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Guinea Pigs/Painful leg in piggy


I have a cavy who is about 2 years old.  We allow her to "free range" in the living room.  She apparently twisted her leg and caused some significant swelling.  After X-rays at the vet to ensure that her leg was not broken, we were prescribed Metacam and limited activity.  After a week, we have finished the medication but she is still favoring the leg.  I think it is time to increase her activity, but would like to give her a little something to take the edge off the pain while she rehabs.  Is it possible to give her a small amount of infant motrin?  #I've heard different things on different websites.#  She is a healthy piggy, eating and drinking well and passing everything through.  She weighs 2 pounds.  I'm just concerned that she wont get better unless we encourage her to move, but she would rather rest the leg, which ends up being quite the "vicious circle".  Any suggestions?

Animals of any species will do everything in their power to overcome injuries. Unlike humans they have the sense not to overdo an injury and make it worse. I personally feel it's dangerous to allow her to free range in any room. You have to remember that these are grazing animals and will try to eat or chew up anything they see. If she takes a bite of a lamp cord she's gone.

If you want her to have some exercise room you might get an exercise pen made for rabbits and also great for cavies. That way she has space, but is limited to a safe zone. I don't mean to sound scolding and that's not my intent. She needs enough room to get around but with safe limitations in mind.

Most cavies, unlike rabbits, don't need much exercise. They're happy just 'hanging out' and indulging in an occasional carrot or two. Rabbits like to move, fast. Cavies, not so much. Their fat little bodies just don't enjoy putting forth too much effort.

As for the motrin I wouldn't recommend it. Metcam is an anti inflammatory and should be sufficient.  It's very difficult to know the correct dose of Motrin for her size and build, and the dangers of gastric irritation are greater than the potential benefit.

She will begin to move as she feels able to do so.  If she's not moving it's because she has pain. Most likely this is a soft tissue sprain and that's very painful in itself. Give her a little time to heal. She'll start moving when it's comfortable enough to do so.  

That old saying, "No pain, no gain" has long been deleted from exercise programs and most sports. Pain is an indicator that your body is trying to tell you something. When we keep pushing we pay the price.  

Sadly our sports heroes don't heed that advice because their paychecks are dependent on their performance. Coaches and trainers will fill an injured athlete with steroids so they don't feel the injury and can continue to compete. That's why we don't see too many athletes still able to walk straight or without pain once they reach 40. Many a potential champion has been ruined by a high school or college coach that pushes them to "man up" and tough it out.

Listen to her body language and she will show you when she's back to feeling good. She won't become a self imposed cripple. Animals are hard wired to keep living and will do what they have to and get well with little help. You've done the best you can for her, now it's up to her.  

The fact that her appetite is so good is a huge plus. She will not become a 'couch potato' just because she's got a little setback. She'll know when the time comes and she'll return to normal. Patience mom, patience..........

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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