The signs I noticed at this time were weight loss and excessive drinking. He was eating well, his stools were fine.
She ruled out stones and anything else we would have picked up on an x-ray. She did bloodwork and ruled out diabetes. One thing she did note was his digestive tract was unusually full. So we put him on Reglan.
I didn't feel there was much improvement, so I did more research. In my research I found that Moby had every sign of hyperthyroidism. It became apparent to me that he had weight loss, excessive drinking, frenetic movement, huge appetite, and had recently started getting clear eye discharge.
I brought him back to the vet on 5/19/05. I talked to her before I brought him in and explained what I thought it might be. She did some research and told me that there had been only one recorded case for hypothyroidism according to VIN.
They drew blood (this time under anesthesia, from the jubular vein) to check both T-4 levels and kidney issues. I brought another pig in as a control, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful in drawing blood from him. My vet said she had some info on normal ranges of T-4 in guinea pigs and that it would be fine.
Kidney and gluclose levels were also checked and are normal.
Moby did go up slightly in weight from 5/10 - 5/19, but I believe this was due to my feeding of tons of dandelions and other treats :)
5/21 got a call from the vet. Hyperthyroid level is 3.29. According to all the research here that is a level that does indicate hyperthyroidism.
However my vet was reluctant to diagnose that because VIN says the levels report 5 and over. Also noted was that hyperthyroid pigs have a lump in their neck near/on the thyroid. Her advice was that this was probably early in the stage and if it is hyperthyroidism it will develop later.
I'm not waiting for a lump to develop in my guinea pig's neck damnit.
I have a vet appointment with a veterinarian who has dealt with pigs that have been assumed hyperthyroid- but I don't know how much use this is.
Options: Spend $100 to do tests on other pigs and compare levels.
Go to the vet who has this experience (transfer documents and more $$$)
Have my vet call the vet who has dealt with this
Treating it doesn't CAUSE the kidney disease. The disease was always there, but the higher blood pressure caused by the hyperthyroidism kept pushing more blood through the kidneys to help keep values down.
So, keep an eye on those kidneys once the thyroid is under control.
A few years ago it wasn't believed heart disease was common in pigs. Not long ago there were no recorded case of Cushings Disease in pigs because no one bothered to do the diagnostics and ovarian cysts were assumed. As I understand it, my pig was the first definitively diagnosed case of Cushings Disease in pigs(my vet could find no other cases when researching), which has opened the door to Cushings Disease being a possibility when certain symptoms present. As more pig owners push their vets to diagnose and treat their pigs, more information will come to light.
Hopefully, the Tapazole will make a difference for your pig.
But after a while I started to get worried because his spine and hip area did not seem to be putting on any weight, and still hasn't.
He has an appointment Thursday and we're going to check his level again.
Do you think an increase of Tapazole would be a good idea?
My opinion is to be patient with increasing tapezole...as hard as that may be. This is a strong drug affecting all the systems in the body, so a little caution is recommended. Did your vet run a whole thyroid panel? TSH and T3 too?
Did your vet do an xray of the thyroid? I know it is sometimes hard to see clearly on a small animal, but I would want to rule out any abnormality that can be seen since an increased production of thyroxin is often a sign of malformation or small growths on the thyroid nodules.
Another problem with hyperthyroidism is that if you artifically repress the thyroid with drugs, it tends to swing the other way and stop thyroxin production altogether and you end up with the other extreme -- hypothyroidism. This is another reason to go slow with the amount of any thyroid medication administered.
The frustrating thing is that any good vet will keep drawing blood to check TSH, T4, and T3 levels before increasing a dosage. And we all know how hard it is to get enough blood to run any bloodwork on a cavy. How exausting for you, Moby, and the vet! Hang in there!
The problems with running blood panels is getting enough blood and the fact that there are no pig norms available for stuff like TSH, T4, and T3 levels. We just guess and extrapolate from cats. You can compare to a healthy pig but samples from one or two pigs aren't enough to really give any reliable information.
Fanny just went on Tapazole because of weird uncharacteristic frenetic activity and unexplained weight loss - gained 3 ounces in about as many days. We dropped the dose to 1.25mg daily from 2.5.mg and are monitoring.
Vicki recommended crushing the whole thing, mixing with water or ora-sweet and then giving him a quarter at a time- but I don't feel this is accurate enough either as parts of the already small tablet get lost in the crusher or the mixing bowl or the syringe.
It would be wise to check a whole thyroid profile instead of just a T4 level. Looking for things like the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) being high with the T4 level being normal would indicate the need for a medication change.
I would NOT change the dose without bloodwork first.
I can't remember exactly how much he has gained but the weigh in from then and the weigh in from today showed that he gained weight. I lost the sheet I was using to record his weights back then. He's at 948 grams now.
We might start getting his medicine compounded. We're waiting for an estimate.
The tapazole is now being compounded and given orally. There haven't been any re-tests for T4 levels.
His weight has increased and stabilized in the 990's (grams).
I found his initial weight chart...but it's at home and not with me! How inconvienent.