Charlie's Medical Thread

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Post   » Mon May 27, 2013 5:25 pm

Name: Charlie
Age: estimated by vet ~3 ½ years old
Sex: Neutered male
Breed: Silkie mix, Dalmatian

Medical history (since he came to live here June 2012):
• Neuter; July 6, 2012
• Metronidazole susp 50 mg/ml July 13, 2012
• Intestinal parasites with giardiasis ELIS July 13; Result: Negative

Charlie has had chronic loose droppings the entire time I’ve had him. His previous owner said she noticed them as well but assumed they were normal for him. Charlie is the same guinea pig as Elliot. Since I’ve had Charlie he has been healthy in every other way. His appetite is great, he has tons of energy, and his weight is perfectly consistent.

I’ve tried several things (and two vets) in the past year to help him including:
• Tests for parasites
• Feeding him only hay for two weeks and slowly bringing back hay/veggies
• Probiotics (used acidophilus powder)
• Oxbow digestive support tabs
• Switched to different pellets (Oxbow to KMS)
• Tried different hays (timothy 2nd and 3rd cut; blue grass)
• Gave vitamin C supplements

His daily diet is unlimited grass hay, 1 cup veggies, and 1/8 cup KMS pellets. The cup of veggies is primarily red or green leaf lettuce, ¼ green pepper, and an additional veggie (ex: tomato, baby carrot, corn husks/silk, celery, green beans, cucumber, a few sprigs of cilantro/parsley, and occasionally spinach or kale).

Here are some photos of his droppings in case it helps.

The next two photos are what his “normal” poops look like compared to another guinea pig’s dropping.



The next three photos are examples of what I find under his hut when he’s pooped several times in one spot. They seem to clump together and form a patty. They look like one big dropping but are actually several poops smushed together.




This last one is an example of the occasional really weird dropping that I get from him.


I want to try putting him on hay once again and working my way back to giving veggies and pellets but I’m not sure how to do this safely. I have the Oxbow multivitamin tab and vitamin C. Is there anything else I should give to supplement him while he has a limited diet? How long can I keep him off veggies without risking his health? Is there something else I should do instead?

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon May 27, 2013 9:12 pm

Did the metronidazole do anything to help? How long a course of it did he have? When I've had a pig with loose droppings like that (twice), a course of Flagyl cleared it right up.


Post   » Mon May 27, 2013 9:29 pm

I didn't notice any difference when he was on it. At the same time I had him exclusively on hay. I'll have to see if I can pull up more info on the prescription but I seem to remember him on it for 2 weeks.

I forgot to add one thing that may or may not be relevant. I hold Charlie less than the other pigs because he just isn't much of a people pig. Still I feel like I see him eat less of his own poops than the other pigs (but again this could also be I spend less time with him).

Do you think it's best to start with a round of Flagyl first instead of taking away veggies?


Post   » Thu May 30, 2013 5:01 pm

I'm afraid all I could dig up was the receipt so I can't tell how long he was on the meds.


Post   » Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:34 am

I’m sorry for the long explanation but I also wanted to give a little back-story. A few months ago I had two platforms in my cage (they were roughly 5 inches off the floor). After two of my pigs started to show a limp with their front legs. I assume it was because they landed wrong after using the platforms (I’m the only person to really handle them and they haven’t been dropped or had any other explanation for an injury). I removed the platforms and brought Charlie to the vet (he showed the limp first by a few days; I consulted the vet over the phone about the second pig once she started limping after the other pig’s exam). She examined him and said it was most likely a soft tissue injury. She prescribed Meloxicam (metacam) on March 8.

I split the herd (arguments between the sow and her rival started breaking out and I felt this would be less stressful) and put the two in a smaller C&C cage to restrict movement. They were given the meds for a few weeks; after the first prescription ran out I could still see some limping so we were given a smaller “extension.” Towards the end we began giving them a dose every other day. After watching both pigs walk around a few days limp-free, I reintroduced the herd.

The past few days I’ve noticed Charlie limping once again (at first I had hoped it was my imagination because it seemed on and off and just for a few seconds at a time). There aren’t any platforms or known causes for the limping. I’m wondering if there’s a possibility he could have arthritis (I have gone through the arthritis links on GL and did a search, but didn’t dig up much on advice on diagnosing it) or if the injury was more severe than originally thought. I want to know any possible causes for the limping so I know what to discuss with the vet. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Below are two videos taken in March that show him limping just prior to his exam.




Post   » Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:34 am

Hi there,

Have you discussed with your vet whether you can locate some healthy pigs in your neighborhood, whose owners don't mind providing freshly laid healthy guinea pig poops? This is called transfaunation.

My girl lost her gut flora after a series of meds and we 'borrowed' some poop from a neighbor. We mixed them into 'just warm' critical care and spoon fed (2 pellets of poo into 1 heaped spoon of crit care a day). They have to be eaten within an hour for best results as some useful bacteria will die if dessication is allowed which may cause a relative imbalance in useful to pathogenic gut flaura ratios. After 4 days we noticed an improvement. I normally fed it just before dinner to line the tummy first and to ensure piggy is hungry and eats every bite.

I wouldnt fuss using poop from other pigs in your care as it is likely he has encountered their gut contents before and they have had no benefit.

Be careful not to feed poops from pigs who are already on meds if they are supplied from the vets - Just to be sure! You may also wish to integrate poos slowly as the new flora/fauna will be a little surprise to his tummy.

Another cause for soft poos that we encountered was pain/stress after surgery. It sped up her system and she was firing out mousse like poops everywhere but these were very light, yours look quite dark.


Post   » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:50 pm

Thanks so much for the tips. I'll try it as soon as I find someone local. I'm willing to try just about anything, even poop soup.


Post   » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:17 pm

I got some recent clips of Charlie walking. I'm not sure if it's just my imagination that there's a limp. He seems to have a different gait from the other pigs but he also pop corns pretty easily.




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Post   » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:29 pm

What a cutie! My browser doesn't work with photobucket, unfortunately.


Post   » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:05 pm

Sorry I didn't even think about whether people could access the videos. Here they are on Youtube. I feel like there is a little something off in his gait (if there is I definitely don't want to ignore it) but I don't know if I'm just paranoid after seeing him limp a couple months ago. I only notice what I think is limping for just a few seconds -after spending hours with him during floor time this is really all the footage I was able to get.

Charlie Walking 1

Charlie Walking 2

Charlie Walking 3

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Post   » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:45 pm

I see a little hoping. Some unsteadiness? You are so familiar with him, I am guessing if you see limping, he is limping.


Post   » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:29 pm

Thanks, I'll see what the vet can do.

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Post   » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:08 am

If it's there, it's subtle. In that second set of videos, he hops into the hay bin without any trouble, but I did see a little bit of a hop when his buddy was getting a little too familiar. Not sure it looked like limping, though, but as Lynx said -- you know your guys best, and if you think something's not right, you should have it checked out.

How much does he weigh?

They're really an adorable group, and I enjoyed watching the videos. :)


Post   » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:53 am

He is overweight (today he is 1333 grams). I can feel love handles on his sides. I got him when the girls were still young and unfortunately I free fed him pellets for several months.

I've been trying to put the herd on a diet (he's the only one I'd consider overweight but Sonia could stand to lose an ounce or two; the other two pigs are pretty slender). I measure out 1/2 a cup of pellets and 4 cups of veggies. I've drastically cut sugary veggies (ex: carrots, tomatoes) and have only given fruit about 2-3 times in the past few months.

Floor time has been cut back lately until I move out (in a few months I'll have a place where I can make a much bigger cage and give more floor time to help with his weight loss). My parent got two puppies that are fed raw. I used to use the kitchen for floor time but I'm afraid of salmonella even though we do our best to clean. There are a few other places but it takes time to pig proof them so nobody gets hurt.

Do you think it's his weight? I've been watching him closely and he doesn't look in pain. He can still popcorn pretty high over the smallest things.

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Post   » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:11 am

Have you tried cutting back on his pellets? I found one of my girls stools are better if I divide her pellets into two servings, 1 level tablespoon in the morning and one in the evening. Also could there be something in the supplements that bother him. I have had success with Kyo-Dophilus probiotic.

Keeping a daily record of his food, changes in his environment and any stresses, etc. and how it affects his health is really beneficial. It will help you see if any patterns are forming.

I also found adding in a courser 1st cut Timothy to their usual 2nd cut helped. 3rd cut hay is leafier with less stem, has more moisture and is richer. A courser hay may add more fiber which could help.


Post   » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:37 am

Thanks for the helpful tips.

I can try giving him his pellet every other day. It should help with his weight. I still wonder if that could be the cause of his gait.

I believe Kyo-Dophilus probiotic is something I tried in the past (I'd have to check but that sounds incredibly familiar).

His stress levels do seem to be above average. His past owner commented on him being neurotic (ex: he would freak out if anything was rearranged in his cage).

I'll try the 1st cut timothy. Currently they have KMS bluegrass.

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Post   » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:00 pm

Is that 1/2 cup of pellets once a day? Or twice a day? I feed my guys closer to 1/8 cup twice a day...I think my average weight right now is around 1200 grams.

I do think what you're seeing *could* be weight related. He's not enormous, but if you're seeing love handles, he could probably stand to lose a little. Looking at the videos, I wanted to say that I was seeing more of a waddle than a limp. It certainly might be worth cutting back a bit to see if it makes a difference.

He's such is a cutie. All 1333g of him. :)


Post   » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:16 pm

Once a day for all four pigs (so 1/8 cup pellets per pig daily). I used to free feed when the girls were younger (under a year). Charlie is a couple years older so he was free feeding with them when he really shouldn't have. Can I do 1/8 cup per pig every other day?

I've been trying to find ways to safely encourage weight loss -none have worked so far. His love handles are stubborn. On May 24 (I happened to record this weigh in on my phone so it's handy) he was 1287. I'm guessing it's the lack of floor time lately that's set him back (it can't be excess calories, I've tried my best to cut those out). I'll have to change that.

He is noticeably chubbier compared to the girls (especially the Skinny who is only 770 on a full stomach). The vet also made a comment about noticing the extra fat around his middle during a check up.

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Post   » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:22 pm

I used to think my Zoe's bouts of soft misshapen stool was triggered by stress because she quite often had an episode after I made a change to her cage or after company had stayed. I think food, environment, stresses all play a part, but now that her bowels are stable she seems so much more relaxed and copes so much better.

He may be neurotic because of his health issues.


Post   » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:40 pm

I hope I can figure it out. I also have to imagine having health issues like this isn't much fun for a guinea pig.

He seems very stressed out when he's handled, so I try to respect that and only hold him for boar cleanings or nail trimming. He seems to love it when I clean his cage though.

I don't know much about his history but his previous owner posted in GL that she got him through Craigslist. She said it wasn't a pretty sight but there weren't many details. She found him in a container with another pig without food or water (I don't know for how long). She thought the kids might've handled him rough as well.

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