View Full Version : Senior Guinea Pig Losing Weight

04-22-14, 09:08 pm
Hi everyone-
I took my pig in to an emergency clinic last night because he "choked" on a piece of lettuce (turning blue, eyes bugging out, etc.). Recovered from that fine, was sassy this morning, and went home with a clean bill of health. While he was there, they took X-rays, saw he had some mild hooks on his back molars, and elongated roots. The exotic vet said he needed a dental, but could wait a few weeks (he's a professor at the veterinary college here, so we have to work around his schedule). About 1 hour ago, pig is almost lifeless, lethargic, and unable to pick up food or chew.

There are no exotic vets in my area who accept emergencies. Advice?

04-22-14, 09:26 pm
Has he been this way ever since the exam, or did he crash after you got him home? Could he eat then, or is this a new development?

Unfortunately, if he can't chew, there's probably not much to be done for him. Even a pig that's being hand-fed has to chew. It sounds as though his jaw might have been injured during the exam.

04-22-14, 09:37 pm
That's awful, I'm just wondering bpatters if they gave him anesthesia could it be a bad reaction to that?

04-22-14, 09:38 pm
It's a new development.

Just fed him 30 ccs of Critical Care and now he's eating treats, carrots, and hay. I also put a bowl of Critical Care in his cage, because he loves to slurp the stuff.

I literally thought this pig was hours from death; ragdoll, cold, lethargic, could barely hold his head up.

I'm going to watch him the rest of the night. The attending student thinks he might have developed ileus, so I'm giving him a dose of simethicone, continuing to supplement with hand feedings, and monitoring. He did get anesthesia; bounced back fine, eating all night/day. It was literally a sudden change.

Happy he's okay for the moment, but I don't want to go to bed and wake up to a dead pig.

04-22-14, 09:47 pm
I'm so glad he's doing better, that sounds so scary!

04-22-14, 09:49 pm
Glad to hear he can​ eat, and is doing so. Keep us posted on how he's doing.

04-22-14, 09:54 pm
I'm just hoping I'm doing the "vet student/prey animal owner" hyper-vigilance, and I woke him up from a nap or something. But I will keep you posted! Giving him a dose of simethicone to be safe.

04-24-14, 09:25 am
He is doing much better! Back to squeaking and being sassy about treats.

I'm still worried about his weight, though. He eats hay almost constantly, but doesn't really like his pellets. He gets a cup of fresh veggies a day (mostly greens and a carrot or 2), with the occasional fruit treats, and regular treats. The vet gave him a 2 on a 1-5 body condition score. He's a 5 year old, active, intact boar. Any tips on getting him to put on weight?

05-29-14, 12:19 pm
I'm just failing at the whole guinea pig owner thing lately- haha. lol

How can I put weight on an active senior guinea pig?
He gets unlimited timothy, 2 cups of veggies a day (romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, a piece of fruit-grape, watermelon, apple slice, etc., and cilantro). He really doesn't eat his Oxbow Performance pellets, so I am switching him to KMS Hayloft timothy pellets to see if he likes those better. Because he is lean he gets as many treats as his piggy heart desires. He has a history of malocclusion, which I know is contributing to the weight loss, and that is getting fixed next week.
At his heaviest, he weighed 900 g so he's always been on the lean side for a male intact pig. Right now, he is 750 g, even though he is constantly eating.

What else can I do both before and after the dental to put weight on him?

05-29-14, 12:32 pm
Plain rolled oats can be used to try to fatten up a guinea pig. You also might try cutting back on his vegetables and see if he'll eat more pellets and hay.

But it's really hard to get an adult guinea pig to gain weight, especially as they get older.

05-29-14, 12:56 pm
You're not failing at all! Like bpatters said, it is a hard job. :)

My pigs are still fairly young (2.5 and 3) so I haven't experienced this yet, but I do have a possible suggestion. Maybe you could try some new varieties of hay (orchard grass, and a little bit of alfalfa now and then as a treat) to get him more excited about eating his Timothy hay. I know my pigs are always very excited for a little bit of variety mixed in with their regular Oxbow Timothy Hay.

Another fun treat if your pig hasn't tried them are dried dandelion greens! They are quite messy, so be aware of that if you have fleece bedding, but my pigs adore them. You could try mixing them in with his hay to see if that encourages him to eat some more.

Good luck with your little guy! Hope all turns out well.

07-03-14, 01:48 pm
I have a 5 year old guinea pig with a history of really bad dental malocclusion. Basically, the poor guy needs biannual dentals to keep his teeth normal.

He seems to go through phases of anorexia that usually last anywhere from one to two weeks, where he will sit fluffed up in a corner grinding his teeth; his poops get really small and clumpy. I supplement with Critical Care (about 12 cc twice a day) and he all but rips the syringe out of my hand to drink it; he won't drink it straight from the bowl. His appetite for veggies and treats also decrease, but he will still eat a little bit.

He got a dental last month, and his appetite skyrocketed; he gained 300 grams in two weeks (900 grams! His max weight), but now he's back down to hovering around 760 grams.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Taking him into the vet every month or so for anorexia is really starting to wear down my bank account (the vet is 2 hours away), and I'm at a loss for what to do.

07-03-14, 01:56 pm
Gosh, I haven't heard of a piggy being on and off anorexia!
What meds has he been given? Are you sure it's only to do with the malocclusion?

When he doesn't want to eat, it'd be best to give him Critical Care every two hours to keep his gut going.

We're currently caring for a guinea pig who has malocclusion, penis problems, impaction problems, bumble foot and a couple of other stuff..so has trouble getting his food and water in and out. We're force feeding him about 50mls every two hours. His old vet really stuffed it up, and was going to put him down (hence why he's with us now), and our vet found multiple medical issue's with him that the other vet didn't ever say (from the notes they sent us).

Is there any signs or warnings before he has a phase of 'anorexia'?

07-03-14, 02:03 pm
He's not on any medications. I usually give a dose or two of Metacam when it starts because I'm always worried about an ulcer in his mouth from a dental spur, but there is usually no difference. I try to avoid round the clock Critical Care because a.) I work 12 hours a day 5 days a week (and I work in a vet clinic, so it would be stressful for him to come with me), and b.) he seems to prefer to be handfed than to eat on his own.

Usually they come on with no warning. Sometimes, if I clean his anal sac, they will resolve briefly.

Is it possible for a pig to have arthritis and that cause anorexia? He has always had a hunched up stature, and I wonder if he could have joint pain causing him to feel not so hot?

07-03-14, 03:14 pm
He certainly could have arthritis -- a full body x-ray would show that.

What kind of dental problems? and what do they do when you take him in?

What kind of hay do you feed him? And what else does he get to eat? (Brands, amounts, etc)

07-03-14, 03:27 pm
Anorexia is a very serious eating disorder, usually stemming from a feeling of loss of control. Treatment involves psychological counseling to deal with the mental issue that leads to it. Animals do not make a conscious effort not to eat. What it would be more suitably called is lack of appetite. Probably due to the malocclusion you mentioned.

07-03-14, 03:40 pm
Anorexia is defined as the loss of appetite; not trying to compare it to anorexia nervosa, or certainly not trying to belittle those with eating disorders or minimize their suffering, so I'm very sorry if it was interpreted as such.

bpatters- He has a general malocclusion and needs his teeth leveled out. He had spurs on both the outside and inside of his teeth (buccal/lingual sides) and had those trimmed. He also has one elongated root on his right lower jaw that can be felt. Basically, X-rays showed a couple elongated roots on the lower jaw, but only 1 is palpable, and his teeth are basically uneven everywhere.
He gets Oxbow timothy hay, KMS Hayloft pellets with rolled oats mixed in (about 1/4 cup of pellets, 1 tbsp. of oats). He also gets 1 cup of fresh veggies daily.

07-03-14, 07:22 pm
Pain could be causing this. Arthritis is really painful for them, and I know that our old man perked up a lot, and ate better, when he was finally on some anti-inflamatories for his arthritis.

07-03-14, 07:34 pm
You know- I've suspected he might arthritic. He is really not very active and honestly, I can't remember the last time he ran laps around my room. I'll definitely look into that.

07-03-14, 07:49 pm
I'm really not familiar with guinea pig ailments, but remember the time one of my cats was hit by a car (got away with 'minor' injuries, including a very sore tongue/mouth). Her first instinct was to run away from me, and hide. After the vet's visit, she wanted nothing to do with her favourite wet food. My mum is a former palliative care nurse and talked about people 'losing their hunger' after not eating (for whatever reasons) and to try to get a bit of food into the cat's mouth, to reawaken her sense of appetite. Poor kitty, as I had to wrap her in a towel and syringe some liquidy wet food into a sore mouth. She shot me the meanest stare, then walked over to the bowl and started slurping up the food on her own.

Pain anywhere is no doubt a tricky situation, wrt to appetite. Pain upon eating must be awful. I'm surprised that his teeth would grow back so quickly? Surely there is a pain medication that would allow him to eat a bit without having to bring him to the vet that often.

This might sound silly, but if arthritis is ruled out, is there such a thing as body work for a guinea pig? Used on horses to deal with a variety of pain conditions....something that perhaps you could learn and use on him, to reduce any discomfort?

07-23-14, 12:43 pm
Doodle has recently gone downhill. He stopped eating and pooping about 24 hours ago, so I took him to the vet yesterday morning who filed his teeth a bit more, and couldn't find anything else wrong. Since then he has been very lethargic, and quiet.
Currently his regimen is:

Handfeeding 6 ccs of Critical Care every 2-3 hours
0.8 mL of Reglan 3x a day (until he poops)
0.15 mL of Metacam once a day
0.4 mL of SMZs twice a day
0.15 mL of simethicone twice a day
35 ccs of Lactated Ringer's with Vitamin C and Vitamin B subQ once a day

He's still dull, quiet, slightly cool to the touch, and not eating. I can hear his tummy rumbling but nothing is coming out. I was honestly shocked he lived through the night.

I've told myself if he doesn't poop by tomorrow, it is time to euthanize. He just seems like he's lost his fight this go around. Is this reasonable? Anything else I can do?

07-23-14, 12:49 pm
I'm sorry to hear he's sick. How old is he?

07-23-14, 12:52 pm
He's about 6 years old, so he is a grumpy old man piggy.

07-23-14, 01:06 pm
I'm sorry, I hope he gets better. Hang in there Doodle!

07-23-14, 01:11 pm
It sounds like you and your vet are doing all the right things. The only think I could think to add is that you might put him on a vibrating pillow (or use an electric toothbrush) to see if that kicks anything loose.

It's so hard to know what to do when they're seniors. I think you just have to weigh the length/quality of life they may have left against the suffering they'll have to go through to get over the illness (if they even do), and decide what's best.

Keep us posted on how he's doing.

Ahmose Inarus
07-23-14, 01:32 pm
I am so sorry to hear about Doodle... I agree with bpatters. It may be time to have that quality of life discussion with your veterinarian. You have to consider whether or not you are needlessly prolonging his suffering. If the prognosis is bleak, it may be time to let him go. You need to listen to him, too. YOU know your precious boy best, and if you can see that he's ready to rest, honor that. I know it doesn't make it any easier to make that call, just trust yourself to do right by him. That's all any one of us can do.

07-23-14, 01:57 pm
The vet seemed to think increasing the Reglan should help. I'll try the vibrating pillow/toothbrush combo. His stomach is soft and very very rumbly. So I'm hoping it's a sign he's about to make up for lost time in the poops department.

He has also perked up a bit and picked at hay, pellets, and treats. I just don't want him to suffer unnecessarily.

07-23-14, 04:32 pm
Well, he took a couple of sips of water when I got home, which is the first I have seen him drink. Let him sit on a vibrating toothbrush for 5 minutes, which he enjoyed/didn't protest, and gave him a gentle belly massage. I can feel rumbling/gurgling and hear it. But I palpated a strange segment on the right side of his belly. I hope it's not a torsion or blockage, but he doesn't seem to be sensitive or in pain to me prodding it.

I think it's enough progress to see how he does through another night.

07-23-14, 07:53 pm
I'm glad he's doing better! Hang in there Doodle!

07-23-14, 08:24 pm
Yeah give it a little time. He seems to have perked up some so see how it goes. As said above, if he's in pain and there is no hope per the vet then I'd put him down. I'm the type that unless I visibly see misery and the vet didn't say there is no hope, I'd hang on to hope and just take it day to day with how he's doing. I so don't look forward to this with any pet that I have formed a bond with, which is like a few days after getting him. I hope Doodles progresses and feels better soon.

07-23-14, 08:30 pm
I've merged your threads together. It helps to have all the medical info about a pig on one thread.

07-23-14, 10:57 pm
Sending goo thoughts to your piggy!! Hang in there Doodle <3

07-24-14, 12:09 pm
Hi, everyone- I took Doodle in to the vet because he had taken a turn for the worse. Ultrasound revealed he was in the late stages of heart failure. He passed away in my arms about an hour ago.

C. Cole-Chakotay
07-24-14, 01:10 pm
I'm sorry to hear this. :(

07-24-14, 01:18 pm
I'm so sorry. It sounds like you did the most you could for his last days. RIP Doodle. :(

07-24-14, 01:32 pm
Oh gosh. So sorry to hear that Doodle didn't make it :-( Rest peacefully, little one

07-24-14, 01:49 pm
I'm so sorry, you took amazing care of him.

07-24-14, 02:21 pm
kateanddoodle, I'm really sorry to hear about Doodle. I can understand what you're going through. I had to make the tough decision to put my sweet Wolfbane to sleep yesterday. She would have been 6 in November. It's really hard to know when they've had enough. I had hoped she'd pass in her sleep if it was her time, but it wasn't meant to be. She was being treated for a URI and was on Baytril and a probiotic but still ended up with bloat. I've treated guinea pigs with bloat before so she got simethicone, Reglan, was massaged and was hand fed, too. Sadly, she appeared to make a sudden recovery and the bloat disappeared but then she took a nose dive. When I took her in yesterday morning, the vet said that they're like humans. Sometimes they get a burst of energy before they pass. She felt the humane thing to do was end her suffering. Sounds like you did an incredible job of caring for your little man. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I'll bet Wolfbane and Doodle are munching on some heavenly hay right now....Hugs.....

07-24-14, 03:14 pm
I'm sorry for your loss.

07-24-14, 04:20 pm
I'm sorry for your loss.

07-24-14, 04:21 pm

I am sorry for your loss too.

07-24-14, 08:21 pm
I'm so sorry hear the Doodle didn't make it. RIP little Doodle.