I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies

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Post   » Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:09 pm

Clarification: Excess or lack of minerals cause deficiences. It's the same with Vitamin C supplementation--very high (or low) doses cause scurvy.

From my reading, the only way very high doses cause scurvy is if one suddenly stops supplimenting or radically decreases the amount supplied so that the cavy, who has aclimated to the higher doses, perhaps no longer processes vitamin C the same (or at least can no longer extract the C necessary from the reduced amount).

Josephine, I'm sure you remember people whose pigs experience some paralysis and have been recommended calcium to turn it around. Do you feel calcium suppliments are useful in some situations?


Post   » Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:32 pm

I would like an answer to that question as well. Apparently, one of the pregnant sows I'm receiving is a Satin, a breed which is supposed to have problems with Ca deficiency. Pigpal has recommended that I supplement her.

In that case, is it appropriate and what form and dosage of Ca would you recommend?

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Wed Dec 11, 2002 2:47 pm

Yes, certainly, Lynx.

Ca gluconate is recommended for pregnant sows with pregnancy problems. I'm sure Carpenter's has a dosage, but there is not one for supplementation on a regular basis. As I mentioned, I am not currently one who recommends doing so unless there is an apparent medical reason.

Interestingly enough, American Satins were my breed when I was a breeder/showman. I had many Satins, a few Satin-carriers, and some non-satin Americans. I didn't observe or have the problems "breeders" warned about. My animals never lived in a barn or outdoors. They were always in the house, in high traffic areas. They were a part of my family and were monitored at the very least hourly. The sows I had with toxic problems were actually normal coated animals (non satin carriers). The majority of my show pigs were Am. Satins. It certainly flies in the face of breeder myths, but then I didn't ever breed more than a couple of sows a year, normally. I certainly didn't have the numbers many do have, keeping only about 20 animals at a time. It is not enough of a sampling to make definite conclusions. Thousands are really necessary. All I can say is I did (even then) spend quite a bit of $$$ at the vet's with dx and tx. I still haven't observed Ca problems in my cavies (20 years and about 150?) cavies into the fancy. All of my medical cases in the past 7-10 years have been worked up thouroughly: Bloodwork, xrays and/or ultrasound, etc. Some go to three and four specialists other than my regular vet to dx problems. So far the breeder trends have not been seen.


Post   » Wed Dec 11, 2002 2:55 pm

Thank you, Josephine, for clarifying that. The Satin apparently has some hair loss on her sides so she is going to the vet anyway.

I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Wed Dec 11, 2002 7:53 pm

. >>I didn't observe or have the problems "breeders" warned about. <<

What are those, exactly? The only thing known here about satins is they tended to be small, especially if you never outcrossed with American for the pedigree.

I know someone who is doing some research regarding satins, and a possible connection to a calcium deficiency, but at least here in the Pacific Northwest, there was never a connection between that and Ca problems.

I also know that there are different lines across the country. What some people notice in the east, for example, might not be in the bloodlines out here in the west.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:28 am

I did some digging tonight, although I didn't search very long--it was productive.

Articles on Toxemia (Various causes):

"Guinea Pig Reproduction and Reproductive Disorders," Curt Nakumura, DVM, 2002 UCD Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine Symposium. Lists stress, obesity, fasting, dietary changes, large fetal load, heat stress, and lack of exercise as causes.

"Pregnancy Toxemia (Ketosis) in Cavies," Lisa Cohen, 2000 ACBA Guide Book. Lists fasting, litter size, diet, obesity, and stress as causes.

"Hypocalcemia in Cavies," Val Blaes, DVM, Lisa Cohen, and Margo Purdy, JACBA 1999. Lists the above as causes.

"Cardiovascular Volume and Body Heat Retention as Factors in Pregnancy Toxemia in Cavia porcellus, (The cavy as a product of evolution)" David Hardesty, JACBA early '90s. Lists lack of exercise and obesity as causes per evolutionary metabolic factors.

"Toxins," Sally Winkler, JACBA 1994. Lists necropsied sow suspected of toxemia actually dx with squamous cell carcinoma. Backs up necropsy evidence needed before assuming death is caused by some factor. Also states toxins (esp. molds, fungi) in feed may cause pregancy problems which aren't evident without necropsies.

POLA, Marti Hanes, DVM, 1999. Lists 2 types of toxemia: one caused by fasting, nutritional, stress, obesity and another caused by (pre-eclampsia) fetal load causing the gravid uterus to compress certain blood vessels, compromising circulation. Reproduced experimentally.

"Diseases of Guinea Pigs," POLA, Bunte, DVM, 1994. Concurs with Marti Hanes toxemia info.

"Exp. Toxemia in the Pregnant Guinea Pig," Golden.
"True Pregnancy Toxemia," Seidl, Lab Animal Science 1979.
"Toxemia of Pregnancy in the Guinea Pig," Foley, Journal of Exp. Med. 1942.
"Obesity Predisposition to Pregnancy Toxemia (Ketosis) of Guinea Pigs," Ganway and Allen, 1971. All concur with above causes.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:43 am

As far as Satin predispositions, there are a few:

"Vitamin A and D Toxicity in Cavies," Sally Winkler, 1994. Lists Satins at risk for Vitamin A toxicity per necropsies. Lists diet as main cause.

"Helpful Home Remedies...," Val Blaes, DVM, ACBA Guidebook 2000. Lists Satins at high risk for hypocalcemia.

"Reflecting on American Satins," Margo Purdy, ACBA Guidebooks 1995 and 2000 editions. Lists Satins as having high litter mortality prior to weaning and hypoglycemia/hypocalcemia (likely as a result of pregnancy).

Some of the aforementioned articles in the post above mention Satins linked to hypocalcemia and pregnancy toxemia.

I didn't have hypocalcemia, toxemia, or poor thriving/mortality in my sows and litters of Satins. Many breeders say they are not very hardy. I have had an equal proportion of Satin and Non-Satin animals live past 7 years of age. I do not see where they get this information, other than the experience of other breeders. My personal lines were taken from the CA main breeders at the time. Convenient, since I live in CA. I have no idea where all of the other breeders listed above are located, but I'm sure some more digging would find the answer. A vet not involved or knowledgeable about cavies told me once that "where there is one recessive trait/defect, there is sure to be at least one more," I don't know how true this is, but there is some genetic sense to it.

Regarding mineral and vitamin metabolism:

"Diseases of Guinea Pigs," Trenton Schoeb, 1990. Cites soft tissue mineralization (metastic calcification) as a problem in cavies since they use cations rather than NH3 (ammonia) to neutralize excess acid excreted by kidneys. This may be why gps are "particularly sensitive to levels of imbalances among Ca, P, Mg, and K." This means the imbalances do contribute to MC which causes organ damage and failure. Imbalances are caused by improper diets or exogenous vitamin or mineral supplementation.

The Sally Winkler "Toxins," and "Vitamin A and D Toxicity in Cavies," articles in the '94 JACBA are interesting reads in this area as well. They are some of the few that deal directly with this topic.

All of the above are interesting reads if you want to find out more. I also recommend "The Biology of the Guinea Pig," but it is difficult to find since it went out of print.

I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 1:59 am

>>"Helpful Home Remedies...," Val Blaes, DVM, ACBA Guidebook 2000. Lists Satins at high risk for hypocalcemia.

"Reflecting on American Satins," Margo Purdy, ACBA Guidebooks 1995 and 2000 editions. Lists Satins as having high litter mortality prior to weaning and hypoglycemia/hypocalcemia (likely as a result of pregnancy).<<

Hypocalcemia: Isn't this "low calcium"? So, I am at a loss as to whether you are arguing FOR or AGAINST supplementation.

For example, I have hypothyroidism. My body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. Therefore, I supplement every day with Synthroid or I get very ill.

If these articles say that satins are predisposed to this, you are still arguing against supplementing pregnant satin sows with calcium?

As for your previous post, I will do some reading and see what I get out of it. Your synopsis, if I understood it correctly, was that most experts believe that toxemia is caused by poor diet, obesity, stress, lack of exercise, and large litters or fetal load as probable causes.

I can agree with MOST of these, which is why I strongly advocate keeping the sow moving. In my own experience, once the pig stops moving it is a huge battle.

I have an issue with the poor diet theory, for two reasons. One, from alot of friends of mine who run rescues, most of the ill-treated, mite infested, mangy, skinny pigs seem to have little trouble delivering. Out of the pigs we took from CA, NONE of them had trouble with toxemia or dystocia. They were terribly skinny, mite infested, malnourished pigs during more than half of their pregnancies, as one example.

Two, some of the best treated, well fed, disease free pigs die from toxemia. These are the ones that I had, and other friends of mine, that were in perfect condition upon being bred, were bug and disease free, were fed top quality food, got plenty of fresh veggies and hay, and still suffered and died from dystocia, toxemia, and toxic shock.

As far as fetal load goes, I have had litters of 6 with no problems, and litters of 3 not make it. Perhaps it depends on the Mom, but as I'm sure you know, a Mom can have a litter of 4 just fine and die on the second litter of 2-3.

I'll try and find most of the titles you've written down (I'm not sure if these are articles, books, etc).

I will say, though, that nothing I've read so far has me convinced that 20 calories a day from Karo or 50 mg daily of C and Ca to a pregnant sow contributed to their death.

But I'll look, I really will.

Josephine, I want you to know that I am honestly looking for information here. I am not doubting you, I just need to find these things out for myself. I had absolutely opposite experiences as you. So I am not as easily convinced.

I hope I am not coming across as argumentative or bitchy. I'm really not trying to be at all.

Also, I really appreciate you taking the time to look all this up. I know it is time consuming and you have other threads and other things to you. Again, thank you.

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Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 7:29 am

I think these kind of discussions are useful. I do think dietary causes would be hard to pin down without meticulous research.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 9:54 am

You know, I was evolving my search a bit as the discussion continued. I just picked things that pertained to the last posting about breeders not seeing problems in Satins (whether medically based or not) and the toxemia issue.

As you will see, it is not JUST diet that contributes to toxemia. It is usually a combination of factors, and there are many. The research still needs to be done to prove many of these things save the easily reproducable circulatory toxemia (uterine pressure thingy). If the sows that die are not necropsied (as Sally Winkler points out), how do we know for sure it is toxemia or another condition? Often breeders just state the pregnant sows have died from pregnancy complications when they could have cancers or other conditions. The external signs and hx won't tell it all. That's why I recommend dx. We may not be able to do anything at all to prevent it except make sure they are as healthy as possible. They still may get toxic or have pregnancy problems. A lot has to do with their unique physiology. The Hardesty article is interesting and is great for laypeople as far as explaining the physiological factors. Cavies retain heat due to their unique origin (often attributed to the Andes mountains). Cavies, by nature, can have up to 50% of their body weight be feti and fetal "housing" and nourishment. That is what CAN cause the uterus to put pressure on some of the blood vessels in the region, causing hypotension and circulation problems. Sure, it doesn't always happen, but it can. I, too, have had huge litters and no problems. My toxic sows usually had moderate litter sizes. It is just one factor. I guess the bottom line is without dx and necropsies, we will not beat this beast.

As far as the Satin thing, those are only breeder articles that point to problems. None, save Sally Winkler, did regular necropsies at the time of the articles. Who knows? I provided them as breeder references for the beliefs that Satins are prone to problems that I have yet to see. Of course, I probably never bred that many animals in comparison, but I do think a comparison of vet care needs to be included in the articles for any amount of comparison. Statistically, the more animals bred, the more assumptions made which are true just due to the sheer numbers of animals (general population), not necessarily to any breed/variety characteristic. As you see, I did provide some good references (The Schoeb article is by some lab guru) which are in many medical texts about problems in cavies upsetting mineral and fat-soluable vitamin balances. Those balances are delicate and metastic calcification is in many cavy veterinary books. More studies need to be done, of course on the exact imbalances, but none of the references I found recommended supplementation of minerals or fat-soluable vitamins except in a commercial maitenance diet.

I do hope the articles prove useful. If you need more info to dig them up, I can provide it. Many are hard-copy and only in books or journals. Likewise, if you come up with any articles on the subject, I would love to see the references. This is what this message board is for. No one knows everything there is to know and a lot is still to be discovered!

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Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:54 am

none of the references I found recommended supplementation of minerals or fat-soluable vitamins except in a commercial maitenance diet -- I just want to point as you doubtlessly know already, that all the pellets have vitamin and mineral suppliments in them. Oxbow's Cavy Cuisine, for example, includes Vitamin A Acetate, D3 supplement, E supplement, C (of course) Vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, calcium panothenate, B12, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, selenite and lysine.

Oh, gonna move this thread to the Medical forum. I think it belongs there more than here.


Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 11:33 am

Josephine, I believe that you have made your case for not supplementing.

Whatever possible deficiencies might arise I will guard against by proper diet, including high Ca vegetables, fresh alfalfa and Timothy. I assume that it is still appropriate to change the sows' pellets to cavy performance instead of the cuisine.

The question of obesity in contributing to Toxemia interests me, especially since it seems that I will be increasing calories in the diet. 3 sows will be in a 3 x 4 and will have floor time, but what else can be done to "keep them moving"?

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Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:36 pm

Yes, alfalfa based pellets are preferred for pregnant pigs.

I always wondered about the good diet/putting on too much weight thing.

Hardesty puts water at one end, food at the other, and a board they have to jump over in the middle. And he sometimes herds them back and forth in the cages.


Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:54 pm

Easily done. Someone else mentioned putting the pellets, hay, and water far apart. I think I will also build a loft w/ramps and put in some tunnels and fiddlesticks to climb over. Once they are out of quarantine, I can give them more cage space.

Many thanks for the advice. This is an interesting thread.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 5:55 pm

Exogenous supplementation, Lynx?

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Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 8:44 pm

Hey, those big words scare me! Even looking it up I can't quite figure out what you mean.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 9:51 pm

Well, what am I supposed to do nit-picking-dictator-you? LOL
That was the easiest way for me to clarify that adding artificial supplementation of minerals and vitamins (other than in a "balanced" cavy feed or in fresh feeds) was what the literature was talking about.

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Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:00 pm

Ah, and now you have your proof I am somewhat dense. I didn't think of our pellets as commercial feed. I see what you are saying.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:06 pm

Ah... So that was it, huh? Glad we figured it out. I know I tend to make my sentences long.

I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Fri Dec 13, 2002 1:05 am

The board in the middle worries me, to be honest. I have had such huge sows that there would be no way one would make it over a board.

Even with 3-4 pups, their bellies are rubbing on the ground. Not sure at that point I believe in making them leap over a board.

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