Lucienne -- given a penicillin shot

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:40 am

Lucienne, who will turn three years old on December 6, is a beautiful cream-colored short-haired female. She is one of the pigs in my avatar.

A few months ago, Lucienne developed chronic aggressive sexual behavior. Ultrasound showed ovarian cysts. I decided to have her spayed, and chose to have it done at University of California at Davis.

This past Monday, we drove the six hours to Davis and checked into a motel. On Tuesday, a team of doctors, led by Dr. Michelle Hawkins, spayed her. The surgery went well, and Lucienne spent Tuesday night at the clinic.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I went to pick her up. When I got there, the student assistant reviewed Lucienne's case with me. The assistant told me that during the surgery, they tried to intubate her but were unsuccessful. In the process, they were afraid she might have aspirated some food into her lungs, so today (Wednesday) they gave her a shot of penicillin! In addition, they gave her a dose of oral Baytril, in order to kill certain bacteria which penicillin may not get. I was given instructions to continue with the Baytril.

At this point, I kind of freaked out, remembering all the warnings here about penicillin. I was assured by the student assistant, and later by the resident physician, that penicillin was OK as long as it was via injection. They agreed oral penicillin was very bad for guinea pigs.

Wednesday evening, at the hotel, I was able to hand-feed some Critical Care. Lucienne ate a tiny amount of lettuce on her own and pooped some tiny hard poops. Not too bad, I thought. I gave her some more Baytril before retiring.

On Thursday (yesterday) things started to get worse. Lucienne's appetite disappeared; she fought me and the Critical Care. She wouldn't eat any greens at all. And now her poops were getting soft.
By early afternoon, her poops were like mud pies. Alarmed, I didn't give Lucienne any Baytril on Thursday. This seemed to help, as by the end of the day her poops were beginning to firm up a bit, and I was able to feed her Critical Care with added Vitamin C and probiotics.

I called the resident doctor at UC Davis and pleaded with her to give me Bactrim instead. She agreed, so last night I gave her a dose of Bactrim.

Unfortunately, the change in antibiotics didn't help; this morning her poops were back to being mud pies, although her appetite is improved. Once again, alarmed, I stopped the Bactrim.

The UC Davis doctors really wanted me to continue with the antibiotics. They told me that during the first 48 hours after a possible aspiration of food into the lungs, it was critical to get anitibiotics into the animal. Well, I am not following their instructions because I am so alarmed at her gooey poops. Her lungs and breathing are not obviously impaired; her breathing is quiet. She seems fine except for the gooey poops and a somewhat diminished appetite. At least tonight, now that I'm back home, I was able to give her some poop soup from one of other piggies.

I'm thinking it's better to get her GI tract in better shape before resuming antibiotics, despite the risk of something maybe being wrong with her lungs. Does this sound right to you? What would you have done?

And what about this penicillin injection? Dr. Hawkins and the doctors at UC Davis are reputed to be the best around and very knowledgeable about guinea pigs. How could your stance and their stance be so different?

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:59 am

One of my best cavy knowledgeable vets recommended a penicillin injection for one of my pigs. She clamed that injecting penicillin is sound practice. I was not comfortable with it though and declined. This is still a controversial issue.

I don't have any advise but I'm sending well wishes for your girl.

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:10 am

Some meds on the toxic list are supposedly all right to use if injected and not given orally.

If there are not side issues, that is up in the air it seems.

Are you giving probiotics? That may help?


Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:57 am

Penicillin is supposedly most harmful when given orally since it goes straight through the digestive system and can wipe out helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. If the dosage is safe, I think risks are reduced when injected. However, I think any pig on antibiotics that strong is still supposed to receive some sort of probiotic supplement, so maybe that would help?

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:30 am

Splodgy poops are a sign. I am no expert on this, but my feeling is it sounds like you are doing the right thing with poop soup.

I can remember reading that it is the fact that penicillin works so well it wipes out everything, so then the bad stuff can regrow faster than the good stuff needed for digestion and that kills the pig.

So ready made piggie poop soup is the very best thing.
Maybe someone knows about food in the lungs

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 10:02 am

Read gl/diarrhea.html

If it were me, I would be pounding on their door, demanding they take care of the antibiotic induced diarrhea, which I believe is what happened.

If you get a fecal culture, it is possible you will see an overgrowth of bad bacteria backing up this claim. I would try to have your vet follow the advice on the diarrhea page.

Ditto on some probiotics. Reexamine what you are feeding. See if you can get some Bio-Sponge Paste.

Yes, it's more harmful orally but can still cause serious problems.

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:34 pm

Where can one buy Bio-Sponge? Unfortunately, my local vet's office is closed today. And the vets at UC Davis are six hours away!

Her poops are a tiny bit better this morning, less watery, more formed.

Thanks, you good people, for the advice.

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:49 pm

It could be she was given a small enough amount that this will not be an emergency.

I think there is a link on the diarrhea page to the company that sells the product. Perhaps you can contact them Monday.

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:52 pm

I did a search here and discovered that lots of owners have had problems with Baytril causing inappetence and diarrhea. I was so worried about the penicillin injection, but maybe Baytril was the bigger problem. Doctor at UC Davis insisted that penicillin via injection will not affect the gut like oral antibiotics.

Here's a summary of what's happened so far:
Tuesday: spay surgery, one dose of Baytril
Wednesday: penicillin shot, two doses of Baytril
Thursday: diarrhea, severe inappetence, one dose of Bactrim
Friday: diarrhea (poop like pudding) continues, poop soups given
Saturday: poops still unformed but are less wet, poop soups given, appetite is much improved

I'm still holding off restarting the Bactrim until her poops are more normal, even though I am taking a risk that if she did indeed aspirate some food, there could be some inflammation in the lungs. But her breathing is quiet, perfectly normal. Does anyone know if inflammation in the lungs can be symptom-less?

Today I talked to a woman (probably a student!) in off-hours emergency at UC Davis. She didn't seem too concerned about the mudpie poops, seeing it as a necessary trade-off to get the benefits of the antibiotic. Sorry, I just don't see it this way! Even my own doctor tells me that the health of the gut is THE most important factor in the health of the body.

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Post   » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:06 pm

In the process, they were afraid she might have aspirated some food into her lungs
Did they say why she might have aspirated some food? Did they not first empty out her mouth by using a syringe full of water? Was she fed up until the surgery? However, it may be a moot point at the moment since the soft droppings are the main focus now.

Maybe the Baytril dose was too high? I have some Bio Sponge here but it looks like your quite far from where I live. I only needed to use if a couple of times. I've also used Flagyl/Metronidazole for diarrhea but not sure if it would help in your case.


Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:17 am

My piggy Boris has just been on Baytril (0.25 ml twice a day) for a chest infection which we think might have been caused by food aspiration, and it gave him diarrhea. He kept eating and drinking plenty while he was on the Baytril, and maintained weight so I wasn't too worried.

The problem really came when he came off the baytril, when within the space of a day he went from diarrhea to constipation, then started losing his appetite. He hadn't had probiotic with the baytril, so maybe that would have helped prevent it?

Anyway, he went back to the vets and they put him on probiotic and Zantac syrup to kick-start his guts. 4 days on and he is eating for himself and I will ease him off the Zantac slowly over the next few days.

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Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:13 am

The mud pie poops are a 'trade off ', but one that can end in a fatality and need attention.

I have looked through 'Diseases of Domestic Guinea pigs' by V. Richardson. 2nd ed ,2000.

There isn't anything about treatment for aspiration of food into the lungs , but quite alot about antibiotic induced diarrhoea.
(It would be better if I could copyfrom that directly but I'm not sure how much I can copy without infringing copyright as its about 250 words so I paraphrase .)

Richardson says that antibiotics alter the gut flora in such a way that it allows the intestines to become colonised with Clostridium spp. (which are normally in there ) and other bacteria leading to fatal enterotoxemia and diarhoea .

"Clinical signs: An acute onset of profuse diarrhoea, either green-brown or watery. accompanied by other signs of depression,bloat abdominal pain and a fetid odour."

What I said earlier about penicillin is not quite right. It only kills some of the bacteria which is why they will have also given you Baytril which kills over a broader spectrum. Injection is the 'safest method' but no antibiotics are 'safe'.

Although she says it leads to death in 3-7 days the risk can be reduced using a probiotic when giving antibiotics and also suppliment on vitamins. She also mentions feeding piggie poop to recolonise the gut with the right sort of bacteria.

So it sounds like you are right on track and I would continue with poop soup and probiotics.

I would ask the vets tomorrow how long it takes for signs of aspiration inflammation to show up and what the symptoms would be if she has it as there may be no need to treat with antibiotics.

Can I say when my GP was spayed, she had digestive troubles for several weeks after, so it can take ages to get things back to normal. You can read about our struggles with digestion on the post 'smelly poops,uneven size'.

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Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:49 am

The baytril is less likely to have caused the diarrhea (though it may have for a few pigs). The penicillin is much more likely to have been the cause. A probiotic will not prevent antibiotic induced diarrhea if a dangerous med is given. The probiotics may help in the recovery but please, read closely the diarrhea page I posted as it has much more detailed and successful info.

The problem really came when he came off the baytril, when within the space of a day he went from diarrhea to constipation, then started losing his appetite. He hadn't had probiotic with the baytril, so maybe that would have helped prevent it? This is much more likely to have been related to the surgery or penicillin than the baytril. A motility drug may help too. Watch for bloat. Continue to weigh daily. Contact your vet immediately if your guinea pig starts going downhill.

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Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:10 pm

Guineapigfun, the doctor told me that when they tried to intubate her for the surgery, they discovered she still had food in the folds of her mouth, even though they had already rinsed her out. If there is more to the story, which I suspect there is, they haven't told me.

Scoot, thanks so much for taking time to look up information in a medical book. What an angel you are!

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Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:19 pm

Sunday morning update:
Last night she seemed a bit better. Eagerly ate a couple of twigs of parsley and let me feed her a lot of Critical Care. The poops were still misshapen, but definitely firming up.

This morning I am worried. Like you, roguebantha, now she might be constipated. The poops in her cage are tiny, string-like pieces, but they are definitely firmer. Even though she isn't eating much, it seems like there should be more poop. I gave her quite a bit of poop soup yesterday; I hope I didn't give her TOO much.

She is also losing her appetite this morning. Ate a few twigs of greens, and then turned her nose up at the rest. She appears to be eating very little hay.

Maybe she is dehydrated? I will syringe her lot of water. I don't know how to do the method where you inject water under the skin.

Darn, I hate weekends when vets are closed.

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Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:54 pm

I would just syringe her water directly in her mouth, maybe 1cc an hour.

I believe if hydration is done under the skin it's either a lactated ringer's solution, which has added electrolytes or regular saline.


Post   » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:36 pm

Syringing water is fine, but you need to keep the food going in too. Guinea pigs need their intestines filled with food matter at all times. 1 cc per hour isn't going to be enough water in any case. A one kilo pig is going to require 100 ml of water a day. You can also syringe feed pediatric electrolyte solution (Pedialyte) if the guinea pig is run down.

But here's the thing -- if there's an intestinal blockage, you can't just keep putting food down the front end. You have to make sure there is output on the other end. As long as there is output, you can usually safely start handfeeding. This really ends up being gentle force feeding, as guinea pigs generally don't like things stuck in their mouths.

However, you should be aware that if the guinea pig has bloat, you need to get the pig to an emergency vet and should not handfeed. The causes of bloat are not really well understood, but one thing that can cause it is a gap in the flow of digestive matter in the gut. Once there is a space, then the food in the gut starts fermenting at a different rate and produces gas, which blocks the tract and causes more gas production.

This link might be helpful as well:


Post   » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:40 am

<The problem really came when he came off the baytril, when within the space of a day he went from diarrhea to constipation, then started losing his appetite. He hadn't had probiotic with the baytril, so maybe that would have helped prevent it? This is much more likely to have been related to the surgery or penicillin than the baytril. A motility drug may help too. Watch for bloat. Continue to weigh daily. Contact your vet immediately if your guinea pig starts going downhill.>

Lynx, I think you might be confused, my Boris has not had surgery or Penicillin, just Baytril for chest infection. I posted my comments because I thought Smoskaly's problem sounded similar to ours.

Smoskaly, if you think constipation has set in I think she needs a motility drug - Boris was put on Zantac and it got him eating and pooping again within a day.

(For info, Boris is now eating normally after 5 days on the Zantac and I am going to halve his dose to once a day.)

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Post   » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:11 am

Thanks for the clarification.

Smoskaly, how is your guinea pig today? I hope improved. Otherwise, copy the diarrhea page and call them to find out what THEY are going to do.

p.s. are you upping vitamin C?


Post   » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:57 pm

I agree with Scoot about finding out how long it would take for symptoms to appear if she did in fact aspirate food into her lungs. It may be wise to continue the antibiotics or completely unnecessary and you do not have the information you need to make a decision.

Have you been weighing her? If she is losing weight, you need to overcome her resistance to the Critical Care and get food into her system. There is advice about handfeeding/force feeding in the care guide and in many of the threads. I have experience and know it is not easy but necessary -- life-saving, in fact.

If you decide that your pig does need antibiotics, you need to evaluate all the information you have with your vet and determine which one is best for your pig. I hope she improves soon.

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