I am a (relatively) new guinea pig momma. I got my first guinea pigs ever about three or four years ago and, while I know it wasn't the preferred option, I got them from Petco (the closest rescue was four hours away and I had no way to get there). They were cage mates at Petco, two males.
Last week, I lost one of them (Van). It was unexpected and hard. He never gave any indication that he was sick or in pain. He was as energetic as he always was, so getting home from work and finding him unable to move was... difficult.
His surviving cage mate Stefan has had medical problems. He started going blind from cataracts and I just found out on Monday that he has three broken ribs and an abcess has started growing on his chest. The broken ribs I have no idea how he got, since I live alone and have no one over so he definitely didn't get stepped on. He's currently on pain meds and antibiotics and I know I'll need to get the abcess drained as soon as possible.
The more immediate problem than the healing and trying to make sure he is eating well (he's not touching his hay at all but will eat the pellets, and no longer eats the carrots he used to love, but scarfs up the pureed pumpkin) is that I'm worried he's missing his cage mate.
I don't really have it in me presently to get another guinea pig, with the loss of Van. So I'm a bit torn between finding Stefan a new home with other guinea pigs to keep him company or to keep him and just hope that my presence is enough to assuage his loneliness. I was planning to rescue a dog after these boys, but Stefan has never been around any other animals, so I'm not sure if introducing a completely new species would be good for him. Any advice you guys could offer would be great.
Broken ribs would be extremely painful for the pig. It could be the reason why he is not eating hay. Another reason he may be eating pellets and pumpkin and not hay and carrots is that there my be something wrong with his teeth. An X-ray would be in order to determine that too.
My opinion is that Stefan's health seems quite poor at the moment and getting another pig to put with him or finding him a new home with other pigs is out of the question. it would not be fair to someone else to take on his medical problems and, until he is healthy, I would not risk getting another pig to put with him. If you don't want another pig that's also a good reason for not getting another one. Eventually, everyone end's up with just one pig when they have decided to take a break (temporarily or permanently) with having pigs as pets.
As to getting a dog, you would not let them interact with each other anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem but be wary of dogs that have a high prey drive. Terriers, hound types and the like may try to get into the cage and kill your pig. So take steps to protect piggy from the dog. Have a sturdy lid on the cage, have the cage up off the floor. If possible have the pig in a room that has a door that can be closed to the dog.
The vet did do x-rays, and noticed some arthritis as well as the broken ribs. We had his teeth examined as well, as that was our first thought for why he wasn't eating, but his teeth had no deterioration. It was only when I noticed a couple days later that he also seemed to be having trouble breathing and there was a swelling on his chest that we did an xray and found the broken ribs. As for the swelling, I'll be honest. Between losing Van and then Stefan's sudden issue, I was honestly too distraught to ask what we should do about that, but I have a follow up appointment this coming week to make sure the ribs are healing as best as they can and I'll be asking about it.
I've been making sure to keep a close eye on Stefan when I'm not at work. He's at least drinking and eating his food pellets and the pumpkin, so I know he's trying, and he still can find the energy to squeak at me when I prepare his pumpkin. It just came so close on the heels of Van that I know I'm probably over-worrying about every little thing right now, but it helps to have a place like this that I can reach out to and someone who is currently more clear-headed than I am can talk me through this stuff.
He's perking up more now too. I'm spending time with him both in the mornings before I leave for work, and in the evenings after I get home from work and he wheeks at me happily. He's still working back up to solid food, but I have been feeding him some canned pumpkin in the meantime. I cut up some baby carrots yesterday and today and he ate a little bit of those as well.
These have been a rough couple of weeks, but things are looking up now. I appreciate you all being here and helping me understand things and think about things.