Elder guinea pigs with severe athritis - when it is selfish?

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:57 pm

When does it become just plain selfish to keep around a cavy with really severe arthritis or other age related pain? It is hard to tell if they are in any pain or not because we all know they can hide symptoms, and they cannot tell us "I am hurting, but I am still eating because I still want to live". What if they are still in pain despite pain medications but eating on instinct? I have been thinking a lot about this lately since it seems like almost all of my cavies approaching five years and older have gotten arthritis (all but two so far). Obviously I provide metacam because I want them to keep living and doing things they enjoy, but I always worry if it can at times be selfish and I worry that they still may be in pain but I cannot tell. Near the end of their life all of my seniors have not been as beefy as they once were.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:21 pm

I cannot edit it now, but the in the title "it" and "is" got switched around by me by accident.

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Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:00 pm

I personally think its depends on how much medication they need, if they are eating enough to maintain their weight on their own and how the interact in their day to day life.

Its a hard choice and one we all hate.


Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:55 pm

Our Mr. Sweetie gets acupuncture beside a daily dose of Metacam. Since the gets the acupuncture he needs only one daily dose of Metacam.

So far this works for us here.

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Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:04 pm

Wait, Guinea pigs can get acupuncture?!


Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:13 pm

PiggieMom56 - yes, Mr. Sweetie gets twice a week from
Dr. Candace acupuncture. When my vet opened 3 years ago
her own clinic the first thing she did was getting her certification as acupuncturist.

We tried with Mr. Sweetie laser treatment as well, but he didn't like that :-) so we continued with acupuncture.

My vet is even flying in January to the US and is participating
in a 2 week seminar related only to piggies, rabbits and other
small animals. Without her I would have given up piggies here in the middle of nowhere alltogether.

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Post   » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:47 pm

Wow, I figured they would freak out seeing that pins were being stuck in them. Hell I would.lol.

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Supporter in 2014

Post   » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:54 am

It's such a difficult decision.

Last year my Arnold was diagnosed with arthritis after he started hopping. Unfortunately it had progressed quite far but we decided to try pain relief. I can't remember which one, but it wasn't Metacam.

It helped a lot and for a few months he was able to potter around, eating and seemed happy with his cagemates.

He then lost the use of a back leg and because of his arthritis couldn't walk with just one mobile back leg.

The vet wanted to euthanise him but I chose not to. I separated him from his brothers, kept him warm with a constant supply of hay, pellets and veg within reach. I can see why the vet thought it was cruel but he genuinely seemed happy still. He had a sparkle in his eye and looked over everytime we came into the room.

I knew I couldn't let him stay like that for too long and watched carefully for any signs that he wanted to give up, if he stopped eating, or was in pain.

Unfortunately his bones has deteriorated so much that one broke under his own weight. He still seemed like the happy, sparkley pig he had been but I knew he couldn't survive.

I made the decision that day. I know it was right, but I still feel awful as he was happily eating a lettuce leaf when the vet did the procedure.

It is such a tough decision. Hugs to you and your piggies!

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Cavy Comic

Post   » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:36 am

I had a pig with it, she started to hop. As no treatment was available here back then, I put her on Glucosamine and Alchemilla. It worked like a charm and the hop went away fast. A few days before she died, over a year later, I asked the vet intern to also check her joints on an X-Ray done to check her bladder. She could not believe that she had had arthritis, as only minimal was left due to the treatment I gave her.

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Supporter in '13

Post   » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:03 am

I would try MSM, a few of the top people in the rescue swear by it!!

Break open the capsule and just sprinkle a "little bit" over their veggies.

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Post   » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:02 pm

Ditto Pigjes. I gave my old Eve Glucosamine for two ish years before she passed away at the ripe old age of 8. She did need meds near the end but 8 years old is pretty old for a pig.


Post   » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:39 pm

Jaycey: I still feel awful as he was happily eating a lettuce leaf when the vet did the procedure.

This is horrible. I'm sorry about Arnold. I'm experiencing something very similar with one of my pigs right now. She's down to about 715 grams and she also has other issues besides arthritis, but she always looks up at me and appears comfortable. Her appetite is good and she loves parsley. I brought her in to get looked at over the weekend, and I just couldn't do it yet. Since then, she has had six big platefuls of fresh lettuce with peppers, escarole, wheat grass, and parsley.

It has become extremely difficult for her to stand up on her own over the past day or two, so she mostly just sits in one place all day, but she's smart, so she sits under the hay rack where she can nibble all she wants, and she does. I don't place her there. She sits there on her own after each meal. It's heartbreaking. Once I stand her up, she can waddle to the plate to eat, and then when it's done, she can move around to whatever spot she chooses and plops herself down.

I don't want her to break any bones or to experience more pain than the reward of fresh food is worth to her, and I think the time is coming soon. Every night I go to bed thinking tomorrow will be the day. Then I look at her, she looks back at me with her giant glistening eyes as if nothing is wrong, and I decide to let it go one more day. But I don't know if that's the right thing for her. She truly doesn't seem unhappy or uncomfortable for the vast majority of the day. It's only during the few difficult moments she's trying to move around that it becomes obvious. Because she has other issues involving a spotty liver and two masses (one on the tailbone, one somewhere in the reproductive system, likely in the uterus, but the doctors couldn't pinpoint exactly where it is on the ultrasound because of gasiness) I know this can't go on very much longer regardless. She's a little over 8 years old now.

Her arthritis is bad in her lower spine and back legs, and she has essentially no muscle mass back there at all. The mass on the tailbone and the stone in the urethra (did I mention that yet?) certainly aren't helping. But like I said, she seems so happy to be eating fresh food and tries to tug the syringe away from me when I give her polycitra and vitamin C, because she loves the sweet flavor of both. As much as I don't want her to suffer and I know her condition will only get progressively worse, I don't want to cheat her out of a single piece of parsley she can thoroughly enjoy. That being said, I think it's astronomically better to do it a day (or even several days) too early than a day too late. Trying to time this right is maybe the most burdensome part of it.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:09 pm

I am so sorry to hear of the cavies here who are not doing well. I am also sorry to bring up such a depressing topic, it is just something I have been struggling with having had some very arthritic pigs over the course of keeping these wonderful creatures. Sometimes I feel like I waited too long for a couple of them who were doing poorly, I stupidly thought just throwing more money at the problem would "fix" them.

I use Dasuquin (under advisory of an exotics veterinarian) for cats, about an eight of a capsule when they will take it and have a chondroitin and glucosamine supplement made for small animals (it is a compressed timothy hay tablet with the glucosamine and chondroitin in it, I think along with omega 3 which has natural anti inflammatory properties). Some days are better than others it seems though with arthritis and general aging.


Post   » Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:42 pm

I have two five year old guinea pigs so this thread is of much interest to me.

Are flax seeds okay for guinea pigs? It might add some omega-3 to their diet. Purslane (which refers to several plants - one of which is portulaca oleracea) is high in omega-3 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea) but also may also high in oxalic acid (http://www.guinealynx.info/diet_oxalic.html). Where would a guinea pig get additional omega-3? (Edit: Ah, along with glucosamine and chondroitin supplement).

Swimming therapy would help guinea pigs with joint mobility as the water supports their weight without putting stress on the joints (as long as they don't mind it):

High-dose vitamin C (150mg/day) makes arthritis worse? I wonder how big the study was. I wonder if medium dose (30mg) helped, as vitamin C helps collagen production.
http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-dept/avian-exotic- ... thritis.aspx

Aside from medications and supplements, warmth and light massage should help pain relief.

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Post   » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:29 pm

I don't think flax seeds would be a problem if given in very small amounts, fresh (not rancid). Flax seed seems to go rancid very easily.

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pig wrangler
Supporter in '13

Post   » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:26 pm

I also have an elderly pig (8+) who has spinal arthritis and other health issues. We do metacam and chiropractic as needed, and have her on a restricted diet, but she is happy and will still purr and occasionally even popcorn (in an old lady with a walker kind of way). I do not think there is anything selfish about caring for an aging pig and making their lives comfortable and happy.

When your pig decides its time to go, it will let you know. As long as they are fighting for their lives, you should help them fight.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:11 pm

I have been told by two local exotics veterinarians that flax oil would be fine to give in small amounts to my cavies who have had dry skin or inflammation due to old age arthritis.

I have had a couple of guinea pigs with severe arthritis coupled with other serious medical issues (one kidney issues and the other with heart issues and bone density loss - a satin pig), and I felt like maybe I pushed too hard or something because eventually their bodies just gave up on them. I have such guilt wondering if I should have intervened sooner, but you know you also want to see them alive and enjoying vegetables and such.

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Post   » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:58 am

Annie is my oldest pig. She's somewhere over 7 years old (she was a rescue). She has cardiac issues and has been on salix for a while, and more recently digoxin. I started to add metacam because she looked like she was having some joint pain.

She's always been a trooper taking her meds by syringe. The past few weeks she's been very resistant. She flat out refuses to open her mouth for the syringe meds. I'm still giving the salix (if I skip that she starts to hoot) and the metacam. I have stopped the digoxin.

My gut tells me that she's refusing her meds on purpose. I think she's just had enough. I want to keep her comfortable, so I'll keep doing the salix as long as I can.



Post   » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:03 am

My girls are getting older, so this is an interesting thread. None suffer from any joint problems at this time (knock on wood).

As for letting go, I'm probably not the best person to help with that topic because my animals usually either die in their sleep, unexpectedly drop dead, or die on the operating table. The only time we euthanize is if they are dying, and there is nothing we can do (e.g. hemorrhaging and the vet can't stop it).

Having grown up on a large horse farm (I'm talking over 100 horses at some points), we do have a lot of family friends who are vets, and the general consensus among them is, "if they are eating, drinking, and pooping you shouldn't give up". There was even one vet who would refuse to euthanize most animals that were still eating. He would ask owners to surrender their animals to him for care, and he would take care of them. Granted, we usually surround ourselves with people who have similar world perspectives as ours, so I'm sure there are other vets who don't have that perspective.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:54 am

I guess if they are still eating they must be fine. I just never know when is too soon, and I always feel bad because in a few cases I felt like I waited too long and they had to suffer unnecessarily; I just did not want to give up on them, I love them so much.

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