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Thread: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

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    How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    Background:
    About 5 months ago one of my guinea pigs (she was about 9 months' old then) was treated for ear infection. We found her one evening with her head tilted one side and she stayed lying down, with her eyes shifty. We rushed her to the nearest available vet (our usual vet was not around), and he diagnosed her with ear infection and prescribed antibiotics and some supplements. During the follow up check up she seems better, although her head is still tilted, her appetite is poor and she continued to lose weight. We had to maintain her weight with critical care and a bit of alfalfa pellets mixed into the timothy ones; she's refusing most of the fruits and vegetables she used to love, and her hay is hardly touched. The vet asked us to continue with the supplement (I need to go back and look for the name of it, it's one of the B vitamins for the nerves) for another month and return for another follow up then. I asked him to look at the teeth to see why she's not eating, but he said it's normal.

    I brought her back to our usual trusted vet, she found that her teeth has overground and that her jaw is misaligned, most likely while the head was tilted. She got the teeth filed, and taught us how to massage her to ease both the head tilt and jaw. Currently she's hardly tilting, the jaw is still a bit misaligned but has been improving. We've been going back to file her teeth once a month for 3 months now, but she's still refusing hay even after the teeth filing, so likely it'll overgrow again. She always seems hungry, but all she eats are the pellets, critical care made into a paste, and a bit of selective vegetables.

    I've tried all the Oxbow varieties (she used to love the orchard grass) to see if she'll eat any. The only other few hay options I could find in Malaysia are not very appealing (yellowish, dry, and hard...). She still loves blueberries, I tried slathering it on a few strands of hay but she just took the blueberry pieces and ignored the hay. I've also been cutting up the grass hay into tiny pieces and mixed it into her critical care paste (along with a bunch of wheat grass and a bit of cilantro, also chopped into tiny pieces), that she finishes. But I think she needs the long strands to grind down her teeth?

    Are they any suggestions on how I can try to coax her into start eating some hay?

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    Re: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    Is she on any pain medication? Sometimes a pig with chronic tooth issues will be in pain, and that will affect their appetites.

    Did either of the vets x-ray her skull? She could have an abscessed tooth, or elongated roots. Either of those things will cause a pig not to eat, but the only way they can be diagnosed is by x-ray -- top and side views.

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    Re: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    The vet prescribes pain medication for a few days after the filing, although we find that her appetite is good with the pellets and critical care.

    Nope, neither asked for an x-ray, I suppose I should ask. I doubt the first vet even properly looked at her teeth, he just shoved the otoscope into her mouth and looked for a couple of seconds before telling me that there's no concern.

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    Re: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    I think you need to find a vet with rodent dentistry experience and get a good evaluation.

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    Re: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    Unfortunately we have not been able to find any in Malaysia. In fact the current vet that is seeing her has the better reviews in the country (to treat guinea pigs), and my piggie has improved significantly since going back to her. Every other guinea pig vets we've been to previously.. simply put I won't trust my piggies with them. My only gripe is that once we got the antibiotics from the first vet to treat the tilt we should've brought her to the current vet at the next availability, as opposed to letting her deteriorate to this stage for nearly 2 months. But that's not helping, so I need to leave it at that.

    What I will do is on the next appointment with the vet I will ask about the x-ray and the abscessed tooth and elongated roots.

    That aside, I have a feeling she's currently associating hay with pain (when her teeth was overgrown and left untreated) since she has been able to to eat more and her appetite got better since the first filing was done and meds given. Previously she couldn't even get to the skins of cucumbers and peppers (and before the filing, not even the flesh).

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    Re: How can I encourage my piggie to eat hay?

    Just to add a little more info, her jaw is still misaligned now, but in a lesser degree since the vet first filed the teeth and taught us the massage. She mentioned that she has tried chin slings previously but it didn't quite fit Asian piggies so it tends to fall off easily (lol), so massaging is our next best option - and it's working indeed so we have been continuing with it. The misaligned jaw probably explains her difficulty in chewing currently, although I'm hoping in time as the jaw gets back in place she will resume her normal eating habits.

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