Kira's Med Thread

Annapox

Post   » Thu Oct 26, 2023 7:16 pm


On 10/21 I adopted a new guinea pig, Kira. She's an intact female Abyssinian, and the medical records she came with say her birthdate is 8/27/22, making her a little over a year old. (On the shelter website, her profile said she was both one year old and three years old, and her foster person first told me she was one and later changed his answer to three.)

Her medical records go back two months and show that she was treated for a vulvar abscess (Ouch!) and an upper respiratory infection, both of which were resolved. During the course of these treatments, she had one visit to the emergency vet because her foster person found her hunching in a corner and not eating or drinking anything; subcutaneous fluids and oral gabapentin quickly got her back to normal, but the foster wasn't clear on what the diagnosis was, and I'm not seeing a diagnosis on the invoice from the emergency vet. I know that she has also been treated with sulfamethoxazole & trimethoprim (I guess they're combined, because there's one dose listed for both) and doxycycline, and her abscess was drained at least twice.

Today I noticed that the right side of Kira's vulva (the side that had the abscess) is very swollen. I'm guessing the abscess is back, or maybe it was never resolved in the first place. I don't know how experienced the vets were with guinea pigs, but I know the shelter was new enough to guinea pigs that her foster person got the information packet for cat foster people because they didn't have one for guinea pigs yet. It's a good thing I had already scheduled a checkup for Kira; we're going to the vet tomorrow afternoon. Is there anything I should do or avoid doing in the meantime in order to make Kira a little more comfortable? The foster person did give me her leftover meds, but I'm hesitant to give her prescription medications without vet instructions. She isn't showing obvious signs of being in pain, and her weight is stable (I've been weighing her daily since 10/22), but I know piggies mask their symptoms when possible.

Other information about Kira's living situation: She shares a 2x4 C&C cage (fleece bedding) with my 3.5-year-old intact female American, Lily. They get along very well; I didn't even know it was possible for introductions between two guinea pigs to be that low-stress when neither guinea pig is a baby. I introduced the pigs before I adopted Kira, thinking that since she'd been seen by vets several times over the course of two months and she hadn't been introduced to any other piggies, they would have spotted any contagious health conditions. I feed Oxbow hay, Oxbow pellets (1/8 cup for two pigs), Oxbow vitamin C biscuits (one per pig), green leaf lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper (usually green), and those tiny, almost spherical grape tomatoes. There are always two hay bags, two water bottles, two of each kind of food bowl, two hideys (currently fleece pouches), and two chew toys (currently cardboard tubes) in the cage. I spot-clean the cage daily and change the bedding weekly.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Fri Oct 27, 2023 12:20 am


You are very thorough!

The only thing I would suggest is that they culture the abscess to determine what bacteria are present. Because it came back, it may be something that requires a different but safe antibiotic and/or a somewhat different course of treatment. Let us know what the vet says.

Annapox

Post   » Fri Oct 27, 2023 5:31 pm


It's definitely an abscess. Based on how bad it looked, the vet suspects that it didn't completely go away the first time around. The abscess had both pus and blood in it, and while I don't have much of a sense of smell, I've been told it was very smelly. It has been drained now. Kira's on sulfamethoxazole & trimethoprim for the next two weeks at least, and then we'll do a follow-up appointment to see how she looks. I also have permission to give Kira the gabapentin her foster person had left over for the pain. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to ask about culturing the abscess. I will try harder to remember for the next appointment in case things get worse or just don't improve.

The vet asked whether I knew what had caused the original abscess, but unfortunately I don't. I asked Kira's foster person, but all he knew was that she got it before he started fostering her. Her last dose of the previous round of antibiotics was on 9/26, so the abscess has had a month to get to its current state. I feel really bad for not noticing right away, but today was the earliest I could get a non-emergency appointment anyway, so I guess the situation would be the same even if I had noticed.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Oct 28, 2023 12:43 am


Do weigh daily, maintaining weight is so important. I am not familiar with gabapentin as an agent to control pain. Meloxicam might be a better choice.

I hope the infection clears completely!

Annapox

Post   » Sat Oct 28, 2023 10:58 am


Yes, I will continue to weigh daily. I've had guinea pigs on gabapentin for pain before, although I've definitely seen meloxicam prescribed more. Gabapentin can cause drowsiness, so given that Kira hasn't been showing obvious signs of pain I decided to wait until this morning to give the first dose so I can monitor Kira's behavior. I can administer it every 12 hours as needed, so I'm trying to decide whether it's needed going forward if Kira still seems to be in good spirits. I have to assume she's in pain, because the abscess looked really bad, but I don't know how bad her pain is.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Oct 28, 2023 11:27 am


Hoping for positive updates!

I did a search of our board and did find gabapentin used in pain control. The handful of posts I read indicated watching the dose and cutting back if one's guinea pig looks "loopy". Sounds like you are on top of this.

Annapox

Post   » Sat Oct 28, 2023 12:44 pm


Instead of a single bottle of gabapentin, I was given several pre-filled syringes. So it might be difficult to decrease the dose if Kira gets drowsy or loopy, but I can definitely decrease the frequency or ask the vet to prescribe something else. So far Kira seems fine. She and Lily seem to be following similar activity/rest schedules and have done so pretty much since they were introduced, which is cute and which tells me that Kira's activity levels are still within her pre-gabapentin range. (It's hard to say what's a normal activity level for a piggy I've only had for a week, but at least I know she's staying consistent with how she's been for the time I've had her.)

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Oct 28, 2023 9:18 pm


I am glad you are so observant. Kira is lucky to have you caring for her!

Annapox

Post   » Mon Oct 30, 2023 5:30 pm


Thank you!

Today it occurred to me that I could take a photo of Kira's abscess to help me figure out whether it was shrinking, and when I went to take the photo the abscess was a little bigger than it had been right before it was drained on 10/27. Luckily the vet was able to see Kira an hour later, so the abscess has been drained again. The vet used a syringe and a tiny catheter to fill the pocket with antibiotic (I didn't see this happen; they took her to the back to do it), and I now have an antibiotic ointment (silver sulfadiazine) to apply to the abscess, particularly the hole where it was drained, twice a day. That's in addition to the oral antibiotic. Kira's weight is still pretty stable, and she isn't showing any signs of pain apart from screaming when the abscess was drained. She didn't even try to squirm during the draining process. She seems to be a pretty compliant little fluffball in general, though.

I'm still scheduled for a follow-up appointment on 11/10, and I am to bring her in sooner if the abscess gets any bigger than it was today before it was drained.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Mon Oct 30, 2023 11:40 pm


Some types of abscesses are surgically removed in their entirety, which includes the "wall" of the abscess. This prevents the abscess from continuing to produce pus. Abscesses are also often fitted with a "drain" (tube) and flushed a couple times a day with a warm saline solution via a curved tip syringe. The flushing allows them to heal from the inside out.
https://www.guinealynx.info/abscess.html

Treatment can vary depending on location.

Annapox

Post   » Tue Oct 31, 2023 10:47 am


Yeah, my vet did mention at the first appointment that surgery might be required. I hadn't heard about putting a drain in.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Tue Oct 31, 2023 2:52 pm


A small picture of what a drain might look like here (there are other pics on GL but I can't lay my hands on them).
https://www.guinealynx.info/forums/view ... 439#160439

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