Vav Simon
(Mhairi Simon)

Clinical Director

01983 566009

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Star of the Month

To let everyone share in our excitement in their improvement, we thought we would highlight the great progress some animals
have made.

Heidi is an Alpaca

From Rescue to National Competition

My Buffalo's Back!

Back In The Show Ring

Over the Moon

Back in Perfect Balance

From ‘No Hope’ to Winning!

Life's a Canter for Trampus

A Brazilian Tapir's Bathroom Accident

But he’s not lame!

Miracle Achieved, 100%!

Nearly Put Down 2 Months Ago!

Mending Mabel

Getting the Measure of Tapeworm

Dedication Makes All the Difference!

Tara's Back-end is Back Again!

Sophie can Stand Again!

Better Than 100%

Lame, constipated, incontinent...

The Tale of the New Wag

Some of Our Success Stories

Mending Mabel

Sophie worried about her guinea-pig for months. Mabel didn’t want to eat, was very unhappy and had lost interest in life. She’d taken her to the vets who noticed overgrown pre-molar teeth and clipped them down under anaesthetic. Sophie said later “Mabel did not recover after surgery as she should. She was clearly uncomfortable and possibly in pain from the surgery.”

Mabel wouldn't eat - and was losing weightWhen she looked into Mabel’s mouth, Sophie could see that the two front incisor lower jaw teeth had been clipped down to sharp pointed stubs. They needn't have been done as they weren’t the problem.

“This caused horrible problems because this meant she couldn’t pick up food with these front teeth. Also, a splinter of tooth actually emerged some days later from underneath her gums - I had to tweezer it out! - took an hour to do!! And this probably had been causing her extra pain.”

Mabel never seemed to get back to her old self. She seemed quiet, still, and just lost interest in the world. She wasn’t interacting with Sophie’s other guinea-pigs. She went off her food and stopped eating.

Feeding by hand

Sophie said, “Sometimes she did eat by herself, but mostly not, and the frustration I endured as a result was ongoing. I started to feed Mabel by syringe, up to five times a day. As the months passed, she seemed to be getting worse.”

“I then took her to a Cavey Trust who discovered that her other molar teeth were growing right into her gums. Unfortunately, the rest of her teeth had gone un-noticed and had been left to grow, hence this painful situation was preventing recovery.”

One-sided jaws

The dental expert had several concerns with Mabel’s mouth, which he explained to Sophie. He showed her that the jaws were out of alignment – they didn’t meet as they should. He manually clipped Mabel’s teeth down to normal size, without the use of anaesthetic. However, she still did not eat on her own so her teeth now had to be regularly clipped every two weeks because they were not wearing down naturally when chewing.

“I noticed her jaws tended to favour one side and her lower jaw did not move as it should in a side to side action, and so feeding her became increasingly difficult. She dribbled regularly and tilted her head to one side most of the time. Her mood was gradually depleting and she had no enthusiasm for anything, keeping quite still inside her nesting area.”

Try chiropractic!

Sophie changed jobs and started work in a chiropractic practice. When she had settled in, she talked over Mabel’s problems with her boss, who said “Why don’t you find a chiropractor who works with animals?” There wasn’t one locally – there are only a few in the country. An internet search led to Vav’s website, and Sophie phoned to make an appointment.

Vav adjusting Mabel's neck and jawVav met Mabel on the floor, as she usually does with small animals. She found Mabel’s jaw was actually dislocated, and adjusted it. She also found many other misalignments.

“Mabel's condition, it seemed, may have been caused initially by the trauma of the surgery many months ago. An initial displacement of the jaw could have snowballed into the effects that she was now suffering from. Vav found that her whole body was out of alignment, which came from her head and travelled down her spine all the way to her pelvic bones!”

Chewing again!

After the treatment, Vav put Mabel down on the mat. We watched as Mabel slowly started to move around. After a while she started sniffing. Then Sophie offered her some grass and Mable started to chew. Next, a piece of cucumber went in, and Mabel held on to it tight!

Sophie burst into tears – all that worry for seven months suddenly sorted out so quickly. She was so happy for Mabel, but still felt a bit guilty.

Slowly but surely...

“After two treatments, Mabel's condition has much improved. Her personality has returned in leaps and bounds. Her head has straightened and does not lean anymore, her jaws are returning to a much more normal eating action, and she had now lots of enthusiasm to try to eat."

After so many months of misalignment, it was not surprising that Mabel needed time for rehabilitation. Sophie continued: "Her jaw muscles need to regain their strength and so this will probably be a gradual process of recovery. She is now eating much thicker consistency syringe feed.”

Great improvements!

Mabel takes some cucumber - at last!Two weeks later, Vav saw Mabel again. Sophie said she had started to eat by herself, she was grooming herself, and her coat was noticeably glossier. She had started to tilt her head up and drink from the spout of the water bottle. One eye that had been half-closed, was now opening fully again. She was exploring her surroundings again, she was getting on with other guinea-pigs and she'd got her personality back. Vav said “I’m pleased, Mabel is definitely on the mend.”

Discussing what had happened, Vav and Sophie ended up with a theory Mabel’s neck and jaw had been wrenched while her teeth were seen to, perhaps by using equipment designed for rabbits. Because Mabel had then stopped eating, and her teeth had grown unevenly, which made it even more difficult to chew. This became a vicious circle!

Vav said the technical term for Mabel's symptoms is 'Horner’s syndrome', which affects many species including humans. If a nerve bundle in the neck is disrupted by a blow, various muscles on that side of the head can be paralysed. Vets consider it a permanent problem because surgery and drugs won’t help, but chiropractic can reverse it, sometimes quite dramatically.

Determination and luck

In Vav’s opinion, the problems in Mabel’s neck were equivalent to ‘serious’ misalignments in a horse, and would be called ‘gross’ misalignments in a human. We can only say that in a guinea-pig, they must be called ‘extreme’.

Guinea-pigs live about six years, so the seven months of suffering would be equivalent to roughly six years in human terms. That gives a perspective on how long it might take to get jaw muscles back into fitness. Certainly, the severity and the duration of the problem shows why Mabel was suffering so.

And in turn this gives testimony to Sophie’s patience and determination in continuing to work for rehabilitation. Clearly, without her determination to feed her by hand, and then a stroke of luck through her new job that allowed her to contact Vav, Mabel would have slowly deteriorated, probably with fatal results. As it is, there seems no reason now why Mabel shouldn’t live to a ripe old guinea-pig age!