Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rescue Tales: Saving Sniffy

Just a word of warning - this blog contains an image which some may find semi-graphic and upsetting.
On Friday, the rescue received a call from someone who said that her guinea pig hadn't eaten for two days and asked for advice on what to do.  Our advice, of course, was to take the guinea pig to a competent exotics vet.  We are not veterinarians, and cannot advise someone (especially without even seeing the piggy!) on treatment.

Well, after some back-and-forth, the owners said that they couldn't afford to take her to the vet.  They didn't want to take her to a shelter, saying they didn't want her to be put to sleep.  We were left no choice but to have her surrender the guinea pig to us - we just couldn't leave her to die an agonizing death due to lack of medical care.  We have limited space and limited funds, but we took on this sick piggy.

Okay, I'm going to switch to writing from my point of view!  It's going to be a bit easier to write that way.  (This is volunteer Sarah writing).  I was at work on Friday when this all went down, and there were quite a few text messages sent between Ally (the rescue's director) and I trying to figure out what to do with this piggy!  Ally lives in St. Pete, I live about an hour and 20 minutes south in Port Charlotte, and the piggy was located in Cape Coral, which is about an hour south of Port Charlotte.  The lady finally agreed to meet me halfway to surrender the piggy.

I picked up the piggy at about 7:30 pm on a Friday, so I was pretty much on my own to get her through the night.  I got her home, set her up in a cage with some nice clean fleece bedding, and let her chill out for a little bit.  In the meantime, I was consulting with Ally, rescue friends on Facebook, and the guinea pig medical site Guinea Lynx.

This piggy had a plethora of problems.  According to the former owners, she hadn't eaten in a couple of days.  To entice her to eat, they had purchased what is basically junk food for guinea pigs.  This is about the worst thing you can do.  If your stomach hurts, the last thing you should do is eat an entire cake, right?  Unfortunately, most of that package of "Mixed Berry 'n Nut Treats" had been used.
All you need to do is do a Google search for "guinea pig not eating", and look what comes up:
On top of not eating, she had extremely mushy feces, which were all stuck to the fur on her bottom (at least she was pooping).  Her bottom was filthy.  She looked like she had been lying in very dirty bedding.  She had urine scald with open sores.  The next problem - she had blood in her urine, which can be indicative of things like bladder stones or a UTI.  Her nails were quite long, but I didn't want to stress her out by clipping them yet.  I just needed her to survive the night.  On top of everything else, the poor girl was infested with cavy lice, which are simple enough to treat.

Luckily, I had some emergency supplies on hand.  I started her on pain medication.  I started her on a course of Baytril (antibiotic).  I syringe-fed her water and chamomile tea - it was very important to keep her hydrated.  I stayed up until 3 am with her, and set my alarm to check on her at 8 am.  To my relief, she did okay through the night, and even ate some romaine, parsley, and hay overnight!  I kept watch on her throughout the day and following night, gave her a gentle butt bath to clean off the stuck-on poo, kept her medicated and hydrated, and today she was transported up to the main rescue in St. Pete, where Ally is set up with more medication and sub-q fluids.

It's been a team effort between all of us at the rescue.  Ally talked with the former owners all day on Friday.  I picked her up and nursed her through the weekend.  Ally stayed up until the wee hours of the morning answering my texts about Sniffy.  Rescue friends on Facebook offered advice and looked up dosage information.  I drove to Sarasota with Sniffy today.  Amber drove from Brandon to Sarasota to pick Sniffy up from me, then transported her to Ally in St. Pete, then had to drive home.

We are cautiously hopeful about Sniffy's recovery.  Her bottom looked much improved this morning.  I think it helped her just to be on clean, dry fleece.  Her feces were much more well-formed, and I didn't see any blood spots on the fleece today.  She will require more care and medication.  She still needs to be treated for the lice as well.

Our rescue is funded through donations and our volunteers' own money.  If you would like to donate toward Sniffy's care, you can send a donation via PayPal to  If you would like to mail a donation, please send an email to for an address.  Thank you!

Here is the precious little piggy:

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