Anyone have experience with chronic colitis in pigs?

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Laura823

Post   » Thu Feb 21, 2002 6:40 pm


This is not an emergency, but I don´t know where to post it. I have been posting about it on CM for quite some time and no one there had any experience with a situation like mine.

Piglet does not have true diarrhea, her poop is formed but it is softer than a normal pig´s (soft enough to get mashed into her feet, which it does). It also smells terrible. When it dries it disintegrates into a greenish dust, which gets ground into the cage bottom. Talk about a mess. She has been like this pretty much since we got her (about a year and a few months ago). Her condition does flare up and improve periodically, but it is always there.

She has seen the vet many, many times about this. She has had stool samples tested for bacteria and parasites which were all negative. My vet has thought and thought about it and didn´t know of anything else she could test for. Finally, she diagnosed it as chronic colitis. She thinks it is aggravated by stress, and from observation this does seem to be the case. Piglet has a very nervous, high-strung personality and has not calmed down a whole lot since we got her. The condition also flares up from certain foods (broccoli, for example).

I would really appreciate any ideas anyone can offer me on this. Is there any way to treat this condition? Or is there something it could be that my vet missed? If the answer to these questions is no...any tips on keeping her living area as clean as possible? I use Carefresh in one end of my 2x5 cube cage and a bath towel lines the rest. She goes only on the Carefresh. We spot clean this area about 3 times a day (take out all the poops and wet areas and replace with new bedding) and we scrub it out with vinegar and water once a week. I can´t follow her around scooping up the poop as it comes out! - but it seems like this is the only way to keep things clean! Also, any tips on keeping Piglet clean? Her fur smells from living in a cage that smells. I know you can give them a bath but I would have to bathe her every few days to keep her clean! I have heard about dry kitten shampoo that you can comb through their fur. Is this safe for pigs?

Sorry this is so long. Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Feb 21, 2002 8:33 pm


Can you give a detailed description of her diet?

I am wondering if she is getting too much protein and if some of these soft smelly poops are the soft poops that are reingested. If she has never learned to eat them and is passing them, they will be soft enough to mush and smell bad. It could be related to diet in other ways, too. I don´t know exactly how the perineal pouch where the special poops collect works, but it could be something is wrong.

Has your pet been treated with antibiotics? The gut flora may be off also. I wonder if handfeeding something like Critical Care once a day would help.

It seems to me it would have to be either diet, intestinal bacteria, illness or some problem with the anal sack.

Maybe you can also sum up everything you have tried. How is her weight? Do you weigh her regularly?

Laura823

Post   » Thu Feb 21, 2002 9:44 pm


She gets unlimited timothy hay, about 2 tablespoons of alfalfa pellets a day (we have tried several times to get her on timothy pellets, but she absolutely refuses to eat them) and two meals of fresh veggies a day - one in the morning around 8:30 and one in the late afternoon/evening around 4:30. In total she eats about a cup of veggies a day. Each meal has at least one green, sometimes two (usually either romaine or parsely) and a few pieces of other veggies/fruits (carrot, tomato, radish, sometimes if she is desperate she will eat a slice of banana). She is pretty picky. (My other pig will eat just baout anything so I have a wider variety of choices to feed her.) I don´t give all this at the same time, I usually give about 3 different foods per meal. We have stopped feeding watery foods and broccoli (though she loves it dearly) because they make her condition much worse. We have tried feeding smaller meals more often for awhile, as was suggested to me by several people, but it didn´t seem to make any difference.

I don´t think they are the poops that are meant to be eaten, as I do see her eating those ones (just as often as I see my healthy pig doing it) and all of her poops are soft, not just some. I read an article on a condition called Intermittent Soft Stools (it actually was referrring to rabbits) which was essentially what you mentioned. This is a condition where the animal is unable to eat the special poops. It was interesting but I don´t think that´s what Piglet has.

She was on antibiotics (Baytril) for one day last year when we suspected a UTI (turned out she didn´t have one) and had a terrible reaction (stopped eating, her diarrhea got worse) so we stopped it immediately and she has not had an antibiotic since since. We tried giving her Critical Care during that time and it was pretty near impossible. She HATED it, she just recoiled and would run into her house making her "mad" sound from the mere smell of it. We ended up having to syringe feed it to her (not an easy task, Piglet is very hard to handle) and even then we couldn´t get it into her. She would just spit it out. We also tried giving her a bit of yogurt, same story. I don´t know if it could have something to do with the gut flora. She had the soft poops prior to going on the Baytril after it was discontinued they went back to "normal" (normal for her) and there was no change in the way they had been before the Baytril.

She has been tested for all kinds of bacteria and parastites that could be causing bowel problems, so I´m sure it´s not that. She is about 1 1/2 years old and weighs 2.8 pounds. At the moment we don´t have a scale but we do weigh her everytime she goes to the vet (about every 6 weeks to ge her nails clipped) and her weight is fairly steady. She is still putting on a little weight which I think may be from the alflafa pellets (when she should be eating timmy) but she is not overly fat or anything.

The only other thing I can think of is - once, last year, she was waiting in a small playpen I had thrown together while I cleaned her cage. There was a vinyl sheet over the carpet. I turned my back for about 30 seconds and during that time she had managed to pull it up off the floor and had chewed a fair sized chunk out of it. I was terrified, we called the vet and they said all we could do was wait and she might be fine. She stopped pooping altogether for about a day. And then it went back to normal (for her). She had the soft poops before and after this incident and there was no change. (And I always make sure there is a sheet over any plastic now!)

I know maybe you have never heard of colitis in pigs but from the vet´s description, everything fits. It definitely gets worse when she is stressed, as it does in humans. And it is also affected by certain foods, as it is in humans. I myself have a chronic illness that is very diet sensitive, so I know how it is.

Thank you for your help. I´m always happy to have new ideas to discuss with the vet. If I do find anything else out I will post it.

pinta

Post   » Thu Feb 21, 2002 11:14 pm


Josephine might know. I have no experienece with it. But years ago we had a boar with chronic diarrhea. Took him to specialists, did all the tests and ended up figuring if it was going to kill him it would have by then. We and he lived with it. He died at 5 1/2 years having spent most of them in a state of mild diarrhea.

The vet felt it was because he was probably inbred. He was a Peruvian with asthma and cataracts. I think he had other health problems but can´t remember what they were.

Have you tried not giving ANY vegetables and just a C supplement? Maybe he has an intolerance for something in the veggies.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 7:24 am


The other thing I would do is start introducing fresh, clean grass. Don´t know where you live, but new spring grass is a real treat. I´d do it kind of gradually, working up to alot and see if you can cut back on the alfalfa pellets. There are alot of different varieties of grass, so you might have to try several. Mine are happy with fescue, the kind that grows by the side of the road (not fescue) when it is young, and Johnson grass (I think it´s called). You say your pig won´t eat timothy pellets -- interestingly, mine even seem to prefer them to the Kaytee pellets.

Oh, and what brand alfalfa pellets are you using?

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Cara

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 8:49 am


Has your vet tried Bene-bac? I would suggest trying it, it can´t hurt and it could be that her gut flora is totally out of whack. I had a pig who was on baytril about three years ago. It messed up her flora and the result was soft poops until we did the Bene-bac. Cleared it up wihtin days.

Laura823

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:05 pm


Hi everyone. Pinta, my vet said that some pigs just end up with a lot of chronic health problems and it isn´t always possible to determine the "cause". Piglet has been to the vet so many times since we got her that she and her staff all call her "The Million Dollar Pig".

I can try not feeding veggies and giving a supplement instead. (Don´t know how I´ll get it into her without the bribe of veggies though...) Of course, this will stress her to no end. The only time she´s ever truly happy, I think, is when she´s eating veggies!

I have never tried feeding her grass. I´m not sure where it would be safe to pick it...my friend picks it on a walking trail around a lake, but I would worry about this because dogs are frequently walked along this path. We won´t have any fresh grass around here until probably around mid-May (Newfoundland) and I don´t what varieties we have either. I wouldn´t feel safe picking it the yard because our neighbours get their grasses treated and some of it inevitably gets on ours. What about the grow-your-own guinea pig grass sold in pet stores? Would that be an option?

I use Hagen original blend alfalfa pellets. I think I am going to try her on the Oxbow again soon. My best friend´s family also has a pig on Oxbow timothy pellets so we borrow a few from them from time to time to see if Piglet will change her mind.

As it happens Piglet and Mizti have a vet appointment this afternoon so I will ask about the Bene-Bac. However, we have spent an enourmous amount on vet bills in the past year. I will see what my vet says about it.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Laura823

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:05 pm


Hi everyone. Pinta, my vet said that some pigs just end up with a lot of chronic health problems and it isn´t always possible to determine the "cause". Piglet has been to the vet so many times since we got her that she and her staff all call her "The Million Dollar Pig".

I can try not feeding veggies and giving a supplement instead. (Don´t know how I´ll get it into her without the bribe of veggies though...) Of course, this will stress her to no end. The only time she´s ever truly happy, I think, is when she´s eating veggies!

I have never tried feeding her grass. I´m not sure where it would be safe to pick it...my friend picks it on a walking trail around a lake, but I would worry about this because dogs are frequently walked along this path. We won´t have any fresh grass around here until probably around mid-May (Newfoundland) and I don´t what varieties we have either. I wouldn´t feel safe picking it the yard because our neighbours get their grasses treated and some of it inevitably gets on ours. What about the grow-your-own guinea pig grass sold in pet stores? Would that be an option?

I use Hagen original blend alfalfa pellets. I think I am going to try her on the Oxbow again soon. My best friend´s family also has a pig on Oxbow timothy pellets so we borrow a few from them from time to time to see if Piglet will change her mind.

As it happens Piglet and Mizti have a vet appointment this afternoon so I will ask about the Bene-Bac. However, we have spent an enourmous amount on vet bills in the past year. I will see what my vet says about it.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Laura823

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:07 pm


Sorry, didn´t mean to post that twice.

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Alison

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 1:21 pm


Laura, perhaps you will be interested to read my post - seeking advice on Diarrhea.

Similar to your case, negative results were shown for all test of bacteria and parasites with my guniea pig.

I have tried Baytril, KP, Anti-inflammatory.... I have brought BB to the vet more than 20 times in the past two months.

My vet comments at least half a bag of Critical Care a day is required to restore the flora gut balance of a guniea pig like BB. BB is now 3 years old, 975g. (She was 1025g and then drop to 925g when diarrhea.) The best way to restore the flora gut is to provide the pig with probiotics. The one I use is "Avipro". I give BB a little bit (around the size of 1 -2 tablet) twice a day to clear up the problem. I mix the Avipro with water and syringe down. BB struggles a lot when I first syringe down Critical Care, Medicine..... However, she will get used to the syringe later on when she get more practice. Now, BB comes to the syringe when it´s the time for medicine!

I believe Bene-Bac mentioned by Cara is also a probiotics like Avipro. Anyway, consult your vet.

All the best to you and your pig.

pigpal

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 1:35 pm


Be very careful where you pick grass to feed your pigs and make sure it´s thoroughly washed before use. Even if the grass has never been treated with chemicals and is in a dog-free area it may still be contaminated with bacteria from wildlife. One of my pigs got an almost fatal intestinal infection from bacteria of a type which most likely came from deer droppings.

Peter

Post   » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:37 pm


Mine really like wheat grass. You can buy a tray of it from a health food store, and I even saw them in little trays at Petco before. I buy a huge tray for $12 and I can keep growing it, though I usually wind up killing it! My pigs devour it, it´s probably their favorite thing to eat.

pinta

Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 10:36 pm


Have you tried flagyl?

http://www.vin.com/PetCare/Articles/VetHospital/M00583.htm

A common use of this medication would be
the treatment of colitis, which may or may
not be caused by inflammatory bowel
disease.


We´ve used Flagyl many times with great success. We used it for two pigs with diarrhea that just wouldn´t go away after the were finished a course of antibiotics. I don´t know about long term use but short term is great.

And did you try the Bene-bac?

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Becky

Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:37 am


When you guys talk about soft poos, how soft are you talking about? My two 3year old piggies´ poos always seem to be pretty soft when they come out, but hold together. If they get stepped on, they flatten. They alway dry in shape. When you´ve only had limited experience, there´s nothing for comparison. I never thought about soft droppings being anything but normal. At what point are they NOT normal?

Laura823

Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:52 am


No, I haven´t asked about probiotics yet. I suppose it´s still possible that it could be a gut flora problem, but I know that it is defiitely stress-induced, and I don´t think that would be the case if that was the problem?

Thanks for the article. I also found an article on inflammatory bowel disease that could be useful. They also mention irritable bowel, but there is no info about it there. It could be that, too. (One of the same diseases I have, coincidentally.) I think I´ll print off those articles for my vet.

pinta

Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:15 pm


Stress lowers the immune system making it easier for opportunistic infections OR parasites take hold.

Stressed pigs are less likely to be able to fight off bacteria that could cause a URI and mite infestations become more pronounced in stressed pigs.

Laura823

Post   » Sat Apr 06, 2002 12:04 pm


Yes, but would the stress-response be that fast in that case? It is an immediate, or almost immediate, response. The sees the stresser (for example, Mitzi) and begins to poop and scream immediately. She will calm down once she is feeling more "at ease" (later the same day).

It seems like either irritable bowel or inflammatory bowel, to me. Of course I´m no expert on these diseases in guinea pigs, but I do know a fair bit about them in humans.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sat Apr 06, 2002 12:47 pm


I do think the response is immediate. Think of the human expression, "scared sh--less". When I first got Kitten and would hold her, she cranked out a poop a second. Stress moves very fast. Could be there is a psychological component -- and it´s a variant of a bowel disorder. There are singers/stage actors that experience extreme nervousness and have a physiological/gut response.

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