She does look a little better and more active tonight.
New vet this time, I think she was a senior student rather than faculty. TL;DR: Vet gave her a checkup and everything pretty much looked ok except she was a little gassier than the vet would like, and a little thin- not really underweight, but kind of close. So it doesn't appear that I've missed anything major, and we're keeping a closer eye on her diet to make sure she is getting enough hay and not just gobbling up everyone else's share of pellets.
The vet did recommend full diagnostics on her, but I wonder if that was due to a miscommunication on my part? Cause if she is getting better and there's no visible symptom that I've overlooked, then I see no need to go through radiographs/ultrasounds/etc unless she regresses. I wonder if she misunderstood the timeline I had explained.
She was pretty pushy about the testing, which surprised me since it seemed she had more or less given Hazel a clean bill of health. I actually thought that I'd misunderstood something about how the physical exam had gone, it sounded so urgent. Not super happy about that. Discussing it further, it didn't sound like there was really a reason for the imaging other than just an extension of the wellness check. It also didn't seem like the results from any further tests would change her treatment plan except to possibly add pain medication. Which, since she's no longer displaying signs of pain, doesn't seem super necessary. If I were made of money I'd be happy to let them do all the imaging and even run her through their MRI machine they have to find out exactly what is going on inside her... but since I am not, I think I'd better save that money for the next time one of my pigs really needs those tests.
I let them go ahead and run bloodwork on her, but I declined anything further for now. I wish I had declined the bloodwork for the same reasons as well... it was money I probably didn't need to spend, but more than that it was so stressful for Hazel and she's already a highly stressed pig just at her baseline. I didn't realize they couldn't get enough blood from a toenail overclip for the workup and would need to take it from the jugular. That will definitely be something I'll keep in mind if I'm ever asked to consider blood work in the future :/ Anyway, the blood work was "unremarkable" so that's good at least. The vet did think that she most likely did have a bit of stasis in her gut, so that's how I'll continue to approach it.
She had a bit of a rough time re-acclimating to the cage, though I can't say for sure if that was the blood draw or just her smelling like the vet's office and having been poked and prodded from the exam. I think she might have been too stressed out to venture out and eat, since she was a little lighter than normal this morning. I've restarted the Critical Care today just to be sure, but she is now back to acting as normal in the cage behaviorally. Will continue CC and weighing daily until she stabilizes out.
She's still looking and behaving well today. Haven't seen any overly malformed poops in the cage, either- just a few with a bit of teardrop to 'em. As an aside, she does not get any vegetables at all- I've tried all different kinds and trying to start with just a bite or two and gradually increase the amount, but no matter what I try she can never tolerate more than maybe 1 square inch of lettuce. So for vitamin C we supplement with the Oxbow Vitamin C tablets, and keep her in our lap to give it to her while the other pigs get their veggies. She'll occasionally get the Oxbow Simple Rewards cookies or a pinch of rolled oats as a treat. Vet suggested eliminating the rolled oats as carbohydrates can change the gut flora for the worse. I've never fed her very much at a time, but it doesn't take much in the way of fresh veg to trigger a poop explosion for her either so it's worth a try.
I suppose she feels too easily trapped in the big tub. I thought three exits would be enough to avoid that, but I guess it's still too restrictive. She's always been socially difficult... anyway, I might try putting some hay out in the open again and see if I start seeing her hiding in the hay more often.
I thought that it was just Hazel returning to business as normal with her intermittent soft stool problem, but am more concerned than usual this bout because
a) it seems more intense than usual- I notice some pain behavior in her and the consistency of the soft stool is the softest it's been in a long time, at least a year or two (not watery yet, but still softer than the usual soft-serve consistency)
b) her diarrhea has returned despite me actively controlling her diet this whole time
c) most concerning to me- I've been giving her probiotics since I noticed her stool start to soften a couple days ago but the problem has only progressed since then.
The probiotics I've given her are ProBios and poop soup. I ordered some BeneBac that'll come tomorrow in case I've got a bad batch of ProBios, but I'm very surprised that even the poop soup hasn't seemed to help.
Her weight has remained constant and she's been passing the skin pinch test for dehydration throughout this.
Two days ago I gave her a small dose of meloxicam when I noticed the pain symptoms, and she perked up quite a bit behaviorally. So when I noticed her looking painful again yesterday I gave it again- but I wonder if it also contributed to the diarrhea since that's gotten worse. I'm not going to give it today and probably tomorrow as well to see if stopping it helps (even though she's looking pained again- sorry, Hazel :().
I'm also making a change in her Critical Care supplementation- previously I was giving her a bigger feeding once a day with the thought that she needed time between hand feedings to return to regular eating on her own. But since she's only developed different problems I figure that warrants taking a heavier hand in her diet control. To make sure that things are functioning as normally as possible I'm changing to feeding smaller amounts more frequently. She is still eating on her own, but maybe it's not enough.
I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to run a fecal test as well just to be sure, so I also plan on having that done tomorrow when the vet diagnostics lab opens.
Naturally, again, I am about to leave town at the end of this week. The pigs will be in the care of my husband who works full time, so he won't be able to monitor them as closely as I typically do. Or keep her feedings as evenly distributed as I'd like... but I plan on continuing with the poop soup and more frequent feedings until I leave, so hopefully things will calm down before then :/
For what it's worth, she does seem normal behaviorally this evening now. Poops are a bit firmer than this morning's, but I think she tends to perk up in the evenings as a rule anyway. We'll see what tomorrow looks like.
Dropped the fecal sample off at the lab this morning anyway, so we'll see if they find anything unusual.
Anyway, the fecal float came back clear so that's good. I am considering getting another sample and having them do a gram stain or another float since I know they're not always super reliable, but not sure if I'm experiencing tunnel vision here cause I've been reading a lot about coccidia lately.
She's still been not perfect, but still not nearly as bad as in the past. Definitely better. I'd say behaviorally she's back to her normal self about 50-60% of the time. The rest of the time she's not super hunched up or anything, just a little more tense than normal. And then there were the couple times I resorted to meloxicam. Nothing that seemed like an emergency, just like she was really not having a fun time. So we'll see still I guess. I'm still supplementing with Critical Care 3-4 times a day, she's still really good about taking it. If I let her she'll take up to 40ml in one sitting, though she'll be a bit unenthusiastic and crabby about the next one then so I try to keep the feedings smaller. I also still see her eating hay/pellets and drinking on her own as well. She lost a small amount of weight under the care of my husband last weekend, but now that I'm feeding her she seems like she might be starting to creep back up again (or it might just be normal fluctuations).