Request for heart pig stories

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GP Lover
My home, ruled by pigs!

Post   » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:50 pm

"Which is why with pigs it is imperative to treat the symptoms. "

The trick is to find a vet willing to do this. Most want an expensive test to confirm.

I am beginning to think that once they reach the age of 4.5 - 5yrs and we notice weight loss that it would be a good idea to have a test done but it is so expensive!

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:27 pm

GP Lover is right. I had fought to get Elvis meds, as I have other heart pigs who are on heart meds. I have found 1 vet in the last 5 years willing to do a trial without a confirmation. I wish more of them would listen to us. I don't understand why so many vets are standoffish about heart disease.

Elvis died due to aspiration. You probably didn't know that though, pinta.


Post   » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:52 am

Death by aspiration is more common in heart pigs. When one of ours dies on the table due to aspiration, my first thought is "heart".

I am hoping vets are reading this thread. I am hoping vets who don't believe heart issues are common in pigs are reading this thread.

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"Live Long and Prosper"

Post   » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:18 pm

I found some interesting information about the heart pigs. Dr. Kanfer has discovered that after a pig is on Lotensin for sometime (each pig varies), their hearts go back to a normal size. Also, none of my heart pigs that were on heart meds, died from heart failure or heart attacks, but from other problems, mostly tumors on organs.

I currently have 9 heart pigs ranging from 2 years to 6 years of age. Frosting was 9 when she passed away this past October, so heart pigs can live very long, happy lives. I also have a heart pig, Snowy, that runs laps in his cage and was very active prior to the heart meds. He coughs and hoots in the morning, so is now on Lotensin and Lasix. He is still very active. So much for the "lap pig" theory.


Post   » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:32 pm

I've also had incredible active heart pigs. But these guys choose to run around rather than eat. All of my active heart pigs were thin and seemed incapable of gaining weight until they got on heart meds. The one exception was Willie(Chin-Sling prototype pig) who was so desperately ill due to undiagnosed heart disease that we almost lost him 3 times. He was never able to gain weight and did die from heart failure at 5 1/2 years of age. He showed symptoms of heart issues(misdiagnosed as asthma) at the age of 6 months.

Buddy was outweighed by his friend, Conway, by 1 pound. Conway was a thug and liked to beat up on Buddy. Biuddy got on heart meds, gained weight and yanked a chunk of hair out of Conway who is now afraid of the pig he used to beat up. Buddy is still very active. The difference now is that he has the energy to eat AND run wild so he is no longer scary underweight.

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"Live Long and Prosper"

Post   » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:26 pm


It really is amazing, isn't it? Freddie was so thin and dragging his legs that I took him in 3 times to be PTS, because I thought he was suffering. But here he is, every morning, looking for treats and veggies. and jumping into his hay box. He is still very thin and sleeps deeply, but is doing just great. I find it so rewarding to watch these little ones improve so much with such a simple solution.

Eloise was diagnosed at 6 months with a huge heart and passed last September of a tumor on her spleen. She was very active all of her life, but never really recovered from Muffin's death. She seemed depressed even with a new cage mate. I have had a lot of problems bonding pigs after they lose a cage mate. They don't seem to want another one sometimes.


Post   » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:52 am

On the subject of bonded pigs losing their best friends:

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Post   » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:41 pm

Just adding to the heart pig stories...we have a running thread in this forum called "undiagnosed illness" but now seems to be it was heart all along.

1 - Milo, almost 4 year old (born approx 4/11/06) male peruvian (possibly mixed)
2 - Has had "stage II-III" heart murmur first discovered at age 2.5-3yrs at a vet visit for unrelated issue. Appeared to have tooth issues, extended neck and gagged. Lethargic, unexplained low weight and weight loss. Starting to sleep more deeply. Does not move when outside of cage. Breathes quickly but not necessarily deeply. BPM 270 at vet visits.
3 - Milo has had an abdominal and chest x-ray, and two blood tests. After thorough oral exam (buccal bad separators, massaging all along jaw/mouth/eyes, throat for bumps, etc) no tooth issues found. Heart murmur was only sure thing after illness began on and off in December 2009. Chest x-ray revealed slightly enlarged heart, though not something that "jumped out" at the vet. No organ or blood concerns and has never had any infections etc, only some sort of cyst on his back.
4 & 5 just began .14mL Lasix every 12 hrs...took him off to see what happened...became very lethargic, wouldn't eat, and lost 3oz in 36 hours. Put him back on and has improved to almost 100%. Will begin Enalapril next week, unsure of the dosage. According to our vet she recently went to conference on heart meds for all animals...Benzapril is harder to get here, and out vet claims there is no definite difference shown in the research concerning the impact on kidney function over time...this makes me feel a little uneasy reading the rest of the comments?
6 - Illness in December may have been due to a treat that irritated his stomach. Strange oral symptoms, abcess, low weight (2lbs, 4oz is as high as we've been able to get him since his first illness). Otherwise healthy pig-no stones, infections, etc in the first 3.5 years of life. Has "incredibly straight teeth" and has never required a trim.


Post   » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:59 pm

i have a sick one and need to know if i can do anything to help. she is having trouble breathing i think.


Post   » Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:55 am

I have my first heart pig to add to add to this thread. I suspected that one of my past pigs had a heart issue but despite requesting the vets and CCT, she was never diagnosed or treated. Thankfully my current heart pig is still around and being treated, info as follows.

1 - Gwenivere is a PEW, smooth semi-longhaired sow, age thought to be around 4 years.

2 - Symptoms:
- Inactivity - she's always has been a fairly sedentary pig, and very quiet in character;
- Hooting - infrequent but it was occurring on occasion for around one year;
- Not laying down -to rest/sleep she would instead hunch up on her feet and her breathing rocked her back and forth;
- Deep, heaving breathing from her sides;
- Changing ear colour - when stressed her ears went very pale, and when sedentary they ranged from pale pink to deep red/purple;
- Pale nose and mouth - sometimes a vivid pink colour, quite variable, more often pale;
- Weight loss - over the course of the past year she had bouts of losing a little weight, then stabilising for a few months, losing again and stabilising etc.
- "Pot belly" appearance - thin and bony elsewhere on her body, but a chubby (soft) abdomen.
- Multiple sore (deeply red) feet with pale skin surrounding.

3 - Diagnosis/Tests:
Heart sounds were very muffled on listening with stethoscope, indicating pericarditis. Given one dose of diuretic, heart sounds improved but fluid returned next day. Started on a daily dose if diuretic for around 10 days, some general improvement and clear heart sounds but all other symptoms still present. I requested a chest x-ray but was told there's no point as it is clear what's going on, so she was put straight onto a trial of heart meds.

4 - Treatment, meds and dosage:
Daily treatment is:-

Benazepril - 0.625mg given 2x daily
Furosemide - 5mg given 2x daily

She started the furosemide on 23 February 2010, and the benazepril on 6 March 2010.

5 - Results of treatment:
She started on the full dose (1.25mg) once a day, the symptoms improved within a couple of weeks but then she started relapsing on some symptoms overnight, which is when I swtiched the meds to half the dose twice daily instead of the full dose once a day. Within a week of doing so she was like a different pig; more active, more interested in her surroundings.

Currently still experiencing quieter times when symptoms relapse to a small degree so looking to increase benazepril to 0.75mg 2x daily, and aiming to reduce dosage of furosemide.

6 - Other medical issues:
Hearing impairment.

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Post   » Tue May 18, 2010 10:36 pm

1 - Kitty, Abysynian around 3 years old

2 - Symptoms:
- Hooting on occasion starting in Jan 2010
- thought to have URI in Feb, took to the vet came home with a "clean" bill of health, heart and lungs sounded good, no URI
- Started a deep, heaving breathing from her sides
-Very watery runny eyes
- Dry skin
Weight remained the same

3 - Diagnosis/Tests:
Several trips to the vet for suspected URI's and came home with no diagnosis and clean bill of health. Finally after the heavy breathing started the vet saw her again and could hear a heart murmur. Lungs sounded clear. Took x-ray which revealed fluid on the lungs and an enlarged heart, mostly on the right side

4 - Treatment, meds and dosage:
Daily treatment is:-

Lasix .01ml twice a day
Enlapril .04ml twice a day
Lasix was started a week earlier and then the Enlapril a week later

5 - Results of treatment:

Immediatly with the Lasix her runny eyes cleared up and the heavy breathing stopped.
So far she still hoots and we are looking at possible changes in dosage/meds
After a 2 weeks on the Lasix and 1 week on the Enlapril the vet could hear a clicking in her trachea

Her weight has remained steady at 2 lbs 14 oz

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Post   » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:37 am

I wanted to update on Kitty.
She was on Enlapril for about 5 weeks and then was switched to Lotensin. She was also given Vetmedin because the hooting had not stoppped at all and she has a heart murmur.
So now her meds are as follows

Lasix .02 twice a day, if I hear hooting it is raised to .03
Lotensin .04 twice a day
Vetmedin 1/4 of a tablet twice a day

With this combo of meds I have seen a difference, she is currently not hooting and the crusties around her eyes have gone away. Her energy levels are good and I feel that we are on the right track.

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Post   » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:58 pm

Thanks for the update. It's always helpful to know how guinea pigs on heart meds are responding.

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Post   » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:05 pm

Your welcome Lynx. I should add that with the enlapril there was no difference at all in her activity, energy or really anything. In fact her hooting continued to get worse. Although here eyes were not runny they were very crusty all of the time. She was lethargic and really struggled to breathe.
She also experienced tooth issues during that time. One of her incisors was infected at the root and she also had spurs on her molars. It seems like this combo of meds is the right choice for her. It did take about 3 weeks on this combo for me to see a real difference. We suspect that her heart murmur is the reason for the need for the vetmedin.


Post   » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:43 am

Tooth issues can occur in heart pigs due to the choice between breathing and eating. If they are too exhausted to eat(due to a weak heart), the molars overgrow. The molars need constant grinding action to keep from overgrowing


Post   » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:51 pm

1) Description: Peeve, black-and-white dalmatian American, approximately 4 years old at time of death, intact boar.

2) Symptoms: This is in hindsight, but if I had known then what I know now, I would have insisted that heart medications be tried. Peeve's primary symptoms were respiratory distress and labored breathing that never entirely resolved despite repeated courses of antibiotics, including sulfa and Baytril. It started at a fairly young age, perhaps a year old, and seemed to wax and wane. It was loud, sonorous breathing, mainly on inhalation, worse with exertion, and gradually more constant and severe with age. At first allergies to the bedding were thought to be a factor, and for the later half of his life he lived on fleece and/or Carefresh. This did help slightly but never completely alleviated his troubles. He became less energetic as he got older, even though 4 is not really all that old, only able to run a lap or two during floor time before he was too worn out to do more than walk.

3) Diagnostics: Numerous vet exams, x-rays, phone consultations with 3 different veterinarians. I did not have an autopsy done, though perhaps I should have.

4) Treatment: Antibiotics, bedding changes, antihistamines, oral antifungal medications.

5) Results: At first, multiple courses of antibiotics were tried on the theory that it was recurrent URI despite his cage-mate never having so much as a sniffle and no exposure to drafts, extreme temperatures, and so forth. After unrevealing x-rays at about 3 years of age, I even tried children's liquid Benadryl (dose calculated by the vet) in case it was a chronic allergy, but this had little effect and so was stopped to avoid making him unnecessarily drowsy. Shortly before he died, he developed a significant fungal infection in the genital area and was placed on an oral antifungal. However, he stopped eating, and since loss of appetite can be a side effect of those medications, he was switched to a different oral antifungal medication. After only a day and a half of this medication, he suddenly went into severe failure and died in my arms while I was on the phone trying to get an earlier veterinary appointment than the one I had already scheduled that day.

6) Other medical problems: Peeve had no other known medical problems other than a brief and mild case of the mites that all piggies seem to deal with, easily treated with Ivermectin. No pea eye.


Post   » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:52 pm

1 - Tesla, Swiss breed, 5 months old at first sypmtoms, male.

2 - Hooting every other day, wheezing every other day, inactivity, grumpy behavior, not eating much hay, drinking approx. 100-200ml water each day.

3 - Vet listened to heart and performed ultrasound scan, diagnosed vegetative endocarditis (infection of the heart valves, little bits breaking off and travelling into lungs, resulting in a hooting and wheezing episode), likely resulting from an infection when newly born, which was left untreated.

4 - Initially started on Baytril (0.4ml daily) and Metcam (0.3ml daily). Now on pediatric septrin (0.4ml twice daily) and Metacam (0.3ml daily). Also taking Avipro probiotic daily. To be scanned again after 2 months of treatment.

5 - Metacam was started before Baytril, resulted in immediate perk up of Tesla, eating more, playing more, less grumpy. No improvement (in terms of wheezing and hooting episodes) after 3 weeks of Baytril, so have switched to Septrin.

6 - Not taking heart meds, as the heart is not currently enlarged, and is not under extra pressure or experiencing a murmur. May be necessary in the future depending on his progress.


Post   » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:03 pm

I would start the heart meds now. You'll know if he improves then it's the right course of treatment.


Post   » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:11 am

The vets I've been to both (I got a second opinion from a piggy expert) say he doesnt need it, and wont give it to me.


Post   » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:30 am

No improvement (in terms of wheezing and hooting episodes) after 3 weeks of Baytril

Sigh. This is always how it starts. I had a pig diagnosed with Walking Pneumonia by a top radiologist. She was always on ABs. All the lung sounds disappeared when we put her on heart meds on a hunch. Her Pea Eye also disappeared with the lasix. She was one of our earlier heart pigs. With her we made the connection between Pea Eye and excess fluid in the lungs.

For many heart pigs there is no clue except for observational signs...unless you cut them open, section the heart and send it to a lab.....

Hopefully your vet will read this thread to get a feel for how many pigs have improved on heart meds because owners and vets were willing to try a course of heart meds.

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