Diabetes diet


Post   » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:43 am

I think my 5 year old Dory might have diabetes. I just noticed a significant drop in weight even though she's still eating like crazy, and her teeth are fine. She might be drinking more often, I can't say for sure since she shares a water bottle with her cage mate, but she has had a wet bum on a few occasions which is not normal for her.

I live in Italy and have done some research - it doesn't look like the same medicines to treat diabetes in guinea pigs (glucotrol, etc.) are available here. But I also read that with the right diet many times you can reverse or at least alleviate some of the symptoms of diabetes. I thought she was eating pretty healthily - lots of hay, a few pellets, and a variety of veggies - but I just googled "sugary vegetables" to see what besides the carrots I could cut out, and many of the staples I give them are all on the list of the 15 top sugary veggies - who knew!?!? I feel terrible - I mean I knew carrots and cherry tomatoes were meant to be given more rarely (they're a once or twice a week thing here), but I regularly give fennel, bell pepper, radicchio (red cabbage) and zucchini to my girls and those are all on the list of top 15!!! Plus every so often a sliver of apple or a piece of watermelon or kiwi, and it seems I've been sugar loading my girls without knowing it.

So of course I'm looking into changing what I feed them asap - but wanted to know what, besides red and green leaf lettuce which is easy to find here and I already feed almost daily, can I give her? Most common kinds of leafy greens in Italy are escarole, chard, and Italian kale (and of course romaine, iceberg, butter lettuce, but I know those aren't the greatest for guineas).

Would vitamin C drops (brand Cebion from the pharmacy) via syringe be a better solution than giving bell pepper for her daily vitamin C? I've done this in the past when she's was going through a picky phase and wasn't eating her pepper. She's easy to syringe.

Any advice you can share would be greatly appreciated, I feel horrible but I honestly thought that the varied mix of veggies was good for her. :(

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Supporting my GL Habit

Post   » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:05 am

I would not assume diabetes unless you had it diagnosed. The symptoms you describe sound a lot like hyperthyroidism.


Post   » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:09 am

Okay - thank you so much! I am taking her to the vet today but after checking her teeth which were fine, my first thought was diabetes.

Do you have any links to info about hyperthyroidism in guineas? Is it treatable?

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Post   » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:44 am

Carrots are NOT a sugary food! This is a falsehood that keeps getting repeated. See:

And ditto PooksiedAnimals.

Your guinea pig may also have stones:

What do you mean by a significant drop in weight? Can you be more specific? How frequently are you weighing?
I would also be weighing daily right now.

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Post   » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:23 pm

Bell pepper and zucchini are not sugary either. Butter lettuce is fine. Your diet does not sound poor at all; it actually sounds great.

Ditto the advice you have received. Many things other than diabetes can cause what you're describing. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a simple (and fairly cheap) med called Tapazole (methimazole).


Post   » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:04 pm

Thank you all for your help! It is good to hear that I've been feeding them ok, I had done so much reading and also didn't think it was a particularly sugary diet (rare fruits as treats) but I googled "vegetables with most sugar" and came up with that list - that will teach me about believing everythin google says :-/

I took Dory to the vet last evening and she actually suspects renal issues, given that she is losing weight but still has a good apetite and is not overactive. We sent her urine out for labwork and will know more tomorrow and decide what to do from the lab results. For now til then (tomorrow), Critical Care and encouraging her to drink water. Eventually if the labwork is inconclusive, we will do an eco.

Thank you all for your helpful advice.

To answer Lynx - approximately 150g total lost in a month's time... every summer she usually drops 50-60 grams so I wasn't initially too concerned but then in the last 1-2 weeks she really started dropping. Edited to add: I was weighing once every week (or so) - sometimes I am not exactly precise so it may have been more like once every week and a half. Now I am weighing twice a day ..

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Post   » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:57 pm

Twice a day will ... drive you nuts. ;-) Cavies' weight varies throughout the day, just like humans' does.

Weigh every day or every other day, **at about the same time of day**. Look for trends, not so much day-to-day variations.

You're doing the right things. Best to her and please keep us posted.


Post   » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:54 am

Hi there -

So the results of the lab work are back and inconclusive. Not sure if anyone here knows how to read it, but my vet went through it with me and said that the only thing that was out of the ordinary was a fairly decent amount of sediment in the urine. Her kidneys are just within the limits of normal, so she doesn't think that renal disease is causing the weight loss, and it's not diabetes as there was no glucose found in the urine.

REAZIONE (ph) 8,5
PROTEINE (mg/dl) 1
GLUCOSIO (mg/dl) Assente (not found)
CHETONI (mg/dl) Assenti (not found)
EMOGLOBINA Assente (not found)
BILIRUBINA (mg/dl) Assente (not found)
NITRITI Assenti (not found)
SEDIMENTO Abbondante materiale amorfo (Abundant amorphous material)
Rapporto prot/crea urinarie 0,19

She recommends an ultrasound which we'll do next week.

I'm supplementing with Critical Care a few times a day and her weight has stabilized at around 770/80 grams depending on the time of day I weigh her. She has fluctuated anywhere between 830 grams and 990 grams over the years (she was 950 grams this spring after she had her stroke, and that was her start weight at the beginning of summer) so she's dropped a good 170/180 grams. She usually drops 50-60 grams during the summer, so somewhere in the mid-800s would be fine for me, but 770 is definitely too low!

I'll let you know after the next tests, what we find/don't find. Any tips in the mean time for palliative care and weight-boosting are much appreciated!


Post   » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:11 am

I wanted to ask - since she is eating hay and veggies, how much Critical Care should I aim for in a day? i read 6g of dry powder per 100g of body weight (for a pig not eating at all), but that seems like a TON! I can get her to take about 8-10mls of thickish Critical Care per sitting, 4-5 times a day (I haven't tried more often). Any thoughts on how much I should be giving to boost her weight? Thanks!

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Supporting my GL Habit

Post   » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:30 am

None of those test the thyroid. If she's eating on her own, I'd give her unlimited pellets and see how much of that she eats a day. If you can get her to eat those on her own, it will save you hand feeding her. Critical Care says 50ml of mixed slurry a day per 1kg of pig. But that's for a pig that's really not eating on it's own. For you, I'd feed her what she'll eat.

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Post   » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:43 am

You go by weight to determine if she is eating enough or needs to be hand fed.

This may help you:

And here's an article on hyperthyroidism in a guinea pig:

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Post   » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:39 am

Did your vet check neck for nodule (thyroid)? Is she more active than the others, tending to be alert more often?

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Post   » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:35 am

Does she like Critical Care? If so, try making a little meatball-sized stiff clot of it and putting it on a plate in her cage. If she likes it and will eat it on her own, that's much less hassle for her and you.

You can also do the same with pellet stew -- soften some pellets in a tiny bit of warm water until crumbly, then mix with canned pumpkin, or carrot or squash baby food. We've used this as a supplement many times at our house to help pigs maintain or regain weight.


Post   » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:47 am

Thank you all for the great suggestions and advice.

My vet ruled out hyperthyroidism as she did not find anything when palpating during her physical examination, and Dory is, if anything, more subdued and less active than usual. I wouldn't say she's lethargic, but she is definitely not hyperactive, quite the opposite. She used to be the first to wheek in the morning for veggies, now it's her cagemate that starts the ruckus and she'll pipe up for a few seconds but not nearly as wholeheartedly as before. She still does her typical moving around and does not seem to be in any pain, but she has slowed down in her middle-age.

She isn't a huge fan of pellets - she eats them but does not go crazy for them - so I have been continuing with the CC. She mostly takes it willingly, sometimes I have to do a little convincing but she does take it. I don't force her since she is still eating on her own and I don't want to stress her. Sometimes she devours it, other times I need to coax her, and a few times she outright refuses but I think that probably it's because she just ate so I wait half an hour and try again and she's usually more receptive. I will definitely try making a little CC "meatball" with some veggie puree (we have a centrifuge juicer and the veggie pulp that comes out is one of their favorite treats, so I'll try mixing that in too. The only problem is that her "little" sister (twice her size) is such a food bully and so I'll have to separate them while I offer it, and give Olivia something else.

The other thing I've been doing is once I've given her 8-10mls of CC via syringe (at which point she stops cooperating), then I've given her little lettuce wraps with more CC inside - I've been able to get another 2-3mls of CC in her this way too.

Her weight has stabilised at around 775/780 grams, her lowest having been 765grams last week, and she hasn't lost any more since the visit to the vet. If I can get her back up to 800 grams I'd be thrilled but I know it's a slow and painstaking process, and the underlying culprit needs to be found before we can rest easy.

The vet also said that fresh grass would be a good way to get her weight back up, but unfortunately right now it hasn't rained in months where we live so there is no grass in sight. I was wondering if another type of hay, like the specialty hays that Oxbow sells (Orchard Grass, Meadow, Alfalfa, etc) might be a good way to encourage her to eat a bit more? Thoughts?

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Post   » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:55 am

You can experiment with the hays - but I can say guinea pigs do seem to overwhelmingly love a good, fresh timothy hay! If you can get third cut from KMSHayloft, they will adore it!


Post   » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:21 am

Thanks Lynx! Unfortunately in Italy I am quite limited in what I have access to, I can get Oxbow hays but sometimes they are older and not worth the extra money. They hay I usually purchase is a mix of different kinds, including timothy, and I switch between brands depending on what is greenest and looks the freshest. I can get Oxbow Timothy hay and some of their other specialty hays too, but not always.

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Post   » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:29 am

In such circumstances grow your own grass in containers. Grass from grain grows much faster than regular grass, and is very tasty and healthy. A handful of whatever grain you have access to and a box, such as for flowers on na balcony, or really, any container, will do. In a pinch you can use grain and seeds mix for birds or mice.

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Post   » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:02 pm

Ah, I forgot you are not in the US. Yes, do the best you can and consider growing your own!


Post   » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:11 am

So far we have not found the culprit, but she seems to be holding steady at 770-790 grams (depending on the time of day that we weigh her). I still give her about 20-30mls of Critical Care a day just because she really loves it now, but two days ago I wasn't able to and there was no drop in weight, so...

Not sure what to make of this all, but if she is holding steady for almost two weeks now, perhaps whatever was going on has subsided?

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Post   » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:39 am

That could be possible. Whatever you do, I would continue with the frequent weighing in case she starts loosing weight.

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