Time for an update on Garibaldi Rous’ medical condition.
Well, it’s not good. Probably many of you are thinking, “Thank goodness you got our little Gari into the vet in time and it turned out to be just his teeth. Now he can get all fixed up and be better in a flash.” Sadly, this is not the case. Dental issues are always serious with rodents, just as they are with rabbits. If I learned anything from my experiences with Maple WoMER, it is that dental problems are not to be taken lightly.
Maple is doing fine, by the way. Just yesterday the vet gave her a final bill of health and pronounced her “cured.” But she’ll still need to have her teeth filed periodically or have the lower teeth pulled. We’re going to wait a bit on that.
The reason rodents have so many dental issues is that their teeth grow throughout their lives. If they are not properly worn down by the food they eat, the teeth can develop sharp points that hurt the animal’s mouth and tongue and make it difficult to eat. This is what happened to Gari. For some reason I do not yet understand, this situation also leads to infections or abscesses at the root of the teeth. Gari also has that. The abscesses loosen the root and allow the teeth to rotate, further adding to problems eating. Gari also has that.
What happened on our last vet visit was that Gari got a very crude tooth filing to take off the sharpest points and relieve some of the pain so that he could eat. But that was all the vets were able to do since they do not specialize in dentistry.
For a large animal with enormous teeth, capybaras have very, very small mouths. To do significant work on the teeth, the veterinary dentist we will see next will have to come into Gari’s mouth from the outside. This is not an easy, risk-free or painless surgery. In fact it is very dangerous.
Enough background. The problem now is that Gari pretty much stopped eating for a couple of days. Along with this, he stopped pooping. Both of these are critical behaviors for a rodent. It is not just that he might lose weight, I guess he could even stand to loose a couple of pounds. The problem is that the rodent digestive system relies on symbiotic bacteria to digest the rodents’ food, especially cellulose, the stuff that makes up the cell walls of plants.
If food is not moving through the capy’s digestive tract, it starts to ferment or rot. That is bad enough by itself, but it also kills the symbiotic bacteria. Without that bacteria, the capy cannot digest his food and he will die. Because he stopped eating, Gari stopped pooping. He went a full two days with virtually no poop. Luckily, this evening, we saw a little bit of more-or-less normal looking poop, about 1/4 of a normal pooping’s worth. By the way, as herbivores on low calorie diets, capys typically poop several times every day.
This morning the vet gave me a very negative prognosis. This evening I am slightly encouraged. But I just want everyone to know, this could end very badly and that even the best outcome is not particularly good. Right now my goal is just to keep him alive until he can get in to see the dentist.
You may be wondering why he doesn’t just go in tomorrow. There are two reasons. Firstly, doing two anesthesias so close together is dangerous. Gari takes several days to recover fully from anesthesia even if nothing else goes on. The second is that the veterinary dentist is sick and will not be back into the clinic until Monday, Nov. 19th. I doubt that will be the perfect day for him/her to work on Gari. Then again, that is Thanksgiving week so we will probably have to put it off until the following Monday. If we can. If Garibaldi is well enough to wait that long.
Thanks to everyone for their sympathies, kind words and advice. I appreciate it all, even if I am generally too depressed to respond. (And to top it off, my car broke down on the way home from work today and had to be towed.) I cannot accept charity but if you want to help out, consider buying something from my store. Capybara related items make great holiday gifts!