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Thread: Guinea pigs have lost substantial weight - now stable, but still worrying...

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave onefutui2e's Avatar
    May 19, 2013
    15 Rec'd/13 Posts
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    Guinea pigs have lost substantial weight - now stable, but still worrying...

    Hi all,

    I've had Magneto and Xavier for a few years ago. Magneto is at least 5 years old, judging by when his previous owner gave him to me. Xavier is at least 3 years old. For a while (about 2 years ago for 6-9 months, so when Magneto was 3 years old and Xavier 1 year old) we had them split a 2x4 so each one had a 2x2 with a shared wall. Not optimal, I know, but I was moving around a lot and this was the best option at the time. During this time, they hit a zenith in their weight with Magneto topping out near 44oz. and Xavier at 53oz.

    My girlfriend and I then moved in together in the Fall of 2017, expanded the cage to a 2x5, and let them share it. There were the usual aggressions, growing pains, etc. but the fact that they spent 6-9 months sharing a wall seemed to help (previous attempts at introductions didn't go as well). They lost a bit of weight with Magneto dropping to be 40oz. and Xavier 50oz. We attributed to 1) them having more space, 2) the dominant behaviors leading to more "exercise", 3) me telling my girlfriend to stop feeding them so many vegetables and fruits. Around spring time of 2018 we noticed Magneto dropping significant amounts of weight while Xavier held steady but with a small drop to about 48. At some point he weighed in at about 34oz. (his previous low was 32oz.). We took him to the vet and she said that he's likely getting older and losing muscle mass if he's closing in on 5 years, and recommended Critical Care as a dietary supplement. Otherwise, she told us that he appears to be fine. Around the same time, we adopted a third guinea pig (Spiderpig) with the idea of expanding the cage further and carving out a separate space for Magneto to "retire" in while letting Xavier and Spiderpig live together (i.e., shared wall).

    After the switch, we noticed Xavier dropping weight as well. He fell to about 44oz at one point and has held steady between 44-46oz since late October. Magneto at one point made it back up to 38oz., but has since been hovering around 35-36oz. and he just feels and looks bonier, even with a supplement of Critical Care (we started giving him a bit of alfalfa as a treat, too). Spiderpig has been putting on weight since he was only 6-7 weeks old when we got him. Behaviorally, nothing seems wrong with either of them; Xavier has lost a little bit of spunk but it may just be that he's getting older now.

    Is this normal? It's a bit concerning that their weight has dropped 15-20 percent from their high in the span of a few months, but I'm not sure if this is just an effect of aging as they start going over the hill. Does anyone have any ideas for how to help them gain their weight back?


  2. #2
    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
    May 12, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
    449 Rec'd/405 Posts
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    Re: Guinea pigs have lost substantial weight - now stable, but still worrying...

    Weight loss, and loss of muscle tone in older pigs is normal. Too much, however is not. I watched both of my senior boars lose weight and muscle tone over the last year of their lives (Sly closer to two years, and he had dental problems that exacerbated the weight loss)

    When Pooper fell ill and was on Baytril, he went down as far as 1036 grams (36 ounces) His normal weight, before he started to age and before he was ill was around 1500 grams (52 ounces). Both he and Sly were fair size pigs.

    Poopy started to lose weight well before he fell ill. After his illness, we managed to get him back up close to 1300 grams, but as he aged more he started to slide. 5 days before his passing, he was down at 1197 grams.

    Sly also spent months and months losing weight. Part of it was the aging process, I'm sure. Part of it was the dental issues. Sly also went from a 1500 gram pig, to the day he passed away he was 1055 grams. He had lost a chunk of weight in the last week of his life (just over 100 grams) but he had steadily been losing for quite some time. It broke my heart to pick either one of them up as they aged, as they begun to feel like frail little old men. Because they were. It was like hugging an elderly grandfather. You love them, but it breaks your heart.

    If Xavier is only 3 years old, he shouldn't be losing significant weight. Is your vet cavy savvy?

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