We've been keeping guinea pigs for several years, and have a fair sized herd at home. One of our boys, Gizmo, came up with a hay poke to his right eye on Thursday last week. When he was discovered, he was laying sort of on his side. When he was picked up he was screaming. Be irrigated the eye, and took him into the Vet Clinic, and while Exotics Vets weren't on hand because it was evening, we saw one of the other veterinarians. This is at University Vet Hospital. A teaching hospital that we have had wonderful experiences with in the past.
At that time, the vet wanted to do a CT scan because Gizmo had lost a fair amount of weight since the last time he was in clinic. (200 grams) It seemed the hay poke, which was quite severe, was not her primary concern. She wanted to do a CT scan, to see if he had cancer that may have been causing the weight loss. We declined the CT scan. After pushing her to give us more answers regarding the hay poke, she felt that the eye needed to be removed. Gizmo was otherwise in good health with the exception of the weight loss. We had attributed the weight loss to the introduction of another pig that was more dominant than Gizmo, who is VERY submissive. He had shown no other health issues and, I am sad to say, I had not been weighing them...just simply doing other typical piggy maintenance. Lesson learned there.
After declining eye removal surgery, (quoted $1000. Which we did not have at the time) as well as a CT scan ($1500),we asked what other options we had. She said euthanasia. We again pushed to see if we could try Home Care and rehabilitate to see if the eye would heal on its own. She reluctantly prescribed a 7-Day course of TMP-SDZ, meloxicam once daily for pain, and Gentamicin Eye Drops two times a day. At this point the guinea pig did not seem to be in pain, other than the initial irrigating of his eye.
We began the course of treatment at home Thursday night, and were sent home with critical care. He has been eating hay on his own, with supplementing Critical Care 2 tablespoons per day, as well as eating veggies and a small amount of fruit. Starting over the course of the last few days, he has become increasingly off-balance. It is, at this point, impossible for him to stand upright. He is drifting towards the right, the side of his eye injury, and seems to want to reach out with his left front and hind paws. My question is this...
His eye has a sort of scab or shield on the outer covering, not unlike other healing corneal ulcers that I have seen. No discharge, does not appear to be infected. He does not "seem" to be in pain, though I realize they are very good at hiding that. He is voraciously taking Critical Care, green veggies, and a small amount of baby carrot and apple. He's not able to eat or drink on his own, because of the way he is unable to stay upright or walk.
How long do we let this go? Could his being off-balance be related to the eye injury? Would inflammation behind the eye be causing neurological issues, or are we dealing with possible recovery from a stroke which could have caused the original hay poke injury? We have another Exotics vet that is an option, and we have an appointment there Friday. Gut feeling is that we continue hand-feeding him and getting him through to see what that vet says. Obviously, if he doesn't regain his balance he will not be able to survive on his own. I just don't want to put down a piggy that is recoverable. We love him so! Otherwise he is bright-eyed, pooping and peeing normally, and squeaks and purrs. In holding him tonight... the right side of his neck seems to have tightened tendons...torticollis?
Thanks all. This is a tough one for me.
Weigh daily right now. The weight loss you describe is very high and does indicate something is going on.
TMP-SDZ may not be the best choice if there is an infection associated with the eye. The neurological issues may be caused by another condition.
I think the vet was jumping to conclusions with the diagnosis of cancer.