Educating Your Vet: Part 2 (2004)

Following on from last year’s successes working with our Vet James Brooks at Tilehurst Veterinary Centre, BAR Students Karen LeCras and Chrissie Slade have gone on to see more improvements during 2004.  We would like to thank James for his cooperation and willingness to work with us.  As a result, many guineas have benefited from all the extra knowledge that has been shared.

BAR Lecture

When the death of Emily showed that there were certain inconsistencies within the practice Karen suggested that a lecture from the CCT might be useful. James, ever keen to increase his already vast knowledge, agreed.  Eight Vets from practices within the Active Vetcare Group attended.

Karen provided an assortment of guinea pigs – carefully chosen so that some wrigglers were included!  Subjects covered included Bloat, X-rays without anaesthetic, and dental problems.  Each topic was covered in full with the use of slides and then came the practical.  Everyone had a go at towel wrapping and preparing guineas for X-ray without anaesthetic.  The general feeling seemed to be “good idea, why haven’t we done this before?”

Bloat raised interesting comments on the use of the human preparations available (though James is well aware of this having treated Emily last year).  It was during the interval that Karen got to know another Vet who was particularly interested in the lecture, and, as she “got all the rabbits and guinea pigs brought to her” was finding it all very useful.  She has gone on to treat some of our rescue guinea pigs and has contacted Vedra for advice, without being prompted

The dental part of the lecture raised the most eyebrows, and probably prompted the most questions about the techniques used.  Each Vet had a turn at towel wrapping and inserting the separators, their towel wrapping was impressive and made it easier to insert the separators on some, by now, wriggly guineas.  Feeling confident, James even had a go at trimming a rabbit’s teeth – and succeeded.  James concluded that in the cases where regular dental treatment is needed or the animal is too ill / weak NOT putting them under anaesthetic is certainly beneficial. The Tilehurst practice has purchased its own set separators from the CCT, and has used them to treat both rabbits and guinea pigs since the lecture.

After the lecture and a well-earned cup of tea, Gina gave Karen one-to-one tuition on trimming teeth. This went on to prove useful later in the year when a boar without top incisors needed the bottom ones trimmed down until the teeth met correctly again.

We now have a folder containing useful information regarding guinea pigs in the waiting room at the surgery. It contains the information pack we give out on adoption, useful contact numbers as well as flyers from our local farm shop and Gorgeous Guineas etc.  There is an information sheet listing foods that contain additives (and those that do not), hopefully this will be of help to people.

At the time of writing dates are being discussed for the Part 2 of the lectures. We look forward to reporting back to you next year with even more successes.  Thanks go to Phoebe Gorgeous and Friends for your help with the lectures, and of course to Gina.


We’ve had a few of these during the year, so James has had plenty of practice opening them up, doing the initial drain and flush, and then leaving us to do the rest.  No anaesthetic of any kind, no fuss – in and out in 2 minutes!

“Diabetic” Guineas

A friend of ours had a guinea pig with a UTI and when the guinea’s urine was tested, the Glucose reading was off the scale. She called Chrissie, as she was worried after being told by James that her beloved guinea was “diabetic”.  After questioning, it transpired that Gerty Guinea Pig dried food was being fed.  When this was withdrawn and the urine re-tested a couple of weeks later, the Glucose reading was back to normal.  As a result of this, Chrissie put together an information sheet for James and took it in on her next visit.  Although James was aware that artificial colours could cause irritation to the GI and Urinary Tracts, he didn’t know that there was also a connection with a high Glucose reading in guineas.  With the information sheet to hand, James can now advise owners about suitable dry mixes if he comes up against this problem again.

Bladder Stones

One of Chrissie’s foster guineas had a suspected Bladder Stone – he had been crying and passing blood.  After examining Keenan (on the right of the pigture), James took an X-ray without anaesthetic and it came out perfectly.  Three bladder stones were clearly visible, one of which was in Keenan’s urethra.  Keenan is an old boy who is getting very thin, so an operation to remove the stones was not on the list of priorities.  James decided to try something he had not attempted before on a guinea.  He said that if a dog had a stone in his urethra, he would try flushing the stone back into the bladder, so why not do the same on a guinea?  It was a delicate procedure that James carried out with great dexterity.  The following morning there was no blood and no crying, so Keenan is now living with 3 bladder stones and no pain.  Keenan lived for another 6 months after this procedure before he went on his way at the age of 6 1/2.

Comments from Gina Hayes (former BAR Course Tutor):

I think it’s worth stating that James and the rest of the team at Tilehurst are an exceptional bunch of people, and BAR and the CCT have no hesitation in recommending any member of the public to them in the knowledge that they will do their very best for the animals. I should also point out that the successes at Tilehurst are due in no small part to the “pain-in-bum factor” kindly supplied by Chrissie and Karen (I mean that in the nicest possible way ladies!). They have consistently and determinedly pointed out where the Vets could do better, have nagged them over undertaking the programme and have marched in armed with notes and equipment to show ‘em how it’s done! I think we should call it “piggy power.” If anyone would like to speak to Chrissie or Karen to discuss how they approached the whole Vet training issue, you can do so here:

Chrissie – Gorgeous Guineas

Karen – Reading Guinea Pig Rescue