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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21267
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Hi have a guinea pig, who has eating a part of a plastic shopping

Resolved Question:

Hi have a guinea pig, who has eating a part of a plastic shopping bag. Breathing now sounds a little bit funny. what should I do.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long ago did he eat the bit of bag?

How much do you think he ate?

Can you describe what is funny about his breathing?

Does he sound wheezy or struggling to breathe?

Can you take a breathing rate for me (just count his breaths for 10 seconds + multiply by 6)?

If you press on his belly, does he have any tenderness, tensing, or discomfort?

Have his appetite and feces been normal?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Eat bag on Saturday, about a corner part of the bag. his breathing is louder then normal a bit wheezy.

Im not sure how you take breathing rate ( how to tell when he takes a breath)

He had no problem with me touching his belly. Appetite and feces are normal.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Lorraine,


I am very glad to hear that he has no GI issues after eating that plastic, since doing so carries the risk of obstruction. So, with that situation, if it has already been about 48 hours and he has had no issue eating or passing stools; then the bag is a red herring and not related to the signs we are currently seeing.

In regards ***** ***** signs, his increased respiratory noise and wheeziness, do raise serious concerns of a brewing respiratory tract infection. It is quite possible that this is an opportunistic infection capitalizing on the immune stress his GI may be having with this recent ingestion, but no matter the trigger if he is already showing visible respiratory signs then this is a situation where you do want to have him checked and potentially nip this in the bud with antibiotics from his vet. And since cavies are a prey species that do their best to prevent that all is well (to avoid being a target for predation), we do want to be proactive and address this before he gets to a point where he cannot hide that he is unwell.

So, it'd be ideal to have him checked at this stage. Though while you are arranging that, I would note some supportive care options you can try. First, to ease that wheeze and any

congestion, you can take him in the bathroom while you run a hot shower (you can put him in his carrier or cage to keep him from running loose in the bathroom). The steam will help loosen and clear some of the snot congesting him. You can also use a baby nebulizer/humidifier, but often cavies don’t like things held up to their faces. Therefore, we can often make little ‘steam tents’ with them in their carrier, the humidifier next to it, and a light bed sheet over both to make a little steam room.

As well, if you are seeing any crusting or discharge at the eyes or nose, you can, you can use saline (ie plain contact lens solution, first aid eye wash) and a cotton ball to wipe away the discharges a few times daily. While he won't enjoy it, it will soothe those sore eyes and nose.

Overall, the plastic is likely a red herring. Instead, these signs suggest respiratory based infection and not anything related to his GI. Therefore, since he is showing signs of breathing changes already and these conditions can progress quickly, we would want to consider having him seen by his vet. They can listen to his lungs and if they confirm a respiratory tract infection, antibiotics can be dispensed to just address this for him and get him back to breathing normally.

If you do not have an exotics vet already, you can use the exotics filter on the RCVS register to find an exotics vet near you. You can find that here (LINK). As well, a lot of the vet schools (ie Edinburgh, Bristol, RVC, etc.) will either have an exotics vet on site or will have ties to one that they can refer you to (ie. Glasgow). As well, you can check here http://www.aemv.org/vetlist.cfm .

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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