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Thread: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

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    Cavy Slave Piglet_Poohbear's Avatar
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    Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    So, I am a newbie here. I have searched and searched the forums for answers to my questions and have not found what I'm looking for so forgive me if this is a redundant question. 🤔

    My guinea pig's name is Poohbear and I've had him for a little over a month. He's around 4-5 mos old. I am concerned because he is always making an unusual noises at night that sounds like wheezing and sometimes a gurgle or whines. It's taking me quite some time in figuring out and wondering if it's normal or should I be alarmed? I searched for guinea sounds all over the internet and Youtube and can't find anything that sounds like what he does. Do Abyssinians make different sounds than other guineas? I have an American short hair, Piglet, too and he doesn't make hardly any noise. I took Poohbear to the vet last month and the xray showed lungs were clear and heart looked fine and a belly full of food. They gave me an antibiotic anyway which I gave to him for a week. He still continues to make this noise every now and then which sounds like a pigeon cooing or wheezing. I think I may have concluded after 4-5 weeks of observing that he does this after eating the hay at night. I took the hay away for one night and he slept soundly with no noise. But he has to have hay so I bought different hay I found on the internet which is a 3rd cut Timothy hay. I guess it's less brittle. But have not noticed much difference in his noises. I've even give him Vitamin C drops. Sometimes I will give him water with a dropper thinking he just needs to clear his throat? But I have no idea?!

    His eyes and nose are fine. He still eats and drinks like crazy, pees & poops, and even runs and does the most wildest popcorns I've ever seen! So then I thought, well he must be OK then right? But every time I hear that sound it keeps me up at night worrying for the little guy and I myself am getting no sleep. 😳

    It has become a nightly ritual for me to pick him and pat him until he coughs. I swear it's the hay! Is this normal? Can some piggies have an allergy to hay? I've also given him Oxbow Timothy Hay...same thing. I honestly don't know how these little rodents with their tiny tummies can eat such brittle hay and not puncture their insides!

    Anyway, like I said, my other breed, Piglet, has no problems at all.†

    I've done everything I know to do that is right but have no clue or answers.†I feed him pellets daily and one fresh veggie such as romaine lettuce, green pepper, cucumbers, or carrots...and very little.

    Also, can I feed them just pellets alone without hay? Don't the pellets aid in digestion too?

    One last thing to note...He is a gobbler!! He eats so fast I wonder if he is even chewing sometimes? So because of this I have to hand feed in small pieces and because Poohbear is so aggressive that he will try to eat everything before Piglet does or even steal it from his mouth. Pesky Abyssinians!!

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    I hope someone else chimes in about her symptoms, Iím pretty new myself to this piggy adventure. I know one thing for certain is they HAVE to have long strand hay to make up 80% of their diet. Itís essential for their GI system and teeth. So pellets alone are a no no. In fact you should only feed 1/8 cup pellets a day or they can get overweight.

    ETA: what type of bedding do you use?
    Last edited by petluv; 01-19-20 at 07:09 am.

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    Cavy Slave Piglet_Poohbear's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Hi petluv,
    Yes, I have read about the 1/8th cup of pellets which I double that amount because I have two piggies. But, I guess what I meant was would he be ok for a two days before I find a hay that is softer and greener. It's so frustrating. I've purchased three different kinds and they have all been brittle and hard.
    I use fleece bedding for them separate ftom their eating area. I put their hay in a wire ball holder which sits above a litter pan. The litter pan has a grate so that tiny pieces and dust will fall into it.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    I believe she would survive having only pellets for a day or two until her good hay arrived. They manage to survive off of just them in the pet stores, though they get sick often from it. I think a couple of days without might upset her tummy, but I don’t think it would cause long term damage for a couple of days. Does your local pet store not have some lesser quality hay to eat in the meantime?

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    You can try Orchard grass hay as an alternative. It's also much better for people who have hay allergies.


    As far as the noise he's making, my suggestion would be to try and post a video here that has clear sound. Piggies make a lot of difference noises, and without hearing precisely what he's doing we would all just be guessing which doesn't help you or Poohbear.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Whatever is going on has nothing to do with the fact that he's an Abby. And they don't make different sounds.

    As far as cutting food up finely, you may only be increasing the chances he'll choke if he tends to gobble food. If he has to bite chunks off in order to eat, that will slow him down.

    Hay shouldn't be brittle, whether it's first, second, or third cut. GPs are perfect capable of handling all three. But it all should be green and fresh smelling. I always had very good luck with Small Pet Select Hay, and American Pet Diner is probably the best available.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Ah, another Aby lover! It's a good thing that you don't live closer to me as I have been known to pignap Abys. Especially now that my last boy crossed the Rainbow Bridge on New Years Day. And, no, their vocalizations are not known to be unique to them, but they are known to be really vocal and often quite communicative.

    I wouldn't even consider using timothy hay of any cut because my husband is wildly allergic to timothy. We use either bluegrass or orchard grass hay. I generally buy orchard grass which I purchase from Small Pet Select. As an aside, one really shouldn't have your cavies in your bedroom for various reasons, except if that is the only place they can be housed. If that's the case, invest in a good pair of earplugs so that you get a good night's sleep.

    I happen to really disagree with the "1/8 cup of pellets per day". I feed my cavies a large meal around dinnertime, and it's a very long time to be without any food for the next 24 hours. So, my guys have access to hay and pellets 24/7. I have never had an overweight cavy! If they have a large cage with room to exercise on their own time, and one doesn't feed them high calorie/high sugar foods, they are unlikely to be overweight. Would you be overweight if all you eat are salads?

    What kind of grate is over the litter pan? It absolutely should not be wire! Perhaps you might want to consider my arrangement? I buy what is often referred to as a kitten litter pan. I have one on the main level and also in the 2x2 loft. It needs to be large enough for an adult cavy to stretch out comfortably. I have a layer of litter over which there is a layer of hay. My boys have loved this arrangement as they can do two things at once.......eat hay and pee and poop at the same time. Some unknowing people have the "oh, gross" reaction except that cavies eat their own poops for their health, so why not such an arrangement? The litter box needs to be tidied often to remove the soiled hay and wet litter. My dearly departed Sparky just loved to nap in the litter box. I empty the entire litter box (and wash it) once a week when I do a complete cage clean.

    My way of keeping cavies may not be right for everyone, but it certainly works for me. I have had guinea pigs on/off for 30 years so I do have a bit of experience. I think you will enjoy this Forum as I still learn new things from other members.

    One last thought.......if your piggies are in your bedroom, consider investing in an air purifier for everyone's best health.

    Kitten litter pan

    https://www.amazon.com/Van-Ness-Smal...ten+litter+box
    https://www.chewy.com/van-ness-cat-litter-pan-blue-small/dp/55352

    Name:  Kitten litter pan.jpg
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    Hay sources
    https://www.kmshayloft.com/
    https://shop.smallpetselect.com/


    Last edited by spy9doc; 01-19-20 at 09:52 am.

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    Cavy Slave Piglet_Poohbear's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    Whatever is going on has nothing to do with the fact that he's an Abby. And they don't make different sounds.

    As far as cutting food up finely, you may only be increasing the chances he'll choke if he tends to gobble food. If he has to bite chunks off in order to eat, that will slow him down.

    Hay shouldn't be brittle, whether it's first, second, or third cut. GPs are perfect capable of handling all three. But it all should be green and fresh smelling. I always had very good luck with Small Pet Select Hay, and American Pet Diner is probably the best available.

    Actually my Aby does have a different vocal sound than the other. Even when excited for food he does not wheek like the other. I have heard so many sounds from Poohbear but Piglet is very quiet, other than the normal wheeks and rumble struts.

    You might be right about giving them smaller pieces of veggies but my thinking was that if the pellets are small so then it would be ok. I sometimes let them chew off the lettuce but I have to hold a piece in each hand so that they will get equal amounts. Otherwise, Poohbear will be the champion winner in gobbling it all up before Piglet can get enough. I want to make sure they get equal amounts. Piglet is gentle, takes little bites, and takes his time chewing.

    I have read a lot of info on Aby's and mine definitely fits the bill...mischievous, very vocal, and obnoxious. Poohbear even pushes Piglet out of the way with his little paw to grab the food. First time I saw him do it I couldn't stop laughing. ��
    He put his right paw on top of Piglet's head!

    I have heard of people being allergic to Timothy hay but wasn't sure if true for guinea pigs. I will try Small Pet Select..thank you!

    Thank you for your reply!!��

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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    To spy9doc, Lol, you live on the East coast too! Better keep a close eye on my Aby!
    I think you answered my prayer! I was thinking late last night, before I fell asleep, that I should try the Orchard grass hay by Pet Select. The 3rd cut Timothy hay I bought was from KMS. They went bezerk over the smell but like I said most of it was brittle.

    You are absolutely right about not keeping them in my bedroom but I don't have a choice. I'm renting a room in someone else's house. And YES, I did think of ear plugs! I have some in my car thst I keep forgetting to retrieve.

    I pretty much do the same regimen as you do except not as large on the veggies. And I do feed them at dinnertime. But the pellets and hay are always in supply.

    Ok, so the wire over the litter pan is a corner unit. I fill it with paper bedding. The ball filled with hay takes up a lot of room so there is not enough room for them to get on top of it. I had another hay bin beforehand which did not work out well because one part held pellets and the back part held the hay. Tiny pieces of hay would end up in the pellets and Poohbear would get it up his nose. I thought long and hard of a solution to stop that. I don't know if I would do the litter box you suggest just because of cleanliness. Not worried about the poops but sitting in pee would lend to giving baths and could get UTI if constantly sitting on wet pee, no? I'm glad it works for you though.

    I'm so sorry your cavie died.

    Thank you for the links and your reply!

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    Cavy Slave Piglet_Poohbear's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guinea Pig Papa View Post
    You can try Orchard grass hay as an alternative. It's also much better for people who have hay allergies.


    As far as the noise he's making, my suggestion would be to try and post a video here that has clear sound. Piggies make a lot of difference noises, and without hearing precisely what he's doing we would all just be guessing which doesn't help you or Poohbear.
    I didn't know about posting videos. I will look into that...thank you. And I'm going to try the Orchard grass hay as people have suggested. Thank you for your reply!

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    Cavy Slave MerryFriarTuck's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Going off of all his behavior, it seems like he's the picture of health! The way you describe the noise, it sounds to me like it could be a type of bubbling/purring, whining, or chutting. Or maybe a sort of cough from gobbling the hay too fast? This link has the best recordings of basically every guinea pig noise: https://www.guineapigmanual.com/guinea-pig-sounds/ . The noises I thought it could be are noise number 3, 4, 10, 11, and 15.

    I've heard it is very possible for guinea pigs to be allergic to their timothy hay ( poor piggies! ) and that switching to orchard grass hay will solve their problems. Guinea pigs do absolutely have to have hay, and by far ideally at all times. The pellets won't do what hay does for their digestive track. Besides being hay itself, I believe it's also the long fibers of it that keeps their digestive track moving and healthy. Also, I use Oxbow pellets, and like spy9doc, I let my piggies have pellets at all times as well... I've never had an issue with them eating to much are becoming fat from them, either. I hope all this helps!

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    Cavy Slave Piglet_Poohbear's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Quote Originally Posted by MerryFriarTuck View Post
    Going off of all his behavior, it seems like he's the picture of health! The way you describe the noise, it sounds to me like it could be a type of bubbling/purring, whining, or chutting. Or maybe a sort of cough from gobbling the hay too fast? This link has the best recordings of basically every guinea pig noise: https://www.guineapigmanual.com/guinea-pig-sounds/ . The noises I thought it could be are noise number 3, 4, 10, 11, and 15.

    I've heard it is very possible for guinea pigs to be allergic to their timothy hay ( poor piggies! ) and that switching to orchard grass hay will solve their problems. Guinea pigs do absolutely have to have hay, and by far ideally at all times. The pellets won't do what hay does for their digestive track. Besides being hay itself, I believe it's also the long fibers of it that keeps their digestive track moving and healthy. Also, I use Oxbow pellets, and like spy9doc, I let my piggies have pellets at all times as well... I've never had an issue with them eating to much are becoming fat from them, either. I hope all this helps!
    Thank you so much! I will check those videos out pronto! I am definitely going to switch to the Orchard grass! I am heading to Petsmart in the next few minutes to get their brand of Oxbow Orchard grass hay until I can get a delivery from Small Pet Select. I'm contemplating taking him to the vet again. Hoping that the cough he does every now and then just clears the wheezing. I really don't think he's sick though. Here's another thought! What if he is allergic to the pellets as well?!!! Since they are made with Timothy hay. OY!!!

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    In all my years of dealing with guinea pigs, I've never heard of one being allergic to pellets.

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    Re: Hay allergy and wheezing. Pellets instead of hay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Piglet_Poohbear View Post
    You are absolutely right about not keeping them in my bedroom but I don't have a choice. I'm renting a room in someone else's house. And YES, I did think of ear plugs! I have some in my car thst I keep forgetting to retrieve.

    I don't know if I would do the litter box you suggest just because of cleanliness. Not worried about the poops but sitting in pee would lend to giving baths and could get UTI if constantly sitting on wet pee, no? I'm glad it works for you though.
    Again I emphasize.....consider investing in an air purifier for both your health and that of your cavies. I have a small Homedics unit that has run 24/7 for seven years. I brush the filter monthly and install a new filter about every 6 months. There is no smell and no one would ever know that an animal (well, maybe two of us) virtually live in that room. I originally bought both a large and a small with a 20% BBB coupon, but they don't carry them currently. Go to the Homedics site and then shop around for other sources. Considering the longevity of my units, I would be tempted to buy a used one from eBay as a starter.

    https://www.homedics.com/air-quality...-purifier.html

    The litter box is truly not a problem for a wet bottom because the urine really falls through the hay and onto the litter below. The poops......not so much. They were an issue only because Sparky would get so comfortable in the litter box that he didn't want to get out. When his brother was with us, Chip never had a soiled bottom or belly. Sparky would occasionally need a belly/butt bath. But, he derived so much pleasure from his naps in the box that I didn't want to deny him.

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