But he's so darn sweet! Never bites, loves to just chill out with us on the couch. I pet him when I go by the cage and he just chills out. He'll eat any healthy food we put in there... he's the one who gets the others to try tomatoes and fruits.
Guinea pigs are prone to upper respiratory infections, but those are usually fast-moving and come with other symptoms. Since Billy has a healthy appetite and we haven't had any other sick pigs, I wasn't sure what could be up. Either way we decided it was time to see the vet.
So I put him in the pet wagon, which he didn't like, drove him in the car, which he didn't like, and he got a full exam, which he REALLY didn't like. It's so tragic watching trained medical professionals try to deal with a teeny little squirmy pig. I had to do my best not to crack up laughing... the nurse tried to set him on this scale and hoped he'd stay in this little bowl, obviously he wouldn't. The doctor checked his ears and listened to his heart and lungs with a stethoscope which is hysterical.
They asked if I'd pay for an x-ray... about $80, on top of the $40 exam. They understand that a lot of people don't like paying huge vet bills for guinea pigs, after all you can get the buggers for free off craigslist, but when I consider all the bedding, food, and cage supplies we spring for on a regular basis I don't think a couple hundred bucks is a huge deal. There are people in guinea_pigs who buy surgery for their pets... Marc and I have discussed that sort of thing, after reading too many very expensive stories that don't end so well we've decided that we will have a limit. But an x-ray sounded like a good idea.
The x-ray was adorable too, of course. A guinea pig x-ray looks like this: the top 1/3 has a head, heart, lungs, brain, all this important stuff. The rest is pure belly. It just reinforced my belief that these are ridiculous animals.
Unfortunately the x-ray showed other bad things: a mass of denser tissue in his lungs that just shouldn't be there. The vet said it could be tumors, but more likely it was scar tissue from an old injury. If Billy had cancer he wouldn't be so happy and willing to eat tons of food. But scar tissue is common... since we have no idea what his history is (he came from a home who got him from a home who got him who knows where) he could easily have suffered an accident we don't know about. Maybe when he was little he was dropped, or stepped on, and some internal bleeding occurred, and it didn't seem to have an effect at the time but it's worn on him.
The vet recommended some cortisone drops, twice a day, to relax the tissue a bit and rule out allergies. We'll try it this week and if it helps we can keep him on a low dose. It should be fairly manageable.
But until we see how that turns out we're awfully worried about the little guy. He's so lovable and cuddly and we hate to see him wheezing all the time. So keep him in your thoughts. Sick pets are the pits.