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Thread: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave C_Elise's Avatar
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    Question Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    Hello all!
    Its been many months since I've been on here but I need your help/second opinions! Back in February I believe, I had taken my Guinea Pig Vanek to the vets because I had thought she was showing nearly all the symptoms of having ovarian cysts. The only symptom she did not have was hairloss, and she was pear shaped but there wasnt any weight loss at all. She had an ultra sound performed and the woman showing me the pictures said she was in perfect health and was only being aggressive/bratty to her cage mate because her cage mate was ill and natural selection was taking place so she was trying to hoard all the food and water for herself since the other would die. The only thing the vets could not explain were her long crusty nipples, but somehow they removed the crusts off of them and they looked fine except for the fact that they were longer than I had remembered them being...

    This past month or two is probably when I started realizing Vanek isn't quite how she used to be. I'm frustrated because I've started working full time and these last few months I haven't been spending as much time with my pigs so I am not truly certain when these symptoms really began..

    So a month or two now I've been thinking to myself, "the hair on Vaneks back isn't as thick as I remember it being." "From what I can recall, Vanek used to be much rounder/bloated looking almost.. seems like she's lost some weight!" and things like that... But since her cage mate died, I assumed it partially could have been caused due to mourning (although truthfully she didn't seem to be phased at all) and because I introduced my other pig to her and they've been living together ever since, so I kind of just thought it was because she was running around more chasing the other or something (she's always been a brat) But anyways, last week I gave the girls a bath for the first time in months and noticed two symmetrical bald spots on Vaneks sides, almost her underbelly but not quite, and that was really the only symptom she was lacking the first vet visit. Keep in mind she's had crustys on her nipples this entire time, they returned quickly after the Feb. vet visit..


    ANYWAYS. I am almost positive it has to be ovarian cysts, so I had booked an appointment on Thursday of last week for today (Tuesday) and in my head I definitely decided surgery would be the route Vanek and I would take. I ended up going to a different vet I had never been to who was closer to me... the Vet we visited in February was very over priced and the guy who is knowledgeable about pigs there is hard to book with unless we wanted to wait weeks, more than a month even, which was out of the question of course... and the first vet visit was more than an hour away, where as the vet we visited today was 40 minutes away, better in my mind in case of an emergency...



    So here's how the visit went.. I really liked this guy a lot, he was pretty knowledgeable and has performed only a handful of surgeries on guinea pigs which isn't to awesome, but living in NH it's rare to come by someone whos even operated on ONE pig in their entire career... He was honest and told me he wasn't the best when it comes to reading ultra sounds (the first vet from back in February sent this new guy Vaneks ultra sounds, which this new vet said they were very dark and hard to read in his opinion..) but he said he can usually palpate and feel a cyst if there ever is one and he said he felt nothing.. which he felt around her belly/throat glands for a good 30 minutes as we talked throughout the visit.. BUT, he did say he felt something above her bladder I believe? He said it was hard and what ever it was was not supposed to be there... he told me he couldn't figure out what organ he was feeling but it could either be her uterus, colon, or rectum.
    Since he thought she was cyst free, he did mention he believes its possible she may have Cushings Disease, but he again was honest with me and said he's never worked on/seen a guinea pig with this disease before in his career, he just felt that the balding was to low to be cyst caused, pigs he's treated have had the symmetrical balding much higher..
    So it came down to the fact that he wanted to operate, and I've got to say even though this guy hasn't done thousands of these operations, I was definitely thinking it was the only option since clearly Vanek was no longer in perfect health. Oh, also I would have gotten a second opinion however before letting him just slice her open and dig around to investigate... just throwing that out there...


    So he left to go write up an expected rate, what he thought the surgery might cost. The first time she had "possible cysts" I did TONS of research and I think the average rate you folks have paid is about $350.. I decided $400 MAAAYBE $450 would be my limit, but I was banking on something like $250 since that isn't an uncommon number which I have seen on here... The technician came in with the guesstimated bill and MAN was I blind sided... It came to be roughly $1,000! Have any of you got a figure this high?! I find it hard to believe this guys done any type of procedure on peoples pigs for that cost.... I love my baby Vanek but I am not much of a gambler and I knowing how risky this surgery is... I just can't bring myself to dish out that amount of money when in my head I feel like its a 50/50 chance of survival...


    Below are pictures I took a few hours ago to give you guys a visual of what she's dealing with. What do you believe it could be? And also I am wondering if anyone else finds this $1,000 price tag outrageous?! Can anyone tell me how much they payed or what they think the average cost would be? I am going to email the first vet inquiring about an estimated surgery cost hoping they will give me one, but I have a feeling they won't and I'll have to dish out another $50 to have her reexamined...
    Also anyone know anything more about Cushings Disease? I've googled it but there arent a ton of sources for guinea pigs.. mostly dogs and what not....


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  2. #2
    Cavy Slave C_Elise's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    I also have the exact list of fees for what everything which is needed will cost. Like how much the anesthesia will cost me, how much the "clamps" will cost, etc etc.

    If you'd like I can definitely share, I just figured I'd hold off since I already wrote a whole book for you all to read ;)

  3. #3
    Moderator foggycreekcavy's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    The most I have paid for a spay surgery to remove ovarian cysts is around $350. That's from a vet who is very experienced in guinea pigs.

    I did not see how old Vanek is?

    I will say that I am almost certain she has ovarian cysts. Pigs with cysts often become pear shaped, and seem fat. However, if they go untreated, the pig starts to lose weight even though still eating like a horse. Also, I have never seen a pig with crust on her nipples who did not have either ovarian cysts or some other reproductive tract problem.

    I would call all the vets in your area (or even outside of it) to get general prices for a spay, or specifically for removing ovarian cysts.

    If Vanek is very old, you might want to opt for hormone injections instead.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner ellisa's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    A month ago my Penny started to spot blood. At first we thought it was a UTI so she was on Baytril for 10 days. The bleeding stopped but came back a few weeks later. The spotting seemed to come about right when Penny was in heat. I knew that any spotting was not normal for a sow, so we went back to the vet. This time she had xrays done and a urinalysis. Everything came back clear. Nothing else was wrong with Penny, except she has always been pear shaped (but I didn't think too much into it at the time). She didn't have any hairloss or crusty nipples or anything. We were kind of lost on what to do about the mysterious spotting.

    I am a uni student so I don't have a ton of money and my vet fund was starting to shrink. A few vets told me about the possibility of it being uterine cancer since she didn't have any other symptoms. I started to consider having her spayed. I called a different vet at another clinic and told her what was happening. She told me that often times things can be missed on xrays and ultrasounds. She agreed that it would be good to have her spayed.

    I was terrified about having her spayed because of all the risks I've read and the vets here don't spay sows very often. I had a good talk with this new vet and she sounded very confident that she could spay Penny. So, last week Penny was spayed! The vet said that her uterus was fine but her ovaries were very cystic. Kind of shocking since she didn't show any other symptoms, but I knew that the spotting was related to her reproductive tract.

    If I were you, I would definitely have your girl spayed. However, $1000 is a crazy amount IMO. I paid $166 for Penny's spay. I would do what foggy said and shop around.

    Sorry for my huge reply!

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    Cavy Slave C_Elise's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    Vanek is around 3 years, I have no idea exactly but I got her just about 3 years ago and she was very teeny, small enough to be clutched in the palm of my hand.

    But I took her to the best vet that I could find who seemed to be the most cavy experienced and they weren't even aware that crusty nipples were a sign of cysts! Of course it was only a technician but I just feel like when the actual veterinarian who runs the practice caught wind of this case, I feel like I would have heard from him or something..

    But I definitely know what ever this is can not go untreated.. I am still waiting to hear back from the vet's I mentioned above, despite what I said the testimonial I had read for their lead guy specifically mentioned him performing two spays on the women who wrote it's pigs, so thats the best lead I've got for me here currently. Hopefully I dont get a response back with another $1,000 price tag...

    But should I just go through with a surgery even if multiple vets say they feel no cysts? do you think exploratory surgery to figure out whats screwing up my pig is way to risky? I could take her to my in town vet (who was AWFUL with my other guinea pig and also my other animals..) to get her a hormone shot, but would he willingly give her one with no "proof" of her having any problems?

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner ellisa's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    Exploratory surgery is what we ended up doing with Penny when she was spotting blood. She was showing none of the classic signs of cysts. After her spay, I was surprised when the vet said she had cysts because I thought it was a uterine infection.
    If I were you, I would have her spayed if she is healthy enough. Like foggy, I also feel that your girl has cysts. Hopefully you can find a vet that will spay her for less than $1,000. Or you could do the hormone injections.

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    Cavy Slave C_Elise's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    Thank you for your input/story, Ellisa! :) I definitely think there is no other option and surgery it must be, but I just can not justify paying that amount.. I love my guinea pigs so much but weeks worth of work to pay for a single surgery where there's an equal chance of life or death.. I just can't do that :-/ I just hope I am able to find someone with at least half a brain and a much lower rate to do this. Every "exotics" vet here is only specialized in birds. So hopefully my search isn't to hard!

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner ellisa's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    I understand. The vets here rarely see guinea pigs. I was considering driving 3 hrs to the nearest large city to have Penny spayed. The vet that spayed Penny had only done a handful of sows before when she was in England. She had done rabbits and other pocket pets before and we both felt confident that she could do Penny. I was so nervous before her surgery, but she did amazingly well during her recovery. The day after her surgery she was acting like her normal self!

    I agree that your quote from the other clinic is a crazy amount. I really hope that you're lucky like I was and find a knowledgeable vet that can do it for a more reasonable price.
    I know nothing about hormone injections so I can't be any help there. Good luck with everything and please keep us updated on what's going on with Vanek!

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    Moderator foggycreekcavy's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    Have you checked with the exotic bird clinics? Many treat other exotics besides birds.

    I hope you can find someone soon. A uterine tumor is also a possibility.

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    Cavy Slave C_Elise's Avatar
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    Re: Vanek's medical thread (input? opinions?) (pictures included)

    I have tried a small handful of other vets.. Its ironic actually, the veterinarian in my town (a 2 minute drive from my house) started "The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians" (AEMV Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians) and so I've heard, is very good with Guinea Pigs.. However, I took my girl Wednesday there when she was pooping/peeing blood, and had her treated and she was given 3 possible illnesses, but the guy was so careless and made me feel like I was foolish and wasting his time. He continually told me my options but never went ahead and performed any of them, just kept booking "check ups" to see if she was better the next time around. Also, I spent a total of 2 minutes in his presence, and the 30 other minutes of the check up was with his technicians who had to keep running in the back room to get the answers to my questions. In the end unfortunately Wednesday died very quickly, which is frustrating knowing I have available to me so closely someone who very well could fix Vanek up for me (or so I think), but I just hate the guys guts and I just feel like after my experience he wouldn't even try or give a damn.. I just can't take that risk, which is why I drive almost 2 hours to a vet in Massachusetts. But I should really continue my search in my area and not just bank on this office because if I get an answer I dont like (like a wild estimated cost or something) I'm back to square one with my sick piggy. Lets hope I hear back from the office in MA soon, I was without internet/phones at my house for a while so I just sent the email after work this evening. Gotta get the ball rolling, and quickly!

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