0112Singapore veterinary tips for first time pet owners  "The guinea pig has 7 days to live."  Excerpts from "The Glamorous Vets, Singapore"   Sponsored by Asiahomes Internet, $13.50/40 words/90 days, affordable internet advertisements for Owners & Realtors, targeted at expatriates relocating to Singapore.  Email your ads to  judy@asiahomes.com

The guinea pig has 7 days to live

"Doc, I could buy a new guinea pig for fifty dollars," said Mr Yap, a senior citizen of the Singaporean generation that was brought up not to waste money on animal companions when there were hungry people all over the world. "If the chances of survival after spending one hundred dollars for seven days are slim, the guinea pig should be put to sleep now!"  

One hundred dollars included consultation, antibiotic and  anti-diuretic
treatment, fluid therapy and veterinary care for 7 days with no guarantee of recovery.   It was not worth spending the money when you could buy a young healthy guinea pig. This was the pragmatic reasoning of some Singaporean fathers. Singapore was again experiencing a period of recession and many fathers must have had financial difficulties.  

The fourteen-year daughter suddenly started to weep. Copious tears of sadness only another woman would understand. Mum had said that the guinea pig had a life span of six to eight years but her companion was only four years old.  

The mother was stoical.  The guinea pig had stopped eating and drinking for the past three days.  "I think that the big stomach of the guinea pig was due to fat tissue," she said.

The stomach referred to the back half of the body.  The medical word would be abdomen. 

"No, it was due to an excessive accumulation of fluid inside the abdomen," I said, turning the guinea pig upside down. Guinea pig with abdominal distension The abdomen looked like a big balloon filled with water. 

I placed a stethoscope on one side of the abdomen and listen to the internal resonance when I tapped
 the other side with my finger.  There was a dull sound of water waves transmitted from the tapping finger into the receiver of the stethoscope.

The pet was thin but not emaciated. Weight loss over a period of time might not be noticed by the owner. 

When the guinea pig was standing, we could see, from the top view, theGuinea pig with ascites abdomen bulging out fully from fluid inside stretching the abdominal skin on the left and right side.

What caused the ascites?  There could be due to heart, kidney or liver failure or other causes which needed time to investigate. I would need seven days to evaluate the cause.

"It is best to wait twenty four hours before you 
decide to euthanase the guinea pig," I said. "I could put the guinea pig in the clinic.  The total cost would be twenty dollars."

Mr Yap did not want to bring it back although his wife wanted to. If nothing could be done, she would prefer that the guinea pig passed away on its own.  

"Is it possible for you to keep the guinea pig here?" asked Mr Foo. "It might recover over the next few days. How much would it cost?"  He was aware that the euthanasia option  distressed his daughter.   

"It would not recover," I said. "If it was given the anti-diuretic injection to remove the fluid in the abdomen, the swelling would go down and it would be relieved of suffering and pain. However, the abdomen would recur again."

To put the guinea pig down with a lethal injection or not? 

Yes, the guinea pig had been drinking one bottle of water for the last few days and passing lots of urine," Mrs Yap confirmed.  "Normally, it would drink very little," she continued.  

All animals suffering from ascites do.  There was always a possibility that the ascites problem could be resolved given time and more detailed diagnosis but the cause was usually serious, like kidney failure.  The costs of veterinary treatment always weighed heavily on the mind of most guinea pig owners.

"How much it would cost to keep the guinea pig for observation for 7 days?" Mr Yap asked again. Euthanasia is the end of a life and very upsetting for this tall pre-teen Ms Yap.

"Maybe, it would be better for the guinea pig to die naturally," I suggested. "With less pain and discomfort in the veterinary surgery."  I would not wish the pre-teen to be traumatized by seeing her favourite pet dying at home.  

The fee of fifty dollars was acceptable to Mr Yap. I gave the guinea pig the treatment and it was put into a cage with the favourite blue blouse of its owner. 

Within one hour treatment, it had wrapped itself up inside the rolled up blouse Its abdomen was no longer distended. I could now palpate its abdomen. There were no lumps indicative of abdominal tumors obstructing blood. The kidney might be failing but we would need to get some blood test done.  The guinea pig showed interest in some lettuce.
Would it survive and recover the next seven days?    

"The guinea pig has 7 days to live" story is part of the BE KIND TO PETS community education project, supported by AsiaHomes Internet.    

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