23 April, 2009
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
post-mortem would be needed to ascertain the cause of death,"
I replied to the young man who wanted to know why the
6-year-old guinea pig died 2 days after consultation and
warding at Toa Payoh Vets. His mum felt that she was
responsible for his death.
"I did not remove the sharp and hard sticks present in his
feed since 2 weeks ago," Mum said. "Usually I picked them
"There is an acute pain in the throat and stomach/liver area
behind the rib cage," I had palpated these areas and the
guinea pig squealed in a sharp tone and fidgeted.
So, did the sharp and hard sticks perforate the throat, gullet
and stomach and caused infection and then general ill health?
The busy young man who accompanied his mum to the vet
reiterated, "The guinea pig just could not stop eating after
you removed his leg tumour 3 months ago. As if he was
reborn." The case is at:
"A Guinea Pig Walked With His Leg Held High Up."
wondered whether he was referring to what Christians proclaim
to when they believe in God again - A reborn Christian. I did
not ask him what he meant by being reborn.
Mum added: "The guinea pig would only eat carrots from Cold
Storage supermarket. He would squeal in delight when he saw
However, he would turn his nose away when I gave him carrots
from XXX Supermarket." I did not mention the name as it
would not be good for the company.
This was surprising to me. Did this guinea pig know something
that human beings don't? I eat carrots from the Supermarket
that this guinea pig rejected. I was glad that a tumour
removal would make him a voracious guinea pig. Probably he had
no more pain and stress and could walk normally, leading him
to eat and live naturally as a normal guinea pig. That was
just 3 months ago.
he was very thin. I informed the owners that the prognosis was
poor and the guinea pig was at death's door. He was a shell of
his former self when I operated to remove his leg tumour 3
The guinea pig was warded. He was hydrated, given antibiotics
and hand fed 3x/day. He did pass some stools on Day 2, but had
fits on Day 3 during a visit from the owners in the evening.
So what was his probable cause of death? Old age or stomach
impaction or both?
A guinea pig lives up to 6 years of age and therefore he could
be dying from internal organ failure due to old age too. He
had lived to a ripe old age actually. He loved to eat
newspapers and was constipated during his life.
The owners did not want an autopsy and brought the guinea pig
home. In any case, it is best not to feed the guinea pig with
sharp and hard sticks of grass. Newspapers are to be
Constipation may need laxatives or a higher
fibre or water content in the diet so that the guinea pig
could eliminate its stools and the associated toxins inside
the waste products of eating. Chronic constipation could
lead to inflammation of the intestines, the spread of toxins
into the body systems and possible cancerous growth in the
The owner helped the guinea pig to poop as he had
constipation. The son said to me that my recommendation of a
laxative was "ineffective". I had advised a laxative after the
surgery to get the leg tumour removed.