Pig with Bone Density Issues?

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Post   » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:15 pm

Hi all. I'm a pet store worker who is dealing with a very frustrating case at my work. I apologize in advance as some details will be left very vague; I am well aware I could lose my job for this post so I'm going to try avoiding giving my identity away. However, if I can help this little pig than I don't really care what the consequences are.

About two weeks ago, a coworker noticed that one of our guinea pigs (we'll call her Miss Piggy) was favoring a paw. It was a new development as she had just come out of quarantine for an upper respiratory infection. We pulled her and kept an eye on her until our vet was open. I will point out now that the vet we take our animals to is not a small animal vet. We get a discount, however, so we take them there. I digress.

The vet found in the x-rays that Miss Piggy had an issue with bone density in her feet. We were told to provide vitamin c, as we aren't allowed to give them fresh veggies or any kind of supplement unless prescribed. We began giving Miss Piggy vitamin c treats. Unfortunately, we found she wasn't a fan. Yesterday I noticed her limp was much more pronounced and took her to the vet today.

From what I gathered after arguing with the vet and having a manager speak to them was that Miss Piggy has loss even more bone density in her feet since her last X-ray. It was recommended that Miss Piggy be euthanized, but when asked the vet would not provide whether any other area had this loss or if Miss Piggy was in pain, only repeating that treatment was a money drain. I got frustrated and asked my coworker coming in after me to pick her up from the vet and clocked out. I have been updated that Miss Piggy is not feeling great, but calcium drops have been added to her water.

Does anyone have any idea what this could be? If so, what can I do to help Miss Piggy? I am not allowed to take her to an actual small animal vet as, even if we treat her, she will be adopted out. I was given a week to get some kind of improvement out of her, otherwise she will be euthanized. I understand that the best thing would be to take her see a small animal vet, but this is not an option for me. I am going tomorrow to pick up fresh green peppers and tums to start giving her, but is there something else I should do?

I know this is a long shot. I'm not expecting you guys to have any clue what could be going on. But I want to give little Miss Piggy a fighting chance after caring for her daily for over a month now. I understand it may be something where it will be the most humane option to euthanize, but she's such a sweet girl and I don't want to just give up on her. Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

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Post   » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:09 pm

The most common problem would be an injury. If there is an issue with vitamin C, it sounds like the diet should be reviewed. It is possible but unlikely that vitamin C is causing this. I would skip the tums.

What kind of food are they getting? What kind of pellets? How fresh? I am skeptical about a continued loss of bone via xray unless this guinea pig is getting a very poor diet or has a genetic issue. Is this guinea pig by any chance a satin? (very shiny guinea pig - see www.guinealynx.info/coat.html )


Post   » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:00 pm

Thank you for your fast reply!

Our pigs get oxbow young guinea pig food and they are allowed to free graze. Their bowls are refilled when they are almost or completely empty. They get oxbow Timothy hay, or I should say they're supposed to. I should have mentioned that I have some coworkers who strongly believe guinea pigs don't need hay and therefore don't give it to them. It's an ongoing battle, but I make sure they have it the days I work. I do know this is a horrible diet overall, and have been trying to get it fixed. But I'm just one cog in the corporate machine, unfortunately.

I sent a text to my coworker with the link and she does not believe Miss Piggy is a satin. However I will double check in the morning.

Is there a certain amount of green pepper I should feed a juvenile pig? Or is it by weight? We do have a scale so I could at least get an approximate weight on her.

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Post   » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:51 am

If the Oxbow pellets are fresh and this guinea pig is eating enough, she should be getting enough vitamin C. If your store does not have a scale to weigh animals, it absolutely should get one. You can record the weight of this guinea pig daily and see if it is dropping. Not eating enough can interfere with recovery from illness, too.


Not getting hay means the teeth will not be wearing properly and eventually there may be dental issues. Hay is also vital to good digestion. The Oxbow pellets should provide adequate nutrition at this time. I think Oxbow started as a hay company so you can tell how important they think hay is!


Post   » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:53 pm

We got little Miss Piggy to let us weigh her today. She was 13.9 ounces. Since we don't have weights from any other time, we're going to start from here. Should she weigh more than this? Or is this right for a guinea pig who's approximately three months old? We have another pig who came in on the same shipment who is currently at the vet for a final check up, so tomorrow we will see how much she weighs as well. Would comparing their weights be beneficial?

It's good to know oxbow has her covered. I know it's an excellent food, but I did not know it'd provide so much vitamin c. I'm unsure how much she is eating currently, so my coworker and I created a new system specifically to monitor her eating. She'll get fresh pellets daily, but only a small amount that we'll weigh. The next day we'll weigh the food again, record how much she ate, and repeat the process. Hopefully we can get numbers on her daily eating habits, as its hard to monitor with so many different people being responsible for their care at different times.

Miss Piggy seemed in better spirits today. She will not put any weight on the foot but she was very cuddly when I picked her up. She even cooperated as I weighed her, which was a miracle in and of itself. We gave her green peppers and she did seem to nibble at them. I'm trying to be conservative with my feelings but it does feel like these are good signs.

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Post   » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:42 pm

Her weight will also be the best indicator she is eating enough.

Some info on how to determine if she is a good weight, along with a few charts showing growth of young guinea pigs can be found here:


Post   » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:46 pm

It looks like according to that page that Miss Piggy is severely underweight. Is there anything specific I should do to help her slowly gain weight? Or is just making sure she's eating going to do that?

Also, would it be beneficial for her to have time with other pigs? The guinea who is around her age is going to be with us for an undetermined amount of time after her illness is cleared. I wouldn't keep them together, but would play time between them help her out? I know they are social creatures. She, that pig, and another guinea who has been in isolation for almost two months now talk to each other constantly, since they can't see each other.

Thank you so much for answering my questions and for being so patient. I was incredibly overwhelmed with Miss Piggy's vet appointment and just having an idea of how to help her is helping ease my mind a ton. If I didn't live at home I would just keep her with me for observation. It seems like my department (besides the department manager, who we are not informing of the situation) is on board with her care though.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:17 pm

No play time. GPs are wired to establish dominance over other pigs when they meet them, and they'll do it every time they see another pig. So occasional meetings are just stressful for them. But if you could put their cages next to each other, assuming neither is contagious, they could socialize through the bars.

Good food will help her gain weight. But bear in mind that pigs are no more the same size and shape than people are, so you can't go by a chart.


Post   » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:44 pm

Hi all! I know it's been awhile since an update but I thought I'd let you all know how Miss. Piggy is! She was taken back to the vet where, without even seeing her, it was recommended she be euthanized. My coworker stood up for her, saying that we'd find a home and it wouldn't be a problem anymore. I was obviously very upset with this, as I now definitely felt the pressure.

Piggy improved drastically over the next couple weeks. She now has just a very slight limp and you can barely tell when she really gets going. I left my job last Friday, as I couldn't take the enviornment any more, and lil Miss Piggy came with me along with the guinea pig on observation. The latter went to a high school zoology class as a class pet where she is already incredibly loved and well cared for. The former is actually at my house until I can find a good home for her. She is thriving in her big NIC cage and lots of out time in the living room.

Thank you guys for all your advice! I honestly think we saved this little critters life and I can't thank you all enough. Hopefully little Miss Piggy will go to live on a long and happy pig life.

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Post   » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:53 pm

Glad to hear she is with you and improving.

I hope someone has primary care for the classroom pet and takes it home week nights and weekends. Classroom pets do best if they are instead someone's personal pet and they are just brought in on occasion.

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