Single guinea pig

It’s been a week, and Murphy is working out alright. She’s talking to us all day long with sassy attitude.
Hey Lady! Oh!!! That Guy! You Too!
And she’s always asking us for treats.

This evening I had just left the dining room area and sat on the couch. I looked over and she was still in her usual Treats? spot. She hadn’t gotten my attention.
“Murphy? Hey sweetie. What’s up?” Then Murphy walks over to the corner of her pen, so she might address Hey Lady at the couch.

I’ve been feeding herd members together for a very long time, so I decided to swing by GuineaLynx to refresh myself on just how much fresh foods a single piggy should be allowed a day, because Murphy has cuteness and extortion to an art. 1 cup allowance of fresh produce, FYI.

This is Murphy’s baby pigture, seated to the right of her sister Ruby

4 1/2 months old

And we’re expecting a fourth birthday in February 2019.

This is a Positive Post

We will return shortly.

Lily Momma – last adopted guinea pig

My 8 year old guinea pig Chai had just died January 2015, and the next day Mu-Xi was all alone. Mu-Xi had been a very shy guinea pig. I originally got her for a Skinny I had, after her buddy passed away, but when Mu-Xi met Skeeter, she ran away screaming. She would scream any time Skeeter came near. Eventually Skeeter passed, Mu-Xi was a little less intense, and the final two piggies were Chai and Mu-Xi. The next day after Chai died, Mu-Xi was really nervous and wheeking very loudly. I freaked out and told the kids that I was going to adopt a piggy for Mu-Xi.

We did not bring Moe home with Lily. We left him for another family to adopt. I understood that Moe and Lily came in together, and that she could be pregnant. Two different vets said they can’t confirm she’s pregnant, and the pair of piggies were listed as “confiscated” on their documents for intake, so maybe the fact that she was only 830 grams meant she came from a very neglected situation?

I kept her in a dog kennel away from Mu-Xi for the first two weeks, while she got fat, and then after two weeks I introduced them. Lily was mean. VERY VERY MEAN. Two weeks later she had a litter of pups and scared the bejeebus out of me, so I get why she was so cranky. One morning she and Mu-Xi were eating breakfast salad like all was chill with the world, and out of the corner of the pen, a tiny guinea pig streaks across at full speed. I said “LILY! WHAT DID YOU DO?!!” and she just kept eating salad with her roomie. Obviously, not a thing.
I took a peak in a hidey muff nearby, and I saw a little wall of guinea pigs lined up inside. I put the stray back in the hidey, and tried not to freak out. I have a house full of cats, and newborns look nothing like real guinea pigs, and I had to take all their weights and start baby proofing.

One of the brown agouti abyssinians was somehow acquired by my cat the next day. He upset me greatly. My baby-proofing I guess was not well enough proofed, and Tommy was protecting the house against invaders.

Everyone else grew up. Upper right hand clockwise Auntie Mu-Xi, Murphy, Lily Momma, Ruby, and Potsticker

Having a new family where she started out as the elder, Mu-Xi came out of her shell so well for the second half of her life. Lily was very social, as were her offspring. They all traveled from Phoenix to D.C. in 2016.

The Triplets became Calendar Girls

Things change. Mu-Xi got sick with an abdominal mass early 2017, and she passed. Then September or October last year, we found Ruby had passed one morning. Potsticker took ill in January 2018 and suffered heart failure at the vet’s office. Lily Momma even needed surgery in April for a spay because her reproductive system was a wreck. She had ovarian cysts, and when they opened up her removed uterus, it was full of endometriosis. All those pieces had to go. AND SHE WAS MAD. When things aren’t going Lily’s way, she is so cranky. Recovery was a long 2 weeks of medications, and then a third week before her personality readjusted. Then she was the sweet and social, happy guinea pig again.

Two weeks ago Lily started rejecting her usual treats. She would run up to me for treats, say that what I was offering wasn’t a treat, and then leave. She would do this several times per day. From time to time, she would eat a treat, but it was most often her Oxbow Natural Science vitamin C hay tabs (her cookies). She was still eating her cookies and hay. She was eating. She was bright and alert and eating. I didn’t investigate until it was time to clean the pig pen last Friday. Lily was too light when I went to put her in the empty wading pool. The scale said 662. I called the vet, and they were full until Monday unless I brought her in as emergency. I told them I would wait until Monday and start her on vitamin C supplement, hand feeding, and metacam because from time to time she seems to be in pain. If she’s going to die over the weekend there is little I can do aside from run up a large vet bill. My stepson told me to get her cucumber, because she hadn’t had that treat in a long time. I got one for her, and she was very excited to eat it. I wasn’t able to get her Oxbow Critical Care supplemental feeding until Sunday because Amazon dropped the ball on “Next Day Pickup”. She ate some and did okay.

Monday morning though, she didn’t take her cookie from me, or the cucumber, so we weren’t improving. She hadn’t lost anymore weight. We went to the appointment and had her x-rayed with 3 views to make sure her stomach wasn’t twisted, because she was full of air. Bloat- specifically. Very dehydrated and beginning to show signs of G.I. Stasis. I declined to do blood work or have her hospitalized, because I was working with a very small credit line. They gave me an outline to work on: raised her metacam, gave me lactated ringers and butterfly needles to do subcutaneous fluids twice per day, hand feeding 3 times per day 10-15mL, cisapride twice per day, simethicone 2-3 times per day, liquid vitamin C supplement, and they administered an injection at the office that was supposed to help reduce the gas in her stomach.

Tuesday evening I posted this to Facebook

Wednesday morning she didn’t come out even after I piggy called her three times. I fished her out of the hidey and she was full like a balloon, and could barely walk. I got my credit limit raised and took her back to the vet as an emergency followup. This vet that was visiting took a look at her x-ray and showed me that one of her kidneys was very enlarged, and that we could be looking at a problem with the kidneys as well, but we’d need blood. She got another injection to decrease the gas in her stomach. They tried to get her blood but she was kicking and biting, so they had to give her a bit of anesthetic gas. The amount of time for her to react to the gas and then revive after the gas, was much much longer than an average healthy guinea pig. My first stunned moment of “oh crap”. They did get her blood, but the machine wouldn’t read it. They decided to spin the blood to see if it would work with their equipment, but it didn’t, and the vet brought out the tube to show me. The second “oh crap” moment immediately brought me to tears. I have sold my plasma enough to pay for pet food in the past, that I know what it’s supposed to look like. There was so little plasma at the top, and this was very, very bad. She was still chronically dehydrated, even after giving her fluids for 2 days.

The vet asked me if I wanted him to send the blood out to the independent lab. I spoke to my anthropologist partner on the phone about that, and he said (because I’m definitely emotional) that there is no point running that test if the treatment is the same either way. Blood test would give us answers, but add more to the bill, and the treatment would be the same. If she’s having kidney issues, treatment is feed and flush. Keep hand feeding, and keep up with subcutaneous fluids religiously. If she’s not having kidney issues, she’s still got nil plasma – feed and flush. If she’s got an infection, we can’t treat it while we’re fighting off G.I. Stasis, because it’s going to nuke whatever healthy bacteria is left in the gut. Feed and flush. Running then on a presumption that there may be kidney problems, we took her off metacam and was prescribed Tramadol. Also changed her fluids from 8mLx2pD to 10mLx3pD.

I took her home and gave her all her meds and fluids and only got her to eat half her food. She just kept hiding in the crook of my arm between bites. She was behaving like a terminal piggy, and I wondered if the narcotic was too much. I wouldn’t give her the Tramadol again, I decided.

A few hours later I went to check on her in her hidey, and she was soaked in diarrhea. She wasn’t moving very well, and there was a pile of stool behind here where she’d been laying. I shouted for my stepson to bring my phone. I washed her up, blow dried and brushed her, put a clean hidey in the dryer for a few minutes, placed her inside, and got the heating pad out of storage and laid her on it. The vet asked me a clarifying question, and I didn’t understand what he was getting at or why he told me what he did next:
“Is there mucous in the stool?” I pulled the pile out of her old hidey with a paper towel, and yes, there was.
“How far away are you?” I’m an hour, and you close at 8. “If you need to put her down at home, you can feel free to do that; She’s probably not going to make it to morning. I know we talked about the metacam and the kidneys, but that mucous is from inflammation in her cecum. Make her comfortable and give her a dose of the metacam.”

We had discussed at the visit that day about co2 euthanization. That I will not do it in an animal over 800 grams, but I have done it before, and the vet pulled up the veterinary guidelines to make sure it’s still listed as a viable method if applied correctly, and not that it’s been discontinued and is now instead of a form of cruelty.

I couldn’t process everything from that phone call while I had her in the new hidey sack on the heating pad. Dismal asked me if I wanted him to go get dry ice, and I told him I wasn’t ready to do that yet, and I’d rather he not leave.

This is the point as I write this, that I’m going to take a break and feed my cats because I’m crying again. It doesn’t get much worse from here, but we’re not to the end yet.

Even though I was told she was likely dying, I still gave her another dose of Tramadol, the metacam, and another round of warm subcutaneous fluids. I sat next to her on the couch, while she was in the guinea pig sack on the heating pad. I would keep checking on her, or move the opening of the hidey sack so that the bright light wasn’t stuck in her eyes. Eventually everyone went to bed and I stayed with her. At one point, she starts stirring around a bit with some discomfort, and I swaddled her in the sack into my arm while we watched tv. She kept twitching less and less over about 15 minutes, and then she was gone. When I pulled her out of the sack, her bum was dripping all over me.

What exactly was I being told during that phone call?

I called the office the next day for clarification, and while yesterday’s vet was traveling back to Miami, they were able to put me on the line with another. “I thought the whole point with bloat and G.I. Stasis WAS to see more poop. Why was ‘mucous’ the magic word?”
And I was told that it signaled her body was shutting down and everything was evacuating. She asked if I wanted answers and to have a necropsy performed on Lily, but I said that I was just here for an education. In eleven years I had never had this experience, and I’d been pretty confused as to what had been going on most of the time, even though I kept up with everything they told me to do.

They don’t talk about this on the internet. I had spent two hours key wording different way to say GUINEA PIG DEATH POOP, and GUINEA PIG BLOAT DIARRHEA, and you get nothing that helps. People either say my guinea pig died of bloat, or my guinea pig survived bloat. You don’t often get the uncomfortable details.

Thursday morning I noticed a watermelon on the counter that I had purchase for Lily on Monday, and I went to Twitter:

That’s what I’m going to say about it. I’ve been discussing things with Murphy for the last few days, as she’s alone in the pig pen, and she’s okay so far. This herd was very people friendly, and unafraid of the other species. I have a lot of guilt in my inexperience, and that I haven’t been this long with only 1 guinea pig since December 2007. Even when you do everything right, you don’t always get to shake that feeling off that you did something wrong somewhere.

The bloat killed her

We’ll talk about this later. It was Wednesday night curled up in my arms.

I was very wrong – My sick guinea pig

When you feel that you are well established, there would be no more surprises.

I must still be a layman because my guinea pig has a severe case of bloat. She’s not in G.I. Stasis, and yet her bloat is so severe that they took 3 views on the x-rays just to make sure her stomach wasn’t twisted like a dog.

They wanted to hospitalize her. I cannot afford that this year. I asked if they ever send Ringers home, and they said they do. This is lactated ringers: a sterile liquid solution used to re-hydrate a furry family member by being injected under the skin and creating a small hump that their body will absorb

Uh huh. I will be administering subcutaneous fluids to Lily over the next week, along with baby gasx, a higher dose of meloxicam, cisapride, liquid vitamin C, and 3 handfeedings a day. Today at the vet she received an injection meant to help break up the gas in her stomach, and they administered the first round of sub-qs.

Now if I can pull my head out of my butt (where it’s currently lodged in frustration) the reality is that this should be better than having a mass or a cyst, like I’d planned. But, I have experience in those, and none in this, so I feel completely drained and had nothing to prepare for. If Lily gets over the hump this week, she should be able to go on with her little punky haired potato life.

Stay calm – It’s just a sick guinea pig

Over the last week, I have been having trouble getting Lily to take her usual treats from me. She kept asking for snacks, and then telling me it wasn’t a snack, and walking off. Alright. Maybe it’s a spell with her sniffer?
Turns out, not entirely, and when I was cleaning the pig pen on Friday with my step daughter, I realized that Lily was very light.
“Oh no.” and I rushed to the kitchen to pull out the scale and the guinea pig container.
The color flushed from my step daughter’s face. “Oh no?”
“Yeah…Yeah, that’s what I thought”

Lily has lost over 300 grams. Her gimpy rear right leg was very lame. However, she’s still got her personality, still interested in food but not taking it, and was definitely eating her hay. I called the vet and they said they could do an emergency visit at the end of the day for an additional $75, and that nothing was available until Monday as Saturday was all booked out. I told them we would wait until Monday.

Her appointment is in three hours. She’s not dead yet. She’s actually okay. Why would I wait until Monday?
Because I have had guinea pigs for almost a full 11 years. Lily is heading towards age five. I still have non-narcotic pain relief from her spay in April. I know how to find the dosing for her new svelte weight. I also have liquid vitamin C supplement from a previous vet visit. I know how to hand feed formula through a syringe. If she’s going to die over the weekend, there is not much I can do about it aside from run up a very large veterinary services bill, and then have a deceased piggy.

I’ve been giving her medicines, just got her handfeeding formula yesterday, and her weight stayed the same from Friday to Sunday. She was eating cucumber all weekend along with her Oxbow Natural Science vitamin C hay tabs (cookies) and loose hay in the cage, but this morning didn’t go so well. She came up to me for treats, and then told me that the cucumber wasn’t a treat. She again came up to me for treats, and then told me her cookie wasn’t a treat. She’s barely nibbling at the hay today. We did get 5mL of formula into her. Yesterday afternoon it was 8mL, but I’ll take what I can get. Ideally you would want your piggy to have 10-15mL in a single sitting, but I am sure her tummy has shrunk way down.

So, what’s the plan?
I’m going to take her to have her teeth checked and get a good and thorough groping. I don’t want to run up a big bill with blood work and x-rays. I want their best educated guess. If it’s her teeth, we will trim them. If it’s an obvious tumor somewhere, we will continue with medicine and hand feeding as long as she will allow. If it’s a cyst, we will drain it.

But she’s spayed…Why would she have a cyst?
This is a good one. My previous 8 year old guinea pig (who was spayed) ended up with a massive cyst on her kidney. They wanted to remove her kidney (because cysts can return), so we did blood work to make sure her kidney function was great, and then we tried to get her weight back up for surgery, but she never gained. I was hand feeding her 4 times a day, along with her medicine, and it was only keeping her weight from plummeting.
That guinea pig wasn’t even the only one; just the most obvious one. I had an ultrasound done on Mr Emerson near the end of his life, and he had polycystic kidney, which is a more common occurrence in canines. Mr Emerson had health problems all his life, but I adored him.

Getting ready to do this. All her other daughters have died besides Murphy, and Murphy may be alone soon. I can handle this. *sigh*

The most impressive item you didn’t know you needed

THIS THING!
The Drinkwell Pet Fountain Cleaning Kit

I have been cleaning my Drinkwell Platinum fountains with a toothbrush and sponge for years. It was a messy job, it never felt complete, and it took more than ten minutes. I came across this one day while I was trying to pad my Chewy.com order up to $49 for free shipping, and I am so glad I did. There is no residue left over in the fountain, it’s clean in five minutes, and you would be surprised at all the muck hiding out in the fountain nooks that the brushes coax out effectively. The channel from the motor to the waterfall (can’t even get your pinky finger in there) is stuffed with grossness until you brush it out.

But it’s also not just about the fountain, if you have a Drinkwell or something similar, but that these are great brushes to use on your small animal water bottles. I have been wondering for the longest time why the guinea pigs favor one bottle over the other. I check the tip to make sure the ball moves and it’s wet, so it must be fine and the piggies are weird?
I was wrong. I cleaned out the nozzle on their favorite bottle and thought to myself “oh yuck. Why are you always drinking with food in your mouth?!”. A bunch of muck came out. After I gave it back to them, I pulled the bottle they rarely ever drink out of. As soon as I stuck the brush in the nozzle (this is the small brush meant for the pet fountain motor), there was resistance from the ball midway up the tip. I ran hot water through it and forced the brush to move the ball further up the sipper tube, and this wad of old guinea pig cud flushed out into the kitchen sink. I spent more time cleaning it out until I thought it was ready, and I gave it back to the girls with clean cold water. Murphy started drinking out of it immediately.

It doesn’t matter how much hot water or vinegar you use, there is always muck hiding in these things until you get yourself a set of brushes.

Preconceptions out the window – Raising pets

There are arguments for everyone’s household on parenting and raising your fids or kids. I have been doing both for 10 years now, and my opinions have evolved so much that I would probably shout a few choice things at myself even back in the first five years over the way I was doing things.

In an effort to be better, I realize that there are no cheap pets. There are no low maintenance pets. There are no Starter Pets.
If you get a female guinea pig, be prepared that at some point they may cost you at least $250 in veterinary bills. For their health, they may need spayed. If they live until 4 years, they are more than likely going to need spayed. And be prepared, because they won’t tell you this, but that the oldest guinea pigs were 14 and 15 years old. I can get in line with that, even if you think it’s impossible, because my oldest completely surprised me and lived to almost 8 and 1/4 years. By the way – She needed a spay.
Guinea pigs are often referred to as Starter Pets. What child has $250? I might as well add that I never let my step daughter go get guinea pigs in and out of the pen by herself until she was 10.

Cats are cheap and easy, right? Kibble, litter, and some don’t even stay in the house most of the time. People even give kittens away for free. Who doesn’t love a free kitten? Getting all the vaccines required under 1 year can end up costing you hundreds at the vet, and under $150 if you know how to play your cards right from other clinics. If you think $50 or $100 is too much to adopt a cat for from the shelter, because you can get a cat for free, please reconsider. It is a value. They are already vaccinated, maybe even microchipped, usually sterilized, and often include a first free vet visit within their network. ADOPT ADOPT ADOPT.
I also thought I was perfectly fine feeding kibble until they were seven, and my cat nearly died, a few times. The cats drink from the water fountain, so they’re hydrated. Right? It’s often not enough because did you know that your cat usually won’t drink because it’s casually thirsty? Cats are NOT naturally thirsty. They drink when it’s required, because they are getting dehydrated. My cat’s urine wasn’t dilute enough and he developed a condition that created blockages. He was unable to pee. It was extremely painful, very dangerous, and my boys have both ditched kibble entirely for almost 2 years now. I started doing combination feeding with the girls so that they are eating at least some wet food each day. One lady eats mostly wet food because she loves it, and the other girl has never preferred wet. Not even after over a half dozen dental extractions. Yeah – I also have a cat whose teeth rot out of her head for no known reason.

I’m not even getting into the worst of everything. But you know what I’ve found out in the last 10 years? The $450 parrots have been the least problematic. We get along really well, and I get bit often when they decide to have a tantrum. Their main food runs $130 a year. You do have to spend hundreds on a cage, use a helping hand for grooming, they poop on everything, need special lighting.
Why did I do this to myself?

When I started out, I was in my twenties, and I was simplifying everything. I thought this was so manageable. Why did I ever have twelve guinea pigs at a time? I have two now, and that’s enough. The last time I brought a guinea pig home it turns out she was pregnant. I paid the adoption fee for one, and I ended up with 5. Four cats is not easy when two have asthma, one has FORLS, one has FLUTD, and one gets hairballs. I used to let my boys use a free feeder and because I thought that was all I needed to do, my 13 lb boy swelled to 21 lbs, and I had to discipline myself as well as him, and take a few years out to slowly correct it. The girls free feed no problem.

Whatever you decide to do to bring joy into your live and make additions to your family, understand that you will eventually come up against the unexpected, and that you made a commitment to give them the best life you possibly can. You may at some point need to be in possession of a CareCredit card CareCredit.com. You may also need to find better ways of saving money. Shop circulars, occasionally take walks through the pet stores you didn’t need to see what they are closing out that month. Compare pricing with Chewy.com. Look at Slickdeals.com . I make the boys’ food now from scratch. It takes 3 hours every month. I do this for a few reasons, and it’s not for everyone. The first thing I learned when I started taking on guinea pigs is that you can do laundry for them instead of buying disposable bedding from the store all the time. Words of wisdom, right there.

They also have insurance for pets, which I thought was kind of odd a decade ago. $35 for a cat each month. $420 a year “just in case”. In case of what? I’ll tell you: $10,000. Tommy has run up that amount in vet bills in the past two years. I should have signed him up. Tomas Puma Gargoyle is the prime example. You know who isn’t? His sissy. Princess Yue Pajama Pants has lived with us just as long as he has. The total on her lifetime vet bills, aside from spay and vaccinations? $65. Both cats have been with use since kittenhood and are nine years old. How could I know? Whose side should I be on? Should you get insurance, or should you not get insurance? $10,000 isn’t even Tom’s lifetime total, but Yue’s is $65.

These are the big questions. Are you up for it? Are you willing to learn more as they get older and try to change with the times? Do you need a hug?
Yeah. Me too. I’ma go hug a kitty.

Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch by Living World for #chewyinfluencer

Chewy.com provided us this Pedi-Perch to test out with our green cheek conures and review the product at no cost to us.

Available in X-small to X-large right here

We got the medium. It has two textures, and different gripping sizes to work their feet out from fatigue.

I will try anything on these girls for less than $10

Living World Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch is an essential addition to your bird’s home. This cement bird perch helps naturally trim and maintain blunt, well-groomed nails as your bird moves about on it. The multi-grip wave surface promotes foot circulation and helps prevent arthritis and atrophy. In addition, this beneficial perch helps clean and condition your bird’s beak as he invariably pecks and bites at it.

EXCEPT THEY WOULDN’T RESPOND.

It sounds great, definitely affordable, I got the appropriate size, they didn’t send it to me in purple (they hated my purple hair), and this is a highly rated item on Chewy! 4.6 stars with 50 reviews! It sounds great for my three girls.

They didn’t scream when they saw it or when I put it in at the beginning. They just never used it. I had it right next to the seagrass play mat, and so they stopped using the seagrass play mat. I took it out after 2 weeks, and Koi Monkey let out a shriek like she’d never seen it before, and I startled her.
“I AM TAKING IT OUT. CALM YOUR FEATHERS.”

So that happened. I could show you how to clip your birds’ nails, which is honestly horrifying if you’re empathetic, because my girls are dramatic, so I won’t. Or you could give this Pedi-Perch an honest try – 78% 5* reviews.


Orders $49+ ship free and arrive in 1-2 days

The Honest Kitchen Wishes Dehydrated White Fish Filets Dog & Cat Treats #chewyinfluencer

Chewy let me choose Honest Kitchen Wishes to review for free on my male cats this month. I did not choose my finicky girls to try them because they don’t like fish. Too bad. We did have experience using Honest Kitchen Nice Mussels in the past, and the boys loved those so…

Here we go

Available in a three ounce bag, and made in the USA using human grade quality, wild-caught white fish.
And with a single ingredient of wild-caught fish, they’re loaded with protein and good-for-them omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, dogs and cats have something to agree on—so everyone’s wish has been granted!
They smell so fishy. If you’re sensitive to smells, this may be a little overwhelming, but my cats love them.

average filet is 1/2 oz

But, I’m finding conflicting information on calorie content and serving averages. This is discouraging for me because my boys have a weight problem. Yes, collectively. Tommy and Stewart are both on supervised diets. The back of the bag says “28kcal per average filet” but my kitchen scale says my filet was a half ounce, and the Chewy website says under Nutritional Info “28 kcal/half filet”.
I’m going to have to math to get a better answer, aren’t I?
Honest Kitchen Wishes bag also states “3,700 kcal per kg”.
104.9 calories per ounce? I have this feeling either my math is failing me (I took Introductory Algebra in college), my kitchen scale is in dire need of calibration, or that this is not a treat I can feed my boys on the regular.

I did check the Q&A submitted by pet parents to Chewy, but this is not already listed, and I’m not sure they can address it in black and white because product sizes vary by package. Maybe it turns out that I had a very dense fish filet.

Moving on – These are fairly easy to break into smaller pieces, but it was fun to give an entire filet to each of my boys despite the calorie concern. They had to work on their piece for 5-10 minutes before they could get it to break, and sometimes I would just take the slobber covered Wishes from them and crack them into 3 pieces. WE ARE TESTING FOR POSTERITY, AFTER ALL.

He doesn’t disagree with my methods

These are also available with the Autoship and Save discount of 5% on a regularly scheduled order
Honest Kitchen Wishes for dogs and cats CLICK HERE

All orders ship free at $49 and arrive in 1-2 days