Yesterday, I took all three pigs in to a different exotics vet for a few concerns (we have had to alternate due long to lead appointment availability, which isn't optimal). Bonnie has had some weight loss and squishy droppings. I suspect she has been getting too many greens and the weight loss may be partially due to reducing pellet intake over the past year and her getting more exercise. She had blood work (normal) and I requested a fecal test for the squishy droppings since the problem has been on and off over the past two months. I am waiting the results of that.
This vet did an ultrasound to confirm the cyst since she could not feel it and did see it was there. She suggested that since Bonnie was relatively healthy and not symptomatic [no hair loss, crusty nipples, hormonal behavior], she was a good candidate for spay surgery. She gave her one hormone shot and she would get a second one in two weeks. We have not booked any surgery and I am unsure about going this route based on what the other experienced vet said.
I understand both vets' rationale but am unsure how to proceed. I would welcome any sage advice! Thanks!
Note also whether or not her body shape has changed, with a shifting of weight to the abdomen and weight loss in other areas.
How does her coat look? Any coarseness or hair loss on the sides?
- Catie Cavy
- Supporter 2011-2020
I am leaning towards watching and waiting and staying away from an invasive procedure. The first vet (who recommended against surgery) is more experienced and seemed to feel like the outcome may not be good. The second seemed more confident, but asking about some data and experience would be useful.
I will continue to educate myself on symptoms of cysts and things to watch out for. I think the hardest part is just wondering if they are suffering since they hide pain so well. I do not want to miss something critical and have her needlessly suffer.
- You can quote me
At our house we've had good success with hormone treatments. They're not permanent and may need to be repeated, but they have worked well.
In my experience ovarian cysts, unlike in the human female, don't much hurt unless they get very large. We had at least one girl whose cyst would fill, then drain on its own.
You write as an alert, caring and savvy owner. Monitor her behavior, and I think you'll be able to tell if she's uncomfortable. Good luck!
Bonnie has been having loose droppings and some weight loss. She was ~980 g in August and is now ~900 g (depends on the time of day I weigh her but that seems to be an average). The vet wasn't concerned about the weight loss because she did comment Bonnie was too fat on previous visits. As I mentioned above, some weight loss I think is attributed to less pellets and more exercise.
Bonnie had bloodwork and it was normal. A fecal test showed no parasites. The squishy droppings seem to be correlated to more greens (I'm not sure why this a problem now because she's been a voracious greens eater with no problems). When I eliminate greens, her droppings get more normal looking, so this seems like the issue. I have not been great about eliminating them for more than 24 hours because of the weight loss concerns. But I think I need to do so just to get her droppings regulated.
She is a good hay eater and has unlimited hay access. I change the three hay boxes they have (the cavy kitchen from Guinea Pig Cages Store) every day. I have been offering a critical care slurry, which she laps up happily, just to give some extra sustenance, when she is not having greens. I'm also trying Bene-Bac for small animals.
Is there anything else I should have checked for the weight loss? Is some loss expected on a primarily hay diet?
- Supporter in 2022
I would reduce the greens and maybe try some other veggie. I notice leaf lettuce and dandelion greens cause a little softer droppings. I feed corn husks and don’t notice any change, probably because they have more fiber.
She was down to 860 grams this morning, which is concerning. I weighed her in the afternoon and she was 875. She has a good appetite for her hay, and I am offering her some pellets (Oxbow garden, which she loves). She has been taking critical care, although I haven't been forcing it. I am not sure if I should but may give it another day to see how her weight is. Since she takes it willingly when she is hungry, I hesitate to put her through forced feedings lest she became wary of me coming at her with the syringe that she does now enjoy. I have the Vitamin C biscuits that I have been offering her and ordered the Oxbow digestive support ones.
I was thinking of giving maybe another 3 days or so without salad just to make sure she is back to normal. She loves corn husk, so I may try that first as a litmus test. It is so perplexing because I vary her greens and it doesn't seem correlated to one thing in particular. The only constant is red pepper, so I am wondering if that is what is causing it.
She is perky and happy and has been more active once some of the chub came off. Last week, she was even doing zoomies which I have never seen her do before. I think it is just distressing because her weight was so constant for so long and now it has been going down. I am hopeful that if we can get her digestive system back to normal, she will regain some weight.
Once her poops completely stabilize (hopefully), you can try slow introductions of a single vegetable/green (only one for a few days) to see if any particular vegs cause the soft poops. It can be difficult to find correlations. Perhaps a longer testing period might help. I can say a handful of guinea pigs have issues with peppers, though I think they are a wonderful food (and generally have lots of vitamin C).
Happy to hear she is perky and active. I do hope she stabilizes.
- Supporter in 2022
I feed corn husk as well, and found that to be a lifesaver, literally, when my previous guinea pig was ill from Baytril. Small amounts will perk up her appetite and the fiber should keep her digestion moving. Just limit the amount so she doesn’t go off her hay in favor of corn husk.
It is so perplexing because this was never an issue until one day it just was. Would it be detrimental to her health to eliminate greens altogether if she is getting hay (offering a mix of orchard, second/third cut timothy, oat) and pellets (oxbow garden select)? Or perhaps something every other day? I just feel at a loss for what to do. I've had her checked for sludge/stones. She is a very good drinker and showed no signs of stones so I am hoping pellets are safe for her in that regard.
We have had a fecal float test and she had blood work which showed nothing. Is there anything else we could check?
However, her weight is down to 840 from 870 yesterday. I am offering some very thick CC rolled up in my hand - avoiding the more liquid slurry since that seemed to be contributing to the squishy droppings. She isn't terribly interested right now but I'll keep trying. The vet advised that if she eating hay and pellets not to force CC on her and wait a few days to see if her weight stabilized. They said to reintroduce small amounts of greens tomorrow if she was still doing well.
My anxiety and obsession with her weight I'm sure is making things worse, so I am trying to just weigh twice a day now. I know it fluctuates depending on bladder and belly fullness. Thanks for listening. I feel we are stuck in this cycle and I am making things worse but interfering too much for fear of not interfering enough. We had that good week where she did put some weight on after being this low, so I am hoping she will get on an upswing again.