Battling Pneumonia - Lost one pig looking for advice on the rest

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Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:47 am

I've researched and researched and the guinea lynx forums have been an extremely valuable resource to me since I've become a guinea pig owner. I've always been able to find the information I'm looking for here but now I find myself in a predicament and I'm looking for advice. Here's some brief background:

In early August we had one pig, Bartlet, who was diagnosed with pneumonia. He spent 5 nights at the vet's office getting nebulized, vitamin-C treatments, nutritional support, etc. He came home with a 10-day course of oral Baytril and recovered very well. In early September, all 4 boy pigs went into the vet for some nasal discharge and were given a 10-day course of chloramphenicol. They recovered and the discharge stopped. In the middle of September another pig, Warren, started to show symptoms of pneumonia. He went into the vet for the same treatment as Bartlet and spent 3 nights and was doing really well. They released him home with a 10-day course of chloramphenicol. He seemed to have recovered very well but on the last day of his antibiotics course, he started to show symptoms of pneumonia again. Back to the vet. On the second night there, he unfortunately passed away. I took Bartlet in when I picked Warren up and the vet said he had another case of mild pneumonia again. The vet gave me meds (gentamicin) for a nebulizer, which I purchased at a medical supply company on the way home. He also sent me home with Meloxicam for inflammation and another 10-day course of chloramphenicol. He also sent me home with injectable vitamin-C and some lactated ringers in case he stops eating. I used to be a vet-tech so I'm comfortable doing all this at home myself. The vet made sure I have everything to do at home that he would do in the office.

This brings me to my predicament: Now my other 4 remaining pigs are showing symptoms of a URI. I don't hear any rales, crackles or rubs in their lungs but they have quite a bit of clear nasal discharge. They're all eating well, are active, and their poops are normal. Ginsburg, one of my females, looks like her breathing might be labored but she's awfully shy so it's hard to tell if we startled her or if she's having trouble breathing.

My vet is closed and doesn't have hours on Sunday. The closest emergency vet doesn't have anyone that knows about exotics. I don't want to wait and since I have the gentamicin, I think it would be a good idea to start nebulizing them right away. I have to go back into my vet's office on Tuesday (I forgot our carrier when I picked up Warren to bring home to bury). I'll take the other pigs in at that point if he wants to see them. I'm fairly certain he will give me more of the gentamicin solution so I can nebulize all 5 pigs. I have enough right now to last 1 week, nebulizing everyone twice a day. I'll talk to the vet to see if oral antibiotics are appropriate for the other pigs, or if the nebulized gentamicin is enough. I'll make an appointment with him in about 3 weeks to check to see if it's cleared up or not. If not, I'm thinking about asking him to do a culture so we know exactly what we're dealing with. I really, really don't want to lose any more pigs.

This brings me to my questions:
1. Is my plan above a good one? Is it a good idea to nebulize gentamicin for the URI? I'd like to avoid creating a resistant strain of bug, so I'm a little hesitant to just throw gentamicin at a pig without asking my vet but I know they can go downhill really quickly and don't want to wait until Monday if it will help.
2. Do you think it would be a good idea to quarantine everyone from each other? I have two pigs with very little nasal discharge, and two that have a pretty good crust going on. I'm afraid of this bouncing around back and forth forever at this point. I'm not even 100% sure at this point if everyone has the same bug or if Bartlet has something different from everyone else. Bartlet is already quarantined.
3. I have some F10SC on the way. It will arrive on Monday. I've read that some people have nebulized this with some success. I've also read that it can be used as a fogger to clear the air of airborne bacteria. Is anyone familiar with its use? Can you put it in a humidifier to fog the air? Has anyone here used it in a nebulizer? If so, what dilution did you use and how long did you leave the pig in the chamber?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Woo. Long post. I'm sorry about that but wanted to give a good background so anyone helping can understand what I've been dealing with. Thank you so much in advance to anyone who replies. And thank you for all the help I've already received from my research on the forum. I'm looking forward to participating more.

Clint The Cuy

Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:21 am

I feel like the 10 day courses of antibiotics are seeming too short. I generally have not gone less than 14 days and for persistent cases have gone 21 days or much longer. Have you tried doxycycline and baytril paired together for treatment?

I have known vets to prescribe genticin in a nebulizer therapy, but have not had much luck with it personally. I do not think it will hurt to start nebulizer treatment now if you feel that you might lose headway since this has been an ongoing problem and all pigs have been exposed.

You can separate them if it will give you peace of mind. They might have something different than Bartlet or they could be in different stages of the same illness.

Have you tried nebulizing with any acetylcysteine or treated with any aminophylline or clenbuterol since they are experiencing congestion?

I don't have any experience with the F10SC.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:29 am

I agree with Clint the Cuy that the length of the antibiotic treatment isn't long enough. It just takes longer than 10 days to treat a stubborn respiratory organism.

One other thing that sometimes helps is to give two antibiotics together -- Baytril and doxycycline, or either one of those and nebulized gentamycin. They can also be "pulsed" -- give one for 10-14 days, then another, then back to the first.

I've used nebulized gentamycin two or three times for my pigs, and have had good luck with it. So if I were you, I'd definitely start them on it.

I'm not a big fan of separating sick pigs. Being alone can just stress them out more than they already are. But I do understand your not wanting to have an endless cycle of sick pigs. Could you put the two sicker ones together, and the other two together? Each would then have a buddy, but you'd have halved your chances of all your pigs being contaminated.

I've never heard of F105C, at least by that name.

Good luck with your guys. Let us know how you get along.


Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:53 am

I'll be sure to ask the vet for a longer course of antibiotics. He seems to be really conservative with meds in the pigs, considering that they're so sensitive to things. Which is a good balance for me most of the time, because I would probably irradiate my whole house at this point if it were an option, lol. I just want this bug gone. I was wondering if 10-day courses were long enough and I'm glad to know my instincts there seem to be good.

I think one reason my vet may be being so conservative is because I have 4 pigs that are pretty young -- the youngest was born on 7/5, so he didn't want to give them Baytril. I'm not sure if there's another good option to give to younger pigs that we can switch back and forth?

I asked about Lasix at my last visit and the vet suggested the Meloxicam instead. He said he's had better luck with anti-inflammatories versus diruetics to help the gentamicin get into the lungs. I didn't ask about a bronchodilator or anything like that but I will add that to the list for the next time I talk to the vet. Thank you for that suggestion, Clint.

Of the four snotty pigs, two are male and two are female. They are in two-story C&C cage at the moment, the girls on top and the boys on the bottom. The girls never had any issue at all until today, so I thought that was separated enough but maybe not? I'm thinking about putting them in large bins in separate rooms, the two boys in one bin and the two girls in the other and Bartlet in another bin by himself. (Warren was his roommate; he doesn't get along with one of my other males so I'm going to have to tackle that problem when this one is solved).

I feel like it would be a lot easier to disinfect their enclosures daily and change their fleeces if I can keep them in large plastic bins. I'm wondering if the benefit of having it be easier to clean, being able to clean it better and being able to separate them somewhat would outweigh the negative of having them in a smaller area for a week or two? I also wanted to ask, can I nebulize two pigs at once in the same box? I know that the two pairs will get along just fine and it would stretch the gentamicin I have now a little further.

Thank you guys so much for your help.


Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:27 am

Quick update: I did the math and it looks like the vet did prescribe a 14-day course of chlorpamphenicol for Bartlet, so I'm happy about that. I just nebulized everybody and listened to their lungs really closely. I have 2 pigs that have some very slight crackles and the other 2 have clear lung sounds. Nobody's losing any significant weight; all gained except Sonia, our oldest female, and she only lost 9g, which is still within normal daily fluctuations. Hoping that trend doesn't continue for her but she is still eating.

Bartlet still has some crackles but they're not quite as bad as they were before. He has been on oral and nebulized antibiotics for 2 days now and he appears to finally be perking up some. He's not in distressed-puffball mode anymore and he'll stand up on his back legs and give us a good "wheeeeek!" when we walk into the room now, which is something he stopped doing a couple days ago. I'm glad I have a sign to be hopeful.

Clint The Cuy

Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:06 pm

It's totally legal to nebulize multiple pigs together. I have nebulized up to three pigs at the same time.


Post   » Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:59 pm

Thanks Clint. That's what I figured. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't completely looking over something obvious. Lol


Post   » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:03 pm

Another update, and more questions (I apologize if I seem overbearing here. Just worried).

Bartlet is doing better overall. He's been getting probiotics since starting the oral antibiotics. He ate a little less than normal during the day yesterday and so we gave him some Critical Care in the PM, which he was really, really into. He happily ate plenty of that last night and did the same this morning. He's munching on some cilantro and pellets now. So while he does seem to be eating, there are no poops in his cage today, and very few yesterday. We have seen him eating a few, though. How concerned should we be that he's eating but not pooping as much?

The rest of the crew are starting to enjoy the nebulizing treatments, I think. There does seem to be a bit less sneezing and less nasal discharge and they are all getting their loud wheeks back. They sounded pretty week for a day or two. Ginsburg and Oliver, who seem to have the worst discharge, have some very slight lung crackles and while their wheeks are strong, there's a bit of a funny pitch to them. There seems to be some overall slight improvement in everyone so far.

I'm going into the vet today and am thinking about asking for some oral antibiotics to have on hand for Oliver and Ginsburg in case they start to backslide. They're young, though, and constantly gaining weight so it's harder for me to judge if their on track there or not. I know I don't want to see them lose but I'm not 100% sure how much they should be gaining on a daily basis. I'm hesitant to start oral antibiotics unless they start to get worse. Is that a reasonable course of action or should I just start them ASAP considering that they've been nebulized for 2.5 days now and still have some discharge?

Posting before I go to the vet so I can get some insight and thoughts before I talk to him. See if anyone has any suggestions or questions they would ask if they were in my shoes.

Again, thank you all for your help.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:30 pm

I always like to have oral antibiotics on hand, because if you don't, the pig is guaranteed to get sick just before or on a weekend or holiday when there's no vet available. But I wouldn't give them to the pigs unless they seem to be getting worse.

My guess would be that he's eating his poops. If he's eating, he's pooping. If you're not seeing poops, he, or someone else, is eating them.

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Post   » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:06 pm

I have nothing to add. Never had this problem myself. It does sound like you're going through a tough time with it all. So sorry you lost Warren. RIP little guy. Run free in paradise for ever young and in perfect health. Hoping all goes well at the vet with all the piggies. Sounds like you've done a great job!


Post   » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:56 pm

I know it's been almost a month but I wanted to give everyone an update on what's been happening.

We only just now stopped nebulizing everyone. We did that twice a day for 4 weeks. About a week and a half ago, we took Ginsburg and Oliver back to the vet, as everyone else's noses had cleared up but they still had some discharge. The vet prescribed a 14-day course of chloramphenicol for those two and their noses aren't quite clear yet, but are much, much better. We've been lucky in that we've never had a problem with oral antibiotics in our pigs; they've been on both Baytril and chloramphenicol now.

We've been battling pneumonia/URI's since early August. I'm really glad that it seems like our battle is almost over.

I'm still incredibly sad over losing Warren and I'm so glad we haven't lost any others. I really expected to lose another one and I wanted to thank everyone who helped me and answered by questions here. I appreciate the help and you made me feel much better and much more confident in what I was doing to care for my pigs. Now that things are slowed down (nebulizing took a better part of 2 hours/day and I have a full-time job and go to school full-time), I'm super excited to jump in and start participating in the forum.

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Post   » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:20 pm

I am so glad you've had success treating your guinea pigs. It is stressful for everyone when there are illnesses.


Post   » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:02 pm

For future reference to anyone who looks at this thread, when one of my boys had not responded to Baytril and Marbofloxacin (at different times) the only medicine he responded to was Azithromycin. We never bust out this medicine until we try the others, but in his case, he had relapsed twice.

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