Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Diminishing Returns

I discovered a few weeks ago that Bertie likes peas and carrot baby food mixed in with her Critical Care.  She stopped fighting me as much, which is good news.  However... I had increased the hand feedings to two or three times a day.  As far as I could tell, she'd been eating on her own, too, so the latest drop in weight was mystifying.  She had stayed in the 760s for most of November, but fell into the 700s just before Thanksgiving.  The way she attacked her food made me wonder about tooth issues.  Bertie went in two weeks ago to have her molars filed.

The vet was very concerned with this latest drop in weight, and didn't think the few spurs she found on Bertie's molars was enough to cause this much weight loss.  She did further tests while Bertie was under anesthesia and didn't like what she saw: shadows behind Bertie's stomach and liver.  It took a while for the test results to come back, but the latest thought is that the kidney disease may, in fact, be caused by a tumor on or near the kidney.

Bertie was in decent spirits when she came home that Tuesday night, other than having a naked belly and sticky from the ultrasound gel.  (I found out that little fatheaded pig chowed down Critical Care with abandon with the vet techs during multiple feedings.  Totally made me look bad when I complained I couldn't get half that amount into her without a fight!)  Wednesday morning wasn't so good.  Bertie was one hurting little pig.  She tore into her chard with no problem, but I could see it hurt to walk around.  I think she was achy from the poking and prodding she endured on Tuesday.  I can attest that moving around with an enlarged liver is not comfortable.  By Wednesday evening her attitude had bounced back a bit, although she was still losing weight.

By Thursday she'd come back to her old attitude, biting bars and demanding treats.  She even stood up to get her green pepper, although she grunted with the effort to do so.  Her sheer determination astounds me.  She's been pretty much the same for the last week or so, although her weight remains terribly low - hovering in the 650s.  There are periods of Bertie being herself, interspersed with flashes of pain and generally not feeling well.

It has been difficult contemplating what action to take next.  We miss the Bertie who would run figure-eights, weasel her way into haylofts and emphatically move the tunnel to the first floor.  It's just not right for a three year old guinea pig in the prime of her life to be so terribly ill. 


  1. It sounds like you have a great and caring vet. Do you have insurance on your pigs? It's a question I always struggle with: should I get it or not?

    1. No insurance. Most of what I've read (in the case of guinea pigs) says it's more cost effective to set up a bank account and set aside what you'd pay in insurance every month than to pay for the insurance. I know several guinea pig rescuers that have insurance, because they regularly deal with such serious issues. But much of the illnesses guinea pigs have wouldn't be covered.

  2. Poor Bertie. I feel for you both.. hoping for the best.

  3. Poor sweet piggy. It's so hard to see them hurting. I can't imagine any guinea pig getting better care.

  4. Poor Bertie, good wishes to her!

  5. So sorry to hear about this. It is so sad when they get sick. They are so hard to save. I lost a male very recently, myself. I hope she pulls through!


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