View Full Version : Sick Teeth issues, possible vitamin c issues, not wanting veg...many issues

05-28-14, 01:31 pm
This is going to be long and hopefully I don't miss anything.

Buttercup is my 9 month old guinea pig. When I first got her, about 7 weeks ago, she had overgrown incisors that needed to be trimmed (she was underweight and incapable of eating properly). I immediately took her to the vet and had that taken care of. She began eating normally about 48 hours later and gained weight each week. My family got very sick about four weeks ago (there are five of us) and it took about 3 2 1/2 weeks to get through all of us. I did not weigh the pigs for those three weeks because frankly I was pretty busy taking care of everyone else. Their cages were cleaned, bowls were filled, etc. etc. but I did not weigh them.

So at about 2 weeks into my family's sickness, I noticed Buttercup had a slightly wheezy wheek and would cough 1-2 times a day. I had changed kitchen substrates from newspaper pellets to wood pellets so I blamed that change. They were using the wood pellets for about a week and then I switched them back to newspaper pellets. She did not get any worse, but also did not improve. No runny eyes, no discharge from the nose, great attitude. Then I noticed she seemed to be having trouble eating. I weighed her at that three week mark (during normal cage cleaning/weigh time) and she had lost 140ish grams. I was SHOCKED. I began paying very, very close attention to her to try to determine what was going on. I consulted with a vet who told me to get her going on a very low dose of Baytril for the respiratory stuff and maybe it was making her feel punky enough to not eat enough. I did that, but wasn't satisfied. Once Monday rolled around, I called my regular vet and brought her right in. She was mildly dehydrated, so they gave subcutaneous fluids. She was underweight, which I knew, and her molars were overgrown a bit in the back, growing toward the inside of her mouth (so probably making it difficult to eat. My gut told me that more was wrong than this, but I didn't know for sure. She was scheduled to have dental surgery the next morning, and she did. After consulting with a specialist, I was told that she would need three more of those dental surgeries to try to train her teeth to grow properly, and honestly at the moment I can't remember that stuff because by now my problem is beyond that...

Surgery was last Wednesday (May 21st). Everything went well. I took her back the next morning for a physical therapy consult, as there are things I need to do with her at home to try to get those jaw muscles working properly. She said her molars were not as badly overgrown as she would have expected for such weight loss, and she thought there must be something else going on. She had taken oral xrays that looked pretty good to her. I took her home with Baytril, Meloxicam, probiotic, and Critical Care, which she happily ate in a sort of mushed ball form. At first...

That night, I offered her pig salad (some lettuce, squash, bell pepper, and a little slice of carrot). She ate more of it than she had eaten in quite a while. I was very happy to see her eating. She would not touch the hay or the pellets, but at least she was getting something in her. I was syringe-feeding her Critical Care 4-5 times a day because she refused to eat the mush balls for some reason after that physical therapy appointment. Friday morning came and everything changed and got so much worse...

We woke up and I was getting my kids ready for school and myself ready for work. I work at a cat and dog vet hospital and had planned to take her to work with me because I needed to syringe-feed her and whatnot. When I went to get her from the cage, I saw a complete explosion of diarrhea. I swear, it was everywhere. She lives in a 3x4 C&C and the majority of the fleece was coated. I tried to call my vet but she took a four day weekend for the holiday. I was pretty damn stressed. I had dropped $800 on her that week and could not afford to take her to ER. I felt like the worst pet parent in the world, but I just didn't have many viable options. I cleaned her up and gave her Critical Care, grabbed her medical box, and left for work. Every time I picked her up, diarrhea poured out of her. She was soaking a hand towel every 10 minutes or so for the entire morning. She refused to eat or drink anything. Every time I went back to check on her, I felt her situation was more and more grim. I took her out to give her some Carafate to help stop the diarrhea at about 10. I changed her towel at about 12:10ish and when I went back to get her at 12:30 to take her on my lunch, she was asleep and had not pooped at all. I didn't want to wake her because I knew she would just pour diarrhea everywhere, so I left her in my coworker's care and left for lunch. I can't tell you how long I sat in my car and cried; I was certain I'd come back and she would be gone. When I got back at about 1:45, my coworker didn't have a depressed look on her face, so I felt hopeful. I went back and she was sitting there looking at me, with four little *ever-so-slightly* formed poops in a corner. This was much better than what she had been doing. Part of me wanted to leave her be because she wasn't pouring it out, but I knew I had to get some fluids in her. We took her out and prepared for a massive mess. Gave her subcutaneous fluids and noticed she didn't poop at all. Nothing. I felt amazing. I knew it was just a little step in the right direction, but it was what I needed to really feel like maybe I could help her pull through. I gave her some more Carafate and left her be for a bit. When I went back to check on her, she had no more poops and I noticed she had begun drinking. I was allowed to leave work early (probably because I had created so much laundry for them...oops...) and I picked my kids up from school and brought her home. No more poops still. I gave her Critical Care and she only leaked a few drops of diarrhea here and there. More Carafate. I should add that I didn't give any veg that day.

Woke up Saturday and checked on her. She had a tiny tiny smear here and there, but nothing big at all. I felt relieved. That day, I gave her Critical Care, Baytril, Carafate, but skipped the Meloxicam. My probiotic was a month from expiration and I worried that maybe it caused the diarrhea, so I stopped it. I had ordered a new batch which was set to arrive Tuesday. At that point I was just hoping to make it to the next day, let alone Tuesday. Each day she seemed a bit better and better. She dropped more weight, with a grand total of 224g down :( She was/is TINY. Her attitude improved exponentially as of Saturday morning. All she wants to do is be with me. This experience has really made her quite dependent on me. We are still not out of the woods, though.

I called her vet yesterday when they opened and updated her on everything. She said I could start giving her a very small amount of veg, so I gave her a sprig of parsley and she wolfed it down. She had started eating hay on Saturday or Sunday, I can't recall at the moment which day, but not long strands, only very small pieces that fall through the rack and still not as much as she usually does. She won't touch her pellets with a ten foot pole, which I think is because they smell like the Critical Care, which she now abhors. Because of that negative association, I asked if there was anything I could do to the Critical Care to change the way it smells. The vet said I could add a little baby food to it, so I picked up green beans, peas, and bananas. I know, everyone in the world is thinking why bananas? Because I haven't seen my pig eat almost anything in a week and I felt like that would be what she would be the most likely to eat. She is a skeleton, well not quite, but damn close. I mixed less than 1/8 tsp of banana in with her Critical Care and she almost ripped the syringe out of my hand. She sucked it down so fast I couldn't even believe it.

It was then that I realized what a failure I had been. She hadn't been getting adequate Vitamin C in days and I have Vitamin C tablets in the medical box. UGH! How could I forget this!??! I felt like an idiot. I crushed one up and threw it in with her Critical Care as of yesterday and she is fine with that. So, now she is on Critical Care (about 24mL per day), probiotic (as of yesterday), and the Vitamin C. I have been weighing her daily and I am happy to announce that yesterday she gained 31g! I weigh her in the evenings, so I do not know her weight for today yet, but I did have to take her to her vet for a weight and she had gained 18g as of this morning. I can't express how happy this makes me feel.

That all said...something has got to give. She won't touch her pellets. She isn't eating enough hay. She isn't even really fond of many vegs. She will eat carrot, but obviously I don't want to give that to her all the time. She refuses bell pepper, sort of munches on kale, and is pretty meh about lettuce. She will eat parsley pretty much any time I offer it. What can I do? How can I get her to eat better? I tried mixing some hay in with some plain yogurt, the banana-flavored Critical Care, and chopped corn, but she wanted nothing to do with it. She had just sucked down 11.5mL of Critical Care (she was acting like she was starving so I let her have more than her usual amount...a lot more) so maybe that is why? I bet if I offered her a carrot she would have eaten it right up, though. She is cheeky like that. But really, any thoughts? Any tricks? I am trying so hard to do everything in my power to make her better. If time is the answer, then that is okay. But I really need her to start eating that hay...and I don't want to syringe-feed her forever, though she eats it in less than 20 seconds so it's not like it's a big deal, really.

Then I notice that since I don't have enough on my plate with her, one of her upper incisors has broken! It's broken straight across and is only about 1/4 the length of the other incisor. Good grief :( Can't catch a break to save my freaking life. My theory (and it's just a theory, who knows) is that because I failed with the Vitamin C, her teeth became weaker. Since she has become dependent on me, she has started chewing the cage bars when I am near because she wants me to pick her up. She doesn't do it forever, maybe five minutes long and if I haven't picked her up by then, she goes and lays down. But still, it's something she had never done before so maybe the weaker teeth combined with the chewing made one break? I don't know. That's my theory.

Apparently I just let it go and pray the other one doesn't break. Please pray that doesn't happen, I seriously do not want any more setbacks with this little girl. Another thought I've had lately...what if ALL of this was caused by scurvy? Maybe she stopped eating the bell pepper like she used to and I didn't notice because she is housed with other pigs. I look at the side effects of Vitamin C deficiency and wonder if maybe her teeth being in rough shape could be attributed to that, the lethargy, the not wanting to eat...maybe? I just have a hard time believing that it was her teeth that was the primary issue because she has not rolled around like she did last time. Granted, last time she had her incisors trimmed and this time she had full anesthetic and molars dealt with. I understand those are two very different things, but still. I am just trying to understand everything and make sure that this doesn't happen to any of my other girls and that my Buttercup gets better.

So that's everything, I believe. I apologize for bogging you down with so much info, but I just felt it would be best to lay all my cards down. I'd super appreciate it if you could leave any negative comments about me not being able to take her to ER and forgetting the Vitamin C out because I honestly already have my own demons about that and don't really need them amplified. I have done and am doing everything I can for her. I love this pig. She is (dare I say) my favorite of all my pigs and this has been such a stressful experience for us.

05-28-14, 01:33 pm
Oh, by the way, the little cough and wheezy wheek were 100% gone after about 2 days on Baytril.

05-28-14, 02:05 pm
You've really had a siege, haven't you?

My first thought, when you got the part about the diarrhea, is that she's intolerant of the Baytril and should be taken off it and given something else. But if the diarrhea has stopped and she's still on the Baytril, that's not likely the problem. But I'd never give a low dose of Baytril, or any other antibiotic. What you'll wind up with is a continuing infection and an organism that's resistant to it. Generally, you want to give the smallest dose that will actually kill all the bad organisms, but you generally start with a full dose and then continue for x number of days.

I have no idea why she's on Carafate. The only use I can find for it online is for stomach ulcers, and I doubt seriously that's the problem. Even if it were, I don't know if the carafate would work. Human stomachs are a strongly acidic environment, but herbivores have MUCH less acid in their stomachs, and I don't even know if they get stomach ulcers. Besides, Carafate itself can cause diarrhea in humans.

Small digression here -- you should be giving the probiotic an hour or so before or after the antibiotic. You want it to repopulate the good bacteria in the intestine, and it won't do that if you give them at the same time. Also, if she's not eating much else, she should be getting 50-60 cc. of critical care per day, split into 5-6 servings. You can decrease that amount by whatever amount of anything else she's eating, but I'd let her have all she wants.

What you're describing about her eating patterns sounds like continuing problems with her molars. Was this a good exotic dentist who worked on her teeth? Did they do both top and side x-rays so they could check for elongated roots as well as other problems (abscess, broken tooth, etc.) I've never heard of "training the teeth to grow properly," and don't think that's possible.

05-28-14, 02:18 pm
She is no longer on the Baytril. I stopped that on Saturday.

She was put on the Carafate because I thought she was going to die and we use it in dogs and cats to stop diarrhea. Maybe hers stopped on its own, but the diarrhea did stop after three doses. She is no longer on that medication either. I don't like to medicate unless I feel I need to do so.

I am still giving the probiotic, but I do give it with her Critical Care. She is not on any medications, so that is alright? Just once a day?

I will increase her Critical Care. I was simply going off what was stated on the bag, but she would happily eat probably 12-15mL per sitting if I let her. I will do that.

She did take top and side views of her mouth. I'm hogwash explaining the training thing because everything just sort of melted away in my mind when Friday struck and I thought I was going to lose her. I do not have an "amazing" cavy savvy vet here. She has many years of experience and does surgery on a regular basis on them, but I cannot say she is a specialist in her field. I don't have that here, so I did my research and felt she was my best bet. She has been excellent this entire time. She did those films for me at no cost simply because she wanted to get a better look at her mouth. I took photos of the films with my phone and can post them if you'd care to see them.

05-28-14, 02:20 pm
She may have had the uri which led to her not eating which led to her teeth overgrowing. Sounds like you're moving in the right direction with her. I would advise letting her eat as much of what she will eat to try to put some weight back on her. Once she's feeling better you can transition to an ideal diet.

05-28-14, 03:20 pm
My problem is she really doesn't want anything. I mean, it's clear that she is hungry, but she only wants the sweet stuff. I have to really watch the sugars because of the recent diarrhea.

I just have this gut feeling I can't shake that I am missing something important and that I need to figure it out.

05-28-14, 03:59 pm
I made her some critical care with plain yogurt and baby food green beans. She didn't love it like the banana mix, but she ate 18mL of it. Then u put her back in her cage and realized I hadn't given the girls their allotment of pellets for the day. I had ordered fresh pellets off eBay a week ago but was waiting to run out of the oxbow. I finally did, so I switched to the new ones. She LOVES them! She hasn't taken her head out of the bowl and won't let the other girls in lol. Had to put another bowl in there. I am so pleased!

05-28-14, 04:03 pm
Don't feed her yogurt. Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, and shouldn't have any milk products at all.

05-28-14, 04:19 pm
Oh, that is what I was told to mix the critical care with to put more weight on her *sigh*

05-28-14, 05:29 pm
I would not give her any veggies or fruit at all right now. Not even baby food in her critical care. If you need to add something to the CC, pumpkin would be fine.

Whether she likes the CC or not doesn't matter. You force feed it to her.

I don't understand why the vet just clipped her incisors the first time. Incisors that are too long are an indicator that there's a problem with the molars.

I have a pig right now having serious soft stool. She's been taken off all veggies and only gets pellets, hay, and Critical Care (with probiotic added).

05-28-14, 05:41 pm
Her stools are normal now, which is why the veggies have been slowly added back in. They have been normal since Sunday.

The vet did check her molars at her first visit, but said they were fine at the time. She has started gaining finally since allowing some veg, so I really don't want to take it away and go backwards. She is 9 months old and hit 525g the other day. That's ridiculously low.