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Thread: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

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    Cavy Slave
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    Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    My foster pig delivered four babies on her own on the thirteenth. I found her while he was eating her last placenta, and all the babies were safe and already toddling around.

    A few days later, all of the babies are energetic and eating solids, except one. The fourth and smallest baby nibbles hay and sniffs at lettuce and pellets, but mostly he latches onto his mom and nurses. He nurses much more often than his siblings; I watched him nurse for at least 20 min straight when I came home from work. He doesn’t seem to be in pain or uncomfortable, just slower than his siblings. When the babies are following mum, he’s always the last in line.

    He is 82g, 4g lighter than the next largest baby, 15g smaller than the biggest. His eyes are also smaller than his siblings’. He is brown and white and has his front teeth, so I don’t think he’s a lethal. Mum and babies have access to hay (alfalfa and timothy) and young gp pellets at all times.

    I want to check if this is normal. When should I be alarmed that he’s not as eager to eat lettuce and pellets as his siblings? It it typical for a baby to nurse so often?

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    He sounds like he might be somewhat developmentally delayed, but it's hard to know. Does he seem to move normally? Can you post a picture of his eyes?

    Four grams difference from another pup doesn't really mean anything. and even a 15 gram difference isn't significant.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    Good news: he has continued gaining weight and is gaining more interest in solid foods! It looks like he drops longer strands of hay and bigger pellets, so I put down the leafier bits of alfalfa and tried squishing / crushing the pellets in their bowls. I only felt his front teeth but I’m worried about taking a look at them, he’s so little that I don’t want to risk scraping hsi lips or hurting his jaw.

    He moves normally, maybe a bit slow. He seems to be a bit reluctant to climb over things, I’ve noticed, but he did climb into the food bowl today. He’s very squirmy so I’ll try getting a picture of his eyes. It’s almost like he’s still squinting like he’s tired or was just born.

    He’s been cuddling with mum but not nursing for long stretches of time like yesterday. I wonder if he’s simply the runt and just needs extra time to catch up? I’m grateful that mum hasn’t rejected him.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    As long as he's gaining, that's a good thing. Keep us posted on how he's doing.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    The little runt is in good spirits and has kept growing! As it turns out, the runt is a she and has three older brothers! She’s very sweet but noticably smaller than her siblings — still about 50 g lighter than her next largest sibling. She also has a bump on her belly button which doesn’t seem to be bothering her, but I’ll be sure ask when I take mum and babies to the exotics vet in a few days. I tried looking it up and heard of umbilical hernias which frightens me...hopefully the vet will have answers — and can confirm my attempts to sex the pigs.

    I have another question regarding the boys: is three weeks a safe time to separate them from mum and sister?

    I’m not sure if that’s considered a conservative (or “abundantly safe”) estimate, but the shelter and vets have said three weeks is fine. The boys are starting to rumblestrut and mount one another, but no humping. The shelter said mum had a litter before this one, so she likely had back-to-back pregnancies. Mum is so tiny it looks like her nails have never needed to be cut. One of the reasons I’m taking them to the vet is to make sure I can do all I can to help her after being bred so young. My worst fear right now is for her to go through another pregnancy.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    Three weeks is abundantly safe. The boys, in particular, will practice before then, but they're safe until 21 days.

    The best thing you can do for her is to feed her very good hay, pellets, and veggies, and supplement her with vitamin C for a few weeks -- about 30 mg. per day.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    Thank you, that’s a relief. I also saw one of the boys rumblestrut and hump one of his brothers. Mum stood with her rear aimed oddly, so I think she was presenting herself? I picked her up and she had a bit of white stuff on either side of her vulva — only on the surface. To a human that’s concerning, but if the boys won’t be fertile until the three week mark I feel better.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    It’s been a few months, I just wanted to share a final update.

    My runty girl just passed today. She always struggled with gaining weight, although she’s always been eating and drinking and energetic, but slower than her siblings and less athletic (she very rarely stood on her back paws to beg for treats). Up until perhaps three weeks ago after a vet recheck, the heaviest she has been is 284 grams. She started losing weight, which also happened during her past two appts, but this time it kept dropping. She went down to about 252 grams, and on her forth trip to the vet, she was prescribed antibiotics — she had symptoms resembling a URI.

    From there she gained weight—the heaviest she ever got was 325 grams. Her brothers are all at least 800 grams, but I would have been satisfied for her to reach one pound. I was so excited to watch her grow and finally thrive.

    To make a long story short, last night she was far less energetic than usual, but still capable of walking and drinking water. She persisted in sitting with her nose in the corner, right next to her mom. She toddled behind her mom when her mom moved. I gave her extra critical care, suspecting either dehydration or an upset gut, and planned to go in for an emergency visit if her condition did not improve in the morning — I wake up at 3AM. Only a few hours ago she had been squeaking so loud for treats.

    She died overnight, still in that corner right next to her mom. I requested a necropsy, and it turns out she had a heart defect. She died of heart failure.

    I used to lay down with her on my chest every afternoon after work and give her a vitamin C supplement. I keep thinking of the What Ifs, even though I know she must have suffered from this since birth. My mind is all over the place and my heart is broken. This is the only I’ve lost that I had since birth, and I keep thinking about how profoundly unfair it is that she was born ill and even my best efforts weren’t enough. She only lived to be four months old.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is a picture of her just this Wednesday. She was so tiny I had to get her a water bowl to drink from, because even the small bottles were a bit too big for her mouth. (Apologies if the image is small, I am uploading from mobile.)

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    I'm so sorry that you lost your baby girl. It's heartbreaking when you can do no more for them. Be at peace with it in knowing that you gave her love and great care in her short life. Fly free over the Rainbow Bridge, baby girl!

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    Cavy Slave SSLee's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    I'm so very sorry that your little girl has passed on. I had been following this thread and previously was happy to read that she was headed in the right direction. You took very good care of all your piggies and although your little girl's life was short, at least it was in a loving and caring home. It likely was of comfort for her to be next to her Mom at the end.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    I'm so very sorry.

    In retrospect, that eye shape might have been an indicator of genetic defects. Not necessarily so, but possibly.

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    I was following this thread earlier. I didn't have anything productive to add, but I was hopeful your girl would be ok.

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pig is so heartbreaking, especially when they're so young and have their whole life ahead of them. Rest a little easier knowing that you did absolutely everything you could do for her. She had one advantage: a loving and caring home that did everything they could for her, even if it wasn't meant to be.

    Rest in peace at the Rainbow Bridge, happy and pain free little lady.

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    Cavy Slave ItsaZoo's Avatar
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    Re: Baby developing slowly, nursing constantly

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Take comfort from knowing she had such good care and attention. Her life may have been short, but it was filled with kindness and love.

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