Broken back, thoughts on dealing with broken bones

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Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:13 am

Last night after floor time I was putting Happy back into his cage, he took a flying leap out of my arms. I caught him but not after he smashed upside down into the cages, hard. His head was towards the floor when I caught him and he was limp like a noodle. He shrieked when I turned him over and that´s when I knew he´d hurt something. This was about 6pmish and my vet closes at 6:30. I called her and she said she´d stay open for me til I got there, it´s almost an hour drive, esp in rush hourish traffic. Happy wasn´t moving and obviously in pain. She did x-rays immediately as she was afraid something was broken and didn´t want to prod him. He has fractured vertebreas sp? It was hard for me to distinquish on the xrays what the vet saw but she is concerned about the bones healing. They aren´t completely cracked, just hairline type fractures. She rigged up a tiny, tiny area for him to stay in there last night. She gave him fluids and some pain meds which to be honest, I can´t remember what, big words and I don´t get along. I called this am to see how he was and he´d eaten a bit of romaine but she´s getting some Critical care for him. She´s never dealt with fractures in the back before and isn´t sure how to immobilize him. Right now, he´s in a really small "box" that he can´t turn around in, she said he´s obviously unhappy about that and he doesn´t want to be touched. I"m sure he hurts. Even if he hadn´t broken anything, I"m sure his muscles are sore, he crashed hard against the wires. He doesn´t like strangers anyway, he was abused before I got him and it took me a looong time to be able to just pet him and even longer to hold him without him being scared. At any rate, any thoughts, suggestions? Thanks!

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Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:25 am

Gee, I´m so sorry he got injured. This has to be real tough on you. Sometimes guinea pigs can be quite unpredictable. My only thought is adequate pain meds so he can eat and be as normal as possible until he hopefully can heal on his own. I don´t know anything about what to do for back injuries. I wish you the best of luck.

GP Lover
My home, ruled by pigs!

Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:40 am

How awful is this situation! I am so sorry to hear about this. Maybe putting an ace bandage around his middle will restrict his movement enough to help him heal???

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Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 11:43 am

An ace bandage with a splint? Or some kind of cast? What does your vet think?


Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 3:29 pm

Jaw Fracture

You might get some ideas from this thread.

The vets involved are at Angell Memorial in Boston. Your vet could consult with them.

All I can think of is keeping him immobilized - small space. A small container with a lid(holes in it of course) to keep him from struggling to get out. Towels over a hot water bottle can be arranged to almost suspend him.

If I get any more info I´ll post.

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Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 6:05 pm

Thanks. She was working with a healthy pig today to see how different movements work with different areas of the back. She´s got Happy in this little box that he can´t move in. He;s not doing well. He doesn´t want food, he doesn´t want touched. He did perk up when I went to see him. She´s keeping him there while she figures out what to do. She´s trying to determine how long it will take his back to heal too. Thanks for the info, Pinta. I´ll give it to the vet.


Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:23 pm

This is input from Vicki of Jack Pine Guinea pig Rescue

Sometimes confinement to a very small area causes the cavy to panic or try to escape - which will defeat the purpose of keeping him quiet. Depression from this confinement can also hinder recovery.

I´ve never tried to bandage a back injury, but I wonder if wrapping the pig with an ACE bandage or VetWrap would provide enough support to protect the injured spine. This may be possible if the injury is mid to upper back, where you can criss-cross wrap around the front legs. I don´t know how practical it would be for a lower back injury though, as wrapping around the hind legs probably won´t work very well. Best bet would be to talk with an exotics vet that has treated cavy back injuries before, to see if a wrap would help - and not hurt - recovery.

If the injury can tolerate some movement, I would put the cavy in a comfortable travel-size cage for now. Something like 24" X 12" or 24" X 18". The cage should open big at the top, so the cavy can be easily lifted out. Use a flat towel on the floor of the cage.

Keep food in a very shallow dish, something like a cheap ashtray, so the cavy can easily reach down to eat. Walmart sells small glass ashtrays for about a buck. Keep the water bottle tube low also, and if the cavy has trouble even with that, put some water in a shallow ashtray.

A heating pad can be put under one end of the cage, but give the cavy plenty of area to move away from it if he doesn´t want the heat.

Rimidyl (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) can help with the pain and any inflammation. Or the vet might want to consider prednisone (a glucocorticosteroid) for this. You might also want to consider giving metoclopramide (Reglan) for a while to help keep his digestion moving. It´s not uncommon for cavies to bloat or have digestion problems due to trauma. A vitamin C supplement is also a good idea, as vitamin C is important for healing injuries.

This cavy may need to be syringe feed and watered for a while until his body has a chance to start healing and the pain subsides. Critical Care would be a very big help here. I don´t know if I´d want to do SQ fluids with the injuries he has. I´d be afraid of additional pain or damage if he fights the injection.

Sometimes sick or sore cavies are more willing to eat softened pellets rather than hard pellets. Put some pellets in a shallow dish, run warm water over them - then immediately drain the water out. Stir the pellets to separate. They will quickly soften and puff up.

Sick or sore cavies may be more willing to eat small guinea pig bite-size pieces of fresh food. Less work for them. Fresh grass would be great, and might perk his appetite. Some pet stores sell small tubs of fresh wheat grass and such during the winter.

I am guessing recovery will take quite some time. You may have to syringe feed/water this cavy for weeks. If the Rimadyl can help with the pain and make this cavy more comfortable, it´s worth giving him some time to try and heal himself.

Geez, good luck. I hope this poor little guy does OK.
Last edited by pinta on Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:01 pm

Damn! I´m really sorry to hear this. I can´t help, but I hope everything goes ok.

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Post   » Thu Jan 24, 2002 10:13 pm

I vote for pain meds for this little guy, too.

I really think his appetite will improve if he isn´t hurting so much (based upon my experience with Sean).

Try little pieces of Romaine lettuce if grass isn´t available to tempt him.

If you are going to try the ACE bandage, then may I suggest that you use two splints--running the length of the gp along each side--and wrap around them? Of course, the vet and staff should do this. You would need lots of hands to keep the back in alignment during the wrapping process.

I´m so sorry. Best wishes to your gp. He is fortunate to have you. I´ll know you´ll do everything you can.

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Post   » Fri Jan 25, 2002 10:32 am

The vet still has him. I´m going over there soon. I´m actually off from school today, took a sick day. I´m coming down with that crap that everyone seems to have here. It´s just starting so hopefully I can avoid the real icky part of it. Anyway, she has made a splint so to speak from this plastic material that humans often wear on wrist injuries that can´t be cast, like if there´s stitches or an open wound. She has put it around his middle and under his belly and made little straps that go around his front legs and back legs. She feels that if she can keep his back from twisting or moving from side to side he should heal ok. It´s just above mid-back where the fractures are. She had it on his this am and was making adjustments for his size. He weighed in at 3.87 lbs on Weds. He´s lost a few ounces but she said that´s ok, it´s not a lot and he is eating Critical Care and hay. He nibbles at other stuff but doesn´t really eat it. She says stress is a huge part of his problem, he´s not at home, he doesn´t know who she is and he misses the other pigs here. She thinks I can put him back in his normal cage while he´s wearing this splint but I´ll need to watch him very carefully. I´m glad it´s the weekend so I will be here. I will tell the vet about Vicki´s suggestions for pain. I think she only gave him something initially. And after Sable I will make sure he´s on Reglan. She did force feed him some liquid vit. C yesterday and today. I´ll let you know how he does with this splint. Thanks for the info.


Post   » Fri Jan 25, 2002 10:38 am

Cara, not that this will help, but this rescue had a piggy with a broken back -- he´s lost the use of his legs, but maybe you can email them for what was done at the vet?

I hope things work out for your little guy Willie Pig

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Post   » Fri Jan 25, 2002 10:53 am

Thanks, I emailed her.

I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Fri Jan 25, 2002 10:18 pm

Oh Cara, I´m so sorry to hear this! I agree, pain meds are crucial. Is there any way you can have him near the other pigs yet still separate? They may be very gentle with him, or they may not. I´d hate him to reinjure himself. If it is a hairline fracture, I think having him splinted and home will help immensely! My pigs hate being at the vets. They won´t even eat there if they are healthy and just along for company.

So try hard to bring him home. Worse case scenario, at least he will be in familiar surroundings and with those he loves and who love him.

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Post   » Fri Jan 25, 2002 11:33 pm

Josephine -- if you are reading this -- my vet claimed rimadyl (sp?) causes liver damage in dogs and was reluctant to use it on a guinea pig. He seems to think Snowflake would need no meds after her spay and I wonder what he would be least likely to object to using (if I can persuade him to let me use anything, after calling him).

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Post   » Sat Jan 26, 2002 5:06 pm

imanut4u, Willie´s owner was no help at all. I s´pose I shouldn´t post her emails here but I asked how he was initially treated and what the vet did. She´s only said he was on postassium sulfate for seizures and that they waited to see how bad the injury was, no mention of Xrays, or anything being done by the vet other than meds to stop seizures. She kinds goes into a tangent about other pigs and how Willie is impacted, can´t reach his good poops and needs a bath every week. Nothing useful. I can´t help but wonder if he´d have use of his legs if xrays were done and possible treatment given.

Anyway, Happy is home and doing ok. Nothing stellar. This splint thing seems to be working and I have him in his own cage. He´s eating hay and pellets and bits of veggies. I´m still feeding him Critical Care and he readily sucks it up. I´m giving him vit C supplements too. The vet said to watch the splint to make sure it´s not rubbing any sore spots into his body. She said it may rub fur off depending how long he has to wear it but shouldn´t rub raw spots. I´ll have to take pictures to post. He´s quite a sight. I do think the other pigs are helping and the fact that´s he´s home. She did give me pains meds and Reglan to keep things moving thru. I´m feeding him a slurry too. I truly think he´ll be ok, but it´s going to take a while. She wants to see him next week, not sure if she´ll xray again. She thinks it´ll take 6-8 weeks for the fractures to heal.

Thanks for all the info. I´ll keep you posted on how´s he´s doing. He doesn´t move much, I put his pellets and water bottle right there for him and he´s on towels with hay, no bedding.


Post   » Sat Jan 26, 2002 5:51 pm

That´s great news. I hope you can take pictures and later post them and a summary of the whole episode in the "first hand experience" section of this board. I´M sure it can be of great help to people who go through something similar in the future.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Sat Jan 26, 2002 10:59 pm

Aak! So sorry to hear about your pig, Cara. I wish I could help more, but pain meds, steroids, and rest are generally the cure.

Lynx: As for the carprofen (Rimadyl), yes, it can cause liver problems. It is an NSAID and all NSAIDS can cause liver problems. The incidence of reactions in fairly healthy animals is very slim. Even in dogs, we see very few with elevated liver enzymes, and good vets require blood chemistries before and during carprofen treatment. In cavies, it is a use your best judgement decision. I don´t see how it would be contraindicated unless there was a suspect or proven liver or kidney ailment (it can affect many organs). Lack of knowledge does make many vets wary of doing the right things for cavies. All I can say is that there are a few of us in the know who have used it safely for years. I know many formularies that list it for rabbits, but haven´t listed a cavy dose since cavy medicine has not reached house rabbit proportions.

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Post   » Mon Jan 28, 2002 9:01 am

The vet called me this am to tell me another vet she´s spoken with doesn´t think Happy needs the splint. Since these are fractures and not actual breaks, he said Happy knows it hurts and he´s not going to move around a lot. I left Happy at home with the splint on. He´s done very well this weekend so I thought he´d be ok. I can leave right when work is done today to go home. She thinks now, maybe he´ll just wear it for a week and a half to keep things still and then take it off. He´s eating more veggies so I´m lessening the Critical care, he still gets it, just not as much. I bought a scale and he weighed 3.52 lbs yesterday. He´s lost some but not a lot, thought he could actually stand to lose some more, he´s a fatso.

Also, Patch´s fur is growing back. I threw Lance in with Patch and Streak b/c he seemed so lonely after Sable died. Patch´s skin is covered and it´s getting longer. So that it good. She also let me know what my bill would be for Happy. The wedding favor decision has been made thanks to Happy!!!! 437.85!


Post   » Tue Jan 29, 2002 10:06 pm

A 5mW laser light can be used to help promote healing especially for the soft tissue. You can use a 1mW too, but it takes longer(50 seconds per 1 cm spot as opposed to 10 seconds per 1 cm spot.)

The 5mW laser pointers are in the range of $50 Can., and the 1mW ones are about $10 Can.

Hold the laser light directly on the spine where the fracture is(in physical contact) for 10 seconds(50 seconds for a 1mW strength beam). Repeat process every 1 cm. Do not be tempted to leave the light on the skin longer than the time stated for the strength of laser. Lasers can burn and damage tissue if left in contact too long.

Treat with the laser every OTHER day for a total of 20 treatments(40 days). Then take a complete break for a few weeks before the next session (if another session is necessary).

This treatment comes from an animal physical therapist and can be used to relieve pain and promote healing of wounds(place saran wrap film over wound if raw and apply laser beam directly to the protective plastic film). It can also be used for arthritis but it´s best to bring xrays of the joints to the therapist so she/he can show you exactly where to apply the beam for maximum results. And light laser treatment can be used to stimulate hair regrowth. The application and technique is the same for all of the above.

Do not ever use the laser around the eyes or point it at your own eyes or anyone else´s eyes.

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Post   » Tue Jan 29, 2002 10:08 pm

Well, actually, Happy could provide a substitute wedding favor. Just leave a laminated poop (a la Lynx) at everyone´s place at the table. You should be able to order child-sized portions of food for everyone and still have more than enough food to go around after you ruin everyone´s appetite. With what you will save on food, you´ll more than make up the $400!!!!

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