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Thread: Guinea pigs and diabetes

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    Cavy Slave
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    Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Hey, just joined this forum, although I have looked through it quite a bit in the past for help in buliding cages, getting the right kind of food and bedding, etc.

    Anyway, this kinda came up recently... and without getting deep into details, I think my guinea pig has diabetes. Basically, she drinks a lot of water, passes a lot of urine (to the point it makes a terrible mess), eats a lot but has been losing weight. I took a close look at her eyes and they appear cloudy, indicating cataracts...

    Basically it's all the symptoms of diabetes, and when I take her to a vet I full expect that diagnosis.

    The point of my question isn't to re-confirm my suspicions, but to ask if anyone has a diabetic guinea pig. I've read that guinea pigs can receive diabetic shots or oral medication which in theory can help them live a full, normal life.

    I guess I'm just wondering how much these treatments would cost, and how much of her quality of life would return.

    Alternatively, would euthanization be acceptable?

    TIA

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    Cavy Slave aqh88's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    The only time I would consider euthanizing an animal is if they really aren't enjoying life(pain, severe depression, refusing to be active) and there is no feasible longterm treatment. Just for diabetes seems rather cruel. Many animals and humans have diabetes and live healthy lives. Rodents are all actually quite prone to getting diabetes if fed diets high in sugar. The first thing I would look at is her diet since most of the time diabetes can be managed by altering the diet and adhering strictly to a very low sugar, low carbohydrate diet. We had a diabetic guinea pig about 8years ago that lived another 5years after being diagnosed just by watching his diet. Feed a good quality pellet like from Kleenmama's Hayloft :: Home in small amounts. No more than 1/4th cup per day for now but if her weight goes back to normal 1/8th cup would be better. Stay away from pellets with any corn products and other high carbohydrate grains. Lots of hay and freshen it several times a day so she eats even more of it. No high sugar veggies ie carrots, squash, and I would include red bell peppers(over 4grams of suger per 100grams of pepper) in that as well and no fruits. Green and probably yellow peppers would be fine. Look up the food on: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ for the sugar content before feeding it. I just search per 100grams and any food over 3-4grams per 100g I would not feed. Lettuces are the best vegetable to feed but don't overdo it since you want her eating as much hay as possible. She may need medication for now but I'm not sure the cost since we never had to do that with my pig. I would ask guinealynx medical forum about that and possibly what foods you could feed to help her gain weight for now. You do want to keep the weight fairly low on diabetics though. Being overweight makes it worse.

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    Cavy Slave littlebear's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Yes euthanization is very cruel to do to a guinea pig if the problem is curable in my opinion, its just like murder. I would not even euthanize a pig thats going through a deal of pain that can be fixed over a period of time. Only consider that options if you cannot cure them or if its to an extent they are going to die anyways.

    For a diabetic pig you should follow what aqh88, just like how humanes can mantain there diabetes if they have a proper diet I think pigs can to just watch how much sugar is in the food you provide make sure she eats a lot of hay.

    For more information about diabetes in guinea pigs you should check these pages out, its info about these two cavies who had diabetes it tells you what she did!
    Hazel and Ginger - Diabetes Treatment
    Guinea pigs with diabetes

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Thanks for the advice.

    I don't want to euthanize her, and I'm not planning on it- I was just curious as to how much diabetes would affect her quality of life.

    I'll modify her diet and pay close attention to how she responds. After the diagnosis is confirmed by a vet, I'll find out how much medicine is... honestly though, I can't imagine myself spending money on diabetes medicine for a guinea pig.

    One thing I'm concerned about is the cataracts- she could lose her vision. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm wondering if she's having sight problems already. Would treatment for diabetes restore her vision? Or would any damage be permanent?

    Also, should I limit her water intake (say to 1/2 bottle per day, at the most)? Or should she have access to as much water as she wants even though it goes right through her and into the bedding?

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    Cavy Slave aqh88's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Let her drink all the water she wants. It can only help but may require changing the bedding a bit more frequently until her diabetes is under control. Limiting water will at least not help her and could lead to even more serious problems. Cataracts will cause permanent vision damage but there are many completely blind pigs who get along fine. I have 1 with only 1 eye and you'd never know it by his actions. Blind guinea pigs actually tend to be friendlier and easier to handle because they don't spook at your hand coming towards them. Just make sure to always put the water, food dish, hay, and houses in the same spots in the cage so she can find her way around and it will not be an issue.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Another option for you then, after the confirmation, is to re-home her if you dont want to take on the care of a special needs pig. Many of the medications for our fur friends are accually people medicine, and alot of diabetic medicine is pretty darn cheap.

    As for her sight, she will be fine even if she becomes blind. You will just have to adjust to her level of comfort. I had a rat who was born without eyes, and you would have never known that rat couldnt see. They can adapt wonderfully to thier enviroment. Just make sure you do not change her cage arrangement around often on her, keeping the food in the same spots, the hidey houses in the same spots, and become more vocal with her so you dont scare her more.

    Please remember, her quality of life is what you make it. If you cant do it, please find someone who is willing to take on a special needs angel.

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    Administrator CavySpirit's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    My very first pig was diabetic. Same symptoms. Vet said there wasn't much to be done. She lived a fine and happy life.

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    Cavy Slave PiggieMamaKelly's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    If not much can be done, is it worth taking the pig to the vet or just go ahead and alter the diet? I have a pig that I suspect could possibly be diabetic, what would change if I took her to the vet? And, does the odds of becoming diabetic increase with age?

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Just an update for anyone who had some interest in this story...

    I talked to my friend, a vet, over the phone and she confirmed my self-diagnosis of the guinea pig. I went out to the store to put together things for her special diet, and served her up a nice meal, which oddly she seemed uninterested in. I didn't think much of it except that she seemed unlike herself.

    A little while ago, I found her lying in the corner of her cage. Before I even reached in to confirm it, I knew she had died.

    I figured it might happen at some point, but I was not at all prepared for it to happen tonight.

    She was the first guinea pig I've lost.

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    Cavy Slave PiggieMamaKelly's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea pigs and diabetes

    Oh no, I'm so sorry. I can tell from this thread how much you loved your piggie, I'm so sad you lost her. I hope you're holding up ok.

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