Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1128. A guinea pig drools for weeks and loses weight

The young couple's guinea pig kept losing weight and kept drooling despite treatments and 5 X-rays in a veterinary practice. "What is the cause?" the wife asked. "I hand feed the critical care but she loses weight to 370 g. She had given birth to two litters and her offspring is 800 g. She would be interested in food but wouldn't eat it."

This is a very complex and emotional situation for the wife. What more could be done? They consulted me for a 2nd opinion. I said: "Anaesthesia is necessary to examine the mouth properly." But the guinea pig is so weak and so thin. So the wife deferred any such examination and went home 2 days ago. I asked her to get all the medical records from the other vet who was most helpful. Today, she came with her husband at 2pm sharp. I reviewed the records. "Very good records," I said. "Dr X is a very good vet," the husband replied. "But she just can't put her finger on what causes this drooling."

There were 5 x-rays. Only one showed the head. "There seemed to be a curved "tooth" coming from the hard palate to the floor of the mouth," I said to the other vet. She looked at her X-ray copy simultaneously and said it could be the maxilla. In any case, I advised another X-ray of the side and bottom top view of the skull and also the chest and abdomen. I told her I do not have X-ray facilities and she was happy to help out.

The couple went there and then phoned me to say they would not want any anaesthesia to open the mouth for examination today. They would go home to feed the guinea pig. I said it was OK with me.

This guinea pig had drooling, slobbering (wet chin), runny nose, loss of weight, not able to eat. These are signs of dental problems in the guinea pig. So, what is the cause of the dental problem? Malocclusion? Another "entrapment of the tongue" by the arching cheek teeth? Protrusions of the cheek teeth not obvious?

This is a complete mystery till I see the X-rays tomorrow. As the X-ray did not require anaesthesia, the couple was happy. Still, the mouth cannot be examined properly just by opening it. It needs anaesthesia. But the risk is so high. So, we are back to square one.

NOTES
1. Dental disease. Runny eyes, runny nose, drooling, teeth grinding, selective eating, not eating, weight loss, slobbering.

2.  Guinea pig may not have the palpable protrusions at the ventral aspects of the mandible or at the lateral aspects of the maxilla as in the rabbit or chinchilla. Therefore, it may be hard to detect malocclusion.

3. GP + chinchilla
2(I1/1, C0/0, PM 1/1, M3/3) = 20 teeth.

Rabbit has I2/1 in case you don't know. It has 4 obvious front teeth and 2 more shorter and smaller upper front teeth behind the front teeth!  

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