Guinea Pigs, Revisited

January 21, 2011

Some longtime readers of this humble blog may remember an incident I had with our guinea pigs a couple of years ago.

I have had another guinea pig experience that rates much higher.

Ebony is our beloved black guinea pig.  She is sweet and very tame.  She is happy to sit in your lap, especially if you have a sprig of parsley for her to munch on, and just let you pet her.  Often, she lets out little cooing noises of pleasure when you stroke her back.  I love this piggy.  (Almost to the point where Dave and others have questioned my sanity.  That is the level of affection I have for her.)

So a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that she seemed poorly, I was concerned.  She didn’t want to be pet.  She squealed in discomfort if I touched her.  And she was constantly scratching herself, to the point where her skin was all gross and flaky looking, and her hair was falling off.  And she was hardly eating anything.  Pitiful, indeed.

Now, as much as I love her, I wasn’t about to fork out the money (and psychological well-being) to take her to the exotic pet veterinarian.  I don’t have the money.  And even if I did, I don’t know that it’s morally appropriate to spend hundreds on a rodent.

So, I did what everyone does when in doubt. I did a google search and diagnosed her myself.  Mites.  I was sure of it.  How and where she got them, who knows?  But how to treat them? Well, that became clear.

I went to the feed store and bought a $6 tube of ivermectin.  It’s a horse medication for parasites or something.  The dosage was for a 1250 pound animal.  Obviously, I needed to do some serious math.

I borrowed a kitchen scale from my culinary neighbor.  I weighed sweet little Ebony (in a container, of course!) and found her to be 478 grams.  With sweat beads breaking out on my forehead, I carefully did the math division problem and titrated down a fraction of the gooey paste meant for a huge horse.  Even this fraction was way too much, so I diluted it with vegetable oil and carefully squirted two tiny drops in her mouth.  (All I read on the internet warned me that an overdose could be fatal.)

And then I watched her.  She seemed the same, but she was still alive by that night so I thought the dose was okay.

And now this is really going on and on and even I am getting bored of the story.  So here’s the upshot.  She’s doing great!  Skin is healing up!  She gained more than 25 grams in 2 days.  She’s no longer furiously itching herself.  And she’s scarfing down her food and timothy hay and fruits and veggies in  alarmingly large quantities.

And I have to admit: that was a satisfying, cheap accomplishment.

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6 Responses to “Guinea Pigs, Revisited”

  1. Lisa said

    Wow! I’m impressed 🙂 Want to come up with a ‘fix’ for my crazy cat that the vet is convinced needs to be on anti anxiety medicine because she’s so jumpy? 🙂 You excited about camp?

  2. Su said

    Wow, way to go with your mad math skills! Glad she is doing better.

  3. Megan said

    Well done! I’m impressed!

  4. mel peters said

    I remember your previous g.p. experience w/ the vet – so glad you were able to come up with a cost-effective solution! 🙂

  5. Laura Lee said

    Very skillful deduction and treatment, Dr. Bruno.
    I am impressed!

  6. Laura Lee said

    BTW, I had to look up Titration. Is this word a part of your normal vocabulary? Awesome.

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