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ovarian cysts and GOOD vets
spider hole
thalestral wrote in guinea_pigs
I just really wanted to stress to everyone how important it is to have a GOOD cavy savvy vet and also for those with female pigs to be aware of the risks of ovarian cysts.


My girl Rosie (in my icon) was diagnosed as having ovarian problems at the end of 2007. She had been acting aggressively towards the other girls, rumblestrutting without control that she didn't enjoy at all, and mounting. It had got to the stage where we had to separate her out as the stress was getting too much for her. She also had crusty nipples, another symptom. She had no other symptoms at all - remember, only one symptom needs to be present for you to start worrying and getting your girl checked out!

Our original vets wanted to spay but we wanted someone more specialised to do it. I got in touch with my local rescue (we have adopted three of our girls from there) and was recommended a vet that sees all their piggies. He was AMAZING! And put our old vets to shame. He said there was no way Rosie should be going in for a spay as she is a heart pig and the risks were too great. He gave her an ultraound without sedation (something our other vets wouldn't even consider) and detected that her left ovary was enlarged.

Rosie's heart pig story: http://thalestral.livejournal.com/182285.html

Rosie got two hormone injections and her recovery was almost instantaneous, all thanks to this super vet! I dread to think what would have happened had we gone ahead with the spay recommended by the first vets.

After a couple of months the rumbling started again and did not stop. We took the 60 mile round trip to see Mr. Good Vet again and this time by physical examination alone he detected a pea sized lump on her left ovary. We scheduled more hormone appointments for her at our closer vets (we use our closest vets for treatment only, not diagnosis). After a few more courses, with results lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, we seemed to have nailed it. It has now been over a year since Rosie needed any kind of hormone injections.

Since then, three more of our pigs have presented with signs of ovarian cysts. The most common symptoms have been enlarged nipples and being "stuck" in heat. Checking nipple size regularly is a good thing to incorporate in your daily and weekly checks. Gracie and Frisky each only needed one course of hormone treatment. In Gracie's case, just one injection was needed.

With Brie we went through a lot of courses of injections and I was beginning to lose hope, it didn't seem like we were managing to keep it at bay for any length of time at all. Our Good Vet suggested we stick at it just a little longer, which we did, and we got the result we wanted. Brie too has been free of ovarian problems for months now.

Spaying is a permanent solution but there is a risk attached, as with all surgery and anything needing sedation with guinea pigs. I prefer to go the hormone route first as I am terribly paranoid about anything happening to my girls on the surgery table, even though I trust my vet 100%. I think hormone therapy is well worth trying first :)

Some pointers:
  • Rosie was 1.5 years old when first diagnosed, it's not just older ladies, younger girls CAN get ovarian cysts.

  • One symptom alone is enough to start worrying, with female pigs it is ALWAYS a possibility.

  • If your female is grumpy, aggressive, losing hair, has a strange change in weight or has crusty or enlarged nipples get her to the vet!

  • The statistics are not known exactly but vary between 50-90% of all intact female guinea pigs developing ovarian cysts.

  • A good vet is worth his or her weight in GOLD - a good vet can save your piggie's life!

Rosie says, "Find your Mr(s). Good Vet today, and check your girlie pigs!"

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Rosie is probably the cutest piggie out there....she is ADORABLE! I'm glad she is doing well :)

Thank you :) She gave the vet some good kicks today, I was quite impressed xD

While I have a boy, I agree that a good vet is both amazing & hard to find. Bad vet care not only killed Starbuck but i was misinformed & unprepared for his death. Feyaro has been lucky-I've found 2 amazing vets in Dayton, one of whom did a great job on his surgery. I go to that one just b/c it's closer to my house but having a vet that cares makes a Huge difference

I'm so sorry about your Starbuck :( Recommending her spay was the second time our local vets have seriously messed up, the first time was when they refused heart medication until she had a serious breathing problem and finally did what we said.

Course now when we move we need to go closer to this other vet :D

Maya and I thank you for this!

im glad you were able to figure it out...rosie is an adorable baby girl!

Thank you! I was quite relieved at the diagnosis, I knew something was wrong but to hear the cyst was so small was great news :)

Rosie is so precious! Thanks for giving us info on what to look out for! I have a Rosie too - she's the shyer one in this icon.

You're welcome! Aww, is she a diva pig like my Rosie? So far all the other Rosie pigs I have heard of are just as bossy! :D

I'm glad Rosie's story has a happy ending! Our "ovarian cyst" girl actually had cancer - and our second girl ended up with cancer on her reproductive organs without the symptoms. So a check could find something more serious as well. The first girl died after her second tumor-removal surgery, but the second cancer patient made it - probably because we caught it early enough. So it's not just ovarian cysts to be afraid of! Although in the case of cancer, hormone shots or non-surgical treatments would not help.

I'm so sorry to hear about your first girl, but how wonderful that the second made a recovery - it's great to know that even something like cancer can be worked with if caught early enough.

Female pigs are so worrying to look after, I'm thinking cleaning our boar sacks would be preferable right now!

Boar sacks are fine if you hold your nose and don't stop once you've started.

But can you do it with your eyes shut too? ;)

Well... you've gotta be sure that you're pushing out the gunk and not pushing out the penis... so... umm.. no? Just think of it like you're trying to push some gunky chocolate cake through a squishy balloon opening.

You've gotta look down but if you stop you'll breath in and then you'll just die.

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I think inbreeding plays a very large part, especially when younger pigs are dealing with the illnesses as well as older ones. Guinea pigs are churned out at a terrible rate with no thought of tracking the medical family history in order to avoid inherited problems. Heart problems too are incredibly common in pigs and probably responsible for more deaths as it is misdiagnosed frequently by vets who don't realise that heart trouble is so prevalent in guinea pigs. So poor vet knowledge is also a factor for some of the more treatable things.

On top of that though, wild cavies do not have long life spans, I'd imagine most are lucky to live a year. So really they are just not designed to live as long as they can do now with good care and knowledge and so illnesses are practically unavoidable :/

Just because I'm being lazy and don't feel like looking it up =P ...how long should a female's heat last? My girl Twinky gets really aggressive when she's in heat but it usually only lasts a couple of days. I've never really noticed our other girl Panda being in heat or at least she's rarely ever aggressive when she is but then again Twinky is definitely the dominant one. They're both around 4 years old; Panda is younger by like 7 months.

P.S. Rosie is so gorgeous! Love her color. =D

Thank you, I shall be sure to pass all these compliments on via pettings :D

Actual estrus lasts around 1 to 2 days but they can sometimes express the behaviour for an additional 1 to 2 days as they go in and out of the period. Especially when there is more than one piggie as they can set each other off, and it varies a little from pig to pig too. After 7 days is when to start worrying in my opinion and making sure to check for other symptoms. If there are no other symptoms and 14 days have passed then it is vet time.

Thanks for the info. Sometimes it'll last more than a couple days but I've never noticed it last 7 days or more. All Twinky has to do is start rumblestruting and trying to hump Panda and poor Panda starts squealing her little heart out.

Ha, I have a couple of over-vigorous humpers here too that send Purdie squealing. And then Rosie comes over and gives them a shove, hee.

We're going to the vet to check and see if Milk has ovarian cysts tomorrow afternoon. She has some of the symptoms, but not all (mainly swollen nipples). What should I ask the vet to do? What should I expect the vet to do? I trust my vet, but still, I would rather know what they should do to check.

A vet should do a physical examination first as it is possible to pick up enlarged ovaries or ovaries with cysts with the fingers alone. If that is unsuccessful (which it may well be if you have caught it early) then you want an ultrasound, they may offer to do an x-ray as well but I believe they are not as good at picking up the ovaries. A vet good at using an ultrasound should be able to either pick up abnormalities or rule them out through an ultrasound alone :) It's recommended that you take a healthy piggie of the same age and gender alone for comparison. But if you want an x-ray done it never hurts to get a full body x-ray of a piggie while they are in for an ultrasound anyway as you don't often get the chance to have a good look at their overall health like that.

Rosie had her ultrasound done without sedation and I would always recommend that for both ultrasounds and x-rays as even mild sedation always carries risks for guinea pigs. Our first vets refused to do either without sedation which is what led us to look for our specialist vet. The x-ray is harder to do without sedation if you choose to get that done so if the vet is willing to do just the ultrasound without sedation I'd go with that. X-rays can be done with wrapping the piggie in a towel.

If she does have ovarian problems then your choices will be either hormone injections or spaying but you'll probably want to wait and see before thinking about that - best of luck! And let me know if I missed anything out :)

This was a really informative read, thank you so much! And Rosie is a total charmer ^.^

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