Preventative Spay?

zygote

Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am


We have two female guinea pigs who turn 5 this month. We chose not to spay them because we have read so many horror stories about the procedure in guinea pigs. However, when they were 3, the vet felt a lump in one guinea pig's abdomen so we spayed her. Everything went smoothly and she recovered well. The vet did not think it was necessary to spay our other guinea pig unless she developed an issue.

Due to ease of scheduling, we did their most recent checkup with another vet at the same practice (The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in NYC, though we have never seen Dr. Pilny and he doesn't appear to be listed on the website anymore?) and she thinks it would be smart to spay her while she is healthy. She says in her experience the spayed guinea pigs don't necessarily live longer, but they have a better quality of life. Though she prefers to do it when they are younger, she didn't seem worried about performing the surgery on a healthy 5 year old.

We're torn about what to do. This guinea pig gets stressed out in new situations more easily than the one who is already spayed, but this medical center is high quality and would focus on the appropriate after care.

Thoughts?

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:17 pm


Dr. Pilny is likely a skilled and experienced vet. You can also ask about outcomes of spay surgeries. I understand your reluctance. A spay does mean your guinea pig should not suffer from any reproductive issues in the future.

Avoidance of routine spays has the most to do with the quality of care available for the procedure and rate of success. But there are still risks to any surgery. Find out what techniques this vet uses for a spay.

p.s. your guinea pig could still live another 5 years!

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:29 pm


It's a hard choice to make. There are always risks to surgery, even in a healthy guinea pig. There's no guarantee that she'll ever have reproductive system problems, and no guarantee that she won't. If it were my pig, I'd probably vote no on the surgery. But there's certainly plenty of good arguments to have it.

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Catie Cavy
Supporter 2011-2018

Post   » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:05 pm


Yes, I would be cautious on doing a spay on an older guinea pig to prevent problems she may never have anyway. I’m not aware of spays giving guinea pigs a better quality of life other than preventing them from developing uterine and ovarian tumors and cysts. You could ask the vet how may spays she has done and what the outcome was and how many spays she has done on older guinea pigs.

ClemmyOddieIndy

Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:33 pm


I had one pig spayed as the result of an ovarian tumor. She survived the surgery without complications, but they left one ovary behind because they thought it was best for hormonal reasons. That ovary ended up turning cystic and we treated it with HcG. She died of non-reproductive related illness. I had another with ovarian cysts and we treated her with Lupron. She also died of non-reproductive related illness. I would never do a preventative spay on a guinea pig. To me, there is no point in risking my animals life on the chance something will happen. Especially, when if something like ovarian cysts happen there are alternatives to surgery to try first.

zygote

Post   » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:15 am


Thank you so much for all of your thoughts. Soon after posting in this thread, the guinea pig in question had a flare-up of some chronic bladder sludge. It happens every year or two for her - she gets blood in her urine and loses weight. We have to cut down on veggies with calcium and vitamin c to prevent crystals and give her a course of antibiotics. She was fine after treatment, but it put us off wanting to put her through a surgery.

Yesterday I noticed she felt a little light when I picked her up, so I weighed her. She has lost 2 oz since her weekly weigh in on Sunday. I see her eating and drinking constantly, so I was surprised. I don't think it's another flare-up of the bladder sludge because I haven't seen any signs of blood (though it's possible I missed it in the bedding). I have noticed two other changes in her behavior though: 1) she is wheeking more loudly for food than is normal for her; it almost sounds like she's screaming at me when I enter the room and she only quiets down once I give her some veggies 2) in the last day or two, she has started humping her cage mate as if she's in heat.

I have an appointment to take her to the vet tomorrow, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about what to ask for. Dr. Google tells me it could be ovarian cysts (though she does not have any hair loss on her sides) or possibly hyperthyroidism, any other thoughts? I will see what the vet says after manual exam, but I wonder if there are any obvious tests for her issues beyond maybe an X-ray or an ultrasound for cysts.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:25 am


You want an ultrasound for cysts. Hyperthyroid test requires a blood draw. I'd do the ultrasound first, only draw blood if it doesn't turn up anything.

zygote

Post   » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:18 am


Based on the exam, she doesn’t suspect cysts. She couldn’t feel anything, and her nipples and hair on her sides are normal. Before I even said anything, she suspected a thyroid issue. So we are doing the blood work first. If that comes back normal and she’s still losing weight, then we will schedule an ultrasound.

zygote

Post   » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:36 pm


All of her bloodwork came back normal (they did a standard panel and the additional thyroid test). Her weight has been stable all week, and she's gained back 0.5-1 oz. The vet suggests keeping an eye on her and scheduling an ultrasound if her weight goes down any more or we see any new symptoms. The vet did say that sometimes older guinea pigs will slowly lose weight due to the normal aging process (muscle wasting, etc.) but thought that 5.5 was young for that.

On a more anecdotal note, she is not displaying any more heat behavior (no more humping or rumblestrutting). Now I'm wondering if she was just off because she was in heat last week. She's only ever been in heat a few times that we have noticed. Can going into heat make a guinea pig lose an ounce or two temporarily?

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:26 pm


An ounce or two is not much. You would look for a pattern of loss. Read over www.guinealynx.info/weigh.html

zygote

Post   » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:22 pm


I have an update on this pig, with a question at the end. tl;dr version is that we are leaning towards spaying her, and do you think that's a good idea?

She seemed to stabilize for a bit since my last post, but she has continued to slowly lose weight. She's down another few ounces since June and is starting to feel a little boney (was 820g, now 770g on the vet's scale). Then a few days ago, I noticed blood in her cage and saw some crusted blood around her vaginal area. She's still eating and drinking a lot, and making no sounds or motions of discomfort while peeing.

I took her into the vet today. She peed on the exam table, and it was clear with no sign of sludge. When the vet palpated her abdomen, she felt what seemed like her ovary. She said the ovaries are usually too small to feel unless there is a cyst (though she did acknowledge this guinea pig is getting skinny). We're setting up an ultrasound this week to see whether there are cysts and/or tumors. We're nervous putting her through a spay surgery at ~6 years old, but don't want her to continue losing weight and be uncomfortable.

This vet is very experienced, and I do trust her to do the surgery as safely as possible. She said that with older pigs, they do an IV catheter to keep them hydrated during surgery and keep them at the hospital overnight for additional pain management. They are set up to syringe feed if necessary. She said we can bring her cagemate to keep her comfortable and help coax her to eat. I asked about a less invasive hormone treatment, and in this vet's experience she said the hormone implant doesn't help as much as the spay. And I'd rather do the spay now when she is still eating, strong, and otherwise healthy. At this point, I'm leaning towards spaying even if the ultrasound doesn't show an obvious cyst since I know they can be missed. The only thing that gives me pause is if the ultrasound reveals a tumor; then I might prefer just to do palliative care.

What do you think? Would you spay if it was your pig?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:10 pm


Well, I just declined a spay on a seven-year-old sow with ovarian cysts. I was worried about the surgery at her age, but what tipped the scales for me is that she has severe arthritis in the knees, and I'm not sure how long I'm going to be able to manage that pain. I didn't want to put her through a spay only to turn right around and have to euthanize her because she's in so much pain.

The hormone implant seems to be helping her, so at the moment, I'm comfortable with that decision.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:48 pm


Is there any possibility of pyometra? (an infection of the uterus) If so, a complete spay would likely help.

Sounds like this is something you will have to decide on, evaluating her overall health, the skill of the vet, etc.

Do you have time to help her with recovery from surgery?
www.guinealynx.info/postop.html

zygote

Post   » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:42 pm


Thanks for the additional perspectives. Luckily, she doesn't have any other problems like arthritis. If she did, I imagine our choice would be different.

The vet didn't mention pyometra, but I suppose it's possible? I'll ask after the ultrasound results come back.

Basically, we only want to do the spay if it will solve her issues and give her better quality of life. If it's something like cancer that has spread already, it's not worth putting her through it. I do trust the skill of the vet, so it will depend on her overall health and the information we get from the ultrasound.

If we do spay, we will make sure to help her with recovery. My wife stays at home during the day so someone would be able to keep an eye on her even if it's early in the week. We've never force fed a guinea pig before, and usually have to give meds by syringing them onto lettuce and feeding that to them by hand. But if need be, we'll make it work - somehow things that seem impossible become doable when it's important.

zygote

Post   » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:49 pm


We got the ultrasound done today. There was a cyst in her left ovary and a mass within the wall of the uterus. I am waiting to hear back about what the mass could mean, but I am guessing that the vet can't tell me for sure without a biopsy.

But the bottom line is we are definitely going to spay her. The surgery is scheduled for October 30th (the next available date). She'll stay overnight for additional pain management and to make sure she eats. They are prepared to force feed if necessary. There will be a night nurse there to monitor her on the 30th. Luckily I don't have Halloween plans, so I'll be able to be with her all night after she comes home without having to cancel anything.

Ah, the irony of this thread title now...Hindsight is 20/20.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:54 pm


I hope all goes well. Do update us and read up on the post op advice.

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GrannyJu1
Supporter in 2018

Post   » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:58 am


I, too, hope all goes well with the surgery. My three piggies and myself will keep our fingers and toes crossed. (This may help Fuzz to keep her feet poop free!) I know it's not a joking matter and I do sincerely hope all goes well.

zygote

Post   » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:42 am


Thank you for the well wishes!

Her surgery was this morning and it went well. The vet said there was an ovarian cyst and uterine mass as expected. She didn't see any visible evidence of anything spreading, and the mass looked like a benign leiomyoma. She's sending the cyst and mass out for biopsy to be sure. But she is hopeful that the surgery was curative and that the pig will feel much better.

She's resting now and will stay overnight so they can make sure her pain is controlled and she starts eating. We'll pick her up tomorrow evening!

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:29 pm


I hope the recovery goes well. I encourage you to reread the advice on the postop link.

Bookfan
For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:18 pm


Sounds like good news.

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