Garibaldi is Sick: An Update

Gari enjoying the pool

Owner’s blog:

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.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed rabbit is queen

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.

Being around Winston Bumblebee Barcode I makes Gari happy

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!


38 comments to Garibaldi is Sick: An Update

  • Julianna

    Gari, please get better soon, sweet baby 🙁

  • Malkah

    I am so sorry.

  • Neurorat

    I’m thinking of you Gari. One of my rats had dental issues and I know how hard it is.

  • Kristin Pawlewicz

    Oh, Melly, I am so sad to hear this. You’ve been through so much already and it seems almost too much to bear. But please remember you have so many people, here in the US and beyond, who are pulling for Gari and for you. If only all these positive thoughts and good vibes coming your way could heal Gari; he’d already be good as new! (And poor Maple wouldn’t have had to go through what she did. Oh, and your car would be purring like a kitten, too.) Lots of hugs and well wishes coming from Pennsylvania to you! Keep us all posted. We love you, Gari and Melly!

  • Evelyn

    I’ve been through this before with my guinea pigs and it’s heartbreaking but we persevere to see them well.

    The fact that he is pooping is a good sign. I always found the support of others online who love there animals as much as I do.

    Give Gari my loe. And all my best to you. You are doing good work.Try to take care of yourself too.


  • Fuzzbear

    I just bought a couple of capy calendars — hoping even a little bit can help you and Gari. Thinking good thoughts!

  • Ann M. Bednarek

    Oh my sweet Gari, you have no idea how sick I am over all Ive heard about you being sick. This is NOT real. I keep telling myself that I will wake up from this nightmare eventually. I was really hoping that this was just a simple fix. Mel, I can’t imagine what you are going thru. I will be up late, so please don’t hesitate to call if you need to talk. Sending my love, thoughts and prayers out to you. Remember Gari, there are millions of people and animals out here that love you and you are a part of thier lives. You WILL get better for yourself, for Mel,and your family, and all of us out here. Fight Gari, fight!!!! We’re all right behind you. XXXX Ann Bednarek <3

  • Amy

    Ive been following Gari since he was a baby. This is just breaking my heart. Lots of love to all of you and positive thoughts are being sent your way. Keep us posted!

  • Elizabeth

    I love you Gari and I am sending hugs your way!

  • Jen

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope he makes a full recovery.

  • francine

    More love and healing thoughts for all of you. I know you’ve run through every possible suggestion dozens of times.


  • It sounds like the probiotics might have helped! Let’s hope that getting some normal processes functioning again will help him make it through this waiting time.

  • Stephanie Labbate

    Me and Mocha (1 of the 3 Little Pigs) are reading this and crying. Following Gari’s adventures is such a bright spot in life. Luv to hear about special beasties who are so loved by their humans . We are so sorry that Gari is sick. Melly, keep all of Gari’s fans posted when you feel up to it. We’ll be here …

  • Hay

    Those colored bits in Maple’s food are garbage. Please feed her more of a hay diet without “junk” food pellets; this will keep away some dental problems. Some pellets are fine, but not the ones appealing to a human sense of marketing with the colored bits in them.

  • Donna

    Hugs to you all. Hope things get easier and everyone is healthy.

  • Emily

    Best wishes Melly, I am sorry you are having super pet crisis! Love and healing energy from 4 cats, 2 fish and 1 girl in Florida. <3

  • Tanya Maddox

    So very sorry. Wish I could send you our very excellent veterinary dentist from Virginia. He has worked on a number if animals in the National Zoo and is highly thought of. I lost my Flemish Giant rabbit to a tooth infection that resulted in sepsis. Working in rabbit rescue I have seen the many unpleasant results of dental problems. They are so difficult to treat. I am currently caring for a bunny with severe head tilt from vestibular disease, he’s getting seven different meds a day as well as sub Q fluids. I will be thinking of you and Gari as I treat him and wishing for healing for them both. Sorry about your car too!

  • Karen

    Melanie, please be sure to check for the messages/info I sent through your contact form (I sent you 2 b/c I forgot to include some info in the first one). My vet may be able to help you with Gari or put you in contact with someone. It’s worth a try. Hugs to you and Gari! Karen

  • Tiffany

    I hope you feel better soon Gari! Sending all of my hugs and good vibes your way! I’m so sorry for everything you’re going through, Melly, try to hang in there! 🙁


    I’m so sorry to hear that. My piggy (Cobi) had exactly the same issues that Gari. I know it’s very hard but I hope Gary will be tought enough to go through this. Cobi was and so that she could survive about two year with that problem (obviously, we were visiting the vet frequently. Last year, Cobi visit the vet once a month to file her teeth).And i was feeding her everyday with pap (You need to do this if Gary is not eating by himself! This was my pap: CRITICAL CARE, OXBOW And give her Vit.C too!!!). Sometimes, when I hadn’t pop, I do it by myself creaming a pepper and feeding Cobi with a syringe. If you need help, please tell me and I’ll help you. It’s a shame my bet is so far away from you (I live in Madrid, Spain).

    So, the good notice is that I know that a piggy can get over this. Give all your love to Gari, he needs that to feel better. You have to do that and so that Gary wants to live. It’s important that he wants to do it.

    I’m sorry if my english is not very good, I hope you understand me.

  • Chanda Bellick

    Melly I am so sad to hear this and this has just brought me to tears. I feel like I know Gari and have come to love him like I do my own pets.
    I am praying for you both, this is just terrible 🙁
    I will for sure be visiting the store again, I know you don’t want charity but can I send a check ” for Gari from Santa”
    Hang in there Melly 🙂

  • Two things:

    1. I was very surprised to hear the negative feedback from the vet almost as though she is giving up and/or she can do no more.
    2. The plus is that there are always options and seconds opinons. Those choices could be the difference between a good prognosis and one that isn’t. It can also mean the difference between life and death.

  • Emilia

    Much love to Gari and Melly! Is there something like Oxbow Critical Care that you can use to feed Gari? It works wonders for rabbits with gut issues. Good luck!!!

  • Kathryn

    Melly – we know you have examined every possible avenue. And we also know that you will do what is right if Gari gets too weak or has too much pain. We love Gari and we love you.

    Kathryn and family

  • donna

    i am praying for you!!!!hugs!!!!!!

  • Teresa Moore

    I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said much better before.

    I,too, have read Gari’s blog and before that Caplin’s and have been following both: Caplin’s demise and now Gari being ill, as well as Maple.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and the Co-pets!

  • Milana

    Oh no. I’m thinking of you guys and I wish I could channel my healing thoughts into something tangible for Gari. You’re a wonderful owner, Melanie, and Gari is so lucky to have you.

    Know that your thousands of fans are rooting for you two and sending you love and peace.

  • poor Gari – we really hope that you get some strenth up and start eating asap.
    just out of curiousity, have you tried blending some “capy” vegetable soup? or making a “fruit” soup?
    I don’t know how you or Gari feels about syringe feeding him but it might be worth trying to restrain him and squirt some pureed vegtables into him, it’ll be messy and he’ll probably protest but it might just save his life until he can get his dental work.
    we really hope his belly gets the better of him and he starts eating something soon. <:3 )~~~

  • Thank you for explaining everything so clearly Melly. I hope Gari continues to improve, so that he is fit and well for his dental surgery. Don’t forget to take care of yourself though. Can’t have you being poorly too! 🙁 xx

  • Laurie Coppola

    Having had guinea pigs for a long time, I completely understand the dental and digestive problems. I can only send hugs, well wishes and healing vibes to you and Gari, and keep all digits crossed for him to improve. I know he has to recover to a certain point before he can undergo surgery or anesthesia. Pulling so hard for Gari <3

  • Lisa

    oh Gari im just sick reading this. i wish i could give both you and Melly a big hug for support. please try to keep eating Gari so we can all continue to read about your adventures and you can hang out with all your co-pets and Melly and Rick.
    take care Gari and get better. everyone loves you and Melly so much!

  • Kim

    🙁 I’ve had two friends with beloved dogs die, and now Gari is this sick? No. Good. I hope hope hope he gets better. I have no advice to give, having only had some hamsters for a bit. But the pup and I send lots of love and healing hopes for Garibara and for you, Melly. Keep your strength up. We love you!

  • Kirsten

    I’ve been depressed since learning of poor Gari’s critical health issues. I look forward to reading about Gari everyday and delight in the photos of Gari and his co-pet family. Like someone said yesterday on FB, Gari is a hero to my guinea pig. Sneding lots of love and hope that Gari gets better!

  • Leslie Kuretzky

    We all love you soooo much, Garibaldi, and are praying and sending Good vibes your way and to your dear Mommy as well

  • Beverly Boher

    Thank you for updating us and pointing out the seriousness of Gari’s problem. I’m just glad that he is with you and that you are doing all you can for him. I sincerely hope that he hangs in there until he can see the dentist, and that this situation eventually has a good outcome.

    Lots of love to you both!

  • Lelani

    Thinking of you Gari. My pigs are wishing you a healthy and happy time till you get to the dentist. Hope all goes well. lots of love… lelani Tequila and Poncho pig.

  • Josiecat

    I’m so sorry that Gari is not well. Please tell him how he (and Caplin!) has inspired a nyc ad agency to fall in love with capybaras.
    When I was gravely ill this summer, my husband brought me my stuffed capy to keep me company in the hospital…I spent alot of my time reading through all your old blogs. I’m still keeping my dream alive to one day have a real live capy (if only I had a house!!!).
    You and Gari have inspired so many people, I hope all the love and prayers and good energy will make its way over to your neck of the woods.
    Hugs and kisses from your #1 fan in nyc!

  • Cheryl

    So sorry to hear about Gari. Hoping that he will pull through. I have had rabbits with dental points as well so know exactly what you mean. I love the pic with Gari and the guinea pig as I have them as well. prayers and good thoughts being sent your way. XOXOXO

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>