Several drafts in progress have been abandoned over the past week or so as I’ve been even busier than usual.
Towards the end of last week we noticed that Big Pig (our oldest guinea pig) who has had a small patch of what looked like dandruff since before Christmas, had got full on itching, fur loss and associated skin damage from over-grooming/scratching. As well as that he had lost an obvious amount of weight; his back end having gone from nicely rounded to skin and bones.
As with most small animals the symptoms seemed to come on suddenly (because they’re so bloody good at hiding these things until it gets so bad they can’t hide it any more) and so usual chaos of emergency vet visit etc ensued. My usually good vet surgery was close to useless and basically gave a diagnosis of skin cancer caused by old age, with the prognosis of 2 further weeks before addressing “quality of life” and the decision to put him to sleep. She gave us treatment for fungal infections and mites in the mean time (although neither of suitable quantity to have any actual affect, it turns out).
Now I’m no vet, and I’m not a small animal expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I reckon that irrelevant of age an animal that is moving around as normal, eating, drinking etc but just feeling a bit sore and rotten is not on his last legs and about to pop off to meet the great big guinea pig in the sky (or you know, whatever).
So, advice sought from multiple sources and time-honoured guinea pig experts and the general consensus is a fungal skin infection, which is what my gut was telling me. Some intensive nursing, lots of soothing baths over the coming weeks and Big Pig should be back to normal in no time. Plenty of life in the furry bugger left yet, even if he does look a bit like a plucked chicken at the minute ;)