Sorry for the late response- I tried switching from Bene-Bac to poop soup one last time and her poop immediately firmed up to weirdly shaped but somewhat normal consistency yesterday. Hooray! She's back at 600g this morning also. Which again is probably just water weight, but it still makes me feel better than 550g did. Still interested in trying Flagyl just in case though.
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I know this sounds weird, but this may just be a chronic condition to manage, not to cure. When Heather left us we did not have a necropsy done, but to the best of my knowledge her similar condition didn't shorten her life, nor cause her any particular discomfort.
I think adding another probiotic in to the rotation will help with future bouts like this. I don't mind cleaning up the mess as long as she's happy and otherwise healthy, but she does scare me from time to time, heh. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. It's definitely comforting to have help from someone who's dealt with something similar before. Out of curiosity and if it doesn't bring up any painful memories, how long did Heather live?
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She had a chronic sinus condition that didn't seem to trouble her much, and she also developed a thyroid nodule that we treated with methimazole. She had some trouble holding weight, was very energetic and had a thick, lush coat which also are indicators of thyroid disease.
Our best guess is that she lived about 6 1/2 years, which is too short, but her first four were in pretty poor conditions, from which we speculate she got chronic GI disturbance. She was a happy, cheerful, outgoing, engaged, cool little pig who passed very quickly one evening of what we speculate may have been a stroke. She was a really neat little pig, and we miss her.
She is not the only one we've had with chronic or intermittent soft stool, but she was the most distinctive/consistent one.
The ProBios powder and the Oxbow tablets came in the other day, and I started her on both (I figure since the tablets aren't an actual antibiotic I can just give them to her whenever). She does like the ProBios! And it worked, her poops are teardrop again and she's doing well, though I still expect her to roller coaster again. But right now she's running out at the sound of my voice and standing on her tippy toes for chin rubs (well, probably treats actually, but I give her chin rubs).
Thank you all for the suggestions! It is good to have another thing to add to the rotation. Also, she likes those Oxbow tablets a LOT, haha. With the molasses in them they smell like candy to me, small wonder there!
Could I ask for some insight on a couple thoughts I've had recently? Sometimes it seems like she has some minor gas accompanying her diarrhea when it gets bad. I've noticed on these days she tends to be bite-ier and whinier, so I wonder if she has some cramps with the bad bouts that are causing her pain? I was wondering if y'all thought a vibrating massage/heater pad might help to relieve that (or at least not do any damage). If so, is there a brand or particular product anyone recommends? I'm not really sure what I ought to be looking for in such a product.
Another question I had was in keeping her feet clean. When she gets bad, I'll give her a foot/butt bath, but that's started happening so often (every few days she'll have an episode, and during those episodes she's constantly getting poop all over her feet regardless if she's on loose paper bedding or fleece). Should I be worrying about drying her feet out? I usually just rinse with water unless it's caked into her fur, and her skin doesn't look dry at all yet, just wondering if there are other options that would be better than a water rinse or guinea shampoo.
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If they'd dried, we just soaked the feet in warm water until the droppings could be gently picked off. Guinea pig poo is thoroughly water-soluble, and it usually didn't take long for the material to become gently pick-able, and come off in chunks. We never had dried-out or scaly feet from this.
See if your vet will give you some Metacam to give her in low doses just as needed if she has a GI bout. If she gets a little bitey and whiny, she's probably in some mild discomfort from the GI turbulence. A bit of Metacam, only if and as needed, may help her be more comfortable.
I'm leery of using any pad with heat. They can overheat very easily and very quickly. The vibrator thingy we have is a neck one, shaped in a tight U. I put this on my lap, put a towel over it, then put the pig in the hollowed out spot formed by the U. It takes 2 C batteries and has two speeds. I've only ever used the lower setting.
In my experience, pigs either like those things or hate them, and there's little in-between. You'll know the instant you put her on it which she is. If she tries to frantically bolt off it, give up at once. It does no good to freak her out. If she seems kind of intrigued and settles down into it, she's enjoying it and you can keep her there as long as she'll tolerate it.
Sit on the floor so she won't fall if she does bolt. If she likes it, you can sit on a chair, but keep your hand gently around her so you can restrain her if she makes a sharp move.
Thank you everyone for the advice and help!
When I found her like that the first day, I gave her some simethicone- since her poop was fine, I thought she might have some mild gas that might have been causing her discomfort. The second day she was still puffed up when I found her in the cage, and this time I noticed a bit of soft stool so I gave her some ProBios powder hoping that would help.
Today would be the third day- again, still puffed up, a little more this time, hunched, eyes squinting, slightly heavy breathing, the whole shebang. Now her poop is firm again, but teardrop-shaped and different colors in sections. Weight is stable and she passes the skin pinch test for dehydration. The soonest the vet can see her is 6 days from now, unfortunately :/ So I gave her a Critical Care feeding with the thought that she might have stopped eating yesterday when her stool was loose and started down the path of GI stasis- her condition flares up so often that I don't bother separating her to track food/water intake as it's never impacted her appetite before. She took the CC well (25cc without having to force it) so we'll see I suppose.
I hate having to wait for appointments :( especially when she's looking so painful in the cage. She's still behaving fine when I pick her up and there are no other symptoms that I can see or feel, so hopefully she's not at death's door. And of course this happens when I'm kid/housesitting for a friend across town, so I've only been stopping by my place once a day to feed/check on the pigs and I can't help thinking that I might have been able to help her more or catch this sooner if I weren't. I'm taking her back with me in a quarantine cage tonight so I can keep a closer eye on her and continue with the CC feedings if need be, but it's farther from the emergency vet too if that becomes a necessity... ugh. Plus if she gets better she's the worst of my pigs socially so reintroductions are probably going to be a nightmare D: poor thing.