My guinea pig, Daisy, is a 10-year-old female with bad arthritis and atrophied muscles in her back knees/legs. About 6 months ago, she started having trouble walking due to these issues. Under the advice of my vet, I've been giving her 0.25ml of Meloxicam twice daily. I also switched her from wood shavings to fleece bedding because it's easier for her to walk on. This helped a lot, and she was able to get around well until a few weeks ago.
Lately she's been having days where she can't walk at all. When this happens, she gets depressed, i.e. she has decreased appetite, sticks her head in a dark corner, and sleeps a lot. Since she's not moving around, she gets covered in urine. Giving her a bath and gently manipulating her legs has been helpful in getting her back up and walking. However, she's now to the point where she can't walk at all. Whenever I help her up, she falls over. This freaks her out, and she flails around because she can't get back up. My partner was woken up by her flailing around in the middle of the night. I'm terrified she's going to hurt herself, so I leave her in a comfortable position where she can scoot around. All of her food and water are close together, so she can easily reach everything. I have to bathe her 1-2 times a day because she sits in urine all the time. She also has bumblefoot that we've been treating and think is due to her immobility and wet environment.
I need advice moving forward. I know guinea pigs can live without the use of their back legs. There was a paralyzed piggy at the shelter when I adopted Daisy, and it seemed to be getting along okay. I'm going to assume Daisy will never be able to walk again (unless there's some miracle-working physical therapy I don't know about). How can I keep her out of her own filth? Has anyone had any luck with something like a guinea pig wheelchair?
For context, Daisy lives by herself. She's always been extremely aggressive with others. There is another female in the same room but in a different cage. They enjoy having play time in large pens that are next to each other. They spend about 8 hours in their pens every day, so they can socialize with each other.
- And got the T-shirt
I do know it's a hard decision to make. I had an eight-year-old pig that I kept going for several months on ever-increasing doses of metacam. But when she got to the point that she couldn't walk, I had her put to sleep. Trying to keep her alive but in pain would have been for my sake, not hers, and I couldn't do that.
Some people have used "carts" (mobility devices) but these work best with an otherwise healthy guinea pig.
I don't know that something like this would even be worth trying. It is hard when you have a much loved guinea pig and want to do everything you can to help them. I wish there were no need for a guinea pig medical board and wish our guinea pigs normally lived longer, healthy lives.
- I dissent.
I think a good, general barometer for gauging when it may be "time" is simply: do they still enjoy doing most or many of the things a guinea pig typically enjoys doing? If not, and they are struggling with a lot of things like pain (especially pain), inability to eat on their own, little or no mobility, aren't engaging much with their surroundings, are stressed-out over medications or other treatments or they just generally seem uncomfortable and sad, then I know it's time.
Your Daisy has enjoyed a remarkably long life at 10 years! In almost 20 years that I have had guinea pigs, I had maybe 1 or 2 that made it past 9. The average has been 6-8. I think if she were my pig, difficult as I know that decision to be, I'd have that conversation with my vet in the very near future. In the meantime, spoil her rotten (which you already do) and let her know what a wonderful little buddy she has been all these years. :)
Keeping both of you in my thoughts,
My remaining piggy has been very jealous of her sister these past few days and is getting all the treats and attention now. She will be getting some same-aged friends to play with soon. Playtime just isn't the same without her sister around.