URI - Sneezing/Wheezing - Dandelion & Burr (first pigs)

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Post   » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:50 pm

You did everything right. So did Dandelion. ;-)

Next surgery, though, if anyone else has to have one -- do your best to get a narcotic to use for the first day, day and a half, such as buprenorphine. Tramadol will do, too, but some pigs need more than just an NSAID. (Even if you had just minor surgery, would a couple of Advils do it for you? Probably not. Same thing.)

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Post   » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:02 am

Glad to read the he's better, more alert and eating. Having his friend with him really did make a difference. Continued well wishes on his recovery.

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Post   » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:20 pm

Hi! It has been a year since Burr's surgery, and he's been doing well until recently. He is currently 5 and 1/2 years old.

About a week ago, I noticed that he looked a little skinny, so started weighing him again. I have not been doing the recommended weekly/monthly weigh-ins for the last year or so, hence why I did not notice quickly.(I should be doing this, I know)

About a year ago, he was weighing about 900-950 grams. When I weighed him 5 days ago, he was at 785. I started watching him closely and found that:
  • * He would eat pellets, seemed not to have trouble picking them up.
    * He would devour veggies
    * He was active, responsive, running around
There were no other signs of illness that I could see. Checked for sludge, poked him for lumps and stones, looked at his front teeth, listened to his heart and lungs with a stethoscope. I found nothing abnormal.

CONTEXT: I recently changed the hay we normally use in August to a grass hay blend bought locally. It was more stalky and had thinner blades.

I thought maybe Burr didn't like the new hay, and this was the cause of the weight drop. I ordered Bluegrass again from KMS and started to give him extra pellets and carrots. Yet he dropped to 765g on Friday, so I called my vet in the afternoon and picked up Critical Care for the weekend.

** Friday night he ate a teaspoon worth of Critical Care.

** Saturday he ate about the same amount of critical care, but the KMS Hay finally arrived that day, so he got a bunch of that and was happily eating it. He dropped a little weight and was hovering at 750.

** Sunday he seemed to be eating, and stopped willingly taking critical care from me. I had to force feed him, but he fought me. I got maybe 3ccs of food into him before I gave up. I was worried I was over-feeding him because I wasn't sure how much he had eaten on his own, and he had so much energy to fight me with that I assumed he couldn't be too seriously sick.

** Monday I left him be after he refused critical care again, and was nasty with me when I tried to syringe feed. He was stable at 750 and not dropping.

** Tuesday **this morning** I weighed him before leaving for work for the day, and I got 711g on the scale! I was in a hurry to leave for a very important appointment, so I made arrangements for my family to give him veggies and critical care during the day while I was gone.

I called the vet when they opened. The soonest they could see him was tomorrow morning (Wednesday), I booked a 9:30 appointment. When I got home today at 5pm, my mother told me that he had eaten critical care willingly out of a bowl, and had munched 1/3 of a salad she made for him (cilantro, green pepper, carrots, 1 cut up grape).

There were several small poops in his cage. It did not look like he really ate much of the critical care to me. There were still a lot of veggies left in the bowl, which normally Burr would've completely eaten. Sometimes Burr won't eat green peppers, but he always eats carrots, and there were still many carrots left in that dish (but mixed in with peppers).

I tried to hand feed carrots, and he would take them from me, but nothing else. I have tried to get him to eat critical care tonight. He only took 1cc willingly. I am about to force feed him in a few minutes after checking how much to give him and how often. Tonight when I offer full baby carrots, he will eat them up. I see him munching hay in his cage. However, he no longer wants to eat his pellets. I even tried making a pellet mash, nope. He does not want the mash OR the fresh pellets.

NOTE! The bags of pellets are new too, I bought them just a couple weeks ago. They are the same brand (Oxbow) as usual, just new bags. I noticed that Dandelion, his buddy, who loves to eat, has been leaving some in the bowl overnight. Now I am wondering if maybe there's something with the pellets? But the other pigs seem to be eating them fine.

I threw away the old bowl of pellets, and refilled their bowl with new ones. Dandelion started eating those. Burr responded in a very strange way. Burr sniffed the refilled pellet bowl, then walked away and sort of just looked at me. Then he started wheeking for food and sniffing around like he was hungry. It's so strange. He is acting very hungry - he comes running for critical care, but after his first few mouthfuls, won't take any more than that and fights me terribly when I use a syringe.

Looking at him today, his hair seems a bit puffed up - but he is an abby and is always kind of puffy looking. He looked a little hunched up, but then again, he is always kinda like standing like that as well. I can't tell. I put him in a laundry basket with a blanket and watched him, after I didn't respond to his sniffing around for me, he grabbed the fleece with his teeth and pulled on it slowly (he does something similar to my shirt or skin when he wants to go home after being held). I cannot tell if he is scared to be out of his cage and away from Dandelion and just wants to go home, or if he's in pain and feeling sick.

Any ideas? Do you think it could be a bad batch of pellets? The other pigs weigh their normal weights, except Dandelion is a bit fat now from the extra pellets since they share a cage. Everyone is eating fine it seems.

-> If it were his teeth, he wouldn't be eating carrots or hay, right?
-> What other signs should I be looking for?
-> Should I pull him out of his main cage for the night? How strictly should I feed him with critical care?
-> Should I crack open an acidophilus probiotic and mix that in with anything?
-> Can I keep giving him carrots since he is eating those?
-> What more could I be doing while we wait for the vet, if anything?

one last note : He did have surgery last year for a cyst. I noticed another cyst on his side while inspecting him a couple days ago, it was very very tiny. I am wondering if he might have internal cysts that are making it hard for him to eat somehow? How do we find that out?

TLDR Burr is eating less and has become extremely picky. He dropped an alarming amount of weight. Vet appointment tomorrow. No other signs of sickness. Other pigs are all normal. What am I missing?

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Post   » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:28 pm

Read over gl/weigh.html Evaluate his weight using the guidelines on that page. Note that a weight loss of an ounce or so may be a normal fluctuation.

Continue to weigh him daily.

Read over gl/malocclusion.html too.That he is eating carrots and hay is a good sign.

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Post   » Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:22 am

I noticed that Dandelion (my big eater) is now not finishing the pellets in his bowl. This is very odd. What's the chance that I got a bad batch of Oxbow Cavie Cuisine pellets?

Still -- I've had Burr and D on a no-pellet diet before, so a couple weeks of no pellets shouldn't have caused this much weight drop, unless the pellets PLUS the Burr not caring for the hay are to blame. Burr is kind of a picky eater, I've noticed.

1. What other brands of pellets can I buy that are not Oxbow?

2. Is the formulation (and flavor/taste) of Oxbow Organic much different from their normal line?

3. At what age is a guinea pig considered senior? Is 5.5 years senior?

I read the tips on making my own hand feeding mix, so I'll see if that makes getting critical care into him easier. I got about 8ccs into him last night, but it was a hard fought battle.

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Post   » Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:36 am

Yes, your 5.5 year old pig is a senior. Should be low in calcium pellets. You could get KMS Hayloft timothy pellets. Compare nutritional content of Oxbow organic with their timothy pellets. Go to their website (they likely list ingredients). You could also contact them.

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Post   » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:10 pm

Really terrible news today. I am heartbroken. :( :( :( :( It's a giant bladder stone.

See the X-rays here.


The vet says my options are surgery ($800-1200), but cautioned me that Burr's age, and the fact that new stones frequently reoccur pretty quickly after surgery.

She sent me home meds:
* Meloxicam 1.5 MG/ML, .25cc once every 24H
* SMZ TMP 240MG/5ML (antibiotic), .4cc every 12H

I asked for Benebac, they were reluctant to give it (not sure why)
* 1 gram daily, 3-4 hours away from any AB dose.

Vet Feedback:

** Give AB & Pain for 7-10 days, see if he starts eating better and gaining weight. Reassess at re-check, continue pain management until his quality of life declines enough to warrant euthanasia
** When asked about Critical Care and pellets - I should stop pellets completely (probably for all pigs). Only give CC if he is not eating on his own and is still losing weight.


I am probably choosing not to do surgery, because of his age and the expense of the surgery. He has also had issues with cysts, and has damaged lungs from a bad URI when he was a newborn pup.

1. How long can he/should live like this (on pain meds and ABs) with such a large stone? Should I plan to euthanize within the week for his own comfort and safety? Or wait it out?

2. If I am to stop feeding pellets - what should I be giving him to increase his weight? Should I give him critical care despite what the vet said about it not really being needed? KMS pellets take 5+ days to arrive if I order today.

3. I noticed Dandelion (his bonded partner) kinda hunching and thrusting his body upwards with a barely audible squeak/breath to pass stool while at the vet. I am now worried that perhaps Dandelion ALSO has a bladder stone. Beyond this, he's eating and very active. I a worried about what to do if he has a stone. Should I get him x-rayed too? Right away?

Major Concern: I work as a substitute teacher while finishing degree work for licensure to become an art teacher. I cannot take off work at the last minute. I am worried that if I just wait until Burr stops eating or has increased pain that I either won't be able to get him to the vet to be euthanized on time, and he'll die painfully -- or that I will not be able to be there when he dies. My gut says that it would be better to try to plan on euthanizing him soon, but I am not sure if I'm just being emotional and selfish, or if this is the best thing for Burr too. Please tell me what to do.

4. What's the best way to plan for euthanasia in this situation? Sooner rather than later? Wait until he starts "dying" naturally or the pain is bad and unmanageable (risking a situation where I can't get to the vet quickly because timing)?

5. Is this dosage and schedule of pain meds OK? Once a day seems like it'll be leaving him in pain for the second half. Thoughts?


NOTE: I feel guilty that I am thinking about this and asking so bluntly about euthanasia. However, many years ago I adopted a pig who did not recover well from a surgery he had at the shelter and while on ABs, developed incredible pain and GI failure very quickly despite my intensive medical interventions. I had to watch as he squirmed and cried out in pain for a several hours while I waited for the vet to open -- it was the most horrifying thing, I never want to see a piggy in pain like that again. I feel it is much more humane to euthanize before quality of life declines that severely. Which ALSO makes me wonder if, considering their relationship, I should be planning to euthanize both Dandelion and Burr together (but only if Dandelion also has a stone). I want to do the most loving and humane thing possible.

I am very upset and not sure I'm thinking logically. :( :(

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:59 pm

Wow, that is a large stone. I'm so sorry he's got it.

You can buy Bene-Bac on your own. Pet stores may carry it, and I order mine from Amazon. But he may not need it. SMZ TMP is Bactrim, and most pigs tolerate it just fine. Give it about 90 minutes after an A/B dose, and give food every time you give an A/B dose.

If he's eating, he doesn't need CC. Besides, it's high in calcium.

This is just my own philosophy, but I'd tend to euthanize sooner rather than later. He was obviously in pain and until the pain gets really bad there's no way to know whether the Meloxicam is really holding it at bay or not. And in his case, with his age and prior lung damage, I doubt I'd opt for surgery.

But you should have your other pig x-rayed. That's a classic symptom of stones.

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Post   » Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:52 pm

Ditto bpatters on all counts. And wow indeed, that is a large stone! I think the largest one I have seen on an xray. I second having your other guinea pig xrayed.

I understand your reluctance to have the surgery. Euthanasia to prevent suffering is certainly a choice. I do not have answers to your questions concerning how long to wait. With a stone of that size, it is unlikely to become lodged in the urethra. You want to avoid pain and infection from abrasion that might be caused by the stone. I would ask the vet what he thinks about perhaps prescribing Bactrim to prevent infection.

Here is the top view of the stone (from your link):


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Post   » Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:46 am

Thank you Lynx and Bpatters.

Lynx, he is on Bactrim and pain meds once a day now.

He is up and down since the vet visit. He IS eating fresh grass and veggies, and is taking hay if I hand feed it to him. He moves around the cage, but is much slower than usual and did not do his usual bossy rumbling, even when Dandelion tries to play-rumble him.

Something distressing happened while I was hand-feeding hay and just hanging out with him tonight. After about 30 minutes of eating and running around, all of a sudden he stopped, and his eyes changed. They went from alert to a sort of tired, sad look. He held still and scrunched up and looked stiff and puffy -- and just looked at me and held my gaze. He peed a tiny bit. His eyes just looked so pained, it's hard to describe. After he was dnoe slowly going to the bathroom he seemed to relax and go back to munching and walking around the cage, but looked tired.

I think he is still in pain when he goes potty. He may be eating and walking around, but he is nothing like the bossy alert Burr I know. I think that I am going to make the choice to give him a pain free death via euthanasia sometime between tomorrow and Saturday. I am going to talk to my vet again and get her opinion first, but I think the risk is too great, and his quality of life is already bad. I do not want to wait until he is too weak to function, to me, that's too late. The reasons I think it's too risky to just wait and see how long he can go:

1. He is in pain now, and still is even after pain meds. It affects his eating, energy, and personality.

2. There's no way to know how well pain meds are helping, and so far today he's been lethargic and uncomfortable, so my gut says not enough.

3. He could easily produce more stones, or a piece of that stone could potentially break off -- The risk of a sudden change for the worse resulting in a very painful death is

4. Both the pain meds and the ABs could screw up his already anorexic body and fragile GI system - bloat or uncontrollable diarrhea are likely risks.

5. I work and go to school, sometimes I am away from home for 12-14 hours at a time. Even with my family helping, with all these added risks, he could be in a painful emergency situation for 4+ hours before anyone noticed.

It does not seem probable that he'll be able to live comfortably for many more weeks and months. I think it's the right thing to do, even though it's the last thing I want to do. :(

I have an appointment tomorrow at 2:00PM for Dandelion. Fingers crossed that he doesn't have stones. He is still very active and playful, so I am not sure what to do about him if he does have stones. He doesn't seem to be in incredible pain, but he is straining to go potty.

Thanks all. This is really hard. :(

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Post   » Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:19 am

You have my sympathy.


Post   » Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:45 am

Thinking of you today Jade and Burr.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:21 am

I'm so sorry you have to make this decision. But for what it's worth, I think it's the right one, hard as it is. Hang in there.

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Post   » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:19 pm

Burr is over the Rainbow Bridge now, and I am very very sad. It was a good death. He was shifting his weight from the pain of the stone on Friday night so I made the call to do it then. The vet gave him a sedative and I got to hold him and pet him until he fell asleep in my arms. Dandelion was cuddled up beside him completely. Then he was handed over to the vet, who carefully took care of the rest.

But the vet had some good news too - Dandelion doesn't have any stones that she can see. There are very tiny mineralizations forming, they were small enough that she thought they were passable, and also that perhaps they were imbedded in the bladder wall. In any case, he's not in any pain and his urine sample came back healthy.

I have cut pellets and high calcium veggies for all the pigs, and am giving fresh veg for vitamins (C esp). I may also need to figure out how much D they are getting, because I read somewhere that it's needed for the absorption of C. They don't get any direct sunlight.

Dandelion has moved in with Mooma, BP, and Simon, and it seems to be going well. Dandelion is a bit more lethargic and shy, but he's always been that way -- it was only years of living with Burr that brought him out of his shell.

I couldn't handle seeing him run around his cage looking for Burr - both of us needed the distraction.

Last night I saw Dandelion rumbling the other pigs, and they rumbled him back. Then later, I caught BP snuggled up beneath the fleece tent actually touching Dandelion (faces were opposite directions, bums touching). Wasn't sure if that was a dominance thing, or a friendly thing - I'm thinking friendly. Hoping, anyway. :) :)

Thanks all for your help over the years. Burr had a wonderful 5 and 1/2 years because of all the things I was able to learn Guinea Lynx. Let's if I can get the other 5 pigs to 6 years and beyond! <3

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Post   » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:53 pm

I am so sorry he's gone. I wish he never had to deal with that stone.

I am very glad to hear Dandelion does not have any stones. Hoping you never have to deal with stones again.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:57 pm

I'm so sorry you lost him.

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Post   » Tue Oct 04, 2016 5:17 am

So sorry for your loss of Burr.

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