Skinny pig with chronic wheezing

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Post   » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:50 pm

Hi everyone, thanks in advance for any help!

My female skinny pig (werewolf type) has had chronic breathing problems her entire life and she is a little over a year old. I always offer her a variety of fresh veggies and she is on Oxbow pellets and Oxbow hay (I switch off and on between orchard hay and timothy). I supplement her water with vitamin C and when her wheezing gets worse than other times I put drops of the vitamin C directly on a hay treat and give it to her. The vitamin C seems to help a bit, but her wheezing never goes away completely. I talked with her vet and the only thing he could come up with is that she has issues with dusty hay, so I've tried soaking it and I switched to the Oxbow specifically because it is less dusty than the other hay available to me. There has really been no overall change with the wheezing despite this. It should also be noted that she shares her home with another skinny who is the definition of health, so I don't believe it is any kind of respiratory infection as I would have thought over time they would both come down with it (the other one literally licks her nostrils and eyes when she wheezes). What concerns me even more than the chronic intermittent wheezing is that in the last week or so she has lost a significant amount of weight. I don't have a scale so I don't have exact numbers, but I hold my piggies often and it is a very noticeable amount of weight lost. Usually her belly is touching the ground when she is resting but right now she has extra skin and her belly is not touching the ground. Besides this, she is acting completely normal. Her appetite is the same, her activity level is the same, and she comes to the side of the cage to see me when I enter the room as always begging for treats. Her teeth are perfect (even the back ones) and she has no injuries. I gave them both a warm water bath with some coconut oil yesterday because the baths seem to help her wheezing (a very small amount, mind you) but the wheezing is still present. I'm very worried because of this weight loss combined with her chronic wheezing, and don't want her to waste away. I plan to call the vet in the morning, but wanted to see if anyone else struggles with the same issue. I feel like I need to get her a small, modified piggie nebulizer...

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:01 pm

You need to get a scale -- kitchen scales that weigh in both ounces and pounds are widely available for $15 or less. Accurate weights are the only way you can know whether a pig is losing/gaining small amounts of weight.

You don't need a modified nebulizer. A plain one will do. You can put the pig in a plastic box, run the tube in, and put a thick towel over the top. It works just fine. Ask me how I know this! They're really a good thing to have around, because much stronger antibiotics/steroids can be given through the nebulizer than could be given orally, and they don't have the same detrimental effect on the GI tract as oral antibiotics.

She could have a congenital narrowing of the respiratory passages, or a low-grade fungus or bacterial infection, or allergies -- any of those could cause the wheezing. The fact that the other one doesn't have the symptoms doesn't mean she doesn't have a respiratory infection -- they're not THAT contagious.

Are you seeing an exotic vet? Small animal vets treat dogs and cats, not exotic pets, and many of them really don't know much at all about guinea pigs.

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Post   » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:05 pm

Ditto bpatters' advice.

A "werewolf" Skinny is genetically the same as a Skinny, just has more hair; they vary. I would take to a cavy knowledgeable vet to get an x-ray of her chest. That is the best way to quickly see if she has fluid in her lungs, an obstruction, or possible heart issues.

This could be an infection, but if it has been going on for over a year, without progressing, it's not as likely to be. None of mine have ever had a URI, but it is my understanding that they progress rapidly. Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

It could be an allergy or irritation from something in her environment. You have already ruled out the hay, by wetting it, so that is not likely a factor. What kind of litter do you use? Are there any household products used that may have a strong scent to them, including laundry detergent? Do you, or does anyone who handles her use perfume? Any incense or scented candles used in the house?

Vitamin C is not very effective when used in water, because it degrades rapidly. This can also be a cause of irritation to her mouth and throat, if she is sensitive. If you are using high quality pellets and use them up before the expiration date on the bag, plus feed fresh produce, she should not need additional vitamin C anyway.

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Post   » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:44 pm

You might want to also read:

If you are seeing significant weight loss (I absolutely agree you must get a scale), you also must hand feed.


Post   » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:00 pm

Update: my vet said to monitor her weight which I am with a kitchen scale. Because her activity level and appetite is unchanged she is hoping it is a fluke, but I don't think it is and will be calling her again because she is still losing weight. I'll be calling her tomorrow and requesting antibiotics.


Post   » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:26 am

It is critical that you start to syringe feed her is she is dropping significant weight. When a pig begins to drop weight it can be a sign of a serious illness that has yet to show all of its symptoms.

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Post   » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:18 am

If she is eating as much as she always has, but still losing weight, it could be a thyroid issue.

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