Subcue questions

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 2:29 am

My girl Serena has a bladder infection and is on TMS and also, twice daily subcues. No stones showed up. She had this a few weeks back and it cleared with the TMS and subcues... but I was terrible with the subcues then too.

I saw Becky's nice explanation of how she she does it, but I was given the 35 ml syringe with the big old needle at the end. I understand about where and how the needle goes in and I know about warming the fluids.

But I am having a heck of a time. Here are the problems, besides just hating to jab a big needle into my little girl.

*I can't hold the skin up very well. Serena is one bulky, tight shouldered, short haired American slippery girl! By the time I get 5 or 10 mls in, I just start losing my grip, even if she doesn't squirm away.

*I have pretty big strong hands for a girl, but man, it's hard to push that fluid out.

*It seems like a lot of the fluid drips out of her. Sometimes pink with blood.

*I'm supposed to get 30 mls in twice a day. In the past couple of days I got 5 mls in once. 24 hrs. later I got 20 in, but there was leakage. (I tried to supplement my lame subcue work with water by mouth, but I want to get better at these subcues)

Any suggestions are appreciated. I hate that twice a day I know that either my skin holding hand, or my syringing hand, or the strong and slippery pig will keep me from completely the task.

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For the love of my girls!

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 4:53 am

Hi Zoe! It helps if you gently massage the "bubble" of fluid forming under the skin. Of course this is easier if you have two people! Once you have the needle in place, if you think she won't move, you can use that hand to kind of massage the skin where the fluids are going in. I have even massaged and held the needle and held the pig when I was REALLY desparate!

It IS a hard task if you ask me! It doesn't help that you don't have a butterfly except that your fluids should go in even easier with that big ol' opening!

Right now I am hand feeding Bea because she knocked her bottom 2 teeth out! When I had her at the vet on Fri I had THEM give her a sub cue to get us on our way!

Hang in there. Becky is a pro!

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 9:11 am

It may be that you have the needle upside down. Are you using butterfly sets? They make it much, much easier to manage.

I wouldn't bother with subcues for a URI, though. I only give them to pigs with stones or to pigs who aren't eating/drinking.

If you put her in a cozy, place her in your lap, she has nowhere to run except the end of the cozy, providing you wrap the sides up around her.

Also, are your fluids warmed first? If not, the pig will squirm like mad, because the fluid hurts going in.

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 11:31 am

Kara, thanks for reassuring me that isn't easy. I like to think I am good at stuff like this, you know? Strong, brave and not a wimp?

So, how do I know if a needle is upside down?

Next time I drive the 50 minutes to the vet, I'll ask about the butterfly sets. I haven't actually seen those up close and personal.

I have tried several places and ways to hold her. I have put her in a pillow on my bed, on the toilet seat, on the ironing board. I finally realized that on a pillow on my lap was pretty good. She squirms whether in a cozy or a towel. I keep trying different items.

For some reason, Serena wasn't drinking a lot of water on her own when she started getting her problem so she dehydrated a bit. The subcues do help her out a bit. I don't think you always have to do subcues for a UTI. Ooops, I said URI earlier didn't I?


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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 12:23 pm

So, how do I know if a needle is upside down?
The beveled end should be the first to go into the skin. So, you want to start off by puncturing the skin with the sharpest point.

I don't know how you are able to get anything at all accomplished without a butterfly set. I certainly couldn't. Call the vets, ask if they could give you a couple sets, to make life easier for you and Serena.

I think you'll find it's much easier with the butterfly set. It even gives a bit of guinea-wiggle room.

I think Mum had given me the great advice of distracting my piggy with food during subcues. I ran out and bought the biggest carrots I could find. While doing the subcues, he would just munch angrily on his carrot.

Good luck!

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 12:54 pm

Does it matter if the beveled side is up or down? I can't think of any way to stick it in other that pointiest part first. I can get the needle in, so I don't think it's a problem.

So, do I need to hold her skin up as I plunge the syringe? I mean, once I get it going, do I need to work so hard at it? Can I use my hand then for keeping her steady and massaging her fluid lump?

Well, I guess with my third hand, I will try to the massaging technique. Is this why people keep boyfriends or husbands around? After my heart breaking break-up last November, I figured there was no more use doing this dating thing ever again. Maybe I'll see if I can find a friend up to helping me, or my sister. I am usually pretty good at doing things myself. I have no problems with syringe feedings, nail clippings or boar sack cleaning.

Part of the problem with this particular piggy is that she screams with me just trying to hold her skin up. Also, she never eats while I am holding her and she is upset with me. My other pigs will complain that I've picked them out of the cage, but they'll still eat whatever goodies I have for them, even as they sail through the air before settling in my lap. Serena is pretty shy. The local rabbit rescue lady grabbed her the day she was to be put down at the shelter. I think they thought she was too nervous. She's very sweet and gets along with other pigs, but she also is really good at acting just terrified.

When I did it in the vet's office, I did great, but I think it was because she was in stun mode. Poor girl.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 1:01 pm

Beveled side is up. You can see the hole on the top, and yes, the sharpest/pointiest part does go into the skin first. Otherwise, you risk more of a tearing motion (not as easy or comfortable for the pet).

Once you get the needle underneath the skin, there is no reason that you must hold on to the skin. I usually let go at this point, since they almost object more to the holding/pinching than the needle and fluids.

Email me your mailing address. I have some extra butterfly sets I can send you.

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 1:21 pm

Thanks Josephine. I just sent you an email.

I am glad I don't need to grab her skin so much once I get the needle in. That's going to help a lot. I am going to be late for work here because I am avoiding this subcue thing, which I have to do before I leave.

I hated injecting my tortoise too. And he didn't even scream. And it wasn't a subcue fluid either. But his leg was so incredibly strong that once I got the needle in, I had to make sure his leg didn't head back into his shell with my hand and needle attached. It added a different element you don't get with guinea pigs. At least with a huge tortoise, I could balance him on a rolled towel to keep his legs off the ground so he couldn't run away.

Guinea pigs are more slithery.

Mostly I hate getting shots myself, so why would I want to give one to my defenseless little animal friends?

Get on your bike.

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 3:28 pm

It's not like a shot. It goes under the skin. You're giving them for the very fact they are defenseless and need your help.


Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 3:33 pm

Occasionally the needle will hit a "wall" that blocks the fluid and you have to gently manuever it so the fluid flows again.

Make sure you rotate the injection sites to avoid building up scar tissue. I inject left shoulder. right shoulder, right hip, left hip for twice daily subcues over a period of 2 days.

It doesn't matter too much where you inject as long as it is under the skin and not into a muscle.

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E's Moriarity

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 3:35 pm

I found that putting the pig in a cuddle cup and sort of wrapping it around her to keep her immobile really helped with a one-person subcue.

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 6:33 pm

I was wondering about stabbing her too much in one area. My diabetic friend has been injecting himself several times a day for many, many years. He has a couple of lumps from it.

Yup. I know the subcue is not an injection into the muscle. It's just so unnatural to me to stab a sharp object into a living thing. I do it because I am trying to do good.

I did VERY well this morning. I got the whole 30 mls in. She screamed before the needle went in and kept it up until I was done, but I got it in and it didn't leak too much.

I don't have an official cuddle cup, but I am making do. This morning, for some reason, she stood still for me. If she see's a place to run and hide to, she squirms to get there.

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 7:58 pm

Ditto on the butterfly infusion sets. They make a big difference, although Pinta is a pro with a needle and bag. Where are you in California? I also have lots of butterfly sets that hopefully I'll not need too soon. The vets charge an arm and a leg for them. If you plan to do this for any length of time, it'd be better to order them on line.

As soon as I put the needle in a pig, I start rubbing between their ears and eyes. I also put them in a cuddle cup and put the cuddle cup in a chair with the pig facing away from me as I kneel on the floor.

Part of the problem might be that your needle is too big. What's the gauge?


Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 9:47 pm

You can also get them at any medical supply store (and you don't need a prescription or anything). They are called scalp vein sets there. We got a box of 50 for really cheap.

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For the love of my girls!

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 9:58 pm

Yes, I forgot... the cuddle cup is a great help! Becky, how could I forget!?

Yahoo that you got it in this morning! I found that going slowly with the fluids helped too. Massage and slow addition of the fluids. The vet tech just pushes it right in, but I didn't have success with that technique. Also, like Pinta said, sometimes the fluid bubble would be so hard it would just not grow. If I moved the needle out and in a little into a different spot, without removing the needle, that would help.

The whole process makes me a nervous wreck but I know the pig needs it.

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 11:04 pm

She screamed before the needle went in and kept it up until I was done,
Are you warming the fluid first?

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Post   » Mon May 14, 2007 11:48 pm

Yes, I warm the fluids. I microwaved a very wet towel, then let the fluids rest on that for a bit. It works great.

I think she screams because she is a screamer. She makes me feel bad when I try to catch her in her cage, and when I try to find just the right place to grasp a little of her flesh to pull up. I try so hard to NOT scare her.

I'll have to get a proper cuddle cup.

The more I practice, the better it gets, but it's not fun for the poor practice pig. I am usually pretty good at being coordinated, firm and kind. Serena is different from my other pigs. She's more of a drama queen than the others. Makes me wonder about her early childhood before she was dumped at the shelter. She's a light strawberry blonde girl with a flat face and huge, please-don't-hurt-me, ruby red eyes. And she's definitely not alpha-pig material.

Becky: The needle size is 20x1A. Josephine is sending me some butterfly sets. If I like them, I may take or buy your extras. I live an hour or so south of you.

Or I can buy them without going through the vet?

Thanks for all the hints. Hopefully this might help others who are sent home with instructions to give subcues to their piggy like it's no big deal. I am glad my vet thinks I am capable, but it still hard for me, and I just know a LOT of other people must have trouble too.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Tue May 15, 2007 3:30 pm

I had to learn how to do a pig and a dog and both times a tech walked me through it. I watched and then did it myself. I would all people should ask for that so they aren't feeling left without instructions.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Tue May 15, 2007 4:48 pm

Got them mailed today. Hopefully, they'll only take a day or two.

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Post   » Tue May 15, 2007 7:58 pm

Yeah! Thank you Josephine!

I am getting much better at doing this subcue thing, but I still hate it. I got her full doses in the last couple of times.

Serena does most of her screaming because I am grabbing at her skin. I know a lot of guinea pigs are drama queens, but she really does it well.

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