Due to ease of scheduling, we did their most recent checkup with another vet at the same practice (The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in NYC, though we have never seen Dr. Pilny and he doesn't appear to be listed on the website anymore?) and she thinks it would be smart to spay her while she is healthy. She says in her experience the spayed guinea pigs don't necessarily live longer, but they have a better quality of life. Though she prefers to do it when they are younger, she didn't seem worried about performing the surgery on a healthy 5 year old.
We're torn about what to do. This guinea pig gets stressed out in new situations more easily than the one who is already spayed, but this medical center is high quality and would focus on the appropriate after care.
Avoidance of routine spays has the most to do with the quality of care available for the procedure and rate of success. But there are still risks to any surgery. Find out what techniques this vet uses for a spay.
p.s. your guinea pig could still live another 5 years!
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- Catie Cavy
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Yesterday I noticed she felt a little light when I picked her up, so I weighed her. She has lost 2 oz since her weekly weigh in on Sunday. I see her eating and drinking constantly, so I was surprised. I don't think it's another flare-up of the bladder sludge because I haven't seen any signs of blood (though it's possible I missed it in the bedding). I have noticed two other changes in her behavior though: 1) she is wheeking more loudly for food than is normal for her; it almost sounds like she's screaming at me when I enter the room and she only quiets down once I give her some veggies 2) in the last day or two, she has started humping her cage mate as if she's in heat.
I have an appointment to take her to the vet tomorrow, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about what to ask for. Dr. Google tells me it could be ovarian cysts (though she does not have any hair loss on her sides) or possibly hyperthyroidism, any other thoughts? I will see what the vet says after manual exam, but I wonder if there are any obvious tests for her issues beyond maybe an X-ray or an ultrasound for cysts.
On a more anecdotal note, she is not displaying any more heat behavior (no more humping or rumblestrutting). Now I'm wondering if she was just off because she was in heat last week. She's only ever been in heat a few times that we have noticed. Can going into heat make a guinea pig lose an ounce or two temporarily?
She seemed to stabilize for a bit since my last post, but she has continued to slowly lose weight. She's down another few ounces since June and is starting to feel a little boney (was 820g, now 770g on the vet's scale). Then a few days ago, I noticed blood in her cage and saw some crusted blood around her vaginal area. She's still eating and drinking a lot, and making no sounds or motions of discomfort while peeing.
I took her into the vet today. She peed on the exam table, and it was clear with no sign of sludge. When the vet palpated her abdomen, she felt what seemed like her ovary. She said the ovaries are usually too small to feel unless there is a cyst (though she did acknowledge this guinea pig is getting skinny). We're setting up an ultrasound this week to see whether there are cysts and/or tumors. We're nervous putting her through a spay surgery at ~6 years old, but don't want her to continue losing weight and be uncomfortable.
This vet is very experienced, and I do trust her to do the surgery as safely as possible. She said that with older pigs, they do an IV catheter to keep them hydrated during surgery and keep them at the hospital overnight for additional pain management. They are set up to syringe feed if necessary. She said we can bring her cagemate to keep her comfortable and help coax her to eat. I asked about a less invasive hormone treatment, and in this vet's experience she said the hormone implant doesn't help as much as the spay. And I'd rather do the spay now when she is still eating, strong, and otherwise healthy. At this point, I'm leaning towards spaying even if the ultrasound doesn't show an obvious cyst since I know they can be missed. The only thing that gives me pause is if the ultrasound reveals a tumor; then I might prefer just to do palliative care.
What do you think? Would you spay if it was your pig?
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The hormone implant seems to be helping her, so at the moment, I'm comfortable with that decision.
Sounds like this is something you will have to decide on, evaluating her overall health, the skill of the vet, etc.
Do you have time to help her with recovery from surgery?
The vet didn't mention pyometra, but I suppose it's possible? I'll ask after the ultrasound results come back.
Basically, we only want to do the spay if it will solve her issues and give her better quality of life. If it's something like cancer that has spread already, it's not worth putting her through it. I do trust the skill of the vet, so it will depend on her overall health and the information we get from the ultrasound.
If we do spay, we will make sure to help her with recovery. My wife stays at home during the day so someone would be able to keep an eye on her even if it's early in the week. We've never force fed a guinea pig before, and usually have to give meds by syringing them onto lettuce and feeding that to them by hand. But if need be, we'll make it work - somehow things that seem impossible become doable when it's important.
But the bottom line is we are definitely going to spay her. The surgery is scheduled for October 30th (the next available date). She'll stay overnight for additional pain management and to make sure she eats. They are prepared to force feed if necessary. There will be a night nurse there to monitor her on the 30th. Luckily I don't have Halloween plans, so I'll be able to be with her all night after she comes home without having to cancel anything.
Ah, the irony of this thread title now...Hindsight is 20/20.
Her surgery was this morning and it went well. The vet said there was an ovarian cyst and uterine mass as expected. She didn't see any visible evidence of anything spreading, and the mass looked like a benign leiomyoma. She's sending the cyst and mass out for biopsy to be sure. But she is hopeful that the surgery was curative and that the pig will feel much better.
She's resting now and will stay overnight so they can make sure her pain is controlled and she starts eating. We'll pick her up tomorrow evening!