Background information: Her name is Buttercup, she is female and around 2 years old, and has short hair. This has been an ongoing problem since adopting I adopted her around 3 1/2 months ago.
Ever since I have had her, Buttercup has had abnormal, mushy poops. When pooping, she arches her back and strains her body and often squeaks. She is also frequently gassy and often passes gas that is very audibly loud (can be heard from across the room). She often farts right before she poops, so that her droppings seem to be "exploding" out of her butt. To get a better idea of what I am describing, you can watch these two videos of her going to the bathroom here.
You can't really hear the squeaking in the videos, but you can definitely see the straining. Also, if you turn up the volume you can hear the "pop" as the stool "explodes" from her butt.
I thought that she had diarrhea at first, but now realize that they are just soft stools. They are sometimes very long (even up to 1"-1.5" long) and much more foul smelling than her sister's. Since they are so wet, she often gets "poop shoes" from stepping in them. Despite her gastrointestinal issues, Buttercup is very active, energetic, and alert, in fact I would say much more so than Piggy!
When I was at home over winter break I took them both to see a supposedly cavy savvy vet. She was very nice but I wouldn't really call her an exotics specialist (had never heard of impaction in male guinea pigs; for Piggy's very fungal looking nose did not even mention the possibility of fungus let alone doing a culture to test for it. Instead suggested the crust was from an URI despite the fact that Piggy showed no other symptoms of having one and the majority of crust and hair loss was at the top of the nose, above her nostrils). Again, very nice but not exactly cavy savvy.
Anyway, back to Buttercup - The vet did do a fecal float using one of Piggy's stools - Buttercup would not cooperate in giving a sample - and said that anything Buttercup had would show up in Piggy's stool as well. The fecal float showed of Piggy's stool showed that stool was normal, and she did not address Buttercup's squeaking/straining. Rather, she told me that Bcup's soft stools were most likely the result of an intolerance to one of the veggies I was feeding (green and red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, cilantro, occasional zucchini, and a little bit of carrot each week). She instructed me to cut vegetables out entirely until her stool firmed up and then start re-introducing them one by one. I felt bad cutting out veggies and thought that maybe the mushy stools were due to too many veggies as opposed to an intolerance to just one, so instead started to slowly decrease the amounts that were given in the hopes that at a certain point the stools would get better. Eventually we got down to no veggies, and there was absolutely no improvement whatsoever. I thought back to the vet's original advice and decided to continue feeding no veggies and wait until the poops firmed up. The vet had not given me any sort of timeline, so I thought it was just a matter of waiting long enough. Fast forward a veggie-less month later and nothing had changed. At this point I start to think that maybe this is not normal and that perhaps veggies aren't the problem. This is when I start the thread about it on Guinea Pig Cages.
Based on the advice there, I called the original vet telling her that Buttercup has had no veggies in a month and that her stools are still mushy. She asks me to bring her back in, which isn't possible now that I am back at school and in a different state. Instead, I bring Buttercup in to see a new vet, Dr. McDermott, at UPenn Vet's Exotic Companion Animal Medicine and Surgery department (this was last Wednesday). By the way, they are AMAZING there. We were there for almost 2 hours and they did such a thorough examination of Bcup - the difference between them and the first vet was like night and day. They suggested doing a fecal float as well as a whole panel of bloodwork, but the bloodwork was going to cost an additional $200 so I asked if we could just start with the fecal float instead. The fecal float of Buttercup's stool came back as normal, and based on these results they but her on a 14 days course of Metronidazole (Flagyl) of 0.27 mls 2x a day.
Today is her 4th day on the Flagyl, and things haven't really changed. She is still squeaking, straining, passing gas, and having soft stools, but not any worse than she was before starting the medication. Today she made a stool that was extra large and mushy, but it definitely isn't the norm.
bpatters mentioned on the Guinea Pig Cages thread it is odd that there hasn't been any improvement on the Flagyl so far, and that her pig's soft stools got better on it after only 24 hours. I know that Buttercup is supposed to be on it for 14 days, but if there hasn't been any improvement so far does that mean that it's not likely to work at all? I think it is possible that her system is on overload because she hasn't had veggies for so long, and now that I am giving them to her again she's been going kind of crazy with them and absolutely vacuuming up whatever I give her. I have also been giving her strawberries about every other day because she loves them so much and I think I felt guilty for depriving her for so long, but I am definitely going to cut those out and stick with only lettuce and bell peppers until things get cleared up.
I forgot to ask him during the appointment but emailed him afterwards about the possibility of a urinary tract issue or stone. He wrote back:
so I think that if the Flagyl doesn't work out the next step would be x-rays. I was just wondering, I know that bladder stones can cause squeaking while passing stool and would also probably responsible for the straining, but could that cause the large, soft stools as well? If they didn't find anything in the fecal float so the problem isn't parasites, and if the Flagyl doesn't work and the problem isn't bacterial, what else possibly could it be? I am bringing Piggy in to see the vet next Monday and will obviously ask him all these questions and give him an update on Buttercup then, but until that time I guess I was wondering what you all thought.Usually with urinary tract issues we can see a change in the color or frequency of the urination. If she does have a bladder stone, the best way to find it would be on x-rays. We could run a urinalysis after trying the Metronidazole to see if she has any signs of infection.
Thanks in advance!