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When Chili Pepper the Patagonian Cavy displayed something unusual he needed to be seen by a veterinarian. Join Jessi and Chili Pepper on their adventure to the vet!

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Jessi: When you're caring for an animal it can be easy to forget that they can't tell you when something's bugging them. At least not with words. But they can tell you in their own way, if you're paying attention. It's important to know what's normal for them as a species but also what's normal for them as an individual so you can spot when something's not normal.

A few weeks ago I noticed something on Chili Pepper that was not normal. He had a bare patch of skin on his neck. I gave it a good examination but I didn't find anything that made me think the situation was an emergency - Maybe he just rubbed it on something or one of his animal friends started playing too rough.

Whatever it was I wanted to watch and see if the hair would simply just grow back. After about a week of no new hair growth, I needed the opinion of a professional. Our veterinarian, Dr. Card was out to check on Kemosabe the porcupine, so I asked her to check on Chili Pepper, too.

She examined the furless patch and also found nothing of concern on the skin. But she then closely examined the rest of his body, too. She found that his ear was extremely itchy and when she rubbed his ear and the bare patch at the same time, he shook his head vigorously. It was obvious something was bugging him.

She didn't have her ear scope with her so we scheduled an appointment to bring him into the clinic and now I'd like to bring you along.


Jessi: Chili Pepper does really well at the vet because he's just used to traveling and going to new places and exploring new things. But a lot of animals are going to be pretty stressed out, so don't expect them to behave the way they would at home, just be sensitive to their emotions.

So now we're in the exam room and we're just going to wait for Dr. Card to come.

Dr. Card: Alright Chili, come on out of there, let's take a look at you.

Jessi: Hey handsome. So it's been about three weeks since we first noticed it, and this was the first time we've noticed any new hair coming in.

Dr. Card: Yeah, that's a lot more hair than there was the other day.

Jessi: But it's still itchy.

Dr. Card: I think that this is not itchy. That's not itchy.

Jessi: Good.

Dr. Card: That's itchy.

Jessi: Is your ear still itchy?

Dr. Card: Maybe not. Maybe whatever was in there's gone.

Jessi: It resolved itself.

Dr. Card: Alright buddy, but you're here, we're gonna take a peek.

Jessi: Into the ear.

Dr. Card: Alright bud.

Jessi: How far down-down is his ear drum?

Dr. Card: I don't think they have a really long canal, they have, um, I don't know if they're like the, the guinea pigs have huge ears, internally. Just let me look, almost there. There, okay we're good.

Jessi: Oh, clear?

Dr. Card: Ear canal is clear, yep.

Jessi: Awesome!

Dr. Card: Yep, ear drum looks perfectly normal.

Jessi: Um, no inflammation?

Dr. Card: No inflammation.

Jessi: Is it just itchy cause it's annoying to have something in his ear?

Dr. Card: I think so.

Jessi: Okay.

Dr. Card: Yeah. You know he doesn't have any, uh, discharge in the ear.

Jessi: Mhmmm.

Dr. Card: He doesn't have any odor in his ear. And there's nothing in there, his eardrum looks perfectly normal.

Jessi: Okay, so do you think, since we have new growth, do you think maybe he had something in there and that it... came out?

Dr. Card: I do. I think, yeah, and I think he was, and I think he was digging at his ear...

Jessi: And he just couldn't quite reach it? (chuckles)

Dr. Card: Couldn't quite get there.

Jessi: Oh my goodness.

Dr. Card: Nose, your little nose a little bit swollen up over here. See how this side's a little bit more swollen up than this side?

Jessi: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Card: Your teeth look fine.

Jessi: Why are you checking out his teeth?

Dr. Card: Because they have very long incisors, those incisors go up, way up, to where they're right underneath the nasal cavity. So inflammation along their teeth can result in sinus problems. But I don't think that's the issue here. But I do think that that's a little bit swollen up over there.

Jessi: Yeah, could it just be like a bump from running into a stick or something?

Dr. Card: It could be, yeah, yeah. So just kind of watch that. His little lymph nodes aren't swollen up.

Jessi: Good.

Dr. Card: At this point I wouldn't put him on antibiotics.

Jessi: Yeah, I'd like to avoid that if we can.

Dr. Card. Yeah. And that's growing back in nicely.

Jessi: Yeah.

Dr. Card: Yeah, you're OK.

Jessi: You're such a good patient, bud. Oh! Nice, nicely done. Well thank you, Dr. Card, is there anything else besides the, the swelling that I should be keeping an eye on? Just make sure he doesn't itch any more?

Dr. Card: Yeah, make sure he's, you're not seeing him itch there, make sure that that grows back in and we're not seeing more hair loss there.

Jessi: Mhmmm.

Dr. Card: Um, make sure it doesn't look scaly or flaky there. You know, just watch the ear for any odor or any discharge out of that ear.

Jessi: Well that went a lot better than I thought it was going to. You know, it's really important that when you feel there's something off about an animal that you do go and ask a professional. I'm glad that we were able to take him in and nothing was really wrong. But I'm really happy with how Dr. Card was able to handle him and Chili Pepper was such a pro at being handled.

Yeah having something stuck down your ear is pretty uncomfortable, but really, he tolerated us pretty well. Now I do like Dr. Card but I hope Chili Pepper never has to visit her again. Thanks for going on this adventure with us! If you'd like to go an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Animal Wonders Montana.

And if you have any serious concerns or questions about your animal's health, call your vet. Any other questions can come to me. You can private message me on Facebook under Animal Wonders Inc., links are below. Thanks guys.


Jessi: A human would have to consume 500-600 leaves to make it mildly toxic, and rats show no adverse effects with an equivalent ratio. Now dogs, cats, and birds are affected.