Considering a piggy for a pet


Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:21 pm

I've been looking at the Emergency and Medical forums and I am wondering how often you all experience health issues with your piggies. It sounds like there are a lot of things to worry about. I can afford the occassional trip to the vet for a check up and some antibiotics, but some of these things sound rather serious and expensive. Do piggies get sick more often than other pets? Also, do they get lice very often and is it easily transferred to kids?

I'll be honest with you all, my husband has been battling cancer for the past three years. Many, many trips to Houston for surgeries and check-ups have been hard on the ol' budget. Our son wants a pet so badly, but if I start racking up big vet bills my husband will kill me. I couldn't never sit idly by and not take a sick animal to the vet, though. Should I be so worried, or are piggies generally healthy if proper care is given?


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Bugs Mom

Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:39 pm

Most piggies are very healthy. My little one went 5 years before her heart problem and the only thing she needed the vet for was well piggy checkups and to get her nails clipped.

I won't lie, occasionally a piggy will develope an "expensive" problem but I think that's very rare.

Good diagnostic abilities and proper treatment are one of the main reasons you want a cavy-savvy vet. It saves you money in the long run.

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:40 pm

Willowbeads, there are many on this forum with a lot more experience than I have, but here are my thoughts on the subject:

Many posters on this forum rescue a lot of pigs, and many of these pigs have health issues due to poor care before they went into rescue, or even ended up in rescue because of their serious health problems.

I've had several pigs over the years, and by and large I've been very lucky. My current pigs, Wishes and Wendell, are a bit over two years old. They go to the vet once a year for well-pig checkups, and other than that, Wishes has been to the vet once for an abscess that he got from a bite from Wendell.

Just like with humans, it seems older pigs experience more health issues, like kidney stones and impaction, but there are also many senior pigs on this board who are lucky to be in great health and have not had to have many vet visits.

Really, I think it depends on the pig. If you adopt young, healthy pigs and give them good care, I don't think you should *expect* too many vet visits, but it's important to have funds available in case something does go wrong.

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:50 pm

A lot of people here also come to the board by the rescue route (which means they are taking in pigs from a questionable background and possibly a life of ill care) or the pet store route for their first pig (which means the pig will most likely have URIs, mites, etc.). Rescuers take in pigs with very serious conditions so that skews the reports on the board. Also the medical thread doesn't show the healthy pigs :)

Two of my pigs have never been sick, and when the others have been sick the board has always helped me sort of narrow what it could be so I don't run any extraneous tests. Plus finding a cavy savvy vet is the biggest money saver of all.

Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:00 pm

Mites and lice are easy to treat, and I think that mites are a little more common than lice. Lice are species-specific, so children should not be able to catch a guinea pig's lice.

Ringworm can be passed around from pets to people, though.

Some members have mentioned having an allergic reaction (red, itchy bumps) from handling a guinea pig with mites. Wearing long sleeves can help.

Timothy hay can also cause allergic reactions for some people. Bluegrass is a great alternative.

Guinea pigs are prey animals, and tend to hide any signs of illness until it becomes serious. Proper care will certainly help to prevent many things.

My vet charges more for an exotics examination than she does for our dog's checkups. Some vets will insist on using anesthesia for a blood draw, which can increase your bill. X-rays are a common diagnostic tool and can be expensive.

Do you live near a guinea pig rescue? Sometimes fostering a pair of guinea pigs can be a good way to find out if they are the right pet for your family.

I hope your husband stays strong for his cancer battle, and my best to you and your family.

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:19 pm

It's very important to remember that the medical board is exclusively for sick guinea pigs. So when you read through there it sounds like they all get sick but it's a statistically skewed population. This board in general is going to be statistically skewed because many of us found this place when a pet was ill. People who don't research before adopting or who never have an ill pet are often never driven to do much searching and therefor aren't members.

I don't feel they're ill any more than any other pets, but captive, well cared for guinea pigs survive considerably past their "expected" lifespan in the wild (which would be 1 maybe 2 years). It's not unusual then that they develop minor issues over the years. One of my guinea pigs developed an expensive medical issue (bladder stones) and the other has hardly been sick. In the two years he's lived with me he's had a goopey eye that required a round of $10 antibiotic drops. That's it and he's 6+!

In the long run proper care at home typically will save you in vet bills. Learning how to do things like treat with ivermectin at home correctly and safely will also save, weighing regularly helps identify problems before they become severe and expensive. Guinea pigs are eligible for VPI pet insurance but we recommend putting the same amount of money in an interest bearing savings account instead. The insurance requires you to pay up front and be reimbursed so you may as well have the money and interest yourself right? It is important to be honest with yourself though (and you don't have to post about it).

Lice and mites are the most minor things you can even imagine. They give us humans the heevey-jeevies but are definitely NOT contagious in any way and are easy an inexpensive to treat. 99% of cases are readily treated at home for <$30.


Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:32 pm

Oh, thank you, thank you! You've all eased my mind considerably. And that knowing their lice isn't transferrable it a big relief. You can imagine I was a little freaked out reading about lice when I have a five-year-old preschooler at home :)

I just located two sisters at a shelter that were brought in by a parent whose kids wouldn't care for them. They are real cuties, but we're not quite ready for them yet :(

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:36 pm

You have gotten some great advice here and I think it is fantastic that you are doing your research beforehand. Don't fret too much over the sows in the shelter that you are not ready for. Chances are when you are ready there will be piggies in need of homes. I wish I could say that was not true, but it is. There are always pigs within the rescue/shelter system that need homes.

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:04 pm

The pig I had before I got my current pigs lived to be 6 years old even though he had very inadequate care. I found this website after his passing, and my current pigs have top notch care as a result. They are currently 4 and 3.5 years old, and the only medical issue that has come up for me is maloclussion for one of them. Diagnosis and treatment cost me around $700 altogether, but the problem has not reocurred since September 2008.

Having said that, in total over their lifetime I've spent over $2600 on them, about 1/3 of that being on vet bills. This is also because they are very spoiled and I've ordered a lot of unneccessary stuff for them online, etc.


Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:05 pm

Pigs can develop problems, just like some people can develop problems. But rshevin is right; no one goes onto the medical boards to post, "my guinea pig is A-OK!"


Post   » Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:20 pm

Thanks to all of you for your great advice. I've started purchasing materials for the cage and some accessories. I just wish my son would hurry and earn his stickers so we can set it up! :)

When I'm ready to order my hay and pellets (probably from KMSHayloft) what type of container should I store them in? If I get, say, 9 lbs of timothy hay, is it better to leave it in the bag or put it in an open storage container? Same for the pellets? Will the pellets stay fresh for a long time?

Sorry for all the questions. I just want to make sure I keep our piggies healthy!


Post   » Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:40 pm

KM packs her hay in a plastic bag, and then in a cardboard box. You'll want to take the hay out of the plastic bag, so it can breath and not get moldy, but you can store it in the cardboard box that it is shipped in.

(The easiest way to unpack it: open the top, peel off the tape holding the bag shut. Then seal the box up, flip it over and open it from the bottom. Then pull the bag so the hay stays in the box. Hay has a way of expanding once you've unpacked it.)

Pellets can be stored in any airtight container. You should keep it in an opaque bag or container because light can damage vitamin C. Pellets are good for up to a year, I believe.

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Bugs Mom

Post   » Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:41 pm

KM guarantees her pellets for 180 days.

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Post   » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:17 pm

Be sure to store the pellets in a dark, dry, cool place to maximize life of the vitamin C.


Post   » Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:00 am

Bugs Mom, thanks for the correction on the shelf-life of pellets.

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