Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chance Visits a New Vet

Chance visited a new vet who is very experienced with cavies.  Chance was having a good day - he'd been on Bactrim for 6 days which had been helping although he's still got a distance to go in his recovery.  He had a thorough check up of all of his teeth, weight, ears including a swab for mites, and an all over body exam.  Chance has lost an ounce in the last week.  He's down to 1lb 13 oz from 1lb 14oz, but that's to be expected from getting his teeth trimmed last weekend.   He wasn't doing good at chewing until just a couple days ago, and I was feeding him Critical Care to help compensate for that, in addition to cutting his veggies long and skinny.  He is now back to himself and gobbling up everything, then looking in his veggie dish for more!  He's eating pellets very well again too, which is a relief.

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.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guinea Pig Feeding Guide - Herbs & More

The following was shared by a helpful GPCC member that found this information in a PDF document some years ago.  If you know who this compilation of fabulous information should be credited to, please let me know!  I am certain this will be helpful to many.   I have not tried all of these foods for my guinea pigs, so I encourage you to do your own research and always start new foods slowly.  Never give your guinea pig any plant you can't positively identify.

Guinea pigs shopping list:
This list contains veggies, edible herbs and fruits you can feed your piggies, except the edible wild plants, herbs and grasses, which are in another article. As for poisoness veggies and fruits, if it's not in the list, don't feed it!!
Golden rule: feed various veggies and fruits, feed different types daily with moderation, feed them as many as they can eat and you can afford.
Keep in mind that fruits are fattening, so use them in lesser amounts. Dark green veggies, like parsley and spinach, in general can cause bladder and kidney stones, so feed them in moderation. Cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts will make your piggies gassy and can even cause diarrhea. Acidic fruits like apples, can cause mouth sores, which can make a piggie stop eating, so it can die.
Watery veggies and fruits, like lettuces and watermelon can cause diarrhea.
There is also a list included at the end, which complies to a low calcium diet, which is preferable and advisable for all pigs. The list contains 0.3% and less calcium veggies and fruit. Combine these with Timothy hay, some dried green oats as a treat, pellets with low calcium value (currently 0.4% calcium pellets are available).
Edible wild grasses, plants and herbs:
Sometimes, we have piggies with health problems. In addition to what a vet decides for medication, not as a replacement, some plants can be very effective to help the treatment. Check with the vet first.
Many plants make real good piggie food, but we have forgotten what their use is besides nutrition.
To make sure you pick edible herbs, these pictures will help to pick them. Make sure you know what you are picking! Only pick from places free of contaminants such as pesticides, exhaust fumes or urine.
Pick plants that are healthy looking, without insect damage, fungus spots, breakage, or wilting.
If you can only eat part of the plant: then it is mentioned which. If nothing is mentioned: the whole plant can be eaten.
As for toxic herbs, if it's not in the list, don't feed it!!

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) It’s an anti-inflammatory, it reinforces the body, it sooths diarrea and liver problems, it has lots of vitamin B and K and contains Iron, it’s a diuretic.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) Useful for flatulence, helps to remove slimes on lungs.

Basil (Basilicum ocimum) It’s diuretic, it lowers a fever, it’s calming, it combats bacteria, it’s disinfectant, anti-fungus and sooths cramps.

Blackberry leaves (Rubus plicatus) - pick young & tender leaves and shoots. It helps to calm down upset stomachs.

Borage (Borago officinalis) It dissolves slimes, it strengthens the body, it lowers fever, it purifies blood, it’s a diuretic, it lowers fever, it stimulates milk production in lactating animals, it helps to sooth mucosa infections.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) - leaves and flowers. It relieves allergies a bit, it helps healing wounds.

Caraway (Carum carvi) Helps to sooth cramps in the belly.

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) It improves digesting food and is calming.


Chickweed (Stellaria media) It’s diuretic and mildly laxative. It's often recommended for asthma, bronchitis, or congestion.


Cleavers / Stickyweed / Goosegrass / Bedstraw (Galium aparine) It strengthens the heart and arteries, it’s diuretic, helps with UTI’s and bladder, kidney stone and skin problems.

Clover (Trifolium repens or Trifolium pratense, No yellow clover!!) It’s an antispasmic.


Coltsfoot (tussilaga farfara) Pick leaves only. It helps to sooth a URI, stomach and bowel problems, relieves diarrea and cramps, it’s rich in vitamin C.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Useful for flatulence, as an antispasmodic, as an anti rheumatic.
Cow Parsley (Anthiscus sylvestris) Useful for flatulence.

Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaeae) - berries, leaves in moderation. It enhances appetite, stimulates digestive activity, relieves gout, colds, rheumatism and high blood pressure.
Dandelion (Teraxacum officinale) Pick leaves, no roots, no stems, flowers are ok to eat. It helps to improve appetite, it’s diuretic, anti inflammatory, it relieves gout and is anti rheumatic, it improves liver problems.

Dog Rose (Rosa canina) Only the ripe fruits. It’s good to strengthen an exhausted piggie after illness or pregnancy, helps to improve atherosclerosis, healing wounds and fractured bones, it improves digestion, it’s calming, relieves stomach and female illnesses.

Duckweed (Lemna minor). It’s found in ponds. Rince very well to remove possible botox liver damaging becteria. Feed in moderation: it contains more protein then Soya! It’s laxative.

Field Violet / Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor) It’s helpful for cystitis, good for epilepsy and is anti rheumatic.
Goat's Rue, French Lilac, Italian Fitch or Professor-weed (Galega officinalis) It stimulates development and increases the amount of
milk, it’s diuretic. It lowers the blood sugar amount, so don’t feed to piggies with diabetes.

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) It’s helpful for healing internal injuries after surgery.
Lavorge (Levisticum officinale) It relieves digestion problems.

Lemon Mint / Melissa (Melissa officinalis) It stimulates digestive activity.

Linden / Lime Tree (Tilia cordata or Tilia platyphyllos) Flowers with pale yellow leaflets. It’s an anti depressive.

Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) Contains enormous amounts of vitamin C: good for scurvy treatment!

Narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) Pick the leaves only. It decreases tingly feelings, it’s a natural antibiotic, it can be used extra for a cough or a cold.

Nettles (Lamium: all types) Of course it’s best to dry the stingy nettles, but the ones that don’t sting can be fed, all types of them (yellow, white or purple flowers). Nettles should not be fed to piggies with kidney and bladder stone problems, as nettles increase the intake of calcium. It’s a diuretic, anti-inflammatory and have natural antihistamines to relieve allergies. Nettles with white flowers work as an anti-depressant.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Desinfects wounds and the intestines. It’s anti-inflammatory, dissolves slimes on the lungs, it’s a diuretic, it sooths belly cramps.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Helps to sooth cramps in the belly.

Plantain (Plantago Major) It’s antiviral, diuretic, helps stomach problems, relieves itching and swelling from insect bites and
allergies, helps to heal wounds. It does lower blood sugars, so it should not be given to piggies that are diabetic.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea augustifolia) Pick the root only. It is an antibiotic, it stimulates the immune system and improves the lymph node system.

Raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus) Pick young & tender leaves and shoots. Good for curing rashes, belly aches, helping to cure URI’s and is diuretic.

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) It’s anti-inflammatory and diuretic, it has an anti-cancer effect. This plant should not be used by pregnant piggies as it contracts the uterus.

Silverweed (Potentilla anserina) It helps sooth cramps in the belly, it helps to heal skin wounds, it’s anti epileptic.


Smooth sow thistle (Sonchus Oleraceus) It improves liver problems, URI’s, sore throat. Don’t use for pregnant pigs.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) It’s used to stop bleeding, it’s diuretic.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) It’s anti-inflammatory, antifungal, dissolves slimes on the lungs, reduces cramps, opens up the lungs, stops bleeding, improves the digestive system, reduces urinary infections.

Wood Avens (Geum urbanum) It helps to stop bleeding, it’s anti- inflammatory, it reinforces the body, it’s helpful at stomach and intestine problems.

Whortleberry / Heidelberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) Pick berries, leaves in
moderation. It’s an anti-inflammatory, has a weak anti-diabetic activity.

Wild Chamomile (Matricaria chammomilla) It helps against bloated belly’s, stomach problems, URI’s, it’s anti inflammatory.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Pick berries and leaves. It helps against stomach and belly problems, UTI’s, kidney and bladder stones, it’s diuretic, anti rheumatism, anti gout.

Willow (salix) Pick leaves and branches. It has a pain relieving capacity, it’s calming and helps to stop bleeding, it lowers fever.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) It stimulates digestion and helps against bloated belly. It’s a natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, it’s good for the cardio-vascular system.

HIGH Level Vitamin C foods
Beet greens
Bell / Sweet Peppers/ capsicum /paprika - red, green, yellow (not hot or chili)
Broccoli Rabe / Rabe / Rapini (feed in moderation: high in calcium, gassy)

Broccoli, Broccolini (feed in moderation: high in calcium, gassy)
Carrots (also tops / leaves ) (feed carrots in moderation, vitamin A in carrots can cause liver problems)

Cauliflower / Broccoflower / purple cauliflowers (caution: gassy: leaves only)

Cilantro / Chinese Parsley / Coriander greens

Collard greens
Cress: watercress / garden cress

Currants - yellow, red or black (leaves also edible)
Feijoa / Pineapple Guava
Gooseberries (caution mouth sores can develop)
Grapefruit (caution mouth sores can develop)

 Grass - wheat, winter rye (grown in pots from seed)

Kale - curly or plain (caution: gassy)
Kiwi Fruit

Kohlrabi (leaves too)
Melons: Cantaloupe Melon / rock melon, Gallia, honeydew

Mustard greens / Leaf Mustard
Orange (caution - sores around lips can develop)
Papaya / Paw Paw / Tree Melon
Parsley - curly or plain cilantro (feed in moderation: high in calcium)
Peas in pods, peas, pea Shoots (not dried): (fattening)
Persimmon - american or oriental

Spinach (feed in moderation: can cause kidney & bladder stones, slightly toxic too)


Swiss Chard, Red Chard

Tamarillo (leaves poisonous)

Tangerine / Mandarin (caution - sores around lips can develop)

Tomato (sores around mouth can develop; leaves poisonous; artificially grown can be low in vitamin C)

LOW Level Vitamin C foods:
Anise (not Japanese: toxic)

Apple (avoid seeds; can cause sores around lips & mouth can develop)



Arugula / Rocket / Roquette / Rucola
Banana (feed in great moderation - can cause constipation)


Celery Root / Celeriac

Cherries (remove core)
Chicory / endive

Corn on the cob (strings, leaves & stalks are edible too)
Cranberries (whole fruit, not concentrate or juice)

Cucumber (fresh only, not pickled, caution: can cause runny poo: feed in moderation)
Dates (don’t feed dried ones: high in sugar)
Endive (Belgian, green, curled)
Fennel (excellent for bowel problems)
Grapes (in moderation, high in sugar)
Lettuce (Frisee , Romaine, red, green, oak, butter, Boston, no iceburg lettuce)

Parsley root
Peach (caution: gassy)
Pineapple - fresh (sores around lips & mouth can develop)
Plum, Prune (dried high in sugar - as treat only, caution: gassy)

Pumpkin (no seeds)
Radicchio / Italian Chicory / Treviso Radicchio


Red beets
Squash - acorn, banana, butterhorn, spaghetti, and others (feed in moderation)



Watermelon (red and yellow, can cause diarrhea - high water content)

Yam / Sweet Potato (high in vitamin A - leaves edible, avoid potato skin - fattening)

Low calcium vegs and fruits (feed fruits as treats only):
  Sweet Potato
Green Beans
 Lettuce types (no iceberg)

Carrots(feed moderate, can cause liver issues) Kohlrabi
Asparagus Pumpkin
Endive,Belgian Raisins(seedless) Orange
Raspberries Beets
Cucumber Cherries Strawberries Tangerine Apricots Grapefruit Pear Cantaloupe Grapes
Bell Peppers (GPCC Note: Great source of Vitamin C low calcium and oxalic acid, so we feed daily

Melon- all types
 Corn, White and the pale husk leaves.