Sunday, November 29, 2015

Older Guinea Pigs and Reproductive Issues

Hi readers, Broccoli here. Buffy is now 5.5 years old, which is grandma pig age in guinea pig years. The humans noticed she has been losing weight and has been pretty lethargic lately, and while she has been eating, she's been eating more slowly than she usually does.

The humans took her into the vet yesterday, and they were concerned because her GI tract was almost in compete stasis. This means that food wasn't moving through her body like it is supposed to. To figure out what was wrong, the vet sedated and took an x-ray to see what was going on. They confirmed that her belly was pretty empty and gassy, and that there was a mass around her uterus. Not great news at all. This could be anything from a tumor to ovarian cysts, but they weren't 100% sure based on the x-ray. They also did a blood test, which came back normal, except for low electrolyte levels (which is not especially worrisome given her other symptoms).

The treatment is to provide hormones that shrink the mass and restore her natural hormone levels, so they injected her with a tiny device called Suprelorin that slowly releases hormones into her body (now she's a cyborg pig!).

They also prescribed her drugs to reduce pain (MeloxicamTramadol), reduce gas (Simethicone), encourage GI movement (Cisapride), Critical Care, plus an antibiotic (Enrofloxacin). That's a lot of meds, but strangely enough, Buffy has enjoyed taking them and is very obedient during assist feeding time.
Lola made much more fuss when the humans were feeding her Critical Care.
The humans also bought lots of green pepper and Belgian endive to hand feed Buffy, since the goal over the next few weeks is to get her to gain weight and fight the GI stasis. Hopefully, once she regains her appetite and weight, the device will have also shrunk her mass.

Hang in there, Buffy! We're all rooting for you.

Product Review: Higgins Sunburst Forage Pies with Carrots and Alfalfa Hay

Today, we're reviewing the the second item from our November Piggies Paradise boxHiggins Sunburst Forage Pies with Carrots and Alfalfa Hay. As we mentioned before, Piggies Paradise is no longer in business, so we're going to take our time and review each product individually until we've run out of complimentary products to review.

Pies? I hear humans say good things about pies. Can we eat these things, or is this going to be just like the pizza treats all over again?
At this point, we're learned to be naturally suspicious of any treats that aren't from Oxbow, so we wanted to take a look at the ingredients before getting our hopes up:

Well, at least it's a much shorter list to look into than some other treats we've reviewed.
There are only 5 ingredients on the back. Unfortunately, some of them are concerning:

  • Corn, Corn starch - The diet expert at and Guinea Lynx states that: "Corn products (including corn bran, corn germ, corn gluten, ground corn, etc. There is no legal definition of 'corn' alone in animal feed, so it may be any combination of products. Corn is not a normal feed for cavies, may contribute to allergies, and can be high in fat and certain sugars/starch depending on the product. Additionally, some corn is contaminated with deadly aflatoxin which can cause liver failure and death.)"
  • Alfalfa - As we said in our Ask A Guinea Pig Post on the best hay: "Alfalfa hay is a legume hay, not a grass hay. Only give alfalfa hay to pregnant, nursing, or young guinea pigs under 6 months old. Alfalfa hay is too rich for adult guinea pigs because it contains high levels of calcium, and in excess can lead to health problems, such as bladder or kidney stones. Even if you have a young, pregnant or nursing guinea pig, certain piggies who are prone to stones or other medical conditions should not be given alfalfa hay."

We feel the same way about these treats as we did with the Power Snap treats: we've seen more egregious ingredient lists on treats before, so we're not going to give it the absolute lowest rating, but the ingredients are still not good. We might have even given these treats a higher rating if they acknowledged that only certain piggies (pregnant, nursing, young) should be eating alfalfa, but they don't say that. It just says "For guinea pigs." For all these reasons, we're giving Higgins Sunburst Forage Pies with Carrots and Alfalfa Hay 1.5/5 stars.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Product Review: Oxbow Simple Rewards Bakes Treats with Cranberry

We've had our eye on the new flavors of Oxbow Simple Rewards for a while now. We've already tried bell pepper, apple and banana, and carrot and dill. Now, thanks to the November Piggies Paradise box, we're able to try the cranberry kind just in time for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Piggies Paradise, we have some sad news to share. We recently learned that they went out of business, so there weren't be any more monthly boxes to review. This is unfortunate; we thought the idea had potential, but it apparently just didn't catch on fast enough. Then again, we don't really understand human money and businesses; we just like the idea of treats and toys to review every month!

Since ordering the monthly subscription is not an option, we're just going to take our time with the products in this last box and review each individually.

We're thankful for the opportunity to try these, Piggies Paradise!
Now, let's dig in and review them!

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Buffy is trying to be sneaking and eat hers without being seen. I still see you, Buffy. You're not very good at hiding.
As we've often said, keep in mind that treats like this are only supposed to be a small part of our diet, even if we beg for the entire bag. As long as you keep this in mind, these treats are great. Oxbow does it again--5/5 stars!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Product Review: National Geographic Power Snaps

We recently reviewed our first Piggies Paradise subscription box, but held off on reviewing one of the products inside of it until later: National Geographic Power Snaps. This was because this product had a long list of ingredients, so we knew it would take a little time to review, and we didn't want to hold up our Piggies Paradise review just for one product. Now, we're going to take a more in-depth look at Power Snaps.

Okay, let's see what's in these things.
There are a few ingredients in these treats we think are worth discussing:
  • Sugar, corn syrup - As we originally mentioned in the Piggies Paradise review, these treats contain added sugar and corn syrup, and guinea pigs shouldn't be eating too much sugar.
  • Dried plain beet pulp - According to the GuineaLynx, forum, this ingredient is "Considered low-quality fiber that can clog the villi of the intestine. Common in all animal feed since it is a byproduct of many human products."
  • Flaked corn, Ground Corn - GuineaLynx forum says: "There is no legal definition of 'corn' alone in animal feed, so it may be any combination of products. Corn is not a normal feed for cavies, may contribute to allergies, and can be high in fat and certain sugars/starch depending on the product."
  • Calcium carbonate - This is an ingredient we have a tough time deciding if it's okay or not. On the one hand, Oxbow uses it in some of their products, and Oxbow uses an advisory board of veterinarians and scientists to develop their products. On the other hand, some people on have expressed concern about Oxbow's use of calcium carbonate in their pellets, and thus have switched to KMS Hayloft pellets
  • Dehydrated alfalfa meal - Alfalfa should generally be restricted to young (under 1 year) and pregnant or lactating guinea pigs due to high levels of calcium.
  • Vegetable oil, ground flax seed - GuineaLynx forum says that nuts, seeds and oils are "too high in fat and protein, not a natural food source, often present in animal feeds in seed byproducts that have little to no nutrient value." 
For what it's worth, most of these ingredients that we found issues with weren't at the top of the list of ingredients, so there is probably not too much of them in each treat.

Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to do a taste test of these treats. We probably could have eaten a few and been fine. However, we decided we're better off not putting this stuff in our bodies when there are so many better treats out there. 

We're going to give National Geographic Power Snaps 1.5/5 stars; there are worse treats out there, but you can definitely do much better than these treats.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Product Review: KMS Hayloft Timothy Choice Guinea Pig Feed

Back when Lola was diagnosed with bladder stones/sludge, we started looking into what we could do to prevent her stones from getting any bigger. In our research, we saw that some people claimed that KMS Hayloft is even better than Oxbow when it comes to pellets that won't contribute to bladder stones. This also how KMS Hayloft markets their pellets; they claim: "The calcium/phosphorus levels are right in line with the current literature in keeping with urinary tract health." Therefore, we had our humans order the  KMS Hayloft pellets at the same time as they ordered the bluegrass hay.

The first thing we noticed was that there was some packaging issues. The pellets were in a plastic bag that tore inside the cardboard box from being pressed against the bluegrass hay.

Where did all the pellets go?
The humans had to dig around the side of the box in order to get the pellets for us. We didn't care too much, although our humans looked mildly frustrated by this.

Every morning, the humans would give us 1/4 cup (1/8 of a cup for each of us) in our bowl.

It's good stuff!
KMS Hayloft Guinea Pig Feed pellets tasted just as good as good as the Oxbow pellets in terms of taste. Both are a great way to start your day. We're not sure if these pellets made any difference in Lola's condition before she passed, but at least she enjoyed eating them with us. These pellets are a great choice for any piggy concerned about stones/sludge, although it would be nice if the packaging was a little less flimsy. 4.5/5 stars!