5 year old Guinea pig won't eat or drink, has suddenly gotten thin and is loosing hair. Very lethargic, crusty stuff

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Customer: 5 year old Guinea pig won't eat or drink, has suddenly gotten thin and is loosing hair. Very lethargic, crusty stuff around his eyes.
Answered by Dr. Kara in 19 mins 7 years ago
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Dr. Kara
20+ years of experience
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50,642 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Cat Veterinary, Bird Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Konerko's lethargy, crusty debris around his eyes, sudden weight loss, refusal to drink water, and lack of an appetite.

A guinea pig that doesn't eat well is in big trouble.
Their gastrointestinal system needs to have food constantly moving through it or normal motility will be lost and there will be overgrowth of bad bacteria.

His refusal to drink water is very worrisome too as they can quickly become dehydrated.

I suspect his fur loss, crusty eyes and lethargy are all a direct result of him not eating and drinking and a reflection of how sick he is.

It isn't possible for me to know what started all of this without physically examining him but possible causes include vitamin C deficiency, which leads to painful joints and poor mucous membrane health, a respiratory infection, tooth overgrowth, especially the premolars and molars which can develop painful spurs which make eating painful, or metabolic diseases like kidney disease or diabetes, or even cancer.

But my concern right now is also with his gut.
He needs to eat and he especially needs fiber to get his intestines moving properly. Make sure to have fresh timothy or mixed grass hay available to him at all times.
Because he won't eat on his own I highly recommend force feeding him.
You can use a medicine syringe and feed him ground up pellets mixed with water or orange juice or vegetable baby foods. If you can find it Oxbow critical care for guinea pigs is even better as it is a balanced diet that can be force fed.
You'll need to do this every couple hours during the time he's awake.
I also recommend getting him some probiotics to replace the good bacteria.
If it is cold where you are put him in a travel cage with lots of bedding to snuggle in or place a heating pad under part of his cage set on low to give him warmth. We don't want him wasting too many calories just trying to keep warm.

Then do your best to have him seen by a veterinarian that is familiar with guinea pigs.
I'm afraid finding one today on a weekend may be very difficult.
But you need to force feed him or I'm worried he won't make it to a veterinary visit.

Here is a link to help you find a guinea pig veterinarian:
http://www.guinealynx.info/vetlist.html

If there isn't one close to you then call local veterinarians and ask about their experience with guinea pigs.

Here is a link that will give you tons of information about guinea pigs: http://www.guinealynx.info/index.html
Oxbow critical care can be purchased through your veterinarian.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer
Ok, I just force fed 10 mg of 4-5 pellets ground up in water and while I was doing this he pooped a 6 inch string of poop that I had never seen before.

I am very glad to hear that you were able to get some food into him, and has passed some stool. The abnormal shape of his stool tells me his gastrointestinal tract isn't normal, but at least it is moving.

I still think he needs to see a veterinarian, especially because I think his teeth need checking, but I am encouraged. Keep feeding him this weekend and hopefully you will have located a veterinarian to see him by Monday.

Customer
Just wanted to let you know what happened with our Guinea pig...
He made it to Monday and we took him to a local Exotic Vet. Unfortunately he had swollen heart, lung disease, bone disease, and a huge amount of gas buildup. Since he was 4.5 yrs old, and had multiple issues, we decided to put him to sleep.
Thank you for the advice to hand feed him. We are glad he lived long enough to allow us to find out what his problems were, so we are at peace with the decision to euthanize him.

Thank you for the update on your fellow, I am so sorry to hear that he was as sick as he was. He was a tough little guy to hang in there as long as he did. I absolutely think that you made the most humane decision for him given the number of hurdles he had. I appreciate you letting me know how things turned out, and I am glad that the ability to get information to make an informed decision gave you peace. Take care, and thanks again, Dr. Kara.

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Dr. Kara
+ years of experience
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