During the last year or so, though, her shedding has gotten worse and her weight has dropped even though she eats fine and has what seems to be a normal amount of energy. All our pigs shed, but she sheds a LOT.
I am wondering if she might have a thyroid problem. With every stroke of your hand you get tons of hair off in your hand. Yet she doesn't have any bald patches. To look at her she seems like she has a healthy coat of hair.
She also is too skinny, at least compared to our other pigs of about the same age and/or her "babies." She eats normally, though.
I'm taking her to the vet tomorrow for a blood test to check for a thyroid issue, but I was wondering what the normal treatment would be and how much it usually costs. Just so I can be prepared to hear it, I guess.
I hope you get a sound diagnosis and can treat her. Some types of mites (demodex) can cause problems/shedding in a guinea pig with a weakened immune system.
We have housed our guinea pigs together for several years. We treated all of them for mites 3 years ago, and they haven't been around any other pigs since. They haven't been outside either.
In any case, I'm taking her to the vet tomorrow. Maybe I should take a cage mate of the same sex and almost same age (one of her "babies" who is 3 years old while she's 3.5 years old).
He did not think she has a thyroid issue, but said he would be glad to test her for that if I really want to and/or we have ruled out other things. Since we just spent $300 on Panda only to have her die AND we just spent another $300 on our dogs' yearly exams yesterday, I'm OK with waiting to do blood tests at this point.
He is more worried about the fever than anything else right now, and wants to give her an antibiotic. Since he had prescribed an antibiotic for Panda that never even got opened (but it's still in our fridge), he said we could use that. So if she still has a fever when I pick her up this evening, I will do that.
He thinks she is getting bullied into not being able to eat (which is weird since I see her eating) as much as she should be, since she lives with 4 other pigs who are not skinny at all. He wants us to house her separately for two weeks so we can make sure she is eating what she should be eating. He was concerned because when he took her temp there were no poops lined up inside. If she is not eating even separated we are to bring her back right away, but he thinks she's just not getting as much food as she needs. We have a little store-bought cage we use as a "recovery cage" so that's where we'll put her. I plan to have her out quite a bit, though, since that cage is too small for even a sick piggy that is still active.
If it turns out she is eating fine and still not gaining weight and shedding like crazy we'll do the blood tests. But he looked at her coat and said it doesn't seem to be thinning to him. He thinks she is shedding more than normal due to stress from being bullied and not eating like she should. Which is weird because I don't see her being bullied, but oh well.
So I guess we are in "wait and see" mode.
I am also giving her the antibiotic we got for Panda but never used because of her fever. It is Sulfa/trimethoprim Suspension, 0.6 ml twice a day. She got her first dose tonight.
We have her in the recovery cage, but I'll put her in with the other pigs during part of the day tomorrow when there are no pellets to fight over so she can socialize. I do have both pellets and hay in the recovery cage.
These piggies are so tight that it has not been a re-introduction issue even after one of them has had to be separated for a month or so.
I took her back to the vet a couple of weeks after the first visit. I had re-introduced her to the rest of the herd after just a week apart because she was all depressed and had quit eating as much. She is definitely not being bullied, as she was the one who chased the rest of them around the cage and re-established dominance within about 3 or 4 minutes, lol.
So the vet examined her again, and this time he took extra care feeling around her neck. He was shocked at how large her thyroid gland appeared to be. So we did a blood test for thyroid and nothing else (lot cheaper).
Just got the call that her thyroid is 4.4 or something like that. Dogs and cats are supposed to be 3 or less, so that's pretty high. Guess she'll be starting thyroid meds soon.
Read it over. If you think it applies and would be helpful to your vet, you are welcome to share the link.