George died on Tuesday May 17th after being admitted by the vet for examination of his mouth. He had lost more weight over the weekend, down to 980 grams (from 1340 two weeks previously), and I couldn’t get him to take food from the syringe. I was already administering oral gel to help combat mouth infection and had started him on septrin, an antibiotic, a couple of days earlier.
The vet checked his mouth under anaesthetic and explained to me that he had a really bad mouth infection, and whilst I had done the right thing for him, they would keep him in for stronger medication and round-the-clock feeding. He managed to get through the night and was weak but nosing at some grass when I phoned on the Tuesday morning, but passed away around 1 pm.
I’m really sad that he struggled to stay with me and called to me when I handed him over to the vet, and I wasn’t with him when he passed. But if I hadn’t taken him to the vet and he had passed away in my arms, I would forever have blamed myself for not seeking vet attention in time. So I can’t win.
After she’d looked at his teeth, and compared the xray with the one she’d taken the previous year, the vet advised me that generally the molars were getting longer and causing his jaw to be pushed further apart in normal use, even with the attention I’d given to his teeth. The back molars were impacted and she’d trimmed the tops off further to give them a chance to release the pressure.
This episode of molar overgrowth had happened earlier than expected. We’d been trimming his teeth (between the Cambridge Cavy Trust people and, after training, by me) every three months, and he wasnt due for another trim till about now. So the teeth overgrew badly in less than the time they usually got to a ‘long’ length. It seemed I would have had to trim his molars every month, as well as what I was doing to trim his incisors twice a week. I have to say I found that daunting. Trimming a guinea pig’s molars is not a comfortable thing for them to have done to them. I was beginning to wonder how much Georgie would hate it. Would his quality of life have suffered?
So in all, Georgie had a congenital condition which with the help of both qualified vets and cavy specialists I managed as well as we could. Yes, guinea pigs with this condition can live longer, but most of them don’t live nearly as long as George and he had a happy and productive life, and brought pleasure to a lot of people through his presence on the Rodents With Attitude forum. There are no words to describe how I’ll miss him.