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QUESTION: My guinea pig Rocky was laying on top of his dome and then is just laying around his cage, starting yesterday morning. Today he is not eating his usual carots that he loves and squeaks for everyday and now has whitish discharge coming out of his eyes.  I have an appt tonight to see the vet but was wondering if he will be OK?

ANSWER: You don't say how old Rocky is so it's difficult to guess whether this is age related to an illness of some sort.

That milky discharge is a sign of stress, not infection. That isn't to say he's not ill, just that the discharge is not related to his loss of appetite and lethargy.

I don't know what part of Calif you are from, but it's been very hot there and this could be heat related. Guinea pigs can handle cold, but they don't do well in heat. They become heat stroked very quickly. If the area he is in is very warm you can put a fan in front of his cage and keep it on. Not too close. Four or five feet away is fine. He just needs air movement to help cool him.

Another trick we've used for years is frozen water bottles. Fill the drinking water bottles with tap water after you're done with them. Keep some in the freezer so on hot days you can put the bottle in the cage and he will run right to it to lie next to it. Some of my pigs will lay across the bottles like they're cooling their bellies. These are life saving techniques on hot days.

Keep your appt with the vet. Hopefully he'll be able to find the problem. I wish I had more to offer, but with so little information I'm at a disadvantage. Please let me know what the vet says.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We live by the beach in Ventura.  Heat is not really a factor.  Rocky is about three years old.  I also found a white mucus thing in his cage and his urine is discolored now. We are taking him at 6:30 to the vet.

ANSWER: I know your area well and you're right, heat is not an issue. At three he is still not yet an 'old pig'. As for the mucus thing I would have to see a picture of it to know what it may be. Please let me know what your vet says.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Unfortunately, our beloved Rocky passed last night. :(

Answer
Oh Denise, I'm so very sorry. The hardest thing abouth these little guys is that they don't show us there is a problem until it's too late.  

If you're interested in getting another I would be happy to give you some names of breeders in the Ventura/Camarillo area. There are also guinea pig shows periodically at the Ventura Fairgrounds and there are always pigs for sale of all breeds and colors. When you are ready you might want to check it out.

Let me know if you think you'd like another and I will private message you with some names.

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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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