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Hay How to soften hay? (or where to buy softer hay)

MikaRose

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Story: (Skip to the bottom if you don't want to read this)
A couple weeks ago I had switched my guinea pigs from 2nd cut timothy hay to 1st cut. This time of the year we can't find 2nd cut anywhere within a 4 hour drive. I just recently noticed that my guinea pig ended up losing an alarming amount of weight. He looked normal, acted normal, and was eating just as often as normal, and with me being so busy I hadn't noticed him slowly getting skinnier. After a weekend of feeding him pellet mash and pureed veggies, he started gaining some weight. I just got back from taking him to the vet today, and the vet said that most likely what has happened is that his back teeth are growing down past his jaw rather than up into his mouth and it's likely causing him pain. Sadly, they said they can't do anything except either send him to another hospital to have them attempt to surgically remove his teeth (which would be costly and likely lead to other complications) or to give him pain medication if he stops eating entirely. She said to just give him whatever he would eat for now. He still wants to eat the hay, it just takes him too long to eat it for him to survive on it. Sadly, I can't just leave pellet mash in his cage all the time because the other (dominant) pig will push him away and eat all of it himself. And I can't always be around to feed him every 1-2 hours when he gets hungry again.


Is there any way I can make the 1st cut timothy hay softer? I was thinking of maybe blending it up and maybe molding it into shapes or something.
Or is there anywhere online that doesn't charge such a ridiculous amount for hay? The local hay goes for $3-5 for a 30-50 pound bale. I wouldn't mind spending even upwards of $20-25 if I had to. But $40-50 + shipping for a smaller bale is nuts
 

Nazgul

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I can't offer much advise on the subject, but I buy all of my hay online from KMS Hayloft. It's not very cheap, but right now you can get 45/42 pounds of Timothy (2nd/3rd cut) or 45 pounds of Bluegrass for $28 + shipping. I live in the same state as KMS, and for that amount of hay shipping would be around $24. So, if you live in or near the midwest, it should be a viable option.

You can also try ordering from DrsFosterSmith. They offer free shipping on orders over $49, although you will probably be paying more for less. Two decent options are:

- American Pet Diner Timothy Gold (2nd cut): $12.99 for 5lb
- Oxbow Health Orchard Grass: $39.99 for 40lb, or $55.99 for 50lb <-- on sale right now

there are others, but they didn't list what cut they were, so I didn't bother.


Oh - and I almost forgot. There's also Small Pet Select, who offers free shipping on orders over $40. They have 2nd/3rd cut timothy and orchard hay available in various sizes. So if you order at least 20lb, you should get free shipping.
 

pinky

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If he's in pain and you're unable to treat the malocclusion, you'd be best off humanely euthanizing him so he doesn't suffer. Did your vet take xrays or are they guessing that's what the problem is?
 

lunarminx

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Last year we had a piggy with malocclusion, the first treatment/surgery was almost $700.00, within 3 months, his molars were going over his tongue again and his front teeth were trimmed 3 times. I made the decision to have him euthanized, he was over 5 years old and there was no way I could justify that surgery over and over again. After the first time, I could barely get him to gain any weight back and he was losing fast again. The xrays alone at my vets were over two hundred dollars, so if your vet will just try surgery without them, that could save you some money. Which ever you choose, just do not wait too long and prolong his suffering. I'm sorry for your hard choice.
 

MikaRose

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If he's in pain and you're unable to treat the malocclusion, you'd be best off humanely euthanizing him so he doesn't suffer. Did your vet take xrays or are they guessing that's what the problem is?

If it gets worse, I plan to. But as of right now it seems kind of cruel to euthanize him just because he's having a bit of trouble eating the stalkier hay. He's still eating and running around like normal. He's not showing any resistance to eating nor any resistance to having his jaw stroked. In fact, he was quite upset that I was crushing up or moistening his pellets - he wants to eat them as normal. It's just seems like he's eating too slowly. I didn't even notice a problem until I switched him over to 1st cut hay. He was perfectly fine with the 2nd cut. The vet didn't take any xrays, but you can physically feel the deformity from his jaw. Rather than being smooth it's incredibly bumpy - which the vet said that's a clear indicator of his teeth growing wrong.
 

pinky

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If it gets worse, I plan to. But as of right now it seems kind of cruel to euthanize him just because he's having a bit of trouble eating the stalkier hay. He's still eating and running around like normal. He's not showing any resistance to eating nor any resistance to having his jaw stroked. In fact, he was quite upset that I was crushing up or moistening his pellets - he wants to eat them as normal. It's just seems like he's eating too slowly. I didn't even notice a problem until I switched him over to 1st cut hay. He was perfectly fine with the 2nd cut. The vet didn't take any xrays, but you can physically feel the deformity from his jaw. Rather than being smooth it's incredibly bumpy - which the vet said that's a clear indicator of his teeth growing wrong.

I'd suggest then that you get his jaw xrayed so you can see which direction the roots are growing. They can be growing in any direction and it would be cruel to just wait and see what happens. Guinea pigs are prey animals and hide pain as best they can so you don't really know what level of pain he's experiencing.
 

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