Sammy

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 7:28 pm


Cancers can be somewhat more difficult to diagnose with an xray but important to look for. One of my guinea pigs had a tumor that was discovered during the necropsy.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 7:48 pm


So Sammy's x-ray showed a bladder stone slightly smaller than a tic tac candy. We're really stuck with a very tough decision here. It may be operable in a younger and stronger pig, but in Sammy's case his age and weakened condition are two pretty big strikes against him. Another, even bigger problem is that the closest cavy certified surgeon is at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. Thats over 5 hours away. It's going to cost over $1000 for the surgery, after care and travel. I just don't know how I would come up with that much right now. There's no guarantee that they'll take his case, given the age and health factors or that Sammy would even survive it in his condition. The vet is getting in touch with their surgeon to get those answers and will let me know. I'm having really bad flashbacks to when we had to decide what to do with BJ.

What we are doing is managing his pain with meds and we're going to try to dissolve it with urine acidifer. I had to order some Sherman Pets Urine Health tablets. They'll be here in 2 or 3 days. They've had some success with it, but there are no guarantees there either. It all depends on what the bladder stone is comprised of. We're probably not going to be able to do the surgery. I'm not sure I want to put Sammy through that, especially if the risks of his age and weakened state significantly reduce his chances, if I can come up with the money to begin with. We'll have to see what KSU says.

As for trying to get it to dissolve, that only cost $20 for the supplement and another $25 for the pain management. Of course I'll have to keep hand feeding him every 4 hours and giving him extra water. I am willing to do that. The important thing is to make sure he's not suffering in pain. The Metacam is working so far. He drank water on his own and ate about a quarter of a baby carrot as soon as I got him home. He's also moving around better and his hind legs look more steady.

Speaking of hand feeding, it would appear that I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping him fed and nourished. The x-ray showed his stomach and intestines were pretty full with food. He also gained back the weight he lost between last Wednesday and Friday. He's back up to 2 lbs. There's no sign of any infection, so he doesn't need the antibiotic any more. We're playing a waiting game, but just know that I'm taking every step to make sure Sammy doesn't suffer. They're supposed to email me the x-ray, so I'll post it as soon as I get it.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 7:58 pm


Also, Sammy can go back in his cage with Dean for now as long as Dean doesn't bully him because he's sick and weak. It might even help both of them. I think I'm going to do that and watch them to make sure no bullying is going on.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 8:18 pm


I am so sorry to hear he has a stone. It sounds like you may not have a good exotics surgeon nearby. Access to good vets is so important. I agree with you on the importance of managing pain. Pain affects everything.

I am sorry to say we have absolutely no confidence in any sherman health pet products. No studies. Nothing has ever been scientifically proven to dissolve stones in a guinea pig. Kind of like snake oil. I believe Sef would agree with this (she is far more knowledgeable about stones than I am).

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 8:28 pm


He may feel a bit better just being off the Orbax and having Metacam for pain and inflammation. Remind me, how old is Sammy? What dose is the Metacam? (what is Sammy's weight, and the mg/ml of the Metacam?)

I really hate to discourage you, but a urine acidifier is not likely to help much if at all. Case after case over the years have shown that it's not possible to reliably, consistently change the pH of a guinea pig's high alkaline urine to the extent that it will prevent stones for forming---or dissolve those that are already there. It sounds good in theory but I have yet to find a guinea pig owner here who has had success with it. The stone is most likely calcium carbonate; the majority are. Nothing dissolves calcium carbonate, including (or I might say, especially) that stuff from Sherwood. It's junk science at best, and you would probably be better off starting him on a low dose of Valium and/or Shilintong to try to relax the bladder and urethra enough to pass the stone if it can be passed. I've had some that were able to; others, not. It very much depends on the size and location.

In the meantime, please keep a very close eye on urine output (I can't emphasize this enough). A tic-tac size stone is significant enough that, if it travels down into his urethra, becomes stuck and completely blocks the flow of urine, you will have an emergency on your hands. I don't want to scare you, but it can happen and is something you need to be aware of and have a game plan in place if it does.

Ditto Lynx. I'm truly sorry that he has a stone.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 8:41 pm


I also hope this is a lesson of sorts for your vet. Stones cannot necessarily be palpated. Ruling them out via xray is critical when the signs of illness indicate they are a strong possibility. When you know early, more appropriate care can be given.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:02 pm


I already know that the acidifer is not a guarantee. The vet even said that successes, while they have occurred are few. It's not the best treatment option. Right now its the only option I have, unless I find out I have a rich uncle I didn't know about in the next few days. Even if I do manage to scrape together the funds, there's still no guarantee that KSU will take his case because of his age and weakened state. He's 4 years old. If that was the only risk factor, it wouldn't be a problem but Sammy is still pretty weak and that's a sizeable stone.

There's a much bigger chance that by this time next week, Sammy will be at the Rainbow Bridge with Scruffy, BJ and Oreo. Trying something rather than just giving up on him is better than doing nothing to try and save his life. Let's just manage his pain, keep him fed for the next few days and see what KSU says.

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:17 pm


My best advice is: keep him comfortable. Push fluids. Keep handfeeding. Get some Shilintong (Amazon.com sells it) and see how it goes. At 4, his age is not really a factor (I've had successful surgeries on older pigs) but weakness, weight loss and general lack of thriftiness certainly are. I also mentioned Valium, as I know that several here (including Bookfan?) have had pigs who have passed stones while on it.

What is the Metacam dose? (provide Sammy's weight and the mg/ml of the Metacam).

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:36 pm


I don't think much of this vet's assessment of the risks of his age. Stone removal is not a terribly hard surgery on a guinea pig, and many pigs older than four have had the surgery and come through it just fine.

I think even less of their recommendation of Sherwood pellets, which are extremely high in calcium and have very sketchy science behind their claims.

There's a vet with exotic experience at James River Animal Hospital in Nixa, which is less than an hour from you.

There are exotic vets in Springfield, about the same distance.

If it were me, I'd be calling both of them and talking to them about their experience in removing a bladder stone in a four-year-pig. Sammy deserves a chance at life, and either of those places might be the ones to give it to him.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:42 pm


His weight is exactly 2 lbs. That's what it was on Wednesday when I first took him to the vet. It had dropped to 1.93 lbs by Friday. Over the weekend, I was able to get him to gain it back. His pain medication is Rimadyl in 25 mg tablets that they crushed and liquefied with distilled water. Sammy gets .3 ml once a day. So far it's done a pretty good job. Sammy is moving around better and I didn't have any trouble feeding him.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:44 pm


Sammy does deserve a shot. I will definitely be calling James River animal hospital as soon as they open in the morning. Thank you, bpatters. That's why I'm on this forum. Let's just hope they can do the stone removal and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:48 pm


I should have noticed your location. It's definitely worth a shot to get a second opinion if you have other resources available.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 12:28 am


Having moved here less than 5 months ago, I'm not familiar with the outlying areas around Springfield, which is the closest metropolitan area to my tiny little township. I looked at 3 other vets before I found sunshine animal hospital, which is the only one of the 4 I found who even sees exotics. They aren't surgeons and only do diagnosis. That's why I'm very appreciative that bpatters responded with the info and why I use this forum.

As far as recommending the Sherman Pets product, don't think ill of that vet for suggesting it. She was very upfront about how slim the possibility of it working is. She only brought it up because I had stated that my ability to get Sammy to KSU, over 5 hours away, if they take his case was very limited. It is not a treatment they suggest for bladder stones. As a matter of fact, they don't even carry it in their pharmacy. It was more of a "try it as a last resort before you put Sammy down" suggestion. She also said that his age and current condition were strikes against him, not that they exclude the possibility of a successful surgery. I'm hoping that James River can do the removal or recommend someone locally who can.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2022

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 2:32 am


I hope you find an experienced vet closer to you that can help you out. If funds are tight, they usually have interest-free credit options like Care Credit that allow payments over a number of months. That gives you some time to pay it off.

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 2:58 am


I hope they can do the surgery and at a reasonable cost or suggest someone who can. This is stressful, I know, and I'm sorry you're dealing with this.

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 8:46 am


I just wanted to say that I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I thought Sammy's case was hopeless. It's not. I guess I didn't realize why you chose that particular veterinarian (I made the wrong assumption that they were your only option), and I tend to worry about a vet's experience with exotics if they suggest things to try to dissolve a bladder stone.

If there are other vets closer to you who can help, it's absolutely worth pursuing. I have had bladder stone surgeries on guinea pigs that age or older, and in all but one case the surgery went well (the one that didn't was a 6-year old male who was in a very weakened state, and I never should have put him through it). As bpatters said, it's a fairly straightforward procedure if the stone is in the bladder and assuming it hasn't adhered to the bladder wall.

Where I live, veterinary surgery costs tend to be higher in the city compared to our more rural part of the state. Our vet charges around $300-$400 for this type of procedure, whereas it runs closer to $800 in the next largest town. She sometimes asks if I want to have the stone sent off for analysis, and I generally decline. It's an additional cost and the composition of these stones is almost always calcium carbonate.

Anyway, I truly do hope you can get some help for your little guy. I know how stressful it is dealing with a poorly pig, plus you have had a lot of other things on your plate lately.

Good luck and do keep us posted.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 11:03 am


No problem, Sef. I get where you are coming from. I got up to give Sammy his morning feeding and found him back to the wobbly hind legs. It looks like his pain is back. I got through feeding him and gave him 2ml of extra water. While I was feeding him, he had this awful looking mucus looking string hanging from his butt. There was a little bit of fecal matter in it. This is the same thing Mr Bubbles passed last year when he had a minor digestive problem, only Sammy's was a lot more. It was supposedly caused buy the low gut motility? I don't know, but it was pretty gross as it looked like I was pulling out a fish intestine. I can give Sammy .15 ml of his pain medication twice a day, rather than .3 once so I'm going to start that now.

I called James River and the receptionist couldn't tell me whether or not their exotic vet, Dr Hardy can do the bladder stone surgery. She had to send him a message and have him call me back. It will most likely be this evening. I hate how vet clinics do this and how they have no sense of urgency. It seems like a pretty upfront and easy question. How can the person answering the phone not know if the vet is a surgeon or just a clinical vet? Isn't there anyone else in the office who knows? Can't they poke their head into an office or exam room and ask one of the techs or vets? Always have to sit and wait for a callback that never comes.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 11:55 am


Sammy's x-ray.

Image

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Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 12:17 pm


That is a pretty large stone. When you said "not quite Tic Tac size," I was picturing something quite a bit smaller. Poor guy---that has to hurt.

I was going to try to double-check the dose on the pain meds for you, since some vets tend to dose too conservatively on Metacam. It sounds like they gave him Rimadyl instead, though? I can still check it for you if you give us the mg/ml (milligrams per milliliter) that should be listed on the label somewhere. That tells us what the strength/concentration of the drug is.

Agree with you: you'd think the receptionist would know, or at least can find out fairly easily, if their vet can do bladder stone surgery on a small animal. While you wait to hear back, was there another clinic bpatters mentioned that you could also check with?

ETA: that stringy thing is likely mucous from bacterial overgrowth. Are you still pushing probiotics? I usually like to continue with acidophilus at least another week or so after using antibiotics.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Tue Dec 21, 2021 12:35 pm


I have to make the decision to end Sammy's suffering today. He hasn't peed since last night. I checked around and there are vets as close as Mountain Grove, but they have no availability until Thursday and they want $600 or more to remove the stone. I don't see Sammy lasting that long, especially if he's not peeing anymore. No blood, no urine, no nothing for over 12 hours. Even if he does last until Thursday, who knows what shape he'll be in by then? As much as I hate doing this, I can't let him suffer any more. His appointment is at 2:30.

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