Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guinea Pig Has Cloudy or Milky Eye

Readers, I have to talk with you about a rather unpleasant topic today: eye injuries. This isn't something that I was dying to write about, but after my cage-mate Lola got one, I feel like it's something that guinea pigs and their humans should know about.

It all started a few days ago when one of the humans bent down to look at us, and noticed that Lola's eye didn't look right. It was a cloudy color, there was some discharge in the corner, and the fur all around the eye looked damp.

That doesn't look right...
After doing some research, we learned that abnormal eye discharge can mean lots of things (URI, injury, tooth problem, dehydration, etc.), but the presence of a single, cloudy eye suggested an injury. We didn't know for sure what she had, but Guinea Lynx recommends that if there's a possible eye injury, you need to see the vet as soon as possible to prevent possible eye loss. The humans made a next-day appointment immediately after reading that.

First an eye injury, and then she gets poked and prodded by the vet. Lola isn't having a great week.
The vet did a quick check-up to make sure she was okay otherwise, and then focused in on her eye. They applied a dye to make the surface of the eye more visible, and this made a large scratch visible. (How scary is that! It makes me want to hide from the world even more than I already do.)

So how did Lola get this scratch? It's tough to say, according to the vet. It's possible it was just a freak accident; guinea pigs have been known to scratch their eyes on hay, which is, of course, the bulk of our diet so you can't just get rid of it. But here are a few things you can do:
  • The first thing the vet recommended was a nail trim. Lola's nails were a little long, so it's possible she could have scratched her own eye while scratching at her face. Make sure you keep up with nail trims to prevent this.
  • We previously discussed the differences between first, second and third-cut hay. Since first-cut hay is rough and irregular, it may be more likely to result in an eye poke. Therefore, unless you have a strong preference for first-cut hay for some reason, you're probably better off sticking to second and third-cut hays to reduce this risk.
  • Monitor chew toys, especially those made of willow, for sharp points that can form from being chewed on. If you don't want to put in the time and effort to properly monitor willow chew toys, it might be best to avoid willow chew toys.
  • Another possible source of eye injuries is fighting. Despite their struggles for dominance in the past, Broccoli swears he had nothing to do with this, and I think I believe him. Make sure you properly introduce guinea pigs to each other to reduce the possibility of eye injuries from fighting.

Besides the nail trim to reduce the risk of scratching her own eyes, the vet also put Lola on the following medications:

  • Ofloxacin antibiotic eye drops in the injured eye, 6 times per day
  • Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Bacitracin Zinc antibiotic ointment, also 6 times per day in the injured eye (10 minutes after using the Ofloxacin--putting in the ointment before the eye drops would prevent the eye drops from working)
  • Meloxicam (a pain killer similar to ibuprofen in humans), once per day orally

So that's a total of 13 doses of medicine per day! The humans are finding out that we're not crazy about having gunk put in our eyes, so this isn't a pleasant situation for anyone. However, it has to be done. The vet said that it's possible that Lola could lose her eye if it gets infected and doesn't heal properly, so the humans are doing everything they can to prevent this. Everyone keep your front toes (AKA fingers for you humans) crossed for Lola's speedy recovery!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Guinea Pig Valentine's Day Gifts

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $815 million on their pets this year on Valentine's Day. We don't know how much of that $815 million is going towards guinea pigs, but given that there were 847,000 households with guinea pigs in 2007, it could be a fair amount.

What would make a good valentine's day gift for your guinea pig? Well, Cuddly Cavies has a few Valentine's Day costumes:
Girl guinea pig Valentine's Day costume includes costume and hat ($13)
Valentine top hot & vest costume ($13)
For those who didn't plan ahead and order costumes, however, we recommend food. Good food is always a great way to show your guinea pig you love and appreciate them. For Valentine's day, you should give us something heart-shaped. Strawberry slices and Oxbow treats are what our humans used in the past to give us a happy Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chinese Broccoli?

This food has multiple names, including Chinese broccoli, Chinese kale, Kai-lan and gai-lan. The literal meaning of it's Chinese name is "mustard orchid." We had previously tried broccolini, which is a hybrid between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli, but never actual Chinese broccoli.

While guinea pigs can eat Chinese broccoli, you should only feed it to us occasionally in reasonable portions because it's a gassy food. We're going to say 1-2 times per week because that's how often most of the related vegetables (such as kale and Brussels sprouts) should be fed. This means that there's probably going to be more Chinese broccoli in the refrigerator than we can safely eat, so you should probably find a human recipe for Chinese broccoli and let them eat your leftovers.

Here's what Chinese broccoli looks like. The humans gave us about half of this (for 3 piggies).
Time to dig in!
Back off, Buffy! It's mine!
Another delicious leafy green vegetable! We give Chinese broccoli 5/5 stars!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Giant Prehistoric Guinea Pigs!

There's been some interesting new studies about guinea pig ancestors in the news that we need to share with you. This is from a press release from the University of York:
The largest rodent ever to have lived may have used its front teeth just like an elephant uses its tusks, a new study led by scientists at the University of York and The Hull York Medical School (HYMS) has found.
Josephoartigasia monesi, a rodent closely related to guinea pigs, lived in South America approximately 3 million years ago.  It is the largest fossil rodent ever found, with an estimated body mass of 1000 kg and was similar in size to a buffalo.
Dr Philip Cox, of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, a joint research centre of the University’s Department of Archaeology and HYMS, used computer modelling to estimate how powerful the bite of Josephoartigasia could be.
He found that, although the bite forces were very large – around 1400 N, similar to that of a tiger – the incisors would have been able to withstand almost three times that force, based on earlier estimates by co-authors, Dr Andres Rinderknecht, of  The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Montevideo, and Dr Ernesto Blanco, of Facultad de Ciencias, Instituto de Fısica, Montevideo, who first described the fossil in 2008.
Dr Cox said: “We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators. This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks.”
1,000 kilograms, the article says! Our weights tend to range from about 800 - 1,100 grams, and there are 1,000 grams in 1 kilogram. That means that our ancestor, Josephoartigasia monesi, weighed about 1,000 times more than us! If we were that big and bit with the force of a tiger, I think the humans would take our nips much more seriously!

We found some pictures of what Josephoartigasia monesi probably looked like in some other articles on this:
"A University of York artist's impression of the Josephoartigasia monesi" (source: independent.ie)
Artist impression of Josephoartigasia monesi (Nobu Tamura) (source: International Business Times)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Announcing the Winner of Our 400th Post Giveaway

We used a random number generator to choose the winner of our 400th post giveaway, and the winner is ...

Mary Ellen!

Congratulations, Mary Ellen! You just won a guinea pig necklace from The Magic Zoo! Please send us an email in the next 30 days with your mailing address to cavysavvyaguineapigblog@gmail.com and we will mail you your prize.

Your prize is waiting for you. Send me an email, and I'll mail it right out!
Thanks to everyone who entered! If you didn't win this time, just remember that there will be more contests in the future, so keep reading the blog for your next chance to win!