GUINEA PIG WITH SPINAL INJURY...CAN YOU HELP

lainier

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:25 pm


Hi All,
Our sweet little male guinea pig had a fall on thursday night. He slipped out the back of the towel he was being held in. He is still eating and pooping but cannot move his lower body properly. He has some movement in his feet. We took him to the vet's and had him thoroughly examined and x-rayed. The x-ray showed that his spine was a little curved and the vet thought that maybe one of the discs had slipped out of place or over lapped in some way. He could not see a fracture but said that he could not rule this out.
He gave us Meloxacam and told us to give it a week or two of restricted movement and hope and pray that we see some signs of improvement.
We are keeping him well fed, cleaned and cared for. I spend most of my day in the same room with him. I wake in the night for about an hour and sit with him. He is pooping properly but cannot turn around to retrieve the cecal pellets, so I help him with that. I clean him 'down there'.
I wish that I could clean his belly as he smells of urine but I cannot lift him too often or for too long without causing him pain. So I am keeping him on strips of towel and changing them very carefully so he keep as clean as possible.
He had a white plug (best way to describe it) in his penis/urethra. I have seen this before in sick male guinea pigs. I assume it is some kind of discharge due to him not being able to clean himself. Does anybody know about this? I am worried that he may get a bladder infection. Should I continue giving him vitamin C tablet?
We feel so awful as he is much loved and really is like a child in a sense to myself and my husband. He is a very special little guinea pig and showers us in kisses, especially on our noses!
Has anyone else here been through the same or similar experience with their guinea pig?
If he is still dragging his legs a month from now, would a little wagon of some kind be advisable for a piggy with a spinal injury? I saw the RoxyRoller but noticed that the guinea pig it was made for was suffering from a leg problem, not spine.
Any advice that anybody can offer me would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
Elaine

Tracis
Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:13 pm


I'm very sorry that your sweet guy had a terrible accident. It sounds as if you are doing all the right things for him.

Here are some threads from others that have had similar experiences:

Piglet

Sid

Annie

Peanut Butter

Hamish

Timmay

What is your little guy's name?

PigHerder

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:48 pm


Yes, a wagon will be helpful for a spinal injury. It puts less load on the front paws and probably helps a bit with posture.

The good news is there is still some movement in the back paws, this is excellent! If you have fleece, you may want to put those on top of the towels, as they help wick the moisture away, much like the lining on pampers. Still, you will need to change 3 times or so a day. Look out for urine scald... the belly area may become bare or scaly. You can get a salve for this at the vet if it develops.

Understand that if the nerves are pinched, he may stop eating when the nerves start feeling again... stand fast, there's a great chance he'll recover.

It sounds like you are really working hard and doing the right things. Absolutely continue the vitamin C - he needs all the nutrition he can get right now.

My best wishes to your special guy. :)

lainier

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:11 pm


Thanks for the threads, I really appreciate you doing that.
The vet told us to let him rest for 2 weeks but I worry about muscle atrophy in his legs during this time. I suppose a little massage would be o k? He hates to be moved and it is obvious that he is in a lot of pain when I do but he has to be kept clean.
Fingers crossed that he keeps his appetite.
His name is Dudley and much loved. Black longish and slightly frizzy/kinky fur and a white splash in the middle of his face. He has long white bangs, which we keep long as he looks so adorable. The rest of him we trim as he gets pretty woolly. I feel so sad and pray that he makes a recovery or even a partial recovery. It really seems like a nightmare and I just want to wake up from it.
Elaine

lainier

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:18 pm


My first reply was to thank Tracis for her post and threads.
This one is to thank you Pigherder for your advice.
Do you think I should just keep him as inactive as possible for the next two weeks? When should we consider making the wagon. Right now, he seems as if he would be in too much pain.
If this partial paralysis continues, will the pain start to subside once the spine heals?
I am trying to keep him clean but he really hates to be moved.
I'm new to this site, so I am just trying to figure out how to post and post replies, so sorry if they seem a bit jumbled.
Elaine

lainier

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:36 pm


I have noticed that when I stroke Dudley down his lower back he purrs, which he has always done, so there must be sensation down there. Also, when I lightly scratch his lower back he still gets that reflex chewing that guinea pigs get when scratched on their lower backs. I hope that both of these are good signs.
Elaine
p.s Apparently the vertebrae that looked damaged or out of place is in his between the last cervical vertebrae and the first thoracic vertebrae. It seems like it is in his upper back or just above middle. One of the vertebrae is raised up.
Elaine

PigHerder

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:58 pm


lanier: yes, keep him inactive. As it becomes a bit less painful, you can do a little range of motion on his back legs if you like, but in this case it probably isn't necessary as he doesn't seem to be paralyzed. I suspect that once he gets out of pain, he'll be better. I don't know if he'll make a full recovery, but if he's not paralyzed now, he won't be paralyzed later (unless further injury is incurred).

Wait on the wheel cart.

Perhaps there is a kinder way to move him. IIRC, when I had Benjamin, he had a bonafide break in his back so instead of picking him up, I scooted him onto a shoebox with 1 short side removed. This helped keep his spine more straight. Benjamin had to have his butt cleaned 2-3 times a day, yet I was fearful of creating further injury by moving his spine (which crackled when touched in the right spot) too much.

One way you could try moving him is to put a small piece of fleece under him (next time he's changed), then when you must move him next time, get the shoebox with the side cutout that I mentioned right in front of him and drag the fleece (with him on it) up into the box. It will be easier than dragging him. Then when he's in there, you should be able to work it out without too much moving, and he'll slide easily back out of the box to his new clean pile of fleece. I think I just kind of scooched the box under the front half of Benjamin and gently pushed his rearend the rest of the way into the box, but your guy sounds like he's in a huge amount of pain and may not tolerate that. Also, I wonder if that slipped disc is further injury waiting to happen. Even if he ends up with wheels, he can still lead a happy life. Bless you for sticking with it and not giving up on him.

I agree that you'll really have to weigh between the evils of letting him be dirty vs causing him pain. It's a fine balance that only you can decide. You don't want him to get urine scald or be impacted but otoh, moving him too much could cause further injury and cause him to stop eating. If he stops eating, I'd say try buprenex (pain med) to see if it helps. You could do buprenex now, but you actually want him to self limit his movements and pain is a healthy (but crappy to endure) sign to not move him in a certain way or frequently.

Just keep up keeping him clean and fed and you should see him slowly improving in the next week or two. Keep us posted!

lainier

Post   » Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:43 pm


PigHerder, thanks so much for your informed and caring post.
I was wondering what happened to your guinea pig Benjamin?
Your idea of using a shoebox sounds wonderful and I will definately give that a try.
Dudley is on a medication called Meloxicam, once daily.
I have him on little strips of fleece with towel strips beneath them. I am changing them frequently and during the night.
Thanks again,
Elaine

PigHerder

Post   » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:15 am


Benjamin was dumped in a park where he was picked up by a dog, then dropped when his hair was ripped out. He also had an old broken leg that never healed right.

Benjamin did recover most function back, but always hobbled around because of his bad leg. His bowel problems slowly improved but still needed cleaning every day or three.

Sadly, he never found a forever home despite being so loving that he would walk *up to you* when the cage was opened to lick your finger. He died late last year from probable kidney cancer. He was a sweet guy.

lainier

Post   » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:52 pm


Oh, I am so sorry to hear about poor Benjamin. We have rescued a number of pets from local parks. In fact little Dudley was found in a school field and we adopted him from the local shelter.
You mentioned that little Benjamin had a crack in his spine. Did that eventually heal?
Dudley still cannot move around, he tries and we quickly stop him. His front end of his body is fully mobile. I can tell that he is very frustrated.
Do you think that Dudley is on the right medicine, Meloxicam?
Would a steroid be a better option?
Elaine

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:00 am


With spinal injuries, as I understand it steroids can be very helpful if administered immediately, or as near to as possible. (That is, as I understand it; I've not had to deal with this personally.) Thus, the first vet would have been the one to do it.

Having said that, it may still be useful now, but can't be administered at the same time as the meloxicam. Ask your vet if steroids would be useful in place of meloxicam, at least for a relatively short period of time. It's worth the question.

PigHerder

Post   » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:13 am


Benjamin never had xrays, so we don't know the extent of the damage. We did confirm that his spine was broken in some way because if you pressed in the right spot, it clearly made a crackling noise.

Benjamin was not put on steroids. In hindsight there was some paralysis, which manifested by him not being able to poo normally. Later when he healed up, we were able to get him down to being cleaned once a day or less. When he first came in, he'd cry in the night if not cleaned right before bed (even though he'd been cleaned once or twice earlier in the day).

Timmay was more obviously paralyzed - completely dragging his back half with zero reaction in his hindquarters. He was given steroids IM (see thread for exact med) when he was brought in, probably within a day or two of the fall. I do not know if this played a role in his recovery or not, but he did recover fully. He was then placed on metacam.

I suspect Dudley just needs time and to continue the great care you are giving him.

I really want to congratulate you on "manning up" to taking care of Dudley after this tragic accident. You'd think it would be a "duh" thing, but it really isn't. So many people wouldn't be able to face the consequences of an accident they were involved in or to treat the guinea pig like a toy that is now broken and take him to the vet to be euthanized. This is precisely what happened to Timmay. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for doing what is right.
Dudley will thank you for it.

You will probably find that with all this extra care, you and Dudley will become closer than ever.

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:48 am


Big huge ditto to PigHerder's comments. Thank you for caring and doing the right thing.

lainier

Post   » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:36 am


Hi All,
I have noticed that Dudley is getting very wet on his belly overnight. I was so burnt out, I slept for seven hours and woke at about six thirty to change his pads. His belly is very wet and smelly. I presently have him on a bottom layer of fleece, then two strips of towel and topped off with a strip of fleece. Is there a better way to do this so that he doesn't get so wet. I worry because I cannot clean his stomach area as he hates to be moved.
Is there some other kind of absorbent material that would allow the skin/body to breathe more so than what I am using and also keep him dry at the same time. I really don't want him to get urine scald or infection due to bacterial build up.
I have my own health issues and just don't seem to be able to keep up with waking up every few hours at night.
Thanks again.
PigHerder, I was wondering, where you able to clean Timmay and Benjamin's bellies?
p.s I have considered using diapers but cannot due to the plastic covers as he would chew it.

PigHerder

Post   » Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:34 pm


Is Dudley eating and drinking on his own? If yes, then you don't have to wake up over night. I understand how incredibly draining and madness-inducing getting up in the night can be.

No, I did not clean benjamin's belly when he was ill. Or Timmay's, but I was more concerned about moving Benjamin, because I was worried I would cause additional injury to his broken back.

I changed his cage only when I had to clean his butt (2-3 times a day). The fleece was folded so it was multiple layers (since he didn't move anyways). I did wish at the time that I had berber fleece - it is thicker and thus provides more of a barrier, but it is more expensive and who has the time when you've got a piggie so ill.

I may have also layered the towels and fleece in such a way so that I had only to remove the top fleece and towel, so change was very quick and easy.

Don't worry about stinky, we only care if he gets actual urine scald and Benjamin never did when he was ill. Sadly, toward the end of his life he did, because I did not realize how very ill he was until it was too late. He was never very mobile in the first place and not moving was the only sign of pain he showed with his kidney cancer.

I know you want to do right by Dudley, but it's ok for you to take care of yourself, as long as it's not sacrificing his life by doing it (ie: lack of food and water during the night may kill him, but not changing his cage won't).

Really, it's been a few days now and you only need to restrict for about two weeks. After one week he may start to feel better and may thus move a little more. Any broken bones will have done their initial knitting stage by then and while he may still hurt, it should be better. If his level of pain doesn't get better, then it's time to do a follow up with the vet and possibly get better pain meds.

When I restricted movement, there was still room to move - I partitioned a cage so it ended up being about 30"x15". Ben could move if he wanted to, but for the first week chose not to. It's ok for him to move some, you just don't want the guy running laps or having to walk far to get food and drink. I suspect you may be over-worrying yourself about it. Yes, the stinky belly fur is gross. That's ok, you'll give him a very gentle bath in two weeks. Just keep changing him 2-3 times a day and you will be a-ok. I suspect twice is probably fine. You are doing everything right. Dudley won't get better faster if you change 6 times a day instead of 2. ;)

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:52 pm


I personally have had better luck with towels than with fleece.

Ditto to everything PigHerder has said.

"I presently have him on a bottom layer of fleece, then two strips of towel and topped off with a strip of fleece."

If it were me I'd change this to a bottom layer of fleece, then two or three strips of towel and stop there. Change the top towel only 2-3 times a day, and the entire set as needed.

Towels get damp but they seem to stay warm and don't cause the dampness, odor or gunk buildup fleece can. In my experience, anyway -- there are plenty of folks on this board who use fleece very successfully and would say their experiences are the exact reverse of mine. But if it were me, I'd try the towels, or perhaps a couple layers of towels over kiln-dried pine or CareFresh -- and see if it doesn't help make you feel a little better about how he looks and smells.

lainier

Post   » Thu Nov 13, 2008 12:27 am


Thanks guys for your concern for Dudley and me and also for all of the great info and tips. We really appreciate it! It is so wonderful to be able to come to this forum and talk to such caring guinea pig lovers.

User avatar
Bugs Mom

Post   » Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:20 am


If nothing else, the folks on here keep you from feeling you're all alone : )

lainier

Post   » Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:34 pm


Talishan, thanks for the towel tip. I tried this over night. Cut up a nice thick towel and lay him on a layer of fleece topped with two layers of towel. He seems very comfy and I think he was less sweaty and smelly this morning. I guess the cotton towel breathes better than fleece.
I'll keep you posted as to his progress.
Something else which is rather unpleasant but important for anyone with a sick male guinea. Everyday, he gets a plug of hard mucus in his urethra. I have seen this before with sick male piggies in the past. I am uncertain as to whether this is just normal secretion build up (as he can't reach around and clean himself) or a result of the medication he is on. Anyway, I remove it very gently after wiping him with a warm wet cloth. I could see how (if not removed) it could cause bladder troubles.
That's all for now.

PigHerder

Post   » Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:39 pm


I could be mistaken, but I think I recall cleaning Benjamin in a similar manner when he was ill.

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