I have a 4.5-yr-old female with ovarian cysts. Zuki has had crusty nipples for a month or two, which I clean periodically in case they're uncomfortable/painful for her. As of last week, she now has hair loss also -- first one side and now spreading underneath (not really on second side of her flank yet). A vet confirmed with ultrasound that both ovaries have cysts. He recommended an implant that's mostly used in ferrets, inserted like a microchip, slow release that suppresses/adjusts hormones for 6-12 months. He also said they could remove just her ovaries with side incisions rather than a full spay (including uterus) from underneath.
After researching the implants, I read they're not effective in piggies (though article was from 2011). And though the partial spay sounds appealing in terms of better recovery, I know females also get uterine problems (and am not convinced he checked her uterus much during ultrasound). Basically I wasn't impressed with the guy despite his 30 years experience with exotics, supposedly. And finding pig-savvy vets in Philly area has been challenging (I've posted elsewhere about that).
I'm leaning toward maybe Lupron or Cystorelin injections, if I can find a vet on board with that. But wondering if there's some even newer treatment since articles I've read seem to go back 5-9 years.
I would opt for surgery if I found someone experienced around here; it's a difficult surgery in piggies, I know. But having "an interest in exotics" and calling a spay "a procedure" ("all our docs can do procedures on guinea pigs") doesn't instill confidence. So far I've visited 3 clinics here and just have not been impressed (or even convinced they're competent). It's too bad the exotics dept at Univ of Penn closed because overall the animal hospital there seems very advanced for other species (plus a top vet school). And I was very lucky to have access to good exotics docs in the Boston area, before moving.
Thanks for any updates about alternatives to spaying. Zukina thanks you, too!
If she was otherwise healthy and you had a skilled vet, I would go with a spay. The injection method should buy you some time. Looks like you have done a lot of research and checking of vets in the area.
Thanks if anyone else knows good vets/surgeons around Philly or if there are new non-spay treatments. I'm also pursuing hormone injections (only Lupron or Cystorelin) in case I can find someone willing to do that for Zuki.
- Supporter 2016-2020
If you are not comfortable with your vet doing surgery, our Zoe was passing blood, ultrasound showed she had tumours. So I went onto guinea pig forums. One lady recommended her vet in the UK a Dr Anne Taylor. So I spoke to our vet who had never done anything on a guinea pig. So our vet and Dr Taylor discussed ideas, notes, test results were emailed to the UK vet. A plan of action was formed and Zoe had her girlie parts removed and lived for another 2 years.
Hoping you find a way to help Zuki. Maybe someone on here can suggest a good vet and your vet can talk with them. There is also a website just for vets called VIN. Maybe your vet could post on there? Good luck to you both. Keep us posted!
- Make Good Choices
If you do find a vet willing to consult with others I would definitely recommend that vet in Charlotte - Dr. Lauren Powers. She spayed my Peppa via flank incision. It went very well.
Depending on how wide you expand your search, there are a few good vets in Northern Virginia. I know 2.5 hours is a long way, but just wanted to put it out there. Good luck!!
- Make Good Choices
In Feb 2019 Oxbow and my vet in Charlotte, NC (Dr. Powers) hosted a conference, and a veterinarian from Indiana (Dr. Lennox) who is an expert on the flank spay attended. She offered to walk Dr. Powers through it while she was in town, so my Peppa and another lucky gal named Pepper got a free, less invasive spay. On Pepper they were able to easily get both ovaries and the uterus out via one incision on only one side. On Peppa, they had trouble locating her other ovary. Having already poked around they didn’t want to open the other side and not be able to find it, so they left it.
So technically, she’s 66% spayed :) Though if the ovary had had a cyst, it would have been easy to find. Dr. Powers assured me that if Peppa ever does have an issue with the rogue ovary, she will take care of it. I don’t live down there anymore - but depending on the circumstances I would take Peppa back there if she needed it.
Peppa recovered well - we did the supplemental hand feeding thing for a few days because she’s not overly interested in food even when she feels well - but other than that no issues.
One of my girls who is 3 had fertagyl injection in November and after 5 months her symptoms are back. So now that I'm in a new state (graduate student... with campus closed I went home) I had to find a new vet and they only had lupron which was like $210(usd) (which was like almost triple the cost of the fertagyl!!!). Since they are only doing curbside appointments due to covid I couldn't talk to him to the extent I would have liked. He suggested that it would only last 1-6 months. But I read there needs to be multiple injections within a few weeks. He never mentioned this....
He was really pushing for surgery, but with her other health issues, age, and my upcoming travel in the next 2 weeks I said no for now. Honestly, I am reluctant for her to ever go under. Plus I wouldn't want him to operate this soon as I don't know him or his office enough to trust my girl to go under.
So since I opted for lupron for now, I would like to know if it seems to be effective? AND should I consider surgery if symptoms return?
- Supporter 2016-2020
Jessie started about 9 years ago and it was $60.00AUD for the whole bottle that I paid for and $2.00AUD for a nurse to inject her when needed.
Our piggie, Bella, was on Lupron for a little less than a year at $70/shot. The vet sees lots of ferrets and apparently that's a common medicine used with them, so that was what she had on hand. It worked ok for Bella. It took a couple of doses for her to get her hair back, and it only worked if we had her reinjected every 3-5 weeks. But I've also read from others on this forum that it lasted quite awhile longer for their pigs. I think, depending on the pig and type of cyst, it can range. We switched Bella about 6 months ago to HCG, the vet has been very open to my questions and suggestions. The shots are less expensive and last much longer for Bella! We do have to do 2 shots 1-2 weeks apart when she has them, but she only needs them about every 3-4 months. They not only helped her regrow her hair but also decreased her grumpiness. She was so grouchy with the Lupron, even after her hair grew back in. I know others have had different results. Maybe start with the least expensive and least intrusive one and see if that works if you decide to not go the surgery route.
Thank you for sharing experiences related to non-surgical management of cystic ovaries.
Here's the article I read about desorelin, the implant used in ferrets that hasn't been successful in piggies (though 2 vets here recommended the implants for Zuki if I didn't want to have her spayed). Article is from 2011, so perhaps there's been more research or usage in guinea pigs, but for now I'm holding off on this option: https://sat.gstsvs.ch/fileadmin/media/pdf/archive/2011/09/SAT153090416.pdf
- Supporter in 2019
https://ouv.vt.edu/content/dam/ouv_vt_edu/sops/small-animal- ... jections.pdf
There are two instructional images from that same site that shows the two recommended IM injection areas:
Perilumbar (which I interpret to be the shoulder region):
Zukina is very quiet today and has faced cage corner a couple of times. Also squeaking a bit and hunching up to poop, which is not normal for her. And recently she was picking up a piece of hay over and over... seemed like maybe stress or pain. I hope she's okay and am starting to regret that she's something of an experiment for this vet.
To those who have used the cattle injection, did your piggy act differently the first few days??