Antibiotic Intolerance


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 4:19 pm

Recently, I've run into a slew of people whose guinea pigs have gotten very sick on antibiotics, specifically Baytril. The reason seems to be that the vets are not emphasizing the need for a probiotic and the dangers of intolerance when dispensing this medication.

And, just yesterday, a pig that was very dear to me died because his owners did not know about antibiotic intolerance. He had diarrhea for about 12 hours and then passed on.

Bottom line: if you are giving your pig antibiotics, you MUST give a probiotic unless you want to chance them becoming intolerant. Antibiotics destroy the naturally occuring bacteria in their digestive tract that is NEEDED for digestion.

The best probiotic is fresh poop from a healthy pig, usually given 1-2 hours after the antibiotic. Acidophilous powder, Lactobacillus Acidophilous liquid, and Bebebac or Probiotin may also be given. But the last two contain ethoxyquin, a carcinogen, and should not be used long-term.

I take a couple of fresh poops and mush them up in a shot glass with a little bit of pure juice or liquid C. Then I dispense them to the pig through a syringe. We have a very low incidence of antibiotic intolerance here.

It is not enough to simply wait and see if signs of intolerance occur. By the time anorexia and diarrhea are apparent, you already have a pig who is very sick from the antibiotic. And it is very hard to correct.

There is a link on GL about antibiotic intolerance:

But I was thinking (no offense, Lynx) that a more succint version, whithout the testimonials, would be easier to interpret. I'd like to make a one-page info sheet emphasizing the necessity of probiotics so that I can fax it to vets in the area. I'd also like to post it in the reference forum so that people can have a quick link to go to which makes it clear that probiotics must be given with antibiotics.

I'd be delirious with glee if anyone would like to assist on this.

The fact that my own vet, an excellent exotics specialist, is neglecting to tell people about probiotics means that this information needs to be disseminated.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 4:33 pm

Okay. But it is my understanding that safe antibiotics do not cause diarrhea whether probiotics are administered or not. The most common negative reaction is that a guinea pig quits eating, not that it gets diarrhea. I would think diarrhea is a sign that too high a dose (an overwhelming kill of bacteria) or the wrong antibiotic is being used. If a pig quits eating, one needs to change antibiotics and aggressively hand feed.

Maybe Josephine can comment, but that's how I understand it. I do think there are other things Pinta classifies as intolerance (don't remember the details of some of her pigs and certain antibiotics but I don't think it's diarrhea).

To tell the truth, after reading Josephine saying that many of the probiotics reportedly do NOT get through to the GI tract intact, I don't routinely (or very half heartedly) give probiotics to my pigs any more. I try to make sure they are eating and food is quickly moving through, but that's it (when Nina was on baytril for 3 weeks, a modest dose, I sprinkled acidophilous on food a couple times but mostly did nothing. She ate well and never had soft poops).


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 7:30 pm

I agree that anorexia is the first sign of antibiotic intolerance, and also think that not enough people understand that a pig who won't eat is in grave danger.

I'd be interested to see where Josephine wrote that about probiotics not getting through to the G.I. tract. My understanding was that probiotics do not work properly if they are not administered properly, eg. too close to giving the antibiotic, in which case the probiotic will be destroyed.

And sometimes what you may be thinking of as a pig having "the wrong antibiotic" may mean that the pig has developed an intolerance due to the fact that all of its good gut flora has been destroyed. One would think that this is more likely to happen in pigs with weaker immune systems.

If has a condition that responds best to a certain antibiotic, I would think it would be beneficial to do everything you can to make sure that the pig can tolerate it.

Here is P. Gurney on probiotics and diarrhea:

And from GuineaLynx:

"even recommended antibiotics may affect the flora. "



Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:38 pm

Here is a short article written by a guinea pig rescuer near me on antibiotics and probiotics:

It states that probiotics should be used "Before, during and following antibiotic administration - to re-establish beneficial microflora depleted by antibiotics and prevent re-infection by pathogens. "

And from Seagull's page on antibiotics:

"Acidophilus supplements will reduce the risks of diarrhea..."

Here is an article on Dysbiosis and Prbiotics in humans:

It states that:

"Dysbiosis will often show as functional disturbances in the ventricle or the intestine. Symptoms such as dyspepsia, constipation or loose stools are conditions that will later develop into gastritis and chronic inflammation of the intestine."

"The stimulation of beneficial bacteria in the intestine will reduce the degree of dysbiosis, thus optimising the food intake and avoiding detrimental stress."

A clinical article on how probiotics work:

"Probiotic bacteria may stabilise the intestinal microflora and they can be used for immunotherapy to counteract immunological dysfunction and to stabilise the gut mucosal barrier to strengthen endogenous defence mechanisms."

This is an article written by a breeder, but most of the site's information is knowledgeable:

"To the body, bacteria are bacteria, and the antibiotic can't tell the difference between them. So hence, when you utilize an antibiotic, it's important to also utilize a probiotic that will replace those now removed bacteria which are so necessary for digestion."

V.C. Richardson recommends the use of probiotics in weaning rabbits using the same kind of logic:

"Consider using a probiotic in the drinking water over the period of weaning to ensure the guts are protected by ‘good’ bacteria."

And this article on antibiotics and diarrhea recommends probiotics as a preventative:

"A common side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea..."

Another article on probiotics and prevention: ... opt=Abstract

"Probiotic agents have been shown to have significant clinical beneficial effects in the prevention and management of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal conditions."

This article specifically links the preventative qualities of probiotics in antibiotic-induced diarrhea: ... opt=Abstract

"Prevention of antibiotic-induced diarrhea with the concomitant administration of either Lactobacillus GG or Saccharomyces boulardii has been demonstrated."

This article talks about antibiotic-induced diarrhea in rabbits:

Antibiotic associated diarrhoea

"1. Mild
Many antibiotics cause some alteration in the bacterial population of the gut, which can cause loose stools. This is usually mild.
2. Severe
Some antibiotics cause severe and often fatal diarrhoea in rabbits, because they allow a toxin-producing strain of Clostridium bacteria to multiply preferentially within the gut. "

Let me know if I haven't made my case yet....I have more.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:40 pm

Oh, yes, I know what I say -- I also know what I really believe. Sometimes they are two different things. It can still affect the flora but not be a cause of diarrhea. And by wrong antibiotic, I was referring to one on the dangerous list.

Josephine heard a talk by a respected vet who claimed standard probiotics didn't make it to the intestines. This vet did feel a poop worked better as the special ones have a coating that helps them make it to the intestines.

But truth is, we don't have easy access to those special poops and most people who are administering a poop cocktail use a fresh standard poop.

I do think in the case where diarrhea is present, appropriate treatments and special poops may help to restore proper gut flora but this is different than saying safe antibiotics cause diarrhea.

Of course I can easily be wrong. And some things are hard to prove one way or the other. Just stating my current opinion.

I had not read your latest post:

Humans are recommended probiotics (esp yogurt) if they are on some types of antibiotics. These antibiotics are typically the ones that would be deadly to guinea pigs. The last rabbit article does not state what antibiotic reputedly cause diarrhea. I still hold with reasonable doses of safe antibiotics not generally causing diarrhea. If this were the case, many more people would be posting about this problem.

I do think using a probiotic makes people think they are doing something. I just don't think it does much. As I said before, I still think it could be useful if the illness that presents is diarrhea itself.
Last edited by Lynx on Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:46 pm

I know to what Josephine's vet is referring. Cecal pellets are covered by a mucous that protects the beneficial bacteria. And if that mucous covering is lost, the bacteria can disperse say, if you mush it up like I have been doing.

One would think that could be solved by dispensing the cecal pellet entire through a syringe.

And yes, it is difficult to get cecal pellets. There are still beneficial bacteria, although not as much, in normal pellets. I have, however, managed to get the cecal pellets simply by grabbing them before my pigs get a chance to eat them. They tend to produce them in the afternoon and this is the best time to go pellet-hunting.

And if one can't procure cecal pellets or is not able to deliver them intact, there is still lactobaccilus acidophilous and commercial probiotics.

I don't see where I haven't made my case that safe antibiotics can cause diarrhea as well as anorexia and that probiotics can prevent it.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:51 pm

You have made your case for yourself. It doesn't mean you have made your case for me. I am much more skeptical than you are. It would be interesting to do a poll to find out how many people have used antibiotics and not used probiotics with no ill effects.

The higher the dose, the more likely there will be a disruption in the digestive tract. And the sicker the pig the more likely something else may be going on.

I usually end up skipping the probiotics and consistently have firm poops.


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:51 pm

I feel like we're leap-frogging over each other's posts.

I suspect that many people who lose their cavies and rabbits to illnesses or post-op because of not eating, weakening, and diarrhea, may have something to do with antibiotics destroying the normal gut flora.

And your comment,
I do think using a probiotic makes people think they are doing something. I just don't think it does much,
is based on personal experience. Your pigs are very robust and healthy (from your good care, no doubt), but many people who come here have pigs whose immune systems are compromised by illness and by improper care. So while one of your pigs may tolerate antibiotics very well, a pig that is 2 weeks into a URI who has been fed pellets and carrots its whole life may not have the same chance of successful recovery as yours.
the sicker the pig the more likely something else may be going on
Which is exactly why I think probiotics should be administered with antibiotics. A pig that is weakened is less likely to tolerate antibiotics.

And many, many of the people who post on here have waited to long to go to a vet, thus weakening their pigs further.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:01 pm

I have no complaint about your saying people may lose their pets due to not eating. But usually the diarrhea presents itself first, not as a consequence of safe antibiotic use.


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:05 pm

I think in all likelihood it goes something like this: antibiotic, gut disturbance, lack of appetite, lack of hay consumption, disappearance of fiber from the digestive tract, diarrhea, dehydration, death.

So even if the FIRST aspect of intolerance is anorexia, diarrhea can follow, either from gastrointestinal upset or lack of fiber, or as one of those articles states, from the antibiotic increasing the production of clostridium.

In a pig who had been on antibiotic without probiotic for, say, a UTI, has developed diarrhea, what would you do then?

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:12 pm

As I stated earlier, any time a guinea pig actually has diarrhea, a probiotic may help.

How many times have you experienced diarrhea following treatment with antibiotics yourself? What was the antibiotic and what was the illness?


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:27 pm

I have had some very, very sick pigs here. Over 100 have come through my rescue in the past year. I have only experienced antibiotic intolerance once to the point where we had to take the pig off the medication. I believe that is because I always give probiotics with antibiotics. So I don't think my experience would be applicable, and it is not on that that I am basing my arguments, it is clinical research.

There are several articles quoted in my last post which refer to diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

And at least 2 which state that the use of probiotics can help prevent gastrointestinal upset caused by antibiotics.

Wouldn't it be better to prevent something that can be so dangerous instead of waiting for it to happen?

However, I think you are making too much of the fact that I mentioned diarrhea as a symptom of antibiotic intolerance. I never said that it was the first or even the primary symptom. Humphrey probably died from diarrhea/dehydration, but he was also not eating. Unfortunately, this is a symptom that not all people notice right away.

My fear that if you, being the "Lynx" in "GuineaLynx" post on here that probiotics are simply something that makes the owner feel like they are doing something (in complete defiance of all the medical literature to the contrary), people will start thinking that they don't need to administer probiotics with antibiotics.

And then you will see a rise in the incidence of antibiotic intolerance, I can almost guarantee it. Even if you choose to think of antibiotic intolerance as SOLELY inappetence (again, which goes contrary to the medical literature), you are still taking a big risk by posting on here that people don't need to give probiotics. I don't know how many experts I have to quote before you believe that probiotics help maintain normal gut flora, but I'm willing to keep going if you like, not because I give a crap whether or not I'm right, but because I don't want to see any more "my pig's on Baytril and he won't eat, whoops he died" posts.
Last edited by Charybdis on Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:29 pm

Where the heck is everyone? Are Lynx and I the only people with an opinion on this issue?

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:42 pm

But you see I posted my personal belief. That doesn't mean I'm not going to continue suggesting probiotics (hey, people believe in prayer too, no?), it's just that I personally don't think it does that much good. I'm not changing information on the GL reference -- and there are at least two places probiotics are discussed.

I just don't have much confidence in them myself.

Diarrhea can also be caused by stress (in my opinion), vitamin C deficiency, giardia, etc. Vitamin C helps the scurvy. There are treatments for giardia that are much more effective than probiotics, though I'd recommend their use with active diarrhea.

I just looked through half the entries on the board where "diarrhea" showed up. None of them were caused by safe antibiotic use. Usually it was diarrhea that presented or the term came up in the discussion but was not present.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:44 pm

Shoot, I wish I had an article to pick out of my hat. I got the info from another exotics RVT who went to some CE. There are two schools of thought on this one certainly.

I'm sure it is too difficult to say for certain exactly what causes the diarrhea in pigs on antibiotics. There could be several causes, as Chary states. The recommended treatment for pigs on antibiotics which later have diarrhea is:
--Stop the antibiotic.
--Stop the diarrhea using a motility drug (such as kaopectate to slow the movement).
--Replace fluids (SQs or by mouth)
--Increase fiber (hay), decrease fresh feed for the time being, and possibly add poop soup or a probiotic. The diet awareness is important, but I wouldn't say the most urgent. The other things listed above are much more important.

Some vets even think that the probiotics may further upset the GIT. They're not sure yet. Which bacteria are needed from species to species may also be a concern. There isn't a single product specifically geared towards cavies, although most single-stomach herbivores are at least in some way similar to cavies. A lot also depends upon how active/"live" the probiotics are, which is often I think why yougurt (a danger in my opinon) is often suggested. Most of the literature agrees dairy or other animal products aren't processed well by herbivores.

Personally, I have never had a cavy die from what I considered to be antibiotic intolerance SAVE the ones that got Amoxicillin before I knew any better. That was a pretty profound diarrhea and decline. Classic. I have used tons of Baytril and while many have had problems with intolerance and cavies--I haven't. Luck or whatever. I have not routinely given probiotics except poop soup. I used acidophilus in various forms for years with a high mortality rate. I have no idea if it was lack of nursing care, lack of vigor, or what. The pigs on poop probiotics never fail to thrive and survive! I don't know if it's a coincidence, but many vets are now agreeing that not every probiotic is created equal, although I do know a few exotics vets that prescribe pre-packaged products regularly.

The consensus seems to be that probiotics can't hurt too much. They may not help, though. I don't try to dissuade many people if they think it works for them. I just think poop is much better and more effective.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:51 pm

In this arena, about the most many of us can offer is anecdotal evidence since only a few here actually have the training and background to contribute more.

My experience...I've had a total of four pigs on antibiotics. I did not give probiotics to three of the four and none of them had any difficulties either with not eating or diarrhea.

The fourth, however, was intolerant of every single antibiotic given to her. It didn't seem to matter if or how probiotics were given. She had Benebac, cecal pellets, acidopholus(sp?). They were given well before the ABs, during the ABs (because I didn't know better) and after ABs. In the course of about three months, she was on five different ABs and stopped eating every time.

The biggest difference is that she was given one dose of amoxicillian(sp) by an idiot emergency vet. Who may have been enough to do permanent damage to her gut flora.

I guess I would have to say that maybe not enough is known about all of this. The only thing I know for certain is that the only "cure" for her intolerance was taking her off of any ABs. That's hardly scientific. Just stories.

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 9:53 pm

Personally, I have never had a cavy die from what I considered to be antibiotic intolerance SAVE the ones that got Amoxicillin before I knew any better....I have used tons of Baytril and while many have had problems with intolerance and cavies--I haven't....I have not routinely given probiotics except poop soup. I used acidophilus in various forms for years with a high mortality rate. I have no idea if it was lack of nursing care, lack of vigor, or what. The pigs on poop probiotics never fail to thrive and survive! I don't know if it's a coincidence...

Question: you said you never had a cavy die from what you consider antibiotic intolerance but said with acidophilus you had high mortality and with poop soup they thrived. Can you clarify?

Do you always give poop soup with every pig who gets antibiotics?


Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 10:00 pm

I think we're talking about poop, Josephine. I don't use acidophilous powder or commercial probiotics.

When you say that you have not "routinely used probiotics except for poop soup" does that mean that you routinely use poop soup with antibiotics?

I'd also like to see some evidence that probiotics "may not help," since everything I'm reading points to the fact that they significantly decrease gastrointestinal upset following antibiotics.

Lynx, you can keep harping on the diarrhea issue but like I said, that isn't my main point. And I never, ever said that probiotics should be used to treat diarrhea. I said that they should be used to prevent antibiotic intolerance which could include diarrhea. Giardia--wheverever that came from--I treat with Flagyl.

In the case of Humphrey's diarrhea, I reccomended:

1) Stop the antibiotic
2) Give fluids
3) Give probiotic (poop soup)
4) Administer kaopectate
5) Stop feeding veggies
6) See a vet

Which, I do believe, was exactly what Josephine recommended for diarrhea.

So I obviously don't know what I'm talking about. Can we get back to the subject please?

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 10:08 pm

Poop routinely, no. Not on all pigs.

Let me clarify here: I use poop soup on all inappetant pigs, antibiotics or not. Pigs that are on antibiotics and eating prior to antibiotics (and they have always continued to eat for me) get no probiotics (poop soup).

I'm a bit confused myself. I thought the issue was over probiotics, period, not the type of probiotic. The type of probiotic is a definite issue for me. I have no evidence that it (the poop) works other than personal anectdotes. I guess I just got to the point where I knew it might be of benefit in an animal that is otherwise obviously trying to die since it wasn't eating. Can't hurt, right? Maybe it's all the force-feeding. The Odwalla juice, the Critical Care, the SQ fluids, the B and C vits, or the steroids (if they are REALLY dying). I have no real clue since I use them all!

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Post   » Sat Jul 19, 2003 10:18 pm

Chary, no, no, no. You are very clear in your first post that diarrhea is a significant risk.
It is not enough to simply wait and see if signs of intolerance occur. By the time anorexia and diarrhea are apparent, you already have a pig who is very sick from the antibiotic. And it is very hard to correct.
You talk about a pig that got diarrhea in the second paragraph. The implication of which is that antibiotic intolerance results in diarrhea. The most deadly thing is not eating.

I know you didn't say anything about treating diarrhea with antibiotics. I said that. I said that THAT is when I would use them, and I said that I didn't expect safe use of antibiotics to result in diarrhea. You made several statements in the first post to indicate this was a symptom of antibiotic intolerance, i.e. you expect that it may happen if a pig is intolerant.

It was your mention of diarrhea that initiated my comments. If you didn't mean to include it as a symptoms of antibiotic intolerance or as a result of antibiotic intolerance, you shouldn't have emphasized it in your first post.

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