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Metacam is the first and only NSAID to be indicated for pain management in guinea pigs

by Ellen Hardy
07 September 2018, at 2:58pm

Despite guinea pigs becoming an increasingly popular pet in the UK, until now, there has been no licensed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or clear guidelines regarding appropriate pain relief dosing for this species. Metacam 0.5 mg/ml oral suspension for cats, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, is now licensed for the alleviation of mild to moderate post-operative pain associated with soft tissue surgery – which is great news for both vets and guinea pigs! The easy dosing protocol, which can be tailored to individual cases, makes it easier for vets to prescribe, as well as making it simple for owners to accurately administer pain relief at home to their pet.

As a prey species, guinea pigs frequently disguise pain2, making it a challenge for vets to identify when analgesia is required. Molly Varga, BVetMed DZooMed MRCVS, RCVS Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, expands on this:

‘’Guinea pigs have evolved to hide pain and once obvious signs are visible it often indicates that the animal is no longer coping and its welfare has potentially been compromised. Appropriate pain management in guinea pigs is therefore vital, particularly after soft tissue surgery and regardless of whether signs of pain are visible, to ensure an enhanced recovery and optimal welfare.’’

In addition the World Small Animal Veterinary Association have stated that “pain associated with surgery is 100% predictable and is treatable”3, highlighting the importance of peri- and post-operative pain relief.

Although signs of pain can be difficult to identify in guinea pigs, there are a few signs which indicate that the patient needs assessment and treatment:

  • Grinding teeth (a slow steady grind of the molars, different from chattering)
  • Reluctant to move or walk
  • Shivers or quivers, can sometimes see rippling along the body
  • Sits hunched, with hair spiky
  • Whimpers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing may be heavy and laboured

As the only licensed NSAID for use in guinea pigs, Metacam 0.5 mg/ml oral suspension should be considered for use in all soft-tissue surgery cases in this species. An interactive online dosage chart has been designed to ensure quick and easy dose calculations, and higher doses can be used based on clinical judgement, allowing for tailoring of doses to individual cases. A dosing dish and syringe has been specially developed to help owners easily and accurately administer Metacam at home. These are available to order directly from your Boehringer Territory Manager.

To assist vets in becoming more confident in prescribing pain relief to guinea pigs, Boehringer Ingelheim has produced a series of expert short videos, supported and narrated by Zoo and Wildlife Medicine specialist Molly Varga. The video series includes a step-by-step guide to recognising pain in guinea pigs through to dosing regimes, and an owner video for accurately administrating Metacam at home. This is in addition to the interactive online ‘dosing calculator’, which is available on the Boehringer Academy website.

Metacam is the most widely used veterinary NSAID in Europe4 with the greatest range of licensed indications, highlighting Boehringer Ingelheim’s dedication to the wellbeing of all pets, their owners and your practice.

* For the alleviation of mild to moderate post-operative pain associated with soft tissue surgery such as male castration

References:

  1. PFMA 2017 - https://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-population-2017
  2. Oliver VL, Athavale S, Simon KE, Kendall LV, Nemzek JA, Lofgren JL. Evaluation of pain assessment techniques and analgesia efficacy in a female guinea pig (Cavia
    porcellus
    ) model of surgical pain. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2017;56(4):425-435.
  3. Mathews K, Kronen PW, Lascelles D, et al; WSAVA Global Pain Council. Guidelines for
    recognition, assessment and treatment of pain. J Small Anim Pract. 2014;55:E10–E68. doi:10.1111/jsap.12200.
  4. European NSAID Market CEESA MAT Q4 2017