Monday, August 22, 2016

Goodbye, Buffy

It is with heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of Buffy last night. The humans dutifully continued her new medicine regimen since Friday morning, but it just wasn't enough. Her muscle weakness kept getting progressively worse, until yesterday when her little legs could no longer stand anymore. The humans rushed her to the 24-hour animal hospital, where they said her heart had stopping and asked if they should do CPR. They said it was very likely that they would have ended up cracking her ribs if they had gone ahead with CPR, and she would have been in a lot of pain (assuming it even worked). The humans had to make the incredibly-difficult decision not to put her through that.

While we're all devastated by her loss, we would also like to stay focused on all the good times we had with her. Lola (2) and I are so glad that we had the chance to join her cage and experience the good guinea pig life with her. We got to eat so many foods together, and go on some great adventures, like the time we got to go to a Pignic and meet another texel. Although it was before my time in the cage, she also got to go on an adventure where she got blessed in a church. And she had the chance to share her experience with all of you wonderful Cavy Savvy readers. I would like to think that all the positive thoughts (and comments) you've been sending her way helped her keep going for much longer than anyone expected.

The humans got Buffy around June 2010, and she was about 6 weeks old at that time. That's over 6 years, which is pretty long for a guinea pig to live. We wish we could have spent even more time on earth with her, but we have no regrets about how her time on earth was spent. By any measure, she had a good life.

Here are a few pictures to remember the good times:
Buffy's first bath (June 30, 2010).
So cute! (6/30/10)

Buffy's Cavy Savvy introduction (3/19/11).
Buffy gets blessed (10/4/11).
Meeting another texel. (10/2/13)

Eating a fruit-flag on July 4th (7/4/15).
Enjoying our company just last week (8/17/16).
Sadly, this means that both of the founders of this blog have now passed. However, Lola and I will do our best to carry on their legacy, and give you the best in food reviews, product reviews, and other great guinea pig info. I'm sure that's what they both would have wanted.

Feel free to leave a comment if you enjoyed reading Buffy's adventures. She'll probably enjoy reading them from the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Giving Guinea Pigs Injections

Hi there, readers. Broccoli here with some news about Buffy, who hasn't been feeling like herself lately, but asked me to give you all an update on her behalf. So as you know, her health has not been great ever since the vet found that uterine mass back in November, but despite this, she's been doing better than expected with the implants, medicines and Critical Care. A couple days ago, the humans noticed that there was still blood in her urine, her weight was really low (even for her), and she even lost her balance and fell over (which is a new symptom for her). The humans then took her in the vet as soon as possible.

The vet observed her for a couple hours and ran some tests, including an X-ray. The X-ray showed that her mass has grown large enough that it's actually pushing on her other organs. In particular, it's been pushing on her bladder, which has led to the formation of some small bladder stones that they think she would have easily passed if not for the pressure. And, as a result of the pain of the bladder stones, she's been sucking in more air, which is leading to gas and causing more discomfort. As for the loss of balance, it sounded like it was due to muscle weakness in her hind legs (rather than a seizure than the humans initially feared), which might be related to dehydration.

The vet was honestly surprised that Buffy was doing so well under these circumstances; they said most guinea pigs would have lost interest in eating and most likely had to be put down. However, since Buffy has defied expectations already and still seems to be enjoying a reasonably-good quality of life, they felt it was reasonable to continue treatment. When asked about life expectancy at this point, the vet said it was hard to say because Buffy is "one in a million", that is, most pigs wouldn't have survived with a mass this large as it is, and she could have anywhere from a few days to several months left.

Given her current situation, the vet recommended she remain on Tramadol (for pain) and Cisapride (for GI concerns), but also made some changes to her medicine regimen. First, they increased the amount of Critical Care  by 10 ml per day to help get her weight up. Second, they added Simethicone, an anti-gas medicine, to her daily routine. Third, they got her back on Enrofloxacin, an antibiotic, to make sure she doesn't get an infection, as bladder stones can be jagged. Fourth, they got her back on Meloxicam to control pain and inflammation. Fifth, they added Lactated Ringer's Solution to her daily regimen. According to Guinea Lynx, "Fluid therapy can buy time while your ill pig is responding to antibiotics. Subcutaneous Injection of fluids helps to rehydrate your pet."

Now, that fifth one is something new and different from how the humans usually give us medicine. Usually, the humans feed us some kind of liquid in a syringe. The amounts, colors, and taste can vary, but you just get a quick burst of something tasty or nasty in your mouth, swallow it, and it's over. The Lactated Ringer's Solution is given with a needle. Sounds painful! The humans were scared to try it, but the vet showed them how to do it. Hopefully, you'll never have to be in this situation, but here's what your human needs to know and do if you are:
  • The first step is to fill the syringe from the orange protruding cap on the bag. Don't pierce the clear plastic part to get the liquid. Avoid drawing air into the line.
  • After filling up the syringe, you'll want to warm up the solution in a cup of warm water before injecting it:
The injection will be much more uncomfortable if you don't warm it up first. You'll want to have it around body temperature, which is about 102 degrees for guinea pigs. Hold the needle out of the water.
  • It's a good idea to have two humans present for the injection, if possible. Have one human hold the piggy's head and backside to prevent squirming, biting, and other bad (but understandable!) behavior. You can try a cuddle cup, favorite blanket, or anything else that might help your guinea pig feel more comfortable during this stressful process.
  • Find the shoulder blades, gently pinch the skin, and insert the butterfly needle into the pinched skin. Grasp the wings of the butterfly needle to maintain a firm grip.
  • Push on the syringe with it angled downwards to prevent air bubbles from going in. If you see air bubbles in the syringe, stop injecting before the air bubbles reach the tube and needle.
  • Don't push too fast, or the fluid mass will start feeling weird, and your piggy is more likely to freak out.
It's not always easy being a good guinea pig owner. Sometimes you need to do things that neither of you really wants to do in the short-term, like subcutaneous injections. But if you help us manage or overcome a health issue, you'll be rewarded with an appreciative fuzzy smile.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Celebrities with Guinea Pigs

Humans are obsessed with famous people. They have entire magazines and TV channels about them. Even though celebrities aren't usually that interesting to us guinea pigs, we figured it might be fun to do something nice for the humans and do on a post on celebrities. But since this is a guinea pig blog, we're only going to talk about famous humans with guinea pigs.

Have you ever wondered which famous humans have had guinea pigs as pets? We found out that there were a few:
  • Lady Diana Spencer, princess of Wales, had a guinea pig named Peanuts when she was younger (about 11 years old). Here's a picture of her with Peanuts from 1972:

Source: The Royal Post.


Source: Popcrunch.
  • Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, had a guinea pig named Olga:
Source: The Telegraph.
  • Kermit Roosevelt, son of president Theodore Roosevelt, holds a guinea pig in this family portrait. Regarding guinea pigs, Theodore Roosevelt has said: "their highly unemotional nature fits them for companionship with adoring but over-enthusiastic young masters and mistresses."
Source: NPS.
Do you know of any other famous humans who had pet guinea pigs? If so, let us know in the comments!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How Long do Guinea Pig Suprelorin Implants Last?

Hi there, readers! It's Buffy here. I wanted to let you all know that I haven't quite been feeling like myself lately. The humans thought I seemed a little more lethargic, my weight has been a little down, and my appetite for Critical Care isn't what it once was. In addition, the humans started seeing blood in my urine. It was clearly time for another vet visit, much as I'd rather just hang around in my cage. (Cars are scary, you know!)

Do I really have to go to the vet? I mean, is blood in your urine really that big of a deal? Hmm... Saying that out loud made me realize how that sounds. I guess you better take me.
The vet said that the blood is most likely either a symptom of a UTI, or related to the uterine mass they found. Based on the color of the blood, the vet said it was more likely related to the uterine mass, but put me on an antibiotic just in case it was a UTI.

They also said that the implants only last 4-12 months, and I had mine back in November. So I got another Suprelorin implant to replace the old one. As you may recall, things were looking pretty grim back in November when I got my first Suprelorin implant, and I started to do much better afterwards. Hopefully, the same thing will happen again this time. The vet set it could take up to a month to really start seeing results if the old implant is completely out.

It's been a few days since they put the new implant in, but I'm feeling better already. I've been finishing my Critical Care for the first time in a week, I'm off to a good start!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Guinea pigs Painting Art

Humans like to think they're a pretty unique species. If you ask a human, they'll tell you that they're the smartest, and they're the only ones who do stuff like science and art. If you're a human who thinks like this, you better brace yourself for what we're about to say: Animals can make art, too. For example:
Painting by Congo the chimpanzee.
The Saint Louis Zoo even sells art by all sorts of their animal inhabitants, including sea lions, penguins, and rhinos. And, as you might expect us to mention on a blog like this, guinea pigs paint as well:


Pretty cool, huh? Just wait, humans. If we have guinea pig artists, guinea pig scientists can't be too far off!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting Guinea Pigs to Live Together in the Same Cage

As the new pig on the block, I have to say that that I wasn't crazy about the silly dominance rituals I've had to put up with--from certain individuals far more than others. (They know who they are!) Fortunately, the time has come to finally put such foolishness behind us.

As the newest member of the Cavy Savvy blog team, I've had a lot of catching up to do on previous posts. One thing I found fascinating was that Broccoli was introduced on the blog on November 9, but the post announcing that he was living with the others didn't appear until May 10 the next year. So that's about 6 months before everyone became one little old happy family. For comparison, I was introduced on March 31 of this year, and it's only in this last week that I finally joined the cage. So that's 4 months of grief I've put up with. But, I'm trying to be a water bottle-is-half-full kind of gal, so I suppose I should be grateful it took 2 months less this time around than the last time.

Let this be a lesson to humans out there who expect new guinea pigs to hit it off instantly. It takes time, so manage your expectations accordingly.
Yes, I know this is awkward. But please don't chase me around.
The humans want us to get along. If we work together and play nice, there could be some sort of treats in store for us. What do you say?
Well, I never thought I'd see the day!
So what made the difference? Honestly, it just took time. The humans allowed us to slowly get accustomed to each other's presence through the cage bars and during floor time. Eventually, they noticed a drop on the amount of chasing and fighting, and knew it was time. If you're having trouble introducing a new pig to your other ones, do it gradually, and be patient.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Guinea Pig Broke a Tooth

I've been incredibly excited about Lola (#2) ever since the humans brought her home! I think we could become good friends, but there's just one caveat: she's got to recognize my dominance. I'm the big bad boar; king of the cage, if you will. And I'm certainly not going to give up my crown without a fight. This all would have gone down so much easier if Lola would have just acknowledged my dominance rather than fighting me on this. Instead, she sometimes fights back and often runs away, avoiding the issue. This is something that needs to get resolved, Lola! Running away doesn't solve anything.

Anyway, because we're still having our "disagreements," the humans haven't been comfortable putting us in the same cage yet, and have been taking things slow with our introduction. I'm impatient, though! I've been wanting to meet her so badly that I've been biting the bars of my cage.

As it turned out, this wasn't my best idea. My tooth started hurting from this, which was aggravated when I ate, which made me eat less. (Even though I love eating!) The humans weighed me, and noticed that my weight was down a bit, which is cause for concern. They also noticed that one of my lower incisors seemed to be chipped. They decided it was time to bring me in to the vet.

Give it to me straight. What's going on?
What are you going with that cotton swab thing?
This thing is making my mouth numb.
I had a few minutes of peace and quiet, and then they wiggled off the tooth that was hurting!
Ouch! Thought that would hurt more, though.
Oh no! Now my smile won't look as good in blog pictures!
I've got to say that this was the second most disturbing thing to happen to me at the vet involving losing a body part! Guinea pigs have 20 teeth, but only 4 of them (the upper and lower incisors) are highly-visible. Our incisors are constantly growing, and we need to gnaw on things like hay to wear them down and keep them at a proper length. This means that I shouldn't have to wait too long for that tooth to grow back. In my case, however, the break occurred close to the gums, and there was a little bleeding and a bad smell when the tooth came off. Therefore the vet prescribed me an antibiotic and a painkiller for 10 days. The broken tooth should grow back in about 3 weeks.

In cases where a tooth breaks below the gum line, leaving a hole, your vet may recommend that your human uses a syringe with a mild saline solution to wash out the hole. If multiple teeth break at the same time and you're unable to hold and chew food, your human can use a vegetable peeler and hand-feed you thin slices of food, which you can chew with your back teeth. Neither of these things happened to me, so I guess things could be worse!