A lady called the vet practice a few days ago because her son was very distressed about their pet guinea pig. He had just discovered the guinea pig was paralysed in its back legs. She could not bring in the pet until the next morning and had serious financial constraints. When you continuously hear this scenario, you start to think this is already looking like a grim one.
However, you must never assume the outcome of the situation as the information communicated over the phone may be very different to the one in the consultation room.
We scheduled the earliest appointment available to check this poor little guinea pig named ‘Brownie’. The owner walked in with a newborn in her arms and a toddler on her side and I immediately held my breath. In my head I was thinking this meant heaps of opportunity for the guinea pig to have been dropped causing traumatic injury to the back or pelvis. I then proceeded to lift this tiny brown hairy guinea pig out of its cage. As soon as I held it in my hands, I felt its back feet loosely flop down underneath it. Suddenly the gravity of the situation really hit me and my worst fears were coming to life.
I immediately started pinching this guinea’s tiny feet to check if it has any deep pain in its back legs. Fortunately it did and it was so full of spark. I discussed workup costs with the owner and had to give a very guarded prognosis. The owner blatantly said she had a few young children and could not afford the costs of workup. I met her half way and said I would x-ray the little one free of charge to see if we must immediately do the kinder thing and put it down.
Thankfully, the owner gave me the green light.
I proceeded with x-rays and we could see that it had a narrowed space between its thoracolumbar junction. We suspected a traumatic disc prolapse. We gave it anti-inflammatories and put it in a cage and put in lots of fresh greens and water. ‘Brownie’ got into the food like there was no tomorrow. Check out how cute and bright he was in his hospital cage.
Unfortunately with spinal cases, you require patience and lots of perseverance and dedication. The owner surrendered the guinea pig to us today because she can not afford the workup or even provide it with the after care required.
My vet team has fallen in love with ‘Brownie’.
Alana and I had stacked up heaps of fresh greens for him from home this morning and were competing with feeding him breakfast. Chris gave him a lovely bath and prepared a very comfy bed for him. Erin took him home as she is equipped with two spare hutches and is a major guinea pig enthusiast and owns two of her very own. Amy dressed him up and even made him a lovely cape with the letter ‘P’ engraved on it because she has renamed him para-pig.
Check out the footage of him taking a bath and then a glimpse of his hind leg issues.
In this video, I am giving him a physiotherapy session and he was not very comfortable at first. We gave him treats and that worked a treat.
It was so hilarious watching him swallow this leaf of spinach.
The plan is lots of physiotherapy and anti-inflammatories to help him gain function in his back legs. We must regularly bathe him to prevent urine/fecal scalding. We must also closely monitor his progress and see if he is displaying any improvement. If at any stage he loses deep pain, that is the end of the road for him. 😦 😦
We are all already very attached to this little brown creature that has so much personality. He head butts you, enjoys being cuddled, eats out of your hand and is just a joy to have around.
We are all trying to be very realistic but it is easier said then done.
Let us hope all our efforts and his willingness to keep going will pay off in the end. I will keep you posted on how he goes.