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Injury Broken leg

Mousewife

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My 2 year old boy, Gaffer, started limping yesterday. My daughter noticed it when she was cleaning the cage.
I got him to the vet asap (first appointment this morning). X rays show a broken leg. As best as we can figure, he must have gotten it stuck in his hay ball.
He’s quarantined in the smaller cage for “cage rest”. The vet did not splint his leg. I asked him to, but the break is in an awkward spot.

The vet recommended surgery to pin the bone to encourage healing. We’ve been waiting all day for the surgeon to call us.
The only response we’ve gotten is a promise to get back to us in 3-5 business days.
There is exactly one exotic pet surgeon who works on guinea pigs within at *least* a 5 hour drive. As it is, we’re going to have to drive nearly 2 hours to get to this place.
I even called the vet school (only one in the province) and THEY don’t even do this surgery.

So… I guess what I want to know is, has anyone else’s piggie broken their leg and did it heal ok without surgery?

I want to take him up to the specialist, but they need to get back to me. And there’s a window of time to do it, after which the bone will start healing on its own and the surgery won’t be effective or complications will occur.

Gaffer is otherwise healthy and is eating, drinking, and pooping.
 
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Mousewife

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I guess I’m also a little nervous about keeping the boys apart.
They are THOROUGHLY bonded. 8-bit, my other boy, has been calling/crying for Gaffer since I separated them last night.
We bought them together from a (very reputable) show breeder and they have been together since they were 4 and 6 weeks old. In fact, this is the first time they’ve been apart for more than a few minutes in 2 years.

Will keeping them separate for a few weeks damage their bond?
 

bpatters

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You'll likely have to reintroduce them after the separation. But it may help if you can put Gaffer in a small cage inside the larger one that has 8-bit in it. That way, they can be very close together but Gaffer's leg will still be protected. But you'll still have to reintroduce after a long separation.

Throw out the hay ball. If I had my way, they wouldn't be available for purchase. Or wire hay racks, either. They're good for nothing but injuries like this one.

Another pig's experience with broken legs may not resemble Gaffer's at all. A greenstick fracture, which is just a crack, usually heals without casting. A complete break close to the hip joint is very hard to cast or bind, and that may be the case here. If you can't get to the surgeon, maybe the leg could be bound tightly to his body. It won't heal exactly straight under those conditions, but it should heal completely and be a useful leg.

Let us know
 

Mousewife

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Another pig's experience with broken legs may not resemble Gaffer's at all. A greenstick fracture, which is just a crack, usually heals without casting. A complete break close to the hip joint is very hard to cast or bind, and that may be the case here. If you can't get to the surgeon, maybe the leg could be bound tightly to his body. It won't heal exactly straight under those conditions, but it should heal completely and be a useful leg.

Let us know
I looked up green stick fracture. I think that’s what it is.
I googled it to look at the different types of breaks.
Is it ok if I post the X-ray?

I still haven’t gotten a response from the surgeon.
I’m going to call again tomorrow.

The vet sent them the X-rays and called them. I also emailed and called.

The hay ball is in the garbage now.
I’ve also started working on replacing the entire cage. I think we’re going to build a floor cage with clear plexiglass.

Gaffer is super active and interactive. He’s the one that uses the talk buttons.
I’m a little sad about the hay ball because he just loves that thing.
I might make him a cloth one.
 
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Mousewife

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Update: I heard from the vet’s office about surgery.
Apparently the surgeon does not have a pin that is small enough for that particular spot. It is his opinion that surgery is not worth the risk.

I’ve been told to keep his movement restricted for 8 weeks and then we will take him back in January for a check up.
So he’s resting quietly in the isolation cage, being given lots of high water veggies to keep his fluids and digestion running smoothly and having his food placed on the floor of the cage so he doesn’t have to move.
 

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bpatters

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Sounds like a plan to me. But be sure to keep the bedding underneath him dry so he doesn't get skin or bladder infection problems.

Whatever kind of bedding you've got, it wouldn't hurt to make some fleece pads that could easily go under him and be changed often. You can sew fleece to pieces of towel or other absorbent material, and it works very well.
 

Mousewife

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Thanks. I’ll do that. I’ve got fleece liners, I just switch to paper when it gets cold as I like to shake the fleece outside before washing it.
I’ll replace the paper with fleece.
 

bpatters

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The paper will work as long as you keep it dry underneath him. Or you could just lay a piece of fleece on top of the paper and see if it works. What you want it do is wick the urine through to the paper. If the fleece feels pretty dry, it's working fine.
 

spy9doc

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I looked up green stick fracture. I think that’s what it is.
I googled it to look at the different types of breaks.
Is it ok if I post the X-ray?
I'm presuming that it is o.k. to post the x-ray as I've seen them posted by others. I'm a human physician, not a Vet, but would like to see it because of curiosity and the fact that I'm always interested in learning more about cavies.

You have received some good advice thusfar...... please do keep us posted.
 

4boipigs

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So… I guess what I want to know is, has anyone else’s piggie broken their leg and did it heal ok without surgery?

I'll reply with my somewhat relatable experience, mainly to give advice. My foster-turned-adopt, Walter (avatar), broke his back left leg some mysterious time in the past before he got to the rescue. Possibly when he was very young. It healed, and he gets around great! We didn't know he had a past break until we went to the vet for the first time and did x-rays. It turns out that the break gave him bad arthritis in his back legs so he was very painful w/o his meloxicam. So I am hoping Gaffer recovers easily, and recommend watching for him being in any pain in the future after it heals! Wally displayed this pain thru aggression and biting.
 

Mousewife

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He seems to be doing ok.
He’s on metacam for the pain.

I put him back in the big cage with a divider between the two pigs, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. I might move Gaffer back into the isolation cage.

8-bit is really upset, where he was just withdrawn and sad before. He’s making baby pig crying sounds and has moved his bed over to the dividing wall.
Lunkaryas tend to form really strong bonds and get very upset when they are separated from their herd.
Smelling, hearing, and seeing his brother without being able to crawl underneath him and snuggle (yes I know guinea pigs don’t normally snuggle with each other - it’s a breed specific behaviour) is really upsetting him more than I expected.

I thought he’d be happy to have his brother close by, but….nope. Sad piggie is sad.
And of course 8bits crying is worrying Gaffer.
 

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Mousewife

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10 minutes later, he’s back in the isolation cage.

It upset them more than I expected for them to be near each other but separated.
 

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Guinea Pig Papa

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Is the pig in your avatar 8 bit?

He bears a very striking resemblance to my recently departed baby boy Simon. He was also a Lunkarya.
 

Mousewife

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Is the pig in your avatar 8 bit?

He bears a very striking resemblance to my recently departed baby boy Simon. He was also a Lunkarya.
Yes.
He’s basically a living tribble.

He is the sweetest, weirdest pig I’ve ever owned.
 

Guinea Pig Papa

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Yes.
He’s basically a living tribble.

He is the sweetest, weirdest pig I’ve ever owned.
Sounds exactly like Simon. One of his nicknames was, "The Incredible Shrunken Wheekmonster." He was the smallest pig I've ever had by far, with the biggest set of lungs of all. I could hear him three floors down in the basement doing laundry when he was yelling for a treat. He was a big snuggle monster, never ran when you tried to pick him up. I think it's just something to do with the breed.
 

Mousewife

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Update…sort of…not really

The vet’s office contacted me yesterday to check up on Gaffer.
So, if anyone in southwestern Ontario wants a really good guinea pig vet, I can make a solid recommendation to Royal Vet in Waterdown, Ontario. They are truly amazing!
We have been with them since my sickly pig, Ginger.

Gaffer is moving around a little more and even seems to be putting a little bit of pressure on his broken leg.
We have food , hay(in a big loose pile), and water right by his sleeping hut so he doesn’t have to move much, but he was moving around the length of his isolation cage earlier.

We bought a new set of cubes on Black Friday to redo the main cage. I opted for a combination of translucent plastic panels with a few grids.
The nice thing about the solid panels is that I don’t actually need coroplast with them unless I want to use paper bedding. They provide a solid base for fleece.
The hay is in a wooden dispenser now.
You can’t see in the picture, but there’s an air purifier just off to the side of the new cage. It makes a pretty good difference in the air inside the cage (we run it constantly because of allergies among other things).
I stuck my aranet (to measure air quality) inside the cage, and the air quality inside the cage is identical to outside.
 

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Guinea Pig Papa

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Thank you for the update, and the vet recommendation. One can never have access to enough exotic vets especially in Southern Ontario, so it's nice to know there are options within a short driving distance when the proverbial poop hits the fan!

Glad to hear Gaffer is improving, keep the updates coming.
 

Guinea Pig Papa

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How is Gaffer doing? And how is 8-bit getting along without him?
 

Mousewife

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8-bit has been looooouuuuud, lol. He’s not normally this loud, but he’s been pretty demanding for treats and attention.

Gaffer is doing really well.
He has started moving around more and making little “pay attention to me” noises.
I was a little concerned about where I have him. His recovery cage is on the floor of the living room. I worried he would be nervous there, as he’s at foot level and we are so big walking past him. But he is quite happy and has started standing on his hind legs to try reach up to us to remind us he is there.

He has figured out his medication schedule, too, and starts loudly demanding his meds at the exact time he is supposed to get them.

He has started putting a little pressure on his bad leg, so I think it’s probably healing ok, and he has stopped sleeping in his pigloo during the day and spends most of his day pancaked out in the middle of his cage where he can observe us.

His follow up X-rays are booked for January 26.
 

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Guinea Pig Papa

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Fantastic news! Keep the updates coming!
 

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