Emails reprinted with the permission of Steve, owner of Patches.
Thu, 1 Nov 2001
Just yesterday I noticed Patches did not eat his morning carrot. Throughout
the day I also noticed him chewing differently. His appetite is still
present, but it is taking him longer to eat the same amount.
I looked in his mouth and do not see any broken front teeth. I did notice
that his bite is not strong when I put my finger inside. Ewok nearly snaps
off my finger when I do the same to her.
If he cut himself or his mouth is just sore from pulling on the cage (during
dinner time) I would hate to rush him up to the vet. My thought was to give
it till Friday and see if things improve.
Fri, 2 Nov 2001
Well, things went about as good as possible at the vet hospital. Here is my
Molars - not overgrown and jaw lines up well
Ears - waxy but no apparent ear infection
Front teeth - very overgrown, grinded down the top and bottom teeth.
Patches' front teeth were so overgrown that he was needing to open his mouth
wider than usual to eat the same food, i.e.,: carrots. This extending opening
and closing was becoming painful leading him to resting more and losing some
The hope and prospect:
Patches appetite should return being able to eat with more ease.
So that where things stand.
Did you see a specialist in teeth? Many vets miss malocclusion. Overgrown front
teeth is a sign of overgrown molars. As the molars overgrow they force the mouth
open allowing the front teeth to overgrow. There is seldom a reason for the
front teeth to overgrow if the molars are't overgrown. Especially when there
hasn't been a problem before. How did the vet examine his teeth? What tool did
he use? Did he sedate Patches?
Monitor his weight carefully. And perhaps get a second opinion.
Sat, 3 Nov 2001
Well, it been about 20 hours since Patches had his grinding and his chewing
has not improved. Should I assume his mouth will
be sore for a while after the grinding? Unfortunately, this vet I took
Patches to is the best in the area (with the exception of Angel memorial in
Boston). He is the same vet who saved Patches from a urinary tract infection
(it was a real bad case).
Here is the approach I am going to take and I value you thoughts on it:
Feed Patches separately and monitor his weight over the next 72 hours.
Offer him soft foods (canned carrots, dandelion greens, chopped
broccoli) and mushy pellets in a bowl
Initiate force feedings if his appetite and/or weight starts to drop
On Monday, if things are not back to normal, bring him back to the vet and
get an xray to take a look at his jaw alignment and see if there is
inflammation in the jaw area. Will an xray offer better evidence of
His mouth should not be sore from just trimming the front teeth.
You need to keep feeding Patches but even more important, you need to get him
to an animal dentist.
Get Patches to a vet EXPERIENCED in dental matters.
Get a SECOND opinion.
Sun, 4 Nov 2001
Well, I got an appointment for Patches at Angell Memorial in Boston today.
After an examination, sedation, x-rays, processing fees, donation
to the place, and $450, nothing was found!
Patches molars are in perfect shape. Patches jaw is in perfect shape.
Patches' rump is in perfect shape. The best exotic vets in the Northeast
think Patches just has a bad headache. So it was an all day event because
they admitted him for the day. The good news is they found nothing, the bad
news is they found nothing! I requested Rimadyl in case he is suffering from
TMJ. That's the only other thing I can think of.
So Patches has a couple of the best vets in the Northeast United States
scratching their heads. There appears to be no bone(teeth) related reason
why his chewing/bite strength has decreased.
I am going to continue the force feeding for as long as necessary. His
weight 10/1 was 3 2/3 lb, his weight today was 3 1/3 lb.
Tue, 6 Nov 2001
Over the past 36
hours I have noticed that he is much more playful and curious after receiving Rimadyl. I am
continuing to force feed him 25 ml of food each day and massaging his jaw muscles. Last night
he even took a drink from the water bottle, I acted like I saw Santa Claus for the first time.
I'll take any good sign at this point.
So the 'needle' seems to be pointing more and more towards TMJ. As a foot note, I also suffer
from it and can sympathize with the pain of eating.
Luckily Patches entering into this 'sick' phase with a couple of extra ounces around his
midsection. Although he has lost weight, he is still above 3 pounds.
Wed, 7 Nov 2001
I have noticed that he is happier and more likely to snack on lettuce after 1
1/2 hours of being given the medication, pointing stronger to the fact that
he must be in discomfort and the medicine is doing its job. He is eating
slurry very well so at least his appetite is present.
Wed, 7 Nov 2001
Hi and guess what,
The vet called me this evening from Angell Memorial and said he has been
passing Patches x-rays around for the last couple of days and one of the
dental specialists saw something no one else did. Patches has a hairline
fracture in his upper jaw.
It is inoperable but should heal itself over time. So with about 4 to 6 more
weeks of syringe feedings and soft-soft foods, the fracture should heal and
he should recover.
I think the vet was as happy as I was in solving this mystery.
Thu, 8 Nov 2001
Patches is not having a good day, has not eaten any lettuce. I guess for the
next couple of weeks, there will be good days and bad days.
He did eat his syringe food just fine, he is clocking in about 40 ml of it a
day. It's a special blend from Angell Memorial specific for animals that
He is still interested in the idea (coming to the cage and looking inside the
bowl, he just does not eat anything inside it)
Fri, 9 Nov 2001
The vet at Angell Memorial prescribed Carprofen 10mg/ml 0.33 ml 2x a day.
He said it was an equivalent of Rimadyl.
And yes, the syringe feeding formula he is taking is Critical Care for
Herbivores from Oxbow Pet Products.
Patches seems to like it.
So we are all hanging in there today.
Fri, 16 Nov 2001
Well, last evening Patches ate a piece of broccoli and this morning he was
able to (slowly) eat his morning carrot. He has not been able to eat a
carrot in over a month. This is a very strong sign to me that he is
recovering and recovering well.
Here is my summary:
Patches was found in mid October to be chewing in an atypical manner. His
consumption of food declined rapidly, starting with carrots and extending to
dry pellets, broccoli, and eventually lettuce. His weight dropped 5% within
a 48 hour period. After 3 days of observation, I began force feedings to
prevent dehydration. This included baby food carrots, spinach, and syringes
of water containing vitamin C drops. Drooling of food and water occurred
during force feedings. On the 4th day he was brought to a local vet that
examined him for molar malocclusion. No abnormal growth was observed. His
front teeth were observed to be excessive length, thus grinding occurred.
For the next 48 hours eating habits did not resume a normal process / intake.
He was brought into Angell Memorial for a complete examination. The vet
there also confirmed no abnormal molar growth was occurring. After receiving
an estimate for a complete examination and the possibility of needing to
mortgage the house, I decided to have Patches undergo a complete series of
skull x-rays only. The series initially offered no signs of jaw misalignment
or injury. The next working theory was Patches was suffering from TMJ. He
was prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug similar to Rimadyl. After 3 days
there was no improvement to his eating habits and syringe feeding continued
(45-60 ml of Oxbow supplement for convalescent herbivores). I received a
call from Angell Memorial that a dental specialist in London observed a
hairline fracture in his upper jaw extending from one side of his mouth to
the other. Consensus was to continue syringe feeding up to 6 weeks along
with continual administration of the anti-inflammatory prescription drug.
28 days after Patches was first observed to have atypical chewing, he has
begun to resume normal eating habits and consumption. I will continue to
administrator the anti-inflammatory prescription for an additional 3 to 5
days. Current weight loss is 30% of his original body weight.
It was a long process. The key factor was keeping his strength up through
syringe feedings. That Oxbow stuff is great.....smells like a locker
room....., but works like a charm.
Yes, I do believe it was due to pulling on the cage. All of them do it, but
only in anticipation for dinner. I am going to think of some inexpensive way
to eliminate that risk from the other guinea pigs (they all have the same