very impacted and immediately followed the procedures to "clean him out", i.e. flushed with warm water to loosen poop and used q-tips with mineral oil as lube to clean out anal sac. I noticed his cheek was swollen and thought maybe he chipped a tooth and that could have led to him not eating and becoming impacted. He eventually ate a small piece of green pepper and started accepting water when I brought him the bottle. He spent most of the day on my lap without moving.
-Jan 6-8: hand-fed veggies and water; he ate a little bit of hay when offered. I massaged his belly after every meal and he started pooping tiny poops. He stayed in my lap most of those days and still wouldn't move much. (he loved laying on the hot-water bottle)
-Jan 9: started moving around, eating hay and drinking on his own, would only eat 1/4 of pellets offered, poop still small and not enough
-Jan 10: back to normal self; moving around, eating pellets, normal poop in normal amounts
-Jan 15: noticed firm lump on neck

-took Buster to the vet to get the lump biopsied

Now I am waiting for the results, which I should get Monday. My worry is that the lump could be CL. I tried to tell the vet my worry about cervical lymphadenitis was because I had noticed his cheek was swollen a few weeks earlier and that may have been the injury that caused the CL (if that's what it is). She thinks it is probably a tumor but of course I wanted to send off the sample because it could be an encapsulated cyst. She said we could just try antibiotics if I wanted but I didn't want to put him through anything else since he has been through alot lately.

*She is NOT my usual vet. Even though she works with exotics she admitted that she hasn't since many guinea pigs. Maybe 2 a year.

Does anyone else feel that the vet doesn't listen? They didn't want to know the medical history that we are literally taught to ask the client for. I'm very worried. What will I do if it comes back as cancerous? If it's benign I will leave it, since it doesn't seem to bother him or get in his way. I don't feel like a veterinary student right now, just a regular mom freaking out!

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Post   » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:58 pm

You sound like you know what you are doing. I hope it isn't cervical lymphadenitis but that does sound the most likely. An infection could make him feel poorly.

I do not recall boar owners whose pigs have impaction going off their food, etc.
Was the lump tender? Was there any redness or indication for you that it was an infection?

Hopefully some members who have had impacted boars can add their experiences.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:26 pm

I also doubt that impaction could make him go off his food, but like Lynx, I haven't had boars.

I'd find a vet that sees a lot of guinea pigs, if possible.


Post   » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:02 pm

Thank you both! This really does make me feel better about getting the needle aspiration done. You can't be too careful with infections like CL (if that's what it is). My family doesn't understand but I think I did the right thing.

The lump isn't tender or red or anything. it doesn't seem to bother him very much. And the impaction thing, I didn't think it would cause him to stop eating either, which is why I'm afraid it was an infection that was hurting him and maybe now has walled itself off so he feels better. I don't know. He still doesn't want to run during floor time. It's not like he ever really loves running (he's pretty lazy) but I can usually coax him into doing a few laps around the "obstacle course."

Usually I see the same vet that I've gone to for 15 years. He has 30 years of experience with exotics and performed surgeries and treatments on many of my rodents over the years. Unfortunately, he was out with the flu so we had to see another vet at the office who was supposed to specialize in exotics. I knew it wasn't good when she couldn't use the speculum to look at his back teeth. It was upside down!

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Post   » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:38 pm

We had an elderly boar who would lose his appetite and slow down when he became impacted--especially when things were really backed-up. It's possible that your guy has a combination of things affecting his appetite, including the impaction. Did this vet rule out dental issues? You said she wasn't sure how to use a speculum. Are you noticing any odor in his mouth? Any drooling?

Either way, I certainly agree that the lump should be evaluated.


Post   » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:35 pm

Thank you all!

I did get the results back today and he definitely has cancer. At least he is acting normal and doesn't seem to be in any pain.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:28 pm

I'm so sorry.

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Post   » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:14 pm

I am sorry to hear this news.


Post   » Sat May 12, 2018 4:32 pm

*UPDATE* 5/12/18

I'm happy to say Buster celebrated his 4th birthday last month! He's still his normal, super-sweet self! I hope we will still have lots of time together. His tumor has gotten bigger, but doesn't interfere with any of his regular activities.

I just had a few questions/thoughts/things to vent I wanted to post, but wasn't quite sure where to put them, so I figured here would be as good a place as any.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis: what was it like for you? I just want to talk to other people who understand how upsetting this is, because we all know those people who say "just a guinea pig." Even some animal lovers I know are like that. My dad is very confusing because he loves our dogs and cats and rabbits...but anything "below rabbit" he can't understand.
I personally was in denial for a full week after getting the news. I couldn't say the word at all. I referred to it as "malignant mass" because it was easier, more detached. When I finally said the word it became real and I couldn't stop crying.

I adopted Buster when he was 2.5. I assumed I would have so much time with him, you know? He is the sweetest guinea pig I've ever met. He's my very first guinea pig. I wouldn't know how awesome they are if it weren't for him. I was in a really bad place (depression-wise) when I adopted him and he helped me so much to get out of that slump. He's my study-buddy. If he could talk I think he would just start listing off medical terms lol. I can't imagine life without him.

I also worry about what will happen to Poppins (my other pig) if Buster passes. They are bonded but don't live in the same cage. At first they did, then Pop went through puberty and became extremely aggressive. Since Pop is about 16 months old now, I recently tried to reintroduce them. Buster is so mellow and easy-going, he submitted right away. Poppins would not stop trying to agitate him though, and I separated them when he wouldn't stop showing his teeth. I don't want to put Buster through any unnecessary stress, you know? And they seem content to have their cages next to each other. They talk all the time and Poppins looks to Buster for everything. He copies whatever Buster does. If I have one or the other out of the room for too long, they wheek for each other.
We just had to put my chihuahua, Princess, to sleep. She was 3 weeks away from her 17th birthday. She didn't interact much with the guinea pigs. She'd walk around while they were out and sniff them. But after that, Poppins actually stopped eating. It didn't get to the point that I had to use CC but it was still alarming. Idk if he was reacting to her being gone or my mood or both.

On a positive note, I have started my "plan" to help Buster experience all life has to offer. I thought it was a neat idea and some of you might want to try it (if you haven't already). Basically I made a list of all the fruits, veggies, and types of hay I could possibly think of that are guinea-pig friendly. (I didn't include things like cabbage or broccoli, which can cause bloating or gas)
Usually my piggies get red or green leaf lettuce, a baby carrot, a piece of tomato, and 1/8-1/4 of a green pepper daily. Now they also get to try a new piece of fruit once a week, along with a small amount of a new veggie (substituted for one of their regular ones). I don't give them both new foods on the same day of course, and I don't give them large amounts.
I even made a chart so I could track how well they like each new item. It's really fun watching them try new things. I also tried a few different hays, but timothy is the favorite by far!

Sorry that was so long!

Thanks for letting me share & I'd love to hear any advice/thoughts/comments you have :)

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Post   » Sat May 12, 2018 4:47 pm

Thanks for the update. So encouraging to hear he's managing alright for now.


Post   » Sat May 12, 2018 5:51 pm

Thank you! I know I wrote a lot but I've (shockingly) never had a pet with cancer. Well, I'm sure a few of my rats probably had it but I usually don't get lumps biopsied. I've had them removed for mobility purposes but never got them biopsied because I'd rather not know. This was different, I had to make sure it wasn't CL, so this is new to me. All (3) of my hamsters died of old age, as well as most of my rats. Only 3 out of 12 rats had tumors. Only 1 of 9 of my mice had any, and I had to put her down. One rabbit died from a hairball, the other was old age. My dogs had to be put down (one due to old age, one had renal failure). Out of my 5 cats, 1 passed away from a heart defect (the rest are still with me, thank goodness). So I guess I was pretty lucky until now.

My zoo is feeling very empty without the dogs. I have my 4 cats and 2 piggies now, and that's it.

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Post   » Sat May 12, 2018 8:39 pm

I think the knowledge you get about health from one species of pet helps to understand issues in other pets. And in us.

It sounds like your pets have overwhelmingly had pretty good lives.

For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Wed May 16, 2018 12:53 pm

It's fun for your pigs to get a lot of variety of foods. Eating (and pooping) is what pigs do best. :) Just avoid dark leafy greens like spinach & kale. They can cause bladder stones.

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