[Gpdd] [HEALTH] Caramel not eating or drinking

Dr Kay Dudman kay.dudman at londonmet.ac.uk
Tue May 2 18:49:07 EDT 2006

Dear Elly

Do you know what the injection was that your vet gave to Elly?  If she is
panting she might be in pain (I wondered whether it might have been metacam
or vetergesic, which are analgesics).  Maybe it was an antibiotic to start
her off on the course.  I'm not a vet, but if an antibiotic was prescribed
"just in case" it might be treating the wrong thing.

Did your vet check Caramel's teeth?  If she has stopped eating it might be
because her molars have spurs or spikes, which could stick in to her tongue
or her cheek and make it too uncomfortable for her to eat. Most vets use an
otoscope (really for looking in the ears of larger animals) for checking
guinea pig teeth. If you slide your little finger (with your fingernail
trimmed right back to the fingertip) in to her mouth you might be able to
feel if the molars are growing across the tongue, which means they are too
long and need trimming, but take care as she might not like you doing this.
Also check her front teeth; are they the right length (not curving inwards)
and level?  Has she broken one?  The back teeth can give more problems than
the front teeth, but they are more difficult to see because of the cheek
pads.  Trouble with the front teeth can be an indication of trouble with the
back teeth.

It is important that guinea pigs do not go too long without food as they can
go in to liver failure after about 16 hours without food.  I would recommend
getting some Oxbow Critical Care and mixing that with some warm water and
giving that to her by syringe.  Little and often is best; she should be able
to take 5ml (a teaspoon) easily at one sitting, and if she asks for more she
can have it.  I have had piggies who have happily taken 25-30ml at a
sitting, they soon let you know when they have had enough by turning their
heads away.  If you don't have any Critical Care, take the pellets like
little dark green logs out of her dry mix (or pellets from an all-in-one
food like Cavy Cuisine) and mix these with water.  If you use a 1ml syringe
cut the end off (so the syringe ends at the barrel); for a 5ml syringe, just
take the tip of the end off.  The reason for this is that the fibres in
Critical Care can clog the end of the syringe and make it difficult to
deliver the food smoothly.

Also check Caramel's tummy - does it feel at all tight?  Try the "tonk test"
- lift her some her hands are in one hand, and her feet on your lap, and
gently tap her tummy from the middle downwards.  If there is no sound, OK;
if she has a hollow sound (the "tonk") she could have wind.  Baby wind
treatments containing simethicone (like Infacol) can help.  If her tummy is
swollen it could be bloat, which needs urgent treatment.  You can also
listen to her tummy.  Pick her up with one hand covering her bottom, and
lift her so her tummy is against your ear, and her hands on your head.  You
should be able to hear gentle gurgling sounds to show the digestion is
working well.  If the sounds are very loud, or you can't hear anything it is
a sign of possible problems which would need urgent veterinary attention (if
the gut has stopped working she can't digest her food, the good bacteria
can sometimes be killed off by unsuitable antibiotics; this is called
gastro-intestinal stasis when the gut goes into paralysis).

Don't worry about not putting the vitamin drops in the water; some piggies
hate the taste and then don't drink the water.  Also, vitamin C has a very
short life in a water bottle.  Natural salad foods like greens should give
her the vitamin C she needs, but this can be supplemented with a vitamin C
tablet (again, Oxbow do these) given in water by syringe.

Hope Caramel gets well soon.

Best wishes


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