The case of the anorexic guinea pig. . .

Although the majority of pets we see are cats and dogs, there are many other species that come through our doors in need of help. This guinea pig’s appetite had declined, so we needed to carefully examine her teeth as part of her evaluation. Dental problems are often the trigger for hunger strikes in guinea pigs, and although this girl was sweet, she wouldn’t give us a good look in her mouth. In this picture, her head is placed in an airtight cone which contains anesthetic gas. We chose this approach because we weren’t sure how sick she was, and if we gave her injectable sedatives, she might not fully wake up for hours. Using the gas is very helpful in many exotic species because the effect wears off very quickly once you stop giving it. This pig got rather dopey after a minute of breathing the gas, and that allowed us enough time to look thoroughly through her mouth. We didn’t find any glaring issues, so we focused on what she’s been eating since guinea pigs and other exotic pets can get very sick if they’re not fed an appropriate diet. For example, like people, guinea pigs can’t make vitamin C, and they need to get it from the food they eat. Peppers (like red or green) have a very high amount of bioavailable vitamin C and are a great way to meet a guinea pig’s daily requirement. For this pig we recommended feeding 1/8 of a medium sized red pepper once a day to help provide vitamin C. If all goes well, she’ll soon be back to the food dish with reckless abandon!