My male guinea pig, Chewy is 7.5 years old and was just diagnosed with a large bladder stone. I received the diagnosis perhaps an hour ago and I've been trying to take in as much information as I can in the mean time. All the threads already in place have been such a help!
The vet has a lot of experience in these surgeries and is pretty confident in this being successful. My major concern, however, is his age. If he were years younger, I'd have no reservations at all moving forward with this. But at 7.5...is he at any more risk than a younger pig? He's also been on Critical Care for the last week to keep weight on as we've worked towards a diagnosis. He hasn't gained much of anything, according to my scale at home.
Has anyone else had a pig at this age go through this surgery?
I think his overall health and the skill of the veterinarian are the biggest variables (more than age). If he's been stone free all this time, that's a good thing.
I don't have any experience with a pig that age, but a cystotomy is a relatively easy and quick surgery unless the stone is implanted in the bladder wall.
Overall, the vet says he is pretty healthy. Some slight liver enzyme elevations that are being treated. He still eats and plays like a champ! His weight is pretty low, but I'm wondering if that might be a result of dealing with the stone?
I'm off to pick him up now from the vet - I'll see if they have any additional advice/thoughts. As of now, we have a surgery appointment being held for us on Friday.
"His weight is pretty low, but I'm wondering if that might be a result of dealing with the stone?"
My stone pigs have always lost weight, but regained it after surgery. Stones are painful, so that may be affecting his appetite. I would hand feed with critical care to keep him strong for the upcoming surgery and recovery.
Thanks, PinkRufus - that's very reassuring!!
I've been hand-feeding him with Critical Care every 12 hours on advice of the vet. He's always looking for more after the recommended amount though...I'll talk to them about upping the amount and see what they say.
See an old thread on a pig named Louie if you haven't already. He had several successful surgeries like this at an advanced age.
The biggest risk for older pigs with this type of surgery that typically doesn't affect younger pigs is the older ones can potentially be prone to complications from waking up from the anesthesia after surgery. The presence of the stone suggests the kidneys are less than 100% to begin with, and an older pig is susceptible to renal failure. From what I understand, the kidneys shut down a bit when the pig is put under, which is normal, but then they don't restart properly when the pig wakes up after surgery, and fluid buildup begins all throughout the body shortly thereafter. This is probably not all that common, but it's a possibility you should be aware of. The weaker the kidneys are going in, the higher the risk. If it happens, the pig will go downhill rather fast.
He's always looking for more after the recommended amount though...
Feed him all that he can eat.
My husband and I have had several guinea pigs with stones over the years (and currently have one who just had surgery to remove his 2nd stone), and although the surgeries have been relatively uneventful so far, I'm not too sure I'd want to put a 7 1/2 year old guinea pig through it. I think our oldest to have bladder surgery might have been 4 at the time.
Does Chewy seem to be in a lot of discomfort? What prompted you to have him checked out by the vet?
Weight loss can also be part of the normal aging process and not necessarily anything to do with the stone.
I don't want to tell you not to have the surgery...you know your guy better than any of us. But I guess I'd have to weigh his quality of life right now vs. risks of surgery for a guinea pig his age.
Both my boys who had a stone lost weight, a very noticeable amount in a short amount of time.
I would feed him as much critical care as he'd like.
If he is in pain and uncomfortable, I would be getting him the surgery if you think he is strong enough. If the stone is making him go down hill, really it will be either surgery or being PTS. If you opt out of surgery make sure he has pain management and isn't suffering daily.
sef1268 - Chewy had the same symptom as skinnypigs1's boys. He lost a LOT of weight very quickly. Then he began straining to urinate as we were in the middle of figuring it all out.
In the end...it turned out to be a fairly easy decision for my boyfriend and I. Chewy is having his stone removal surgery tomorrow. As Lynx mentioned, he is otherwise healthy and I trust all of the vets at this hospital completely. We've been going here for years and exotics is all they do. The only other option was to manage his pain. I didn't think that was fair to any of us in our little family...so we're going to do what we can for him.
I'm already nervous - I'm sure I'll be a total wreck tomorrow!!
I'm already thinking ahead to bringing him home next week. (Mostly because I can't keep playing "what-if" bad case scenarios in my head).
I have to get him off tap water. I had a light bulb moments reading through the medical guides when I realized we have hard water where we live.
Is water from a Brita pitcher filtered enough? Or would Deer Park (or similar) be a better option?
Be careful with calcium content in spring water! Some spring water has actually quite high calcium content.
I give mine Poland Spring, which doesn't seem too bad (but my piggies both have sludge, so I am wondering if that's caused by Poland Spring - I don't know)... I have looked into filters, but every time I find one there seems to be an issue with it I don't like.
I think you are making a great decision for your piggy! Good luck :)
Hope all goes well. Sending good thoughts to Chewy (and you) for a successful surgery and quick recovery.
I will be thinking about him! Hope he pulls through.
Read and re-read www.guinealynx.info/postop.html Ask your vet for advice too (if there is any extra advice, let us know and I can add it to the guide).
Sending good thoughts Chewy's way today! Hope all goes really well and he has a speedy recovery! Be sure to let us know how everything goes.
Also sending good thoughts to Chewy!
Thank you all for your warm wishes and thinking of Chewy today. It means a lot. :)
I heard from the vet a little while ago...she said it went very quickly since it was just one large stone rather than several smaller ones. She said it was the size of a pea - the team was referring to it as a dinosaur egg. :)
He's resting comfortably in an incubator and is off oxygen. He'll be staying with them until Sunday, or possibly Monday. The day can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned...can't wait!
Glad all went well for Chewy's op. Hope he recovers well & gets back home soon.