|Chance eats a carrot while he waits.|
This was a very educational experience for me! I have focused my guinea pig care on prevention of illness, and I've been fortunate not to have dealt with very many guinea pig illnesses in my lifetime, so having Chance has taught me a lot.
|After the carrot, Chance puts on his best sick face for the vet.|
Since I'd been talking about Chance's illness, I've heard several people say that guinea pigs often do not recover from serious respiratory illness; they become chronic. The vet explained to me that this is often true and why. Guinea pigs have cilia in the respiratory system, as do people and many other animals. The cilia are little fibers, like hairs, that catch pollen, dust, mold sports, or other irritants in the air and eject them from the body. When guinea pigs get a respiratory condition for a prolonged period of time, their ciliary activity ceases - this doesn't usually occur in other animals, so the reason this happens to guinea pigs is unknown. Without this defense, they are susceptible to repeated respiratory infections, which is then referred to as a chronic respiratory disease. This should make you understand how important it is to catch a respiratory infection in your guinea pig early and have it treated promptly.
Chance's swab for mites came back negative, but it was also explained to me that there are various other ailments, particularly internal parasites, that can cause symptoms that mimic an upper respiratory infection. These parasites, especially the type that reside in the brain, can also create the head tilt that Chance is experiencing. Although he has a pretty chubby belly, Chance is somewhat bony, which could also be from internal parasites. The problem with killing these parasites is that a dead parasite on the brain isn't much more favorable than a live one on the brain. It is still advisable to treat for parasites despite this.
Since Chance has been tolerating the Bactrim well and showing improvement, he was put on another sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim drug for another 10 days. In addition to this, he is on fenbendazole for 10 days to kill any parasites. The scary part about this is, I was told to watch for his head tilt worsening, loss of balance, crocodile rolling, or other odd behavior. This could be a reaction to killing the parasites. Fortunately, Chance has had his third dose of this and is still doing very well, so I'm not too worried anymore.
Chance also received a vitamin C shot in the office. I have been instructed to put Vitamin C drops in his water everyday. I have been dosing his water daily and putting in exactly 8oz of water. This is so I can ensure I'm putting in the right dosage, and so I can see how much he's drinking daily. The vitamin C breaks down in the water very quickly, and they also may not drink the water as well with vitamins in it, so I'm happy to see that he's still drinking well. Adding the vitamins fresh daily ensures they are still pretty beneficial. The diet I'm feeding is also very good, which the vet confirmed, so he should be getting enough C now. It's imperative that he be getting enough, not only to prevent illnesses like scurvy, but to fight off illness.
Although it's still been a few weeks since I've heard Chance squeal with excitement, I am seeing the brightness in his eyes return, and he's much more inquisitive again. I don't see him sitting puffed up anymore. He's making big strides in the right direction! Chance will go back in 10 days for a recheck on his progress.