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These have a smooth coat which has a very shiny quality to it, caused by the hairs of the coat being partly transparent. I always think of the opal gem when I see one of these breeds. They are very prone to dental and jaw problems and if I get one and wish to breed from it I always ensure that there is no trace of satin in the partner that it is bred with.
This is long-coated with the hair, similar to the Peruvian but the hair grows back from the head instead of forward over the face. These are one of the most popular and common long-haired varieties and like all of the long-haired guinea pigs, are no more difficult to keep neat and tidy than short-haired.
There is a very common benign kind of lump that guinea pigs can get just under the skin, predominantly on the stomach. I call these jellybeans for that is just what they feel like and they are about the same size. I have owned guinea pigs that have had three or four of them. I have never had one case where they have developed into anything nasty and always advise owners to leave alone.
As it is in the human population, it is the female of the species which is more likely to suffer from these, though males can be prone to them as well. The symptoms are usually paralysis down one side with the head at an acute angle to the body. There will be Nystygmus of the eyes, a rapid jerky movement of the eyes. Sometimes the animal will be in a high state of shock and will react in terror to any move towards it. It should be put in a hay lined box and put somewhere quiet for a few hours. The general rule is that if it survives for another few hours without having another stroke, it will live. It should be put on a quarter of a tablet of aspirin for about a week after the stroke to thin down the blood.
Guinea pigs that have suffered strokes are a very pathetic sight for the first few days afterwards for they tend to lean against the side of their pens for support. Some manage to stagger about and get to their food and water but others need syringe feeding with both food and water for a while.
The good news is that most get ninety percent of their motor motion back in that bad side. The heads do rarely realign completely but they usually return to the stage where there is a just a slight tilt, which doesn’t seem to bother them at all. Though a guinea pig that has suffered a stroke has less life expectancy, it seldom has another stroke.
Knowing how to do this well can make the difference between life and death for a guinea pig. This kind of supplementation is necessary during illness or when recovering from corrective dental work or surgery.
When the patient is very debilitated, I still have a lot of faith in COMPLAN, the supplementary formula which is used for convalescing humans, making it up to the same strength as recommended for humans. However, as soon as the animal begins to become more vigorous in the way it feeds and I feel it is improving, I will switch to either my own mix or Recovery, which is a feed supplement formulated for Rabbits and small herbivores. Continuous feeding of COMPLAN will inevitably lead to diarrhoea so the sooner the switch to the more natural ingredients of Recovery, the better.
Because of the ridiculous laws that govern the sale of products that are an aid to the healthy of animals, this excellent product is only available from a veterinary practice. Unfortunately many vets will not sell this to an owner without seeing the animal first for which, of course, they will charge a fee, I always advise owners to first make a fuss about this for it is not a prescription medicine and then do the next best thing and make up their own mix, which is very easy to do. You simply grind down to a powder a small about of guinea pig dry feed in a coffee grinder then liquidise it with the cucumber, carrot or any other vegetable that the patient preferred when it was in good health. In essence this mix is the normal diet of a guinea pig but provided in a more digestible form.
Remember when syringe feeding that it is best to give a little at a time with the guinea pig standing or lying on a towel. I find it much easier to feed them on my lap. When they turn their heads and begin to refuse any more, never force them. It is very important to wash out the mouth after feeding for though it is a fine mix it is gritty, which of course gives the teeth work to do but debris is inclined to get stuck between the teeth. Put the water filled syringe in to the mouth at right angles and simply flush it over the tongue. It can be a damp business for a great deal of the water dribbles out but it is better dribbling out than going the wrong way down the throat and ending up in the lungs, which can happen far more easily if the syringe is not at right angles.
UPDATE (26/June/03): I have recently discovered that the barley mix that I recommend for use on guinea pigs suffering from cystitis is excellent for guinea pigs that have trouble picking up eating again after corrective dental work, or suffering from mouth infections.
Make sufficient for three days feeding. It needs to be cooked by boiling in hot water from cold. Strain off the water, and then simmer for about an hour (with six times as much water as barley). Drain off water, then cool the barley down in a strainer under a cold tap, then liquidize with a small amount of water with cucumber or the guinea pig’s favourite vegetable.
Keep remaining cooked barley in fridge until next use.