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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21463
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My nearly 5 year old guinea pig has been a bit lethargic

Resolved Question:

Hello,
My nearly 5 year old guinea pig has been a bit lethargic over the last two days. She is eating, but not as much as normal and seems very sleepy. Should i take her to the vet or monitor her food and drink intake?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Vet
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
She has had an upset tummy (loose pellets) a couple of times in the last year and they were looking soft about three days ago. They seem fine now. She has no other symptoms other than being sleepy and not eating so much. She seems quite comfortable and cosy
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
she has just refused some fresh food which is very out of character
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

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

Does she currently have soft stools?

Any drooling or teeth grinding/crunching?

Are her gums pink or white/pale? Moist or sticky?

If you press on her belly, any tensing, tenderness, discomfort, or pain?

Could she have eaten anything harmful (ie toys, plants, chemicals, etc)?

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

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
she took about 10 breaths in 10 seconds - so 60she doesn't show any discomfort when you press her belly but there are a few gurgling noisesher gums are pale pink and slightly dampthere is no drooling or teeth grinding. her nose is twitchingi don't think she could have eaten anything - the only new thing in her cage was a furry snuggle tunnel which she did nibble and since has refused to enterthank you
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
her tummy is gurgling quite a bit as she"s sitting on my lap
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hello again,

Now we do need to tread with care. While her initial signs are not specific (not uncommon in prey species given that it doesn't' pay to advertise you are unwell), with the softer stools there would be concern of GI infection or dental disease (where they take less fiber), but we'd also have to consider possible respiratory infection if her gums are paler then usual at that breathing rate. In any case, what is the bigger concern is this appetite decline. This is because when this species goes off their food, for whatever reason this can cause their gut to slow or stop, which can lead to gastric stasis, a situation which it is one of the few true emergencies for them. So, with these signs and the gurgling (something we see with both stasis and gut infection), it would be prudent for her to be seen by her vet before this can progress any further.

Ideally, we'd want the local vet to exam her to narrow down these concerns. The vet will be able to listen to her guts, check her temperature, and have a general evaluation of what underlying trigger might be ailing her. Depending on the vet's findings, they can address the underlying trigger and initiate treatment. To keep the guts moving and get them back on track, often these cases need pain relief, pro-motility drugs, +/- antibiotics. If her signs are severe, she may need to be hospitalized. Or if you are able to provide diligent supportive care at home, they may advise you on how to syringe feed her.

Though any delay and we'd want to start that syringe feeding now. Ideally we'd want to use a critical care feed (ie Oxbow’s Critical Care feed or Supreme Recovery diet) as these are highly nutritious herbivore feed that can be easily made into a slurry for syringe feeding. Though in a pinch we can syringe feed a mixture of veggie baby food, canned pumpkin, and her pelleted feed crushed into this to make a slurry. And we'd hope as we get more food into her, she will perk up for us.

In regards ***** ***** if she is severely dehydrated then the vet might give sterile fluids under her skin. Otherwise, you can try tempting her with pedialyte (fruity flavors are best tolerated) or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into her system. If she isn't keen on it, you can give pedialyte via dropper of syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). This is her maintenance rate and it is a good starting place for supporting her against dehydration.

Overall, a depressed appetite is a very serious situation for your lass and one that we need to be proactive with. I would advise that she should see her vet immediately. They will be able to treat her for this and advise you on how to administer critical care diet and nurse her through this situation. Overall, prompt treatment and supportive care are the best things we can do to get this under control and give this little one the best chance of recovery and getting back to herself.

If you don’t already have an exotics vet, you can find one near you at http://www.aemv.org/vetlist.cfm, http://www.guinealynx.info/vetlist.html or @ http://rabbit.org/vet-listings/ as these vets usually will see pocket pets as well.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
thank you so much i will phone the vet straight away
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

You are very welcome, my dear. :)

Have a lovely day,

Dr. B.