My daughter had a guinea pig that was just 9 months old. We purchased him at 2 months old from a small pet store that gets all of their pigs from the same show breeder. He was a lovely, lively little guy and we got very attached to him. Last weekend, his water consumption dropped considerably and by Sunday evening, he would barely eat or drink. She took him to the vet on Monday and they thought he might be in the beginnings of C deficiency. They gave him sub Q fluids and a shot of Vitamin C and sent her home with Critical Care. She was able to get him to eat some and syringed in some water, and he was peeing and pooping a little bit. He did not have pneumonia, nor was he constipated. Tuesday morning, he didn't look any better, so she took him to work with her and made another appointment for the vet. An xray was taken and the vet did not see anything that would be causing the problem and asked if they could keep him to stabilize him and run further tests. My daughter agreed. His temperature was also quite low, so they put him in an intensive care cage with oxygen and heat and continued the fluid therapy. He was checked at 5 am the next morning and was okay, but when my daughter stopped in with his Critical Care at 7 am, he was gone. The vet was at a total loss to explain why an apparently healthy baby would die like that. I called the owner of the store we bought him from to see if they had any ideas. The only thing the owner could come up with was an abscess. Is it possible that he had one not detectible from the outside that affected his ability to swallow? Is there anything else, like a congenital problem, that might have caused his death? She lost her last pig a month before she got this one and she is devastated.
Type of Animal: Guinea Pig
Age: 9 months
Name of Animal: Oliver
Can you tell me about the type of diet she fed?
Anything that Oliver could get into that may have been a non food item?
Did the Vet do any blood work to look for an infection?
Any urine culture done?
Did they do any other tests other than the X ray?
Do you know what antibiotics they were treating with?
She was feeding him the Oxbow adult pig pellets, timothy hay, some crunchy pig treats, treat sticks and fresh carrots and green peppers. She used Carefresh Natural bedding over newspaper. She never let him have free run of her apartment because he was so fast and hard to catch, but she took him out of his cage every day for cuddle time and she used a pig playpen to let him stretch. She used no chemicals in her apartment (bug sprays, etc.). The building owners have been working on the other apartment on her floor, but they left windows open at all times and she never smelled any fumes in her apartment (plus she always left her windows open as well).
I suspect with the low temperature, the inability to eat and the problems that Oliver had he may have contracted Bacterial Enteritis. This is caused by bacteria which in turn causes infections of the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria can be introduced through contaminated greens, vegetables or in water. One of the most common types of Bacteria we find is Salmonella. This is a very common problem and a big killer of Guinea Pigs.
Symptoms of this disease are lethargy and weight loss. Since Guinea Pigs hide illness well they can suddenly pass before many of the severe symptoms may actually show.
This link tells a little bit about Bacterial Enteritis: http://www.angelfire.com/biz2/AllCreaturesVetCare/guineapig.html
One of the distinct symptoms is the low body temperature. We also see lethargy, lack of appetite, will not eat or drink, does not pass cecal pellets. A stool culture and blood work could identify if this was the cause.
The other issue is that this may have been a congenital defect that Oliver had. Unfortunately without a Necropsy and having the tests that I had mentioned done, it is impossible to know the actual cause.
It seems like your daughter did everything possible to save Oliver. I am so sorry for the loss.
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Thank you, Joan. The vet seemed to be leaning toward some type of infection, thinking maybe he got some spoiled hay or his pellets were contaminated. I'll relay the information on to my daughter. She feels like she did something wrong, and I keep trying to tell her that she was doing everything right for this little guy. I really do appreciates your input. I know she is hesitant to get another pig, but I hope that if she decides to, she'll have better luck. We've seen people keep guinea pigs in what I would consider poor conditions and they seem to thrive, so that makes it even harder for her to accept. Thanks again!
Her conditions were perfect for Oliver! This can happen without us knowing it. The infection the Vet described is the Bacterial Enteritis. It is a silent killer and hides until it is too late.
This is a very common problem and after hearing all that she had done for Oliver I must commend her on the excellent care she had given him.
She should not blame herself ! There are Shelters that will adopt Guinea Pigs that need love that she can give. She may want to check the Shelters and adopt one of those forgotten babies. http://www.gpan.net/
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Vet Tech for 30+yrs. Small Animals and Fish