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Thread: Pigs bullying each other?

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    Pigs bullying each other?

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    I have 3 guinea pigs.

    I adopted Peanut and Paisley from a friend back in February. I was told they're each about 2-3 years old and had been together for about a year. Peanut was clearly the dominant pig, but I did notice Paisley challenge her from time to time. But they never faught and I never saw anything concerning.

    In July I got Ellie, she's about 6 months old. I had her on her own for about a month before I introduced her to Peanut and Paisley. The bonding went well and relatively quickly. Peanut was still dominant. They have all three been together for about 2-3 months now.

    A couple week ago I noticed Ellie seemed to have aggressive moments towards Paisley sometimes. No biting or chasing but little nips at her, usually when food was around. But it didn't seem concerning. Then about a week ago I noticed Paisley had lost some weight. I try to weight them once a week or so. I kept an eye on her and then a couple days later I noticed she had lost quite a bit of fur on her sides. So I removed her from the cage and put her alone, unsure if she had something contagious. Unfortunately because of covid and my circumstances right now with finances, I was not able to afford the $300 vet bill to examine her. However, as she's been alone the past couple days she has gained some weight back and seems in high spirits. Her hair loss doesn't seem to have gotten any worse.

    The pics are of Paisley's hairloss

    My question, does it seem that she is being bullied by 1 or both of the other girls? Should I continue to keep her apart, maybe indefinitely?

    Thanks!

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    Cavy Slave Smileandnod's Avatar
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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    Hello. Sorry you are having some challenges. Thanks for including pictures.

    As far as Paisley, do you see any sores near the hair loss? Any red patches or swelling? Is the skin flakey or smooth? Does she itch or bite at the area? And when you tug gently on her hair near the balding patch, does the hair come out in clumps with bits of flakey skin attached?

    Just want to rule out mites or fungus first, which are easily treated at home with inexpensive products you can buy on your own without a vet visit before we assume that she is being barbered by Ellie or Peanut.

    As far as the dominance issue. Ellie is about the right age to be going through puberty and trying to exert her own dominance over the others. This process is normal but as you are seeing it may upset the hierarchy and balance for a bit until they reestablish things.

    How big is the cage? I have always found, especially when I add another pig that I need to extend the cage even if it already exceeds the space for that many pigs. It seems to give them the feeling that their territory is not being invaded. Also, you now have 3 "big" pigs, so Ellie is no longer a baby willing to be pushed around. They need space to move, run and get away from each other. Small cages sold in pet shops are not adequate space, especially for 3 pigs. A large cage is not only necessary for their health, it is mandatory for their coexistence to be peaceful.

    I have also found that making a C&C cage wider (at least 3 grids wide) and making a large (more than a 2x2 grid) upper level with 2 ramps really does A LOT to increase the peace.

    Do you have extra piles of hay, bowls of food & water bottles in different areas of the cage?

    Include hideys with 2 exits so no one gets trapped, and areas where they can get out of site from each other (such as fleece forests - strips of fleece that hang down like a curtain).

    Honestly since she was already housed with the other girls they have already been exposed to anything she has and if mites they all need to be treated anyway, so it seems more room is probably your answer & allow her to live with her friends.
    Last edited by Smileandnod; 11-06-20 at 10:51 am.

  3. "Thank you, Smileandnod, for this useful post," says:


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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    Are they all in that cage (a Midwest?)? If so, you're lucky they haven't killed each other. That cage isn't large enough for two pigs, much less three.

    How large IS your cage?

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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    I don't think the cage pictured is a Midwest cage, bpatters, it appears to have a plastic base? I imagine it's a small medical cage (with the same coloured base as a Midwest) since Paisely is on her own currently.

    Karrakov, welcome to the forum! First post greetings. I hate to say it, but I suspect Paisley may have ovarian cysts, or perhaps something else hormonal going on? But Smileandnod asked some good questions to work out if it's something more easily treatable, but the hair loss along her flanks does make me suspect an issue with her ovaries/reproductive system.

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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    Are they all in that cage (a Midwest?)? If so, you're lucky they haven't killed each other. That cage isn't large enough for two pigs, much less three.

    How large IS your cage?

    They are not all in that cage. That is just what Paisley is temporarily in for quarantine to figure out what is wrong.

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    Cavy Slave Smileandnod's Avatar
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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by stray hares View Post
    Karrakov, welcome to the forum! First post greetings. I hate to say it, but I suspect Paisley may have ovarian cysts, or perhaps something else hormonal going on? But Smileandnod asked some good questions to work out if it's something more easily treatable, but the hair loss along her flanks does make me suspect an issue with her ovaries/reproductive system.
    Interestingly enough, I found out the hard way (and expensive way!) that not all hair loss on the flanks is related to ovarian cysts in females.

    One of my females actually was diagnosed with Cushing's disease which has to do with stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

    Unfortunately there is very limited literature on Cushing's in guinea pigs because only 7 as of now have been officially diagnosed worldwide and written about (mine is the 7th). I suspect this has a lot to do with the expense that it takes to diagnose.

    The veterinarian university hospital we took her to were very excited by her diagnosis...us not so much since we were hoping to just get her surgery for ovarian cysts & have her better.

    I will say that for her condition she needs extra care not to increase her stress level. This means extra large cage, extra hay pile just for her in her favorite area and keeping her with her cage mates. When she becomes stressed the hair loss increases and she also has keratin growth that forms on her nose as a result of the Cushing's.

    The only medication they have at this time is compounded from the medication they use for dogs and unfortunately this has been only tested for dosage & effectiveness in 2 guinea pigs...the outcome was very poor.
    Last edited by Smileandnod; 11-07-20 at 10:31 pm.

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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    This is very true, smileandnod! I guess I was leaning towards an Occam's razor type of explanation, but also hence why I said potentially something else hormonal. (I've personally had a piggy with Addison's Disease, which is essentially the counter opposite disease to Cushing's.) Endocrine issues can be complex, as can reproductive issues, and sometimes they can exist in the same pig and have quite a few overlapping clinical indications.

    Fingers crossed it is something easily treated like mange mites or fungal though, but if not, my next guess would be ovarian cysts, and then following that other hormonal conditions (which are rarer, partially because of the complexities and cost of diagnosis in guinea pigs, as you said).

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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by stray hares View Post
    This is very true, smileandnod! I guess I was leaning towards an Occam's razor type of explanation, but also hence why I said potentially something else hormonal. (I've personally had a piggy with Addison's Disease, which is essentially the counter opposite disease to Cushing's.) Endocrine issues can be complex, as can reproductive issues, and sometimes they can exist in the same pig and have quite a few overlapping clinical indications.
    I apologize for hijacking this thread...but I would love to know more @StrayHares about your experience with a pig with Addison's if you are willing to share. And I am truly sorry you and your pig had to go through that.

    When our girl was finally diagnosed with Cushing's about 4 months ago we were warned that the treatment could potentially lead to Addison's. This, we were told, was practically a death sentence.

    The group of vets assigned to her case (more became excitedly involved when they had a diagnosis) wanted to treat her with trilostane, which unfortunately there is very limited information about it's use treating guinea pigs in Cushing's...in fact there are only 2 cases to be found. Both resulted in poor outcomes.

    They really don't even have a reliable dosage for using trilostane with guinea pigs at this time, so that would also be trial & error...with a slight error leading to Addison's or death. Not great news when you are trying to balance out how to proceed with treatment.

    We had to go through a couple different vet pharmacies until finding one that was willing & able to compound the dog version into a liquid that would be somewhat palatable to a guinea pig and the estimated dosage needed. The cost was not too bad, but the risks were what scared us.

    The vet group wanted to literally use her as a guinea pig to test dosages and test her repeatedly (which would require anesthesia and ACTH stimulation tests to check her cortisol levels). Now I am all for the advancement of science and helping other guinea pigs with information, but it's a whole different story when it's your beloved pet.

    So far we have used a more natural way of treating her with CBD old and dried herbal forage mixes with herbs known for calming properties such as lavender, camomile, ect. The CBD oil comes with it's own risk of potentially elevating liver levels and of course CBD oil treatments is controversial which makes finding reliably tested oil difficult as well. We have found her hair grows back a bit, then she plateaus with the treatment, so we up the dosage slightly drop by drop divided out twice a day.

    It is so frustrating. I want to give her the best treatment, but the best is still not good enough and may cause her more suffering than just making her as comfortable as possible with the time she has with us.

    I must say that with the treatment we have given so far with the CBD oil and herbs she is active, eats well, and has maintained her weight. Her hair loss and keratin growth on nose makes her look a bit rough, but she is otherwise "healthy".

    I would love any suggestions, advice or information you may have @StrayHares!

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: Pigs bullying each other?

    I also apologize for hijacking this thread temporarily BUT
    @Smileandnod, do you have a thread documenting the challenges with your girl regarding her Cushings disease? Your experiences and hers may prove invaluable here in the future for someone else who may come along and need the input.

    Just a thought.

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