Underweight guinea pig (possible bullying)

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Pumpcorn

Post   » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:25 pm


I’m looking for some advice/experiences with an underweight, possibly bullied piggie.

I have two female guinea pigs that I got together as babies from a pet store (I know, I know, I tried adopting but it kept falling through so I got them from a family owned pet store that breeds their own, which clearly wasn’t much better than any other large chain store). We found out they had lice shortly after bringing them home. Once we dealt with that, they seemed happier and friskier and started settling in.

One of them, Peppercorn, stayed pretty small, while Pumpkin was steadily gaining and plumping up. Pepper did gain but it was a lot less. I did my research, was keeping a close eye on her and how she was eating and I didn’t see anything to make me think Pumpkin was keeping her from eating.

Fast forward to last week and she had eye gunk and crusties so I took her the exotic animal vet we saw when they had lice and he immediately was concerned by her size. He gave me drops for her eye and critical care to supplement to help her gain some weight. The vet checked her teeth and said they look good. He thinks Pumpkin might be bullying her. I’m not exactly sure what to look for. They have been together since they were babies and seem to get along well. No fighting that I’ve seen, though Pumpkin seems to chatter (in annoyance?) at Pepper sometimes (and even at me if I’m messing in the cage). Once in awhile she will snatch a veggie from Pepper, but then Pepper just gets another from the veggie bowl. They will both hang out together eating their veggies, pellets, and hay. Pumpkin doesn’t seem to drive Pepper away.

Any advice or experience or tips? The vet recommended 5 ccs I’d critical care once or twice a day (up to 10 ccs at a feeding). She’s been taking close to 10 twice a day since I started. I wasn’t sure if there was anything else I could do to help them be happier. They’re in a 4 x 2 c&c cage, have a big hay bin that they happily sit in one at a time or together to eat hay, a couple hidey houses.

Oh and I noticed (after the vet visit) that the ends of her ears have some like hard areas on the edges. I’ll try to take pics. Not crusty or thick, no white flakes or anything, just hard on the edges. She had previously got some medicine to rub on the top of one of her ears (when the lice were discovered) bc she had some white flakes and the vet thought it might be ringworm but this looks different. I’ll try to take a pic and post it in the comments.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:19 pm


Try cold pressed virgin coconut oil on the ears -- twice a day and rub it in well. Several people have had good results with that in similar situations.

Get a kitchen scale that weighs up to five pounds, in both ounces and grams. You can find them for less than $15, and it's the best piece of medical equipment you can have. Weigh her daily, preferably in the morning before breakfast. That should tell you if she's getting enough to eat.

If the hideys have only one door, either throw them out or cut another door in them. No hidey in a guinea pig cage should ever have only one door -- they're just an invitation for one pig to trap another.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:08 am


If you have clear, crisp photos, I can post one or two here for you:
Image

What were the lice treated with?
www.guinealynx.info/mites.html

Mites are pretty common too.

How big is your cage?

Pumpcorn

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:54 am


I do have a kitchen scale. She’s gained about 15 grams in 4 days, which is definitely more than she had been gaining. I’ll try the olive oil.

Their cage is a 4 x 2 c&c cage with a 2 x 1 loft (I know lofts don’t count for overall floor space but Pumpkin does like to go up and hang out in the loft). They have a hay hidey with two openings and a large fiddlesticks that I have curved into an arch and I leave space at the back so they can come and go from either end and not get blocked in.

I’ll try to figure out pics. I’m mostly mobile but I have a laptop I can fire up.

Pumpcorn

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:57 am


I forget the name of the medicine the lice were treated with. It was a medicine put on the back of their necks. They received two rounds of that. When they went for the second round of the medicine, the vet didn’t see any lice but said it was just to be sure everything was killed off. He hasn’t seen any indication of mites.

I’ll email a couple pics now.

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:24 pm


Here you go:







Sometimes there can be necrosis (dying) of the edges of the ears due to poor circulation (heart issues). This would normally be more likely to happen with older guinea pigs.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:49 pm


I'd try the coconut oil.

Pumpcorn

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:30 pm


Ok. I’ll try oil. Thanks.

Erinspigs

Post   » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:02 pm


Those don't look like grapple wounds to me but it doesn't mean there isn't some bullying going on, could be.

Personally I've stayed away from anything resembling a traditional hidey, think pigloos and cabin type houses. I use pieces of cloth in corners very loosely fixed and some shoe boxes with the two long sides removed and maybe a strip of cloth or two here and there. Whatever I make, if there are two pigs in the cage, I have two boxes, two corners with material, etc.

When it comes to cages I think bigger will always be better. I think your cage size is adequate but if you have room and can swing it at some point I might think about some more room for them. But then again I'm always thinking about adding a few more so maybe don't listen to me :)

What to look for in bullying? Certainly wounds from aggression/fighting. Barring that their bullying can be difficult to identity and it may not even be bullying. They have a very tricky social order. I have found some are extremely shy/timid, much more so than what they are normally and it can be tricky to identify. You may need to observe for some long periods of time to pick up subtle cues, which you have identified some already

Glad to hear she is adding weight, that sounds great

Pumpcorn

Post   » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 am


I do think I’ll expand the cage, hopefully soon. I know 4 x 2 is considered adequate but it’s clear that once you add all the things they need, there’s not tons of space leftover and they are fairly big to be stuck in a cage the majority of the time. I do want to ensure they’re happy and have the space they need. Maybe because they are getting bigger, they’re noticing it’s not as roomy as when they first came home. I certainly notice they don’t have quite as much room as when they were teeny.

Pumpcorn

Post   » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:44 am


I also have noticed they haven’t been using the loft as much the last few weeks. They liked it as little babies but they’re getting bigger (especially Pumpkin) and don’t seem as interested. I’ll stsrt making plans to expand the cage and probably take down the loft since they aren’t really using it and the ramp does cut into their floor space a bit.

Pumpcorn

Post   » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:46 pm


Update. Unfortunately, we lost Pepper. She just wasn’t acting well and stopped gaining weight so I took her back to the vet. He said she sounded congested and (by that point) had lost weight. He gave her a shot of vitamin c and antibiotics and sent me home with more to give her orally, but was honest that he didn’t think the prognosis was good. I found her passed away later that day.

I think she just wasn’t a super healthy piggie (learned my lesson about pet store piggies) and I just keep reminding myself that I did everything I could and she was loved and taken care of. I’m going to post separately about introducing a new piggie that I adopted this morning (I had already been considering adopting her so after we lost Pepper, I figured might as well see if she was still available).

Thank you all for your help and support.

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:00 pm


I am so very sorry you lost her, Pumpcorn.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:01 pm


I'm very sorry.

Erinspigs

Post   » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:00 am


I am so sorry. Even though she was with you only a short time she experienced love she otherwise would never have had. That is indeed something to hold onto, it's important.

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