What went wrong with my guinea pig, Murphy

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I haven’t had the focus to write anything, and while I have had downtime on this blog, I have been keeping up on our Facebook Page. If you’d like to head there, I have the accounts listed to the right side of Stop and Eat the Flowers.

Smurph had a final diagnosis of pericardial effusion. The sac around her heart was filled with fluid. It was either pus, or clear, or blood. I could have elected to have it aspirated that day, but the fact that it formed in the first place left a difficult treatment ahead. It would have given her relief that day and likely come back even a day, week, month, or year later. Based on things we had noticed with this litter of guinea pigs over the years, and with Smurph, these sisters had a genetic issue with their hearts. We never had anything close to a diagnosis up until a year and a half ago when Potsticker died at the vet of heart failure. Ever since the girls were brand new, they had coughing. It usually acted up when they were eating, after they’d been resting for a time. I was also told that Murphy honks when the household comes alive around 6:30am. It was going on for about a year, but I’d never witnessed it, until a few months ago. She was honking gently during the day.

My mistake was going to the wrong clinic. I went to the smaller one where the prices were higher because of low volume, and they wanted to run about $1000 in tests, so I opted for a short course of antibiotics. I hadn’t heard her honking after, so I let it go. Except that in June, she was taking treats from me and eating less than half of them. She wasn’t standing up on the frame of the cage anymore and asking about stuff. I took her to the big hospital in Fairfax, where they said she was having low digestion and needed to start getting fluids and motility drugs. The vet asked me about her breathing. I said that I’ve had pigs with respiratory issues before, and that this seemed to look more like pain to me. What would he suggest? We discussed doing a short course of antibiotics, but then agreed that this would be a bad idea because it would nuke her gut flora, while we’re trying to avoid G.I. Stasis. I said let’s do the x-ray.

You couldn’t even see if her heart were enlarged because the fluid around her heart was obscuring the view. The hospital could drain it, but we would have to follow up with a small animal cardiologist, with no guarantees. We had already taken her an hour from home to this facility, and frequent trips would be a strain on her. The vet said that “even if you had ‘Bill Gates’ money, it’s not a good prognosis”.

The veterinarian conference called with my partner and I so that it was all discussed again, and we euthanized her. She was the only one of her litter to make it to four years old, so she did reach a full life, just not one of the longer ones. Those honors go to her Auntie Mu-Xi (5 1/2 years old) and Chai (8 1/4 years old).

That’s it. The guinea pig pen was taken down, and her laundry washed, and the donation was made of a car load of items to the small animal rescue out here just this week.

I was with Murphy throughout the euthanasia process. I’ve been there since her first day out of the womb, and I stayed until she departed. I don’t like sending them to the back, alone.

If you enjoy nugget videos, please turn up your volume.

That’s Murphy.

And if you would like to read up on heart conditions, Guinea Lynx is a great resource:
Cardiovascular disease

Now I am retired from guinea pigs, at least until my 40s. We started December 2006 with our first guinea pig:
Her Royal Highness, Princess Cabrielle, Ruler of all She Surveys
Cabby was a twat.

Left clockwise:
Cabby, Chai, and Coco

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