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Sick Rapid death in guinea pig

Kharkhar

Active Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
37
Apologies for a rather sad first post, I've been a lurker on your site and have read a lot of your posts.

We bought two guinea pigs, LeChuck and Bailey, from the pet store (ugh) a few weeks ago, and built them a nice big C&C cage (one level), gave them access to fresh water, plenty of timothy hay, and the pellets that they had been used to at the pet store (obviously not the finest brand but they told me to stick with it for now since that's what they were used to). We supplemented this with: parsley, carrots, some cucumber, tried red bell pepper (they didn't eat it), yesterday they had a little bit of banana.

The day after they came home from the pet store, we noticed a small hairless patch on the nose of one of the piggies (Bailey), with some white flakey skin. After showing pictures around we were told that it was fungal and to treat it with an over the counter medicine (Canesten), which we began applying twice a day to the guinea pig in question. We desinfected their cage with diluted bleach and kept an eye on the other pig LeChuck, who turned out to have a tiny touch of it near his ear, so we treated him as well.

Other than that, they've been acting like normal guinea pigs, appetite good, run away and hide when we try to pick them up, drinking well, no diarrhea... still nervous though.

This morning when my husband got up and went to check on them, LeChuck (the one who only had a small patch on his ear) wasn't really moving his hind legs and he had diarrhea. He was pretty lethargic. We quickly called around to get him in to a vet ASAP and got an appointment for 3 hours later, unfortunately LeChuck passed away before his appointment. From when we noticed him being sick to when he actually died, it was no more than an hour, he went downhill that fast :(

I quickly removed Bailey from the C&C cage and put him into a small rabbit cage I had, with some fresh clean fleece, new hay, new food and a clean empty box to hide in. So far he's acting normal, I have no idea what might have caused his cage-mate's death, there was nowhere for him to fall, nothing for him to get trapped in... Has anyone experienced anything like this?
 
I am no expert, but how are their vitamin C levels? I think Parsley should be done sparringly since it is higher in calcium and since they would not eat the red peppers and on a not so great food, maybe they are not getting their correct vitamin C? Just a thought.It could have also just been something genetic.
 
I am really sorry for the loss of your pig. I do not know what happened but do know pigs are really good at hiding illness. I hope someone else can give you some insight to what may have happened. Keep the vet appointment and get Bailey checked out (imo), just to make sure there is nothing else going on with him.
 
Maybe, but would Vitamin C deficiency kill that fast? And good to know on the parsley, I thought it was one of the better veggies and so we've been giving them a lot of it.
 
And thanks, yes the GuineaLynx pages is where I was looking for the fungal.

@kananaka, unfortunately my husband has already left for work, he left when he realized that LeChuck didn't make it and cancelled the vet appointment, so I can't get Bailey to the vet today. Obviously if he deteriorated I'd have to call my husband and tell him to come home, but if he died as quickly as LeChuck then he wouldn't even get here on time, he's an hour away.
 

THANK you, that's really useful! I don't think I had been giving them parsley more than 4 times a week so hopefully that was OK. I only gave the banana once (because my son didn't finish his and I cut a slice of it to give them), I'll get Bailey some romaine lettuce when I do groceries tomorrow. Maybe I've been giving them a bit too much carrot (4-5 baby carrots a day for the two of them).
 
Yes, guinea pigs can go downhill very fast. Diarrhea is likely unrelated to the treatment with Canesten. Your pig may have been harboring some organism ever since you got him, and just got suddenly overwhelmed with it.

I'm sorry you lost him.
 
LeChuck could have had any number of illnesses that caused his death. One of the most common ones is an URI (upper respiratory infection). An URI can take a pig pretty quick, and the symptoms are hard to see for a new owner. Diarrhea is also very dangerous, and that can cause dehydration, which sounds like LeChuck. I'm sorry for your loss. If the boys were housed together, I would definitely call the vet immediately for an urgent appointment, and start antibiotics prophylactically. I'm a paranoid person, though, because pigs are so small and delicate. Good luck with Bailey.
 
I'm so sorry to hear about your piggie loss. I lost one of my very first young piggies a few months ago in a very similar situation. I can assure you that if it had happened through the night, we would have lost him before getting to the vet as well. For us, it happened at 5pm.

There was diarrhea pouring out of him, we got to the vet ASAP brought him home with meds administered pellet mush and medication and by midnight we were back at the emergency vet where they lost him despite an oxygen tank and CPR... Our vet ran slides of his poo and told me that a parasite that lives in their intestines naturally had multiplied (to some CRAZY amount) and they were attacking him. He has no exact explanation why this happened but it was probably genetic and his system wasn't fighting off these parasites as they multiplied. He was a very energetic sassy Abby who wheeked and popcorned all the time, ate well, drank well, no sneezing, no coughing, no lethargy - just went from healthy to runny poo to dead.

This all happened about 4 months ago, his cage mate (also young) is super healthy and did not show signs of diarrhea, which I was terrified of for the first few weeks!! Alfred (my passed little piggie) had real brothers at the rescue that I met at an event not that long ago and they are all fine and healthy. The reason for telling you my story is because it was so unsettling to NOT know what happened or if I did something wrong. There is not much information when I would search that coincided with my experience. Your's sounds SO similar and my heart goes out to you :( I just remembered I gave him the best care and these things can happen, especially when we're talking about such little creatures.

What I did was waited about a couple weeks to be sure Fat Albert wasn't showing any signs of sickness before finding him a new cage mate. In those couple weeks Fatty got more attention than I think he truly wanted because I felt bad for him and I was so sad...
 
And thanks, yes the GuineaLynx pages is where I was looking for the fungal.

@kananaka , unfortunately my husband has already left for work, he left when he realized that LeChuck didn't make it and cancelled the vet appointment, so I can't get Bailey to the vet today. Obviously if he deteriorated I'd have to call my husband and tell him to come home, but if he died as quickly as LeChuck then he wouldn't even get here on time, he's an hour away.
Imo, get him in A.S.A.P. for a complete check up. Also follow (broken link removed)s advice, seems like good solid advice :). Gl, we are here if you need any more info.
 
@Petlovr , prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended for guinea pigs. They don't tolerate antibiotics well, some not at all, and there are numerous detrimental side effects to them. They're bad enough when they're actually required to treat an animal, but totally unnecessary and possibly dangerous when the animal isn't actually sick.

@Kharkhar, what I would do is watch the remaining pig very carefully, and if you see any signs of illness, then go to the vet. Watch to make sure he's eating and drinking, pooping and peeing normally, isn't sneezing or having runny eyes/nose, is moving normally, and isn't puffed up with pain.

But do cut back on the carrots -- they're too high in vitamin A to give a pig more than one small baby carrot per day.

A drastic loss of vitamin C can kill in several days, but if you've been feeding them pellets and veggies, that's not likely the problem. And I think you'd have noticed the decline, rather than it being so sudden, if loss of vitamin C was the problem.
 
Sorry for the loss of your pig SeaSpotSit, that does sound a lot like what happened to LeChuck. He was already sick this morning when we found him but I just cleaned out the fleece in their cage and there was a huge diarrhea stain in his pigloo so he must have been having issues with that all night :( He was perfectly fine last night, running faster than I thought possible and making it really hard to catch him to give him the Canesten! Definitely NOT lethargic at all at midnight, and by 8am he wasn't moving his back legs :(

Thank you for your advice everyone... I'm doing a complete cleaning of the C&C cage, I'll wash out the chloroplast with diluted bleach and everything just in *case*. I also dumped out the hay that was in the hay rack and the food that was out, I started Bailey with all fresh in the rabbit cage. I'll keep him in there today while I make sure the big cage is completely clean and safe before moving him back in there.

So far Bailey is normal though, normal poop, drinking and eating hay. He's just chillin in his cardboard box munching on hay as I type this, I'm keeping an eye on him and if there's any indication that he's sick I'll act on it, but so far he's being completely normal and healthy other than that small patch of fungal on his face that we've been treating.
 
I just wanted to give an update on this! We did end up bringing Bailey to the vet, he was making a bit of a wheeze while breathing. The vet said that he was showing some signs of pneumonia and that we'd treat that with antiobiotics before it was full blown, so Bailey is getting twice daily Enrofloxacin and a pro-biotic once a day. Also the vet did look at the hairless patch on his nose and he thinks this isn't fungal but instead is Bailey rubbing his nose on the cage bars (probably to get to the hay in the stack). They did a UV light test and tested for ringworm, he says this would only catch 50% of funguses but that test came back negative anyways, he says there's no harm in continuing the Canesten treatment if we want to but his opinion is that it's not needed. He was also VERY surprised that a pet store sold us Bailey because he says he's VERY young, too young to have been sold. Which I guess explains how our little Bailey in the high vertical cube hay rack, he fits through the holes in our C&C cage!

He thinks that with LeChuck it was something in his gut that he was likely born with and that just overwhelmed his little body from the shock/stress of moving to a new home :( Does not look like there would have been anything the vet could have done to save him.

Anyways, he says we have to handle Bailey a lot more until he's better since he'll be very lonely without his cage-mate, but that when his pneumonia clears up we can go ahead and find him another boar friend. We'll be supporting our local shelter this time, definitely learned our lessons with the pet store! Plus I've been reading the stories of the poor piggies at our local SPCA, one poor little fella was abandonned in a trash can after his owners deemed him too sick to survive! They (shelter) nursed him back to health and he's looking for a forever home... He may not be there anymore when Bailey is healthy enough to get a friend but I'm hoping to provide a good home for another piggie that needs it.
 
Good luck with Bailey. I would weigh him daily until he's well, to be sure he's getting enough to eat. If he starts to lose weight start handfeeding.
 
Thanks I'll do that! He doesn't seem to have any taste yet for veggies, we've tried so many different kinds but he just ignores them and favors the hay and food pellets. He does go through a ton of hay though, he completely emptied out his hay rack today and I had to refill it already!
 
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