Saturday, July 7, 2012

Medicating Pinniped

I found red pee stains in the cage last month.  <sigh>  At least there hasn't been any sludge stains, which is good news.  I called the vet and came home with a bottle of Baytril.  It is not, by a long-shot, Pinni's favorite medication.  To top it off, the dose was pretty big all at once:  1ml once a day.

Liquid medication is so much easier to give to a guinea pig than pills.  However, you need to be careful.  Too much at once can choke a pig if they inhale it or they may spit it out, at which point they haven't gotten the amount of medication they need.

One ml is too much for Pinni to swallow in one go, but she can handle 0.5ml at a time with no problem.  I'm not good at giving medication slowly or squirting in just half a syringeful, so I end up drawing the meds twice.  The one-two dose approach isn't always easy either, because she knows what's coming when I grab her the second time.  It's amazing the strength a little rodent has, especially when it DOES NOT WANT.

After the third day of this, I thought Pinni would be good subject matter for a how-to on medicating a pissed off piggy.  She was fairly well behaved for the video, because five days into it (and a second attempt at filming), she recognized the routine and knew there was no escape.  You should have seen her the first day she got the meds.  Nevertheless, I hope that the following video is helpful to anyone faced with medicating their unwilling guinea pig.

Many people wrap their guinea pigs in a towel to give them their medication.  It's sometimes referred to as a Pig Burrito.  Determined little pigs can be awfully strong.  Any time I've wrapped up a pig burrito, I end up with a big struggle with a lot of stress and strain, and even in a vice grip they still often wriggle free.  Maybe I don't wrap them up tight enough?  Regardless, I have a terrible time hitting my target with the syringe.  So no pig burritos for me.  It's too much time and stress for all of us.

I find it's easier to get a syringe into a pig's mouth when they're standing on a smooth surface and can't get any grip.  I can wrap my hand gently, yet firmly around the head and jaws.  There are several advantages to this position.  The pig may flail around, but their mouth stays pretty much in one spot, so it will be easier to administer the medication.  It also means the guinea pig cannot bite you (if they were upset enough to try).  When they attempt to move their head, they end up moving their body instead (unless they stick their nose up - as Pinni's did in the video).

My girls are good at sitting still and are not the type to take a flying leap to get away.  Even so, I had a pig-spotter on hand to make sure Pinni didn't bolt off the coffee table.  If you medicate with the smooth-surface approach, be sure someone has a hand on the guinea pig, or dose them on the floor.  You wouldn't want your sick pig to accidentally injure themself!

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