- I GAVE, dammit!
I use Odwalla juice, or - in a pinch - Hershey's strawberry syrup.
Yes, the dosing is the same - just be sure you know which injectable concentration you have, because there are 3 different ones.
- I Love Lucy
I thought last night that Benji was developing a URI-- he was crusty around one eye and has lost weight. He's never been the healthiest pig, and we've never been able to figure out why, despite many vet visits and diagnostics. He has difficulty maintaining his weight. I've wondered for a while if he has cancer, but we did x-rays that showed nothing, so I really don't know.
At any rate, this morning, I found him laying on his side and thought "OK, this is it." He's old, and may be even older than I suspected, so I took him in to the vet prepared to put him to sleep. One of our vets started pulling out books and looking around and then made a suggestion that put doubt in my mind-- he could have a very bad inner ear infection. He sits up fine, but the last 12 hours, he's definitely tilting to one side. If he tries to walk, he'll fall over to that side and be unable to right himself. I think that's what had happened when I found him on his side this morning.
If you sit him upright, he can sit up fine. He still wheeks for food, especially the Critical Care we've been feeding him. He scarfs it down.
When I found him on his side this morning, he was grinding his teeth like he was in pain, but I've realized that he only does this when he's tipped over on his side. He seems much more OK when he's sitting up.
Now granted, he has still lost weight (and he is a very thin pig to begin with) and he doesn't look good at all, but seeing how enthusiastic he is about eating and realizing that he's not just laying on his side so much as tipping over and being unable to get up... I don't know what to do. I elected to bring him back home and watch him for the day to see how he does. I'm home all day and the clinic is open late, so if I decide that he truly is going downhill, he won't have to suffer overnight. It's just... now I don't know what to do. I normally know when a pig is beyond the point of no return, and I thought that was where he was this morning when I found him laying on his side, but now I'm not sure. He's on the Baytril, but I'm not sure that's the best antibiotic for an ear infection, if that is indeed what's going on. He's eating his Critical Care well and is on Metacam for pain. He's getting extra vitamin C. He's currently resting on a Snuggle Safe and some towels and seems comfortable. He's sitting upright, though he still can't get around without tipping over. I think he always tips the same direction.
I've dealt with an inner ear infection before with Sam, but her symptoms weren't this bad. She would walk with a tilt and at the worst point, she was tipping over and having trouble getting up, but she could do it. When Benji tips over, he just lays there and doesn't try to get up. But then I pick him up and right him and he starts wheeking for food.
I just don't know what to do. I'm afraid that I'm being selfish by trying to pull him out of this. It's not unreasonable that he has a neurological problem that's causing this. I mean, I have no reason to believe that except that for the last two years, he's had the most random, mysterious illnesses and weight loss that makes me suspect cancer or something. I suppose he could have a brain tumor. (Edited to add that we've done x-rays on his multiple times-- though not since before this episode-- to search for cancer and found *nothing* abnormal. We even sent them out to a radiologist for a consult.)
I need input on this because I'm at a loss. I don't want to cause him any suffering if he really is nearing the end, but I also don't want to cut his life short based on assumptions. In my experience, inner ear infections can take a long time to show improvement... so how long do I wait? What signs should I be looking for to indicate one problem over another?
I'm just totally at a loss. I love this pig, and I don't want to lose him, but I want to be a good mom and let him go when it's time. I don't want to make him suffer, but if there's a chance that he has a totally treatable issue, I want to give him the opportunity to overcome it. It's SO hard because he's such a frail little pig, and it's so hard to judge how he's doing, especially when he's like this. He looks like crap and he can't get around right now, but he's still crying for food and scarfing it down and talking to me. He does seem painful when the Metacam wears off, but that goes away when he gets a new dose.
I pride myself on being reasonable and knowing when it's time to put an animal out of its misery, but this is one of the few situations in my life that I've encountered where I Just Don't Know. He's either dying or has an awful infection. I can't tell which, and the vets said if I want to pursue treatment, we just have to wait and see how he responds.
What do I do?
Have you done an xray? It will show up an ear infection and you may have some idea of how extensive it is. Are you putting antibiotic drops in the ear too? I read an article on human kid ear infections that indicated antibiotic drops are more effective than oral meds. He may need both though if the infection is extensive.
- I GAVE, dammit!
I think if the pig is older and suffering that sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to help them out of it by letting them go. But I think you'll know what the right time is.
Whatever your decision, I'm so sorry you're having to go through this.
- I Love Lucy
Lynx, I thought inner ear infections were isolated to the interior of the ear, meaning antibiotic drops won't help? We looked at his ears today and externally, they look OK, but he is showing symptoms that make an inner ear infection look suspicious.
I don't know much about ear infections, but if I were you, I'd take the medical advice the gals on here have given, and then maybe just give it a couple/few days to see how he does with that. Sometimes the answer becomes more clear as time goes on, you know?
I'll be thinking of you guys. And remember that no matter what you decide, it's out of love for your guy, and I'm sure he knows that.
- I Love Lucy
I've gotta run, but more updates later...
- I Love Lucy
Everything else going on with him aside, I really feel like he's arthritic. Even before he got sick, he didn't get around as well as he used to. I was curious if Adequan could be used with guinea pigs, so I did a search and see that one user tried it with great success. Has anyone else ever tried it for an arthritic pig? If Benji pulls through this, I feel like I should probably start him on something for the arthritis, because I wonder if that contributes to his difficulty maintaining his weight (if he's uncomfortable all the time).
I guess I shouldn't get ahead of myself or be overly optimistic, but he really seems to be picking up. Keeping my fingers crossed...
Another reason I started thinking about the arthritis thing is that he seems a lot more comfortable when he's laying on the Snuggle Safe, so I was wondering if his joints are painful or something and the heat makes it feel better. I've been taking it in and out of his cage because I don't want him getting too warm, but once it cools down to a mild level, I'm able to leave it in for a few hours at a time without having to worry about that.
- I GAVE, dammit!
My arthritic pigs do very well on daily doses of metacam (long-term).I feel like I should probably start him on something for the arthritis, because I wonder if that contributes to his difficulty maintaining his weight (if he's uncomfortable all the time).
I'm glad he seems perkier.
- I Love Lucy
Also, question-- he's still not able to move around much/well and frankly, he's getting quite nasty from sitting in his own poop and pee. I move him around and clean the spot under his pigloo, but he gets really gross just overnight. I've also been putting a towel under there to absorb the pee, and it helps some, but he still gets pee on his underside (especially since he's getting fluids and is peeing more than usual). Do you think it would be detrimental for me to give him a bath or a belly/butt bath? I don't want to risk him getting chilled, but I'm also worried about urine scald. Of course, if I did bathe him, he'd probably be dirty again by the next day. What would you guys do?
- You can quote me
We would put baby diaper rash cream on him occasionally, or KY jelly (glycerin-based, so it soaks in and doesn't glob or crud up on the skin over multiple applications).
We also would microwave a damp, clean cloth (not too hot), put it on a lap pad on a pillow, and put him on it with a light cloth over him. We did this twice a day and he seemed to enjoy it. It also kept him pretty well clean.
- I Love Lucy
The more reading I do, the more it sounds like his movement problems could be related to vitamin C deficiency. It doesn't make sense though, since he eats the same stuff as our other pigs, plus we give him regular supplements on top of that ever since he started having these weird episodes a couple of years ago. He's now getting at least 50mg of vitamin C a day if not more in supplements alone. I read somewhere that vitamin C injections could be more effective than oral... has anyone else ever heard of that? I suppose it makes sense if he potentially had some kind of problem that prevents him from properly absorbing nutrients (didn't Einy have something like this?). This could also explain why he hasn't gained a significant amount of weight despite hand feedings... he's gained, but not nearly as much as I would have expected given how much CC I'm feeding him. Should I try vitamin C injections? We don't have any injectable C at the clinic, but I'm sure I could get some. And if he has trouble absorbing nutrition from his food, is there anything I can do to help this? He's currently maintaining his weight and has gained a little over the last few days, but it seems like it takes a lot to get him to gain anything. Should I perhaps add alfalfa pellets and hay to his diet as if he were a growing pig? I know it's awful in terms of calcium, but I wonder if it would help him bring up and maintain his weight.
More likely he has arthritis than a C deficiency.
Arthur has trouble keeping on weight due to arthritis. He has it in both knees. Because he can't move as fast as the other pigs, he doesn't get as much food. We put him in a basket for separate feeding of veggies and he quickly picks up an onuce at a time whem he doesn't have to compete for greens. Arthur is also a heart pig.