I asked my vet about thyroid norms when we first tested Inca, and she provided them from a textbook (forgot which one); they are posted in the T-4 sticky.
She also does not recommend tapazole without a diagnosis of hyperthyroid because "we don’t want to inhibit the production of thyroid hormone if she is at a normal level." She went on to say that tapazole (methimazole) is not totally benign -- "it has other systemic effects (e.g., bone marrow suppression)."
Inca has always had a shiney, healthy coat (except during hair loss from ovarian cysts), but I wouldn't necessarily say "full" (as in extra plush?). Her coat is actually not as nice as previous years (maybe thinning out a bit), which I attributed to age.
We'll probably re-test for thyroid first, and then do an echo to check Inca's heart (unless my vet is willing to try heart meds without echo).
Thanks. And if anyone has had sucess with weight gain, please send along your tips.
- You can quote me
Yes, that was her. She also had a number of other problems, including salivary glands in the wrong place, and a pedunculated mass from her anal area. We were at a loss to try to help her, hence the Tapazole trial. In the absence of desperation, I'd agree with your vet.
- You can quote me
2. She had a true COPD-like disorder and also took Ventipulmin
The Tapazole trial did nothing. Didn't hurt her but didn't help her. We discontinued it after a week or so, maybe a little more.
The biggest help to her, although it didn't help her weight as much as it did her behavior, was benazepril.
- Supporter 2004-2018
In the meantime--I bet Inca would enjoy eating alfalfa, which packs a bit more nutritional punch than timothy.
Believe it or not, Inca's not very interested in alfalfa (hay nor pellets). I should probably try again, but right now the only alfalfa she likes are some crunchy little snacks that I give during the day. Thank goodness she doesn't have calcium issues! Oh, and I suppose I can grind up alfalfa pellets to mix with her Critical Care; she won't refuse that.
Of course, my other challenge lately is that Winnie has become quite the "chunky monkey," so I've got to beef up Inca and try to help Winnie slim down...simultaneously. I don't want to separate them, so I've been removing Inca for some of her supplements.
They're definitely keeping me on my toes!
We'll likely retest Inca's T4 level, too, because it seems like "classic" hyperthyroid, according to my vet. She's calling around to some vet labs to confirm the norms and how protocol for cats is adapted for piggies. And she said, in cats, heart issues often (?) go hand in hand with hyperthyroid, so maybe Inca's dealing with both.
We're going to attempt to get a blood pressure on Inca, too, because giving heart meds to a GP that doesn't need them can cause a drop in BP, which I may not be willing to risk.
I'll post again when I know more. Meanwhile, I'm back to work and cannot give Inca supplemental feedings throughout the day like when I was home job hunting. But I'm doing what I can mornings and evenings, and she seems to be holding right around 675g. Seems active and mobile and not uncomfortable...she just begs a lot, hoping I'm bringing over the syringe or snacks.
- I GAVE, dammit!
Generally, if you give heart meds to a pig that doesn't need them they will just become quieter and more lethargic. That's also how you adjust the dose to know exactly how much the pig needs.because giving heart meds to a GP that doesn't need them can cause a drop in BP, which I may not be willing to risk.
She was about 670g according to my scale at home, yet in the hospital she was 634g -- broke my heart! I've been supplementing with probably 40-70cc of Critical Care per day, depending on my time at home, plus snacks and baby food and oats (and regular pellets/hay/veggies).
We attempted to get blood from her leg (rather than anesthize to collect from her neck) because Inca is a very good patient, but her skin seemed thicker than other piggies (acc. to my vet) and the "poke" that was required (plus multiple pokes to hit such a tiny vein) stressed Inca out and made her too squirmy. So we can't retest her T4, which was normal when we tested a month ago (might have been 2 months ago?).
Inca also had an echocardiogram. With the stethescope, my vet said her heart was racing -- I think about 400/minute. She said even when they're stressed it's not that fast. When the cardiologist listened, she thought maybe she heard a murmur or an arrythmia, and my vet thought maybe a "gallop." Then the cardiologist listened again and said the puzzling sounds were really respiration, not heart. With all that discussion about ascultations, I was glad the machines would show us definitively. Only finding with echo was a slightly enlarged left ventricle (I think), and they said there's not enough diagnostically to conclude she's got a heart issue.
Most significant finding of the day was that my vet felt a lump in Inca's neck, and she actually let me feel it. I want to say pea-sized, but after reading some thyroid threads here, I think "blueberry" is a better size description. So, since Inca's clinical signs/behavior are "classic hyperthyroid," we figure the lump is a thyroid tumor.
Lynx, I read that Monique2 was compiling a chart of thyroid piggy cases for reference -- where did that end up? I know about the skinny/T4 thread...is hers something different?
I'm not sure I want surgery for Inca since she's 5.5 years old and 634g. But we may try tapazole to attempt weight gain. Will be tricky since we don't have a T4 level to go by and I probably won't want blood tests (anesthesia) every 3 weeks to adjust the dose. Also a bit risky since we don't know about her kidneys; the blood levels seemed okay when we last tested (1-2 months ago), but we haven't been able to get blood since then. If we do try tapazole and she gains some weight, perhaps I'd consider surgery when Inca is a bit bigger/stronger.
Any/all thoughts welcome as I try to sort this out. Thank you!
- I GAVE, dammit!
. Only finding with echo was a slightly enlarged left ventricle
And her heart was racing?she thought maybe she heard a murmur or an arrythmia, and my vet thought maybe a "gallop."
I wonder why the heart issues are being ignored.
I don't think you can give the Tapazole without getting baseline blood tests. Is there some reason your vet won't collect with a toenail overclip?
My vet said not enough blood can be collected from a toenail clip. They might do that for a blood-glucose, which only needs a drop or two on the gycometer, but for T4 or for checking kidney function, they need larger quantity.
- I GAVE, dammit!
My vet is able to get enough from a toenail overclip for both a full blood panel and a separate T4 test. There's a method for getting enough blood from the overclip.
- Supporter 2004-2018
Nothing much to add except that it seems as though you might as well try the tapazole? The vet started Scooby with a very cautiously low dose, and it took an agonizingly long while and several slowly-spaced increases to get to an effective dose, at which she regained some weight and was obviously in less distress. (At least Inca is in good spirits.)
We tried to retest Scooby's blood levels, once, I think; although she had improved per the clinical markers, the test levels were still high. At the time, that was interpreted as a probable misfire in the testing. In retrospect, the test may well have been correct and perhaps should have been a signal to up the dose more; for all we know, doing so might have prevented her final "thyroid storm" episode. At that point, we opted to spare her any further discomfort.
If Inca's kidneys were OK only a month or so ago, not sure why you'd retest them so soon. Perhaps I'm throwing in a red herring here, but did they rule out diabetes?
mmeadow, do you remember what dose of tapazole seemed to help Scooby and how much she weighed at the time? I don't think Inca and I have a lot of time to experiment with dosage adjustments, yet on the other hand, I don't want to overdose at the outset. (I'm going to try to contact Monique2, who at one point was compiling info on several thyroid piggies from this forum. The skinny/T4 thread helps a bit, but I want to gather as much info as I can about success stories so we maximize Inca's chances in minimal time.)
Inca is not suffering or showing signs of decreased quality of life, yet I don't know how much more she can lose before things take a turn. And she's definitely very delicate without much fat or muscle. I don't know which is worse -- her bloat episodes or this. And now I wonder if somehow thyroid issues could explain her gas/distension during her "mid" years -- maybe she was hypothyroid at some point (slower metabolism) and now hyperthyroid. I may ask Dr. O about that possiblity, just out of curiosity.
And though there are risks (kidney failure, heart failure, problems with anesthesia), I think Inca and I need to go down the road to treat for hyperthyroid with tapazole, plus possibly blood pressure meds, with regular blood checks to monitor her levels and organ functions. I'm scared that we may create more problems, but to not attempt treatment of something that can be managed would be irresponsible. We've got to roll the dice, I guess. And if/when Inca dies, at least we'll go down fighting.
Would love to hear from any owners who gave both thyroid med and heart meds simultaneously...or folks who treated thyroid and then had to deal with kidney probs. Sounds like a careful balance is needed to succeed. Thanks in advance.