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worried about Dash's weight loss!!


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Nov 26, 2011
Dak and Dash have been with me a whole week now. hard to believe! they are about 2 years old and are both lethal whites. they have adjusted pretty well. they eat their veggies (which they get 3-4 times a day in small portions), cut into spaghetti like strips; they munch (unlimited)hay; eat their (unlimited) pellets topped with rolled oats and drink from the water bottle.

dash is the quieter of the two. maybe because of his slight head tilt he's less confident about wandering around the cage. dak is very active - munches hay all the time.

their cage is an arm's length from where i sit on the couch, so i can watch them closely. we have a well-vet check with a specialist saturday.

i weighed them when i brought them home last saturday, and then today. here are their weights:
dak: was 924g and today is 922g.
dash was 978g and is now 922g. that's a 7.5% drop in weight!
so i'm a little worried. i checked, and his teeth aren't the problem. it's possible i mis-read the scale last week, and this has been a stressful week for them. i'm not freaking out altogether, but i am concerned. i'm glad we have that vet appointment saturday.

in the mean time - anything i can do to help dash put some weight back on?
It's not unusual for pigs to lose a little weight when changing environments. I'd keep monitoring it, and maybe weigh Dash daily for a while to see what's going on.

About the only thing you could do to put weight back on him is to hand feed him so he doesn't have to work so hard to get his food.
so, as an update on dash: first, i mis-stated his weight on sunday. he came to me at 978g and sunday he weighed 904g ! i was in touch with salana (the lethal expert!) and decided i would supplement dash with some mash, at least to start and hopefully hold us till saturday's appointment. i will weigh him daily now, and if his weight continues to drop - we're going to the vet!!

last night i gave him 2 separate feedings of mash - a full 1ml. syringe. at first he didn't seem to know what to do with it, but after a little struggle, he figured it out, and took the rest of the mash better.

today when i got home i weighed him again and he was up to 916g!! it's not the numbers so much as the fact that he IS gaining that makes me happy. tonight i will feed him 2 syringes full again and see how it goes. on holidays and weekends, i can give more frequent feedings spread throughout the day.

also, as salana suggested, i separated their veggies into 2 piles and gave each one their own veggies. i watched to see whether dash was eating slower, or with more difficulty. i think dak probably eats faster and has time to take an extra bite or two from dash. but now, they both have their own piles and are both getting access to the same veggies at the same time.

more to follow. . .
I hope he keeps putting on the weight! I wish I could send you some of Oink's extra grams to pack onto him. Like, 100 or so of them.;)
well, i just don't know what i should do any more!! maybe i shouldn't weigh dash everyday - it just makes me CRAZY!! maybe for him these fluctuations are "normal" and i should find that out now.

so, as i said, a week ago sunday he was 978g. this past sunday he was 904g. now we're weighing daily (same time every day) and giving him supplemental feedings of crushed pellets and water by syringe (about 1 full 1ml syringe per feeding): monday he was 916g -yea! tuesday he was 920g -yea, the extra feedings are working!! today, wednesday he's 896g!!! i was very careful when using the scale, and made sure he stayed there long enough for the digital numbers to settle. i will weigh him one more time at the end of the day, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke with the scale.

i don't ever see anything different - he gets his share of veggies and pellets and water. Dak goes to eat more hay than he does, but he does eat hay as well. he has no symptoms - no lethargy, no bumps, limps, sneezes, discharges, etc. poos and pees are good.

i am now more eager than ever to see the vet saturday. in the mean time i'm worried and trying to fold all this into "this is how life is with lethals". . .
Have you considered giving him more than 1 or 2 ml. as a supplemental feeding? Adult pigs who aren't eating on their own are generally given 60 ml. per day of pellet mash or critical care. I know Dash eats on his own, and is probably a small adult, but I'd think that he could handle 5 or possibly 10 ml a couple of times a day.

And I don't think you should worry so much about the ups and downs of his weight on a daily basis. What you want is to track a general trend over a period of weeks. If it's steadily going down, then worry. If it's holding the same or increasing, don't.
thanks @bpatters. his rescue mom did say to pay more attention to trends over time, rather than day to day changes. today i just felt so discouraged, i only gave him one supplemental feeding. but i will increase and give him more feedings tomorrow.

it's a little hard to suck the mash up through the 1ml. syringe. i'm going to check on guinea lynx about hand feedings, but any suggestions about a larger deliver method? larger syringe, spoon?
The easiest way to do it is to use a large syringe to fill the small syringes. The larger one can be any size you want, as long as the tip will fit into the barrel of the small syringes after you've pulled the plunger out. Fill the small syringe nearly up, and then put the plunger back in.

It also helps if you cut the tips of the small syringes off. After you do that, take the plungers out and put the cut end of the syringe in a match flame to smooth out any sharp edges left from the cutting.
So, yesterday I took Dak and Dash to see Dr. Doolen who specializes in avians and exotics. He was soooo great!! I think i'm in love - is that wrong?! he answered all our questions, very kind and patient with the boys. he’s seen some lethal whites in his practice, though not many, and certainly none as old as Dak and Dash (they are now 2 1/2).

The biggest problem for my boys turns out to be their teeth. Dash has one bottom tooth which was VERY long and the usual 2 top teeth. Dak has only the 2 top teeth. The teeth grow pretty quickly, with nothing to grind them down. Dr. D suggested I use a dremel to grind them, rather than use scissors to cut them. Cutting the teeth can result in vertical cracks, infections, etc. I have a dremel from when I did my dog’s nails. One of the boys (I forget which one now) has molars that are growing badly. Rather than growing straight and parallel to his cheek, they are growing inward, shaped like a “V”, with the pointed end at his chin and the open end at his throat. Eventually the molar will grow and trap his tongue. . .

Their weight fluctuates and is problematic. The Dr. D suggested I make them a slurry/mash of their food with just a touch of baby food (the non-starchy ones – like fruit or carrots; no peace or corn) to make it palatable, and that they get supplemental feedings twice a day. I fill five 1ml. syringes with their mash and give that to them. Dash loves it, and Dak is just getting used to it.

so, it was good news, bad news kind of. the rescue did a great job caring for them - really, to have got them both to this point is pretty fabulous. anyway, next phase begins - supplemental feedings twice a day!! yea. . . . . .

also, i am really trying to keep my posts short (as hard as that may be to believe). for those of you who want to know more about how the boys and i are getting on, i've started a blog here. thanks!
what do you use your dremel for? teeth or nails? i just walked in and bought a basic model at home depot. the vet seemed to think that was fine. he did have an attachment that looked like a miniature round saw which he used to cut through the over grown teeth. the edge of the attachment cut, while the top/bottom of it sands/grinds. we discussed whether the little sandpaper/grinding attachment that i used on my dog's nails would work for their teeth - he thought it was worth a try. we'll see i guess. . .
need help with syringe feedings please!

after our trip to the vet saturday, he suggested supplementing Dak and Dash's pellet consumption with twice daily feedings of mash (NOT critical care, just their regular KMS pellets) - some of their pellets soaked in water, mashed, with some fruit baby food added for palatability. he recommended five 1ml syringes at each supplemental feeding

i've read on guinea lynx about syringe feedings. i've taken a 10ml syringe and tried to fill the 1 ml syringes with it, following all the posted instructions. the problem seems to be that there's something in the KMS pellets that doesn't completely dissolve into mush, but stays in a little white ball that continues to clog the syringes. i can't crush or mash it any finer, and it is SSOOOO frustrateng that it constantly clogs the syringe!! it takes me way too long to fill the syringes twice a day.

any suggestions!! please - i don't mind doing these extra feedings, i just don't want to get any more frustrated than i need to filling the gosh darn syringes!!
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

I would skip the baby food in the mash, those are usually cooked fruits I believe. Can you crush your pellets to a powder and then add more water than needed to dissolve, so you end up with a slurry of pellets more then a mash. I remember when I syringed fed my girl if I didn't have enough water the pellets or critical care it would clog the syringe. And I always just sucked up the slurry from a bowl into the syringe I would be feeding out of, instead of messing with 2 syringes.
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

i could add more water, but the point is to get them extra calories/nourishment. i'm worried if i add too much water, they won't be getting enough of the actual pellet, but something more like flavored water. guinea lynx recommends 20g pellets to 5 ml water, which i found way too thick.
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

Is it possible to use Critical Care instead of the regular food, or is it just too nutrient dense? Critical Care is the perfect consistency for syringe feedings and very palatable for most piggies.
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

What if you bought a coffee or spice grinder for grinding their pellets?
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

we're looking at long-term supplemental feedings here, not just temporary crisis thing. keeping weight on these guys is one of the challenges for them. i don't know about using critical care - my question would be is it too "much" for them to get every day for the rest of their lives?
Re: need help with syringe feedings please!

I'd add extra water. You don't have to worry about whether they're chewing, because they may not have enough molars to make a difference. You just need to get the stuff in there.

The other thing to do is to cut the narrow point off the 1 ml syringes. Then take the plunger out and wave the syringe through a flame to get any rough spots off. It will be much easier to get the stuff out, and it won't clog so bad. See the second syringe in the picture with the two syringes here: https://www.guinealynx.info/handfeeding.html.

The only thing you'll need to do is to mark the plunger so that you don't push the plunger out the end of the syringe, and have a pig swallow the rubber tip.

ETA: They may not like critical care -- some pigs don't. I'd stick with the pellets, and even a bit of baby food squash mixed in -- I think cutting the end off the small syringes will do the trick for you.
I second the coffee grinder recommendation--I actually gave Einy's coffee grinder away to someone else with a lethal, after his death. It was a little cuisinart model, not too expensive. Whatever the hard chunks are in the KM pellets (calcium?) they might grind up a little better. I seem to remember that Oxbow pellets fell apart more completely than KM's. Also, different baby foods have different textures and some go more easily through the syringe.

If he likes the taste of the mash, and he has front teeth, you might try offering a small bowl of mash. This was Einy's main food, self-fed mash in different flavors. (Mango, squash, blueberry, whatever.) Einy got kind of messy because he had to scoop it up with his lips and chin (he had no front teeth) but he was able to self-feed more efficiently than I could syringe feed him.
okay - so i ground the pellets in my coffee grinder - i added more water (to the point where the ground pellets aren't absorbing any more and the water pools on the top) -i got some more and different needle-less syringes (thank G-d i work in a hospital) -i cut the ends of the smaller syringes just like in the pictures - AND STILL IT WON'T WORK!!!

the problem clearly is that when i load the slurry into the larger syringe and try to fill the 1ml syringe, something keeps clogging the larger syringe!! there's something in the slurry that's either stringy or too fibrous (oh, yea! glorious KMS pellets! [how does sarcasm read over the internet?!])

so - i'm about to try a couple more things -one, i'll see how they take to getting their slurry out of a dish. two, i have a 1/8 tsp that's plastic and tiny enough that may they'll eat off that spoon. lastly, i can get the slurry in and out of a 3ml syringe without much problem. i'll see if they can get the tip of the 3ml syringe in their mouths. i suppose i could also splurge and get a really GOOD burr coffee grinder and see if that will grind those danged KMS pellets to bits. . .

PLEASE!!! if you have any other suggestions - i'm wound up about this and could really use some help. i have squirts of slurry on my ceiling, on the walls, and in my eyebrow hair from trying to figure out what's stuck and having it come un-stuck at precisely the wrong time. . .

someday this will be funny

it doesn't look like today's that day. . .
I don't fill my 1 cc syringes with a larger syringe. I just draw the mash up into the 1 cc syringe. I have the slurry/mash in a small cup, and just draw up the mash with the syringe, feed it to the pig, draw up some more, feed it, etc.
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