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Guinea Pigs/Gracie won't eat alfalfa

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Question
My 6 year old female Guinea pig, Gracie Girl, for some reason won't eat alfalfa.  She will however, devour fresh fruits and veggies!  I don't make this a meal for her but a treat. She loves her food.  Gracie Girl is the sweetest and cutest little thing!  She just needs a bonnet and a stroller to lay in. I thought maybe this was happening because her teeth were growing too long.  I don't think that's a factor.

Out other Guinea pig, Peanut, is quite the character! He hops on top of his igloo, dumps his food bowls and chews on his candy shack.  He is a very picky eater.  He will barely touch an orange slice!  

My daughter, Marie, takes her pets out every day for play.  They even go outseide and eat grass when the weather is nice.
I need to thank you for easing my mind about something. About a week ago Gracie lost the use of her hind legs.  Our family felt so sorry for her.  After reading your posts to other small pet owners, I feel reassured that she may regain the use of her legs. I am going to the vet today and getting her some calcium.

Answer
I'm sorry to hear about Gracie losing control of her back legs. As for her not wanting alfalfa it's not likely to be caused by a tooth issue or she wouldn't be able to devour the grass and veggies either. Some alfalfa is very tough and straw like. Then of course there's the possibility that she just doesn't' like it. Nothing wrong with that.

A good calcium supplement is parsley. It's higher in calcium than any other veggie and most pigs love it. Hay helps to keep the teeth properly worn, so maybe Gracie would take to either Timothy or Bermuda. I have some pigs that will devour every bit of hay in their cage in two days and others that will only use if for bedding. They have their preferences just like we do.

Six years is a long healthy life for any pig. Their basic life expectancy is 4-5 years with a few rare exceptions. I had one sow that live to be almost 8. So some of Gracie's incapacity may be just age related. That's a tribute to your good care.

I'd be interested in what the vet has to say but quite honestly I don't think her paralysis has anything to do with calcium. If she were deficient it would have manifested itself long ago. She's just reached her 'geriatric age' and is probably showing signs of arthritis, etc.

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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