View Full Version : Sick Lethargic guinea pig

07-24-13, 07:33 am
One of our pigs is sick. It just started yesterday evening. Yesterday morning, she ate with gusto. Yesterday evening, she barely ate. And this morning, the pellet bowl still had pellets in it and the hay rack was half full, so she's headed to the doctor today at 3:40.

She doesn't have any of the "respiratory" symptoms of a URI - no sneezing, eye issues, coughing, but I don't know what it could be otherwise. She's basically not eating much and is spending most of her time in her hidey looking at the wall.

I saw a bunch of poops in her hidey that look like they are "pinched" on one end, if that makes sense. Like they didn't slide right out and she had to use her muscles to pinch them off (TMI, I know).

So this morning, when I gave their lettuce, I really watered down the leaves so that she could get some water. She came out and ate a piece, but not with the urgency that she normally does. Something's definitely off. Hopefully the vet will know what's wrong.

07-24-13, 07:37 am
Good luck at the vet!

Is she losing weight?

07-24-13, 07:47 am
Yes. She was 1194 grams on 7/15. Last night she was 1155.

07-24-13, 08:57 am
What does the poo look like, other than being pinched? Have you checked the teeth to look for any missing, broken, or malocclusion?

And good idea just going to the vet right away, they'll know best. Good luck, and I hope she gets better :)

07-24-13, 10:04 am
Weighed at the same time of day? That much variation can be due to when she last ate/pooped. Right before breakfast is usually a good time to get consistent weights.

07-24-13, 10:23 am
Definitely not weighed the same time. I generally weigh on Sunday mornings, but I weighed her last night around 11:00pm. I didn't think it was a huge amount, but it is a little lower.

Yesterday, her poops looked the same as the other pig's, just pinched. But I shake out the fleece in the mornings, and now, after about three hours past cleaning it, the sick pig's poops are decidedly thinner than the other pigs's. Most likely because she's not really eating much - maybe dehydration? I don't know. I was gone for a couple of hours and came home to find her standing in front of the hay rack, but not eating hay. If I were to put a human emotion on it, it was like she wanted to want to eat, but just couldn't make herself do it. On your advice, I checked her front four teeth and they look OK. I did find this funky branch-like thing on the fleece about two days ago. It was clearly mixed in with the hay, but they didn't eat it. Maybe she scratched the inside of her mouth with it or bit down with her back teeth and her mouth hurts? Like I said, she has no symptoms of a respiratory infection at all. The pigs never fight and I didn't see any blood or anything. I just gave them each a baby carrot and Fluff (the sick one) only took a couple of bites. :-( I guess I'll know more in a couple of hours.

07-24-13, 10:52 am
Have the vet check her molars. Sticking an otoscope in her mouth won't do -- he needs to use a buccal pad separator or other device to open her mouth. She also needs x-rays to see if the roots are elongated.

07-24-13, 03:30 pm
Back from the vet. Of course 20 minutes before we left she ate a few pellets and some hay, but I kept the appointment because it was still so much less than usual.

Her teeth got a clean bill of health. I didn't see your note on the x rays - she did not get those, but she took a very good look in her mouth with some kind of implement and said everything looked OK and that her teeth all lined up. No sign of infection or internal organ issues/pain. She said it's likely a GI issue; something she ate did not agree with her. The vet gave her some fluids under her skin, a Vitamin C shot and tried to feed her some baby food, but she wasn't all that interested in the baby food. The vet noticed the chewed up hay in her mouth though. She said she hoped the treatment would give her a boost to start eating more normally again, but to call tomorrow if she doesn't seem any better.

07-24-13, 04:37 pm
I went through GI stasis a couple months ago. In my case it was antibiotics which caused her to practically stop eating. Mooshy was given critical care every 2 hours. It took 10 days for everything to become fully normal again.

07-25-13, 09:27 am
Some Reglan might boost her appetite. Ask the vet if you end up going back.

07-25-13, 10:35 am
Fluff is definitely on the mend. I think the fluids/vitamin treatment did exactly what it was supposed to do. Within hours she had a brighter look in her eye, was leaving the hidey, drinking some water and nibbling on hay. This morning, she ate some breakfast - not as fast as usual, but she definitely continuously ate until all the lettuce was gone. The other pig ate more than her fair share because Fluff was eating slower, but I think she got enough. I've seen her eating hay, too. Again, not sticking her entire head in the bag like she often does, but eating steadily. As long as she keeps eating a little more each day, I think she'll be OK. It may take a week or so, and if she takes a turn for the worse, I'll call the vet back, but slow and steady improvement is all I'm looking for.

07-29-13, 08:58 pm
Fluff is headed back to the vet tomorrow. As I told the vet today, she is surviving, but she is not thriving. She is drooling terribly, which to me says that there is a dental issue, but the vet looked at her teeth and said they were fine.

She's eating some, but not robustly and still spending a lot more time than usual in her hidey just staring at the wall.

I called the vet today and she wants to look at her teeth again. Maybe some more fluids. She's lost 100 grams since I weighed her on the 23rd.

I just feel so bad for her. I can't tell if she's in pain or not, but I can tell she's unhappy. I hope that there is some kind of resolution at the vet tomorrow.

07-29-13, 09:19 pm
Hoping all goes well.

07-29-13, 09:27 pm
This is a picture I snapped about 15 minutes ago. She was eating pellets (yea!), but you can see how her chest is just absolutely soaking wet.

07-29-13, 09:27 pm
Can you find a vet experience in rodent dentistry>

At the very least you need x-rays -- that's the ONLY way to diagnose abscesses or elongated roots. And I'd make sure they're using something besides an otoscope to look at the teeth.

07-29-13, 09:35 pm
Can you find a vet experience in rodent dentistry>

At the very least you need x-rays -- that's the ONLY way to diagnose abscesses or elongated roots. And I'd make sure they're using something besides an otoscope to look at the teeth.

What is the treatment of an abscess/elongated root? Is it dangerous to treat? What is the prognosis when treated, do you know?

07-29-13, 09:39 pm
Abscesses are treated with antibiotics and sometimes surgery. Elongated roots can't really be treated -- the only thing that can be done is frequent planing of the molars so that they don't get too much pressure put on them. They're really pretty painful for the pig.

07-29-13, 09:49 pm
What is the treatment of an abscess/elongated root? Is it dangerous to treat? What is the prognosis when treated, do you know?Prognosis depends on a lot of things (like everything, of course). The health of the pig when the problem is identified, the severity, etc. I've had a couple pigs with deep root abscesses and the first recovered beautifully after extraction and about a month of flushing/packing (vet opened it up from the outside to facilitate this) and a couple different antibiotic combinations. He was just under two at surgery and survived to nearly 7 1/2 with no further issues.

The second was a pig who only had weight loss and drooling, nothing really unusual showed up on initial xrays, we made several trips back and forth because it was clear it was something with the teeth but we couldn't identify what exactly, until one of her teeth fell out and the second xray (some 3 months later) did show a deep root abscess and slightly "irregular" roots, I never investigated the latter. We extracted the tooth and did the same flushing routine, tried different antibiotics, got to where we were doing 10 days on, 10 off of them, and she would suck down Critical Care/Lifeline mix like she was starving, but she kept losing, until she leveled off and we thought we were making progress, but she died overnight one evening after seeming to recover to a degree.

Another pig had elongated roots and wasn't even a year old at diagnosis. We did a couple trims/planing, but they were painful to him and I had to syringe feed him round the clock. I did that until I could actually see his eyes moving when he'd chew, he'd wince in pain, and I said no more and had him euthanized.

The fortunate thing is that your pig still seems to be at a good weight and in good health, so your chances of identifying the issue and treating it successfully are better than if it were further along. Best of luck to you and please let us know how it goes.

07-30-13, 12:08 pm
We're back from the vet.

She re-examined her teeth (quote: "they look perfect, no issues at all"), so she took an x ray. The x ray didn't reflect any issues with her teeth either.

Even the vet admitted that Fluff's situation is a little puzzling. She said that drooling makes her immediately think teeth, but there aren't any teeth issues. She said absent a tooth issue drooling makes her think nausea, but Fluff is eating - not enough, but she's eating. Her temperature is "high-normal", not indicative of infection.

She did another round of fluids and vitamin C and gave her a shot of Reglan. She force fed her some food and she took it (didn't spit it out) and when she returned her to the exam room and put her in her carrier, Fluff started eating the hay I put in there. She sent me home with a bottle of Reglan and asked me to give her some more tonight and is hoping it will increase her appetite. Because she's eating on her own, I do not have to force feed her at this point.

If she does not show steady signs of improvement, bloodwork is next. She's reluctant to put her on antibiotics when she is not showing definite signs of infection because we're trying to increase her appetite and the antibiotics might thwart that.

So, no real diagnosis. Just treating of symptoms again.

07-30-13, 12:36 pm
What a cutie! I hope she gets well soon!

08-05-13, 06:51 pm
So, I think Fluff is getting better. The reglan seems to help her appetite and she's eating much more than usual. She went from a low of 1055 grams to her current 1080. She has stopped drooling as well. But, she's still pretty quiet, spending a lot of time in her house, so I am only cautiously optimistic.

I now have another question. In the hierarchy of the cage (2 pigs), Fluff is the boss. The two never fight, but Marshmallow has always deferred to Fluff whenever necessary. I've noticed that, since Fluff's been sick and hiding, that Marshmallow has been out and about a lot more than usual. Lying out in the open more often especially. I also noticed this in the past two days - she's laying in front of the hidey Fluff is in (not that I think Fluff has any burning desire to leave and she in no way chased her in there). Do you think this is a sympathetic action (trying to comfort Fluff) or is it an act of dominance because Fluff is weaker than usual? Should I do something about this?

08-05-13, 07:09 pm
It's probably an act of dominance -- many people notice that when their dominant pig is ill, the subordinates seem to want to get off the reservation, as it were. If, and this is a big IF, Fluff either can't or won't get out of the hidey with Marshmallow lying in front, then I'd replace those hideys with some that have two holes in them so Fluff won't be trapped. (Actually, I think ALL hideys should have two holes, but that's another issue.) If Fluff isn't moving as much in general, you don't want her lying in her own wastes in the hidey because Marshmallow's in the door. But other than that, I wouldn't worry about it.

Once Fluff is back to normal, you can replace them. Or not, as you choose.

08-05-13, 09:33 pm
thanks for the advice bpatters. I'm going to keep an eye on both of them and will substitute out the hideys if she starts to lay there a lot. I can't believe Marshmallow would try to usurp the top spot so quickly (although it is nice to see her out in the open so much); talk about kicking someone when they are down!

08-10-13, 07:13 pm
This is more of a general question, but I didn't want to start another thread since this is a question about the same pig. How long can you give a guinea pig Reglan? My bottle has no instructions, just a dose that says "give .3ml once or twice a day". She started on 7/30 and she was doing well after a day or two so I stopped giving it and she relapsed and the drooling came back. So I started up again and I've been giving it to her for about 6 days now and her appetite is so much better - probably about 75% of normal). Today I gave her a dose in the morning, but not at dinner. Is there any harm in continuing the Reglan once a day until she's absolutely 100%? I have barely made a dent in the bottle.

Also, Fluff's spot as top pig has been regained - she's spending much more time outside her hidey and I saw Marshmallow defer to Fluff twice; once when they both went for the pellet bowl and once when I filled the water bottle. So I'm much more optimistic that she'll make a full recovery. I was worried for awhile there.

08-10-13, 07:46 pm
I assume your vet gave her the Reglan? I'd call and ask how long it's safe to give it. I know that it can have pretty bad side effects in humans, but that's after months of treatment, not just a few days. I don't know how that would translate to length of dosage in guinea pigs.

08-10-13, 07:47 pm
HA HA just did! I had tagged bpatters before noticing the reply!

08-10-13, 07:58 pm
Thanks again bpatters. I'll call the vet on Monday (yes, it came as a prescription from the vet). The only thing she said in office was to stop if she got diarrhea, no mention at all of timing; I thought it was odd that the directives didn't give a time frame so I'm hoping the answer will be "as long as needed".

08-10-13, 08:17 pm
My Guinness has been on Reglan (Metoclopramide) for over a month now; it is very safe to use a few weeks. He just had his last dose yesterday so hoping he won't need to take it any longer. I am not sure of giving half the recommended dose though, that seems kind of pointless in my opinion- as you said she does seem to need it right now.

I would focus on keeping her healthy and getting her back to 100% then take the med away.

08-10-13, 08:38 pm
Melissa123 That's encouraging - thanks for your post! The dosing instructions are a little loosey-goosey because it says to give it once or twice a day, so it's kind of half the recommended dose, but kind of not. Who knows? I'm just thrilled that it's taken away what we can only assume to be her nausea, encouraged her to eat substantial amounts again and allowed her to get some pep back in her step!

08-10-13, 08:49 pm
@Melissa123 (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=27623) That's encouraging - thanks for your post! The dosing instructions are a little loosey-goosey because it says to give it once or twice a day, so it's kind of half the recommended dose, but kind of not. Who knows? I'm just thrilled that it's taken away what we can only assume to be her nausea, encouraged her to eat substantial amounts again and allowed her to get some pep back in her step!

Very welcome! The Reglan has done wonders for my boy as well. He has bloat issues so it has helped keep his stomach moving wonderfully!

She sounds like she is on the way to being 100%. Glad she has a great piggy parent to nurse her back to health. Please keep us posted! :)

08-10-13, 09:33 pm
I just noticed this thread now. Are you going to Danada? When I have a more serious or perplexing issue with one of my guinea pigs, I sometimes get a second opinion from Dr. Borowiak at Animal Medical Clinic which is at the intersection of Blanchard and Naperville Rd. It's more expensive than Danada but Dr. Borowiak is very knowledgeable about guinea pigs and is very thorough with his exams. Sending positive thoughts your way.

08-10-13, 10:08 pm
Yes, @pinky (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=15081) - I've been to Dr. Wallach at Danada twice for this issue. I was initially concerned because there really has been no diagnosis other than to rule out teeth issues, bloat and anything else that you can eliminate based upon a physical exam. Thankfully, treating the symptoms seems to have worked for now. The Reglan is the treatment difference between the first vet visit and the second and it seems to be what is really helping her because as I said earlier, when I stopped it because the drool dried up and she seemed to be eating more, she relapsed within a day or two and the drool and lethargy returned. Once I committed to the Reglan over a period of several days, she is just looking, acting and eating better and better. I don't think I'm ready to stop using it unless I have to, because I'm afraid it I stop it too soon, she'll go back into decline.

I remember you mentioning Animal Medical Clinic to me once before and I've got it in the back of my mind should Fluff take a turn for the worse, but in her defense, Dr. Wallach has not really done many diagnostics beyond the teeth x ray (negative0 because she really felt that that would be overkill when fluids, vitamin C (and Reglan) might just do the trick

08-12-13, 06:09 pm
Just to update, I spoke to the vet today and she said that giving the Reglan for several weeks is not a problem, but she did say that if she's doing really well to try discontinuing it. I didn't give any at dinner today, and I'll see what happens if I skip tomorrow. I've been weighing daily, so I should know right away if I need to put her back on it.