Sunday, 28 January 2018

Valentine's Inspired Sempervivum Heart Decoration Tutorial

This weeks video is live, and features beautiful Sempervivum, on a Valentine's Day inspired heart decoration.
Rebecca xx

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Sad News about Molly & Gastrointestinal Stasis

It's with deep sadness that I announce the passing away of my beautiful Molly.

Molly Guinea Pig passed away
Molly Mumma

Molly had been poorly for a couple of weeks, and though she fought bravely, and we did everything within our power to pull her through, ultimately we had to make the difficult decision to have her put to sleep.

To make something positive out of this sad time, I wanted to share what happened.

Friday 29th December 2017

We had all seven piggies out together for floor time. Mr PB wanted to FINALLY connect all the hutches up together, allowing them to access all the floors. It was a big job and would take 2 days. At the end of Friday we decided the piggies were safe to leave out in their floortime run overnight.

Saturday 30th December 2017

Everything went well, until during the afternoon we noticed Molly had tucked herself away in a quiet corner of the run. She wasn't coming out for water, or to eat from the bowls as she had been that morning. We tried putting ReadiGrass and hay right next to her, and she was eating small amounts. If you held a bottle for her she would drink from it, but she didn't want to move.

We noticed a very soft poop where she'd been sitting, but not as many poops as I would expect her to do, considering how long she'd been sat there for. Worrying that Molly was going into Gastrointestinal Stasis, we decided to start syringe feeding her.

Syringe feeding Molly guinea pig GI Stasis
Molly looks unimpressed by her syringe feeding

Syringe Feeding a Guinea Pig - Method

We always keep small (1ml) syringes in our pet first aid box, but didn't have any Oxbow Critical Care, so instead we soaked Burgess Excel Tasty Nuggets  in plain water, ground them to a watery paste with a spoon, and sucked the mixture up into the syringe.
Hold your guinea pig's head in one hand, insert the tip of the syringe into the guinea pig's mouth, immediately behind the incisor teeth. Slowly squeeze the plunger of the syringe to dispense a small amount of the feed into the guinea pigs mouth.
Allow the guinea pig to chew, then repeat the process. If you try to feed too fast, you can make your guinea pig choke.

We aimed to feed Molly 2ml every 15/20 minutes. That doesn't sound much, but it is.

When we weren't actively feeding her, we kept Molly on her own in a big box with a towel, some hay, and placed a warm hotwater bottle underneath the box. GI Stasis is very painful - imagine when you have an upset stomach, so the warmth is soothing, but your guinea pig should not come into direct contact with the hotwater bottle, and shouldn't be allowed to get overheated.

We were also massaging Molly's abdomen constantly. Later in the evening she began passing tiny round poops, and then later as more fluids entered her system, the small poops started joining together into long clumps. Molly would also strain her tummy while we massaged her, it was clearly painful, but an important step to kick start her system again.

We constantly cleaned poops away from her bottom, and changed her bedding every couple of hours.

It's not a pleasant operation, your guinea pig is unlikely to think you are helping them, but you MUST be persistent.

Sunday 31st December

Despite our best efforts, and working in shifts all through the night, Molly was looking weak. We continued through the day, trying to tempt Molly with little bits of romaine lettuce, celery and carrot but she wasn't interested.

She'd lost 80g in just two days, so we had a frank discussion about how long it was right for us to continue. Molly is an elderly guinea pig - we don't know exactly how old, as she is adopted. Maybe she had just decided that this was her time? But her eyes were still bright and shiny, so together we agreed to keep trying through another night.

Monday 1st January
Molly looked a little brighter, and she actually began eating hay

Friday 19th January
We'd used our last Critical Care yesterday night, but more was due tomorrow. Molly suddenly looked weak again, and her weight had dropped another 60g. We fed her with mashed nuggets again, but she seemed to be straining, and her poops were getting smaller and rounder again.
We booked her an urgent appointment at the vets.

So What is Gastrointestinal Stasis (aka GI Stasis)?

Guinea Pigs have a very delicate digestive system, they are herbivores, but as one brand of pet food terms them, 'Fibrevores' may be more accurate. For good digestion and uptake of nutrients, they need to constantly eat long-staple fibre (ie long strands of hay). This fibre plus water feeds microorganisms in digestive system. The microorganisms then produce a type of volatile fatty acid. The fatty acid is what gives a guinea pig its appetite, and keeps its digestive system functioning properly. Any little blip in this delicately balanced system, in which the function of one part relies so heavily on another, and you would start to see symptoms of GI Stasis very very quickly. GI Stasis can lead to death in a matter of days. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

Symptoms of GI Stasis

The first thing you might notice is your guinea pig being quiet and not interacting with its cage mates or you.
You may notice it isn't drinking or eating as much as normal.
You may notice that your guinea pig isn't eating its caecal (pron: see kal) stools (the special softer poops that a guinea pig MUST eat to be healthy.
You may notice that your guinea pig is tired, eyes are dull, coat is puffed up.
You may notice that your guinea pig is passing very small, hard, or very soft poops, or worse still; isn't passing poop at all,

Any or all of these symptoms need investigating urgently. They could means any number of things are wrong with your guinea pig. If you are at all uncertain, then make an emergency appointment with your vet!

Molly's Final Trip to the Vet

Alex the vet listened to everything that had been going on, whilst checking Molly all over.
Eventually, he looked up and said "I can feel a mass in the left side of her abdomen".

This was a total bombshell.

To me it felt about 2.5cm long x 1cm, approximately torpedo shaped, hard and immobile.

Alex believed that this mass was probably the underlying cause of Molly's GI Stasis. He talked about the possibility of treating Molly with steroids to reduce the lump, but we knew it wouldn't be a cure, and besides, Alex's veterinary medicine handbook didn't give a steroid dosage for guinea pigs, so there was a strong risk of not giving enough, or giving too much.

Mr PB appeared to want to try, but I looked in Molly's eyes and said "I think it's time to let her go".
We shared a final cuddle with our gorgeous girl, and she snuggled in as close as she could.
Then Alex took her away to administer her injection.

We will be having Molly cremated, and keeping her ashes, like Pudding, there was something very special about her. In the 2 years and 2 months she was with us she touched our hearts very deeply.

I just hope she knew how much we love her, and that we gave her a happy retirement from her life as a breeding sow.

Sleep tight my Molly Mumma xx You are loved xx

Sunday, 7 January 2018

My Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) collection.

New YouTube video

I've just uploaded a video all about my Moth orchid collection. Come along and see what I've got.


PB x