May 16, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention…

An Ounce of Prevention…

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared!” It should well be the motto for all guinea pig owners too when it comes to the skill of syringe feeding. Because syringe feeding may save your pig’s life, it should be something you are ready for and are familiar with.

A guinea pig that has stopped eating for any reason is in serious jeopardy. There are many reasons why it may have stop eating. Often it is caused by pain from an illness or injury. A very common cause is an antibiotic intolerance. Malocclusion of the molars will cause a pig to stop eating and require a dental grinding at the vets and often syringe feeding to save the pig.

Because time may be of the essence, a pig that has stopped eating needs an immediate evaluation by a cavy savvy vet to determine the cause of the problem and (except in the case of an intestinal blockage), immediate syringe feeding should be started. To do this, you should plan ahead and have the items available to you BEFORE the need for them arises.

The first item you probably already have and are already using…a digital kitchen scale to weigh your pig weekly. Next, you should have a pouch of Oxbow brand Critical Care on hand (keep it in the freezer to keep it viable) and several 1 cc syringes (no needle).

Cut just the tip off one of the syringes. Mix the Critical Care (CC) with warm water until it is the consistency of pureed baby food (a bit of baby food carrot or sweet potato may be added to make it more palatable). Place the pig on your lap facing away from you. An uncooperative pig can be wrapped “burrito” style in a small kitchen towel. Draw CC into the syringe and place the syringe into the pig’s mouth far enough back so the tip is behind the front incisors. Gently depress the plunger on the syringe.

You will know that the pig is swallowing if it begins to chew. An adult pig should be syringe fed 15 to 20 cc’s of Critical Care during a feeding and should be fed 100 cc’s a day to put back on the weight that was lost and maintain the pig. More information can be found about syringe feeding in the Guinea Lynx online Health Care Guide here: Read up on it before you need it and be familiar with how it is done.

The important thing to remember is that you cannot count on your veterinarian to keep a stock of Oxbow brand Critical Care on hand for when your pig needs it or count on your vet to TELL you to start syringe feeding when it is required. YOU need to be prepared and have the items on hand yourself. You need to take the initiative and start syringe feeding, even if you were not told to do so.

If your pig is dropping weight…it needs syringe fed. It’s that simple. Your pig’s life may depend on it.

From Charlene here in the Janesville Pig Pen

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