Administering medicines – Guinea Pig Healthcare

One of the bones of contention between myself, and many other people who have found it necessary to treat their own rodents, and the veterinary profession, is in the administration of medicines.

The biggest bone of all is that of the matter of putting of medicines in water bottles or sprinkling over food. That the drug companies do not seem to care about this method of administering their products convinces me that they are either complacent or far too fearful of upsetting their prime customers, the veterinary surgeons.

Both the veterinary authorities and the drug companies constantly justify the high price of animal medicine because of the high cost of testing each drug for individual species. One of the main factors of this is in getting the dosage correct. Yet how many times are owners advised to put the medicine in the drinking water of sprinkle it over the food by their veterinary surgeons!. You don’t need professional qualifications to see the utter stupidity of this practice, or perhaps you do!. It is glaringly obvious to any average person that there is no way that the animal is going to get the measured amount of drug that all this research and money was expended upon to work out.

Perhaps, if you watched the patient for twenty four hours a day, checking it’s intake of both water or food and them somehow managed to measure it coming out the other end in urine and pellets, you could get some where near working out if it had taken the proper dose, but I’d like to see anyone try it!.

The only time I add anything to the water is perhaps if the vegetable matter I am feeding is not up much or is in short supply, say in winter if there is a freeze up. I supplement the vitamin C with Rodoxen, effervescent, one tablet per litre of water.

I shall therefore explain just how each type of medicine is administered as I go.

Most tablets and pills can be powered down with a pestle and mortar and mixed with a small amount of water then syringed into the mouth. Very small tablets can be put into the mouth, well back onto the back teeth, if the jaws are held open, see photo. Be sure to have a syringe of water, or a nice juicy piece of cucumber handy to follow it up with to ‘help the medicine go down.’

A general point. When syringing fluid to a guinea pig. Put syringe well into the mouth, about an inch, but at an angle, push plunger slowly and give a little at a time. However, if the animal is very weak, or has difficulties swallowing, only put tip of syringe into front of mouth and dribble in.


Abnormalities – Guinea Pig Healthcare

Abnormalities are more likely to occur as the result of inbreeding, a practice I, and any true animal lover must regard as inexcusable.

In the wild, particularly amongst pack animals, as soon as a young male becomes fertile he is hounded out of the family group by the dominant male. His motive is to defend his right to mate with the females, but the effect is to avoid the risk of inbreeding, a fundamental requirement for the health of future generations.

We only have to look at the British Bull dog, the squashed nosed Pekinese or the German shepherd dog to see the disastrous results of humankind’s intervention in animal breeding to it’s own particular specifications. In these cases, appalling respiratory problems, poor immune systems and weak hips are the result.

The kind of abnormalities seen in guinea pigs, caused by inbreeding are weak immune systems and in the main, problems in the head. Undershot jaws, maloccluded teeth and cataracts being the most common, the latter being most common of all in the Abyssinian breed. Cleft pallets can occur but are less usual and crook feet. Do not confuse the last problem with quite a few young who are born with these feet, which are usually twisted inwards at the ankles, as a result of laying in an awkward position in the womb. You can soon tell the difference by gently manipulating the feet a day after birth. Those that are deformed will be firmly set in that position while the others will be quite flexible and can be made to straighten by lightly binding them in micropore tape for a week.

There is nothing that can be done to correct deformed feet, including euthanasia!. Many vets are keen to go down this path when any animal is not perfect. These animals cope very well and have as good a quality of life as their straight limbed companions. I am certain than an animal’s abilities to cope with disabilities are far superior to human being’s for the simple reason that they cannot asked the pointless question, ‘Why me?.’

Where euthanasia is the only merciful answer is in all cases of cleft pallets for I have never known an animal to survive for more than a few months with this problem and those months could not, in any way, be regarded as of good quality. Most young with cleft pallets die within a week. Either because they cannot suckle properly or the milk finds it’s way into their lungs

Abcesses – Guinea Pig Healthcare

An abscess is a pocket of pus which is formed from dead tissue cells after an injury which becomes infected by germs.

Most of the abscesses that guinea pigs are prone to occur in the neck and jaw area and providing that they are monitored, and at the appropriate time, lanced and drained, they are seldom, if ever, life threatening.

Wounds from bites can cause abscesses but the majority that are seen in guinea pigs are caused from tissue tearing beneath the surface of the skin and becoming infected.

The stage at which an abscess becomes detectable is dependent upon just where it is situated. Those in the neck, well down under the jaw are seldom noticed until they are fully ripe, for they tend to hang down and get lost in the folds of the flesh of the neck. In that position they seldom cause the animal pain, for they are not pushing up against muscle or bone and seldom interfere with the mastication of food.

Most of those that occur just beneath the lower jaw line, right up to just below the ear, usually take a little longer to detect. The first symptom, uneven tooth growth, which obviously shows in the way the animal eats, can appear a long time before there is any detectable inflammation or abscess-like swelling. These abscesses can take anything up to a couple of weeks before they ripen, and then most of them suddenly fill out within thirty six to forty eight hours.

To carry out a proper examination you will need to wrap the guinea pigup in a towel like a babe in swaddling clothes with just it’s head poking out above the edge of the towel. Then lay it on a flat surface, on it’s back. Forget any nonsense you may have heard about guinea pigs having an ‘attack of the vapours’ like some kind of Victorian Miss every time it is laid on it’s back. It can happen but very rarely.

I prefer to work standing with the guinea pig at about table height. However, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to where these examinations are carried out. Some people find it easier to sit down and have the guinea pig on their laps. So long as the animal is secure either method will suit.

If you have a very observant owner, and most caring owners are, the animal will probably have been brought to you because it has begun to lose weight, or it has been noticed that it has not been chewing it’s food with as much vigour as it used to. One owner told me that it looked as though her guinea pig was trying to chew glass, which is about the best description of this symptom.

First check the incisor teeth. You will probably find that they impinge at an angle when looked at face on. The abscess is invariably sited on the high side of the angle. See illustration.

Check the premolars and molars, see Dental problems, you will usually find that the pattern of wear is reflected in these teeth. What has happened is that the animal has been favouring one side to chew it’s food because the other is painful.

Don’t be surprised if after palpating in the area where you suspect the abscess to be,there is nothing to feel, for most of these things are on the brew a long time before there is anything noticeable. I have come to the conclusion that the pain is more intense before the abscess has developed, this is why you get the wearing down of the teeth one sided.

Other than trimming the teeth back down to aid mastication, it then becomes a waiting game. The use of antibiotics to treat these kind of abscesses seldom succeed and in my opinion are unnecessary. It simply becomes a waiting game until the abscess ripens and then has to be lanced and drained for about three days. This is not a job for those without experience but it also no where near as risky as most veterinary surgeons will tell you it is.

I, and many people whom I have taught how to lance abscesses of their own animals have had a near enough ninety nine percent success record and we never use antibiotics. I use hydrogen peroxide to thoroughly clean the incision after the puss has been expressed and then spray with the anti microbial solution, colloidal silver.