On April 4th we took in a 3 year old intact sow, renamed Piglet, who was missing both upper incisors.
Her owner took her to the vet when finding her drooling and thin due to her massively overgrown lowers. She'd been on a diet of 100% pellets, no hay, only the very rare baby carrot or bit of romaine.
Click for big.
The owner surrendered her to the vet once they found out the cost and time of rehabbing the poor girl. She had her lowers trimmed and all the spurs taken off her molars, then the vet called me and asked if we could take her. I'm a sucker.
The vet wanted to extract the lower incisors. I said no, I want to see if the uppers would re-grow. They said the X-ray showed no sign of upper tooth buds, it ain't gonna happen. I said let's give it a few months, we'll trim in the interim.
Well, three trims and 2.5 months later there's still no upper teeth. I agree to let the vets extract the lowers. The surgery goes great, she eats like a horse the moment we get her home. However, her right eye was injured during her recovery - when we picked her up it was dry-looking, with a red abrasion. I made the vet re-examine her and he thinks she must have rubbed against the towel while waking up. She's on some antibiotic eye drops, but she's actively scratching at it and we have to stop that.
The vet has fashioned a temporary e-collar out of X-ray film (none on hand are small enough). I don't like that idea because I know how they interfere with cecal consumption and even regular eating. Poor girl doesn't need to have her eating interfered with (all she will eat is a CC/pellet/babyfood/pumpkin slurry, no hay except an occasional tiny leaf of alfalfa). But what else can I do to keep her feet out of her eye for a few days?
I've considered designing a one-sided e-collar: basically a giant rectangle to the right only, but open to the left and bottom. Not sure this would help. Worst case scenario, I leave the e-collar on, and hand feed her via syringe (including cecals) 24/7. I'll do that if it comes to it. But I'm hoping someone else will have a better, easier idea.
Absolutely, she's on metacam for the tooth removal. Also TMS, and the eyedrops are gentamycin and tobramycin, for anyone who cares.
Interesting idea on the interfacing. I've already designed a little muff to prevent the collar (whatever the material) from rubbing her neck. I could just iron the interfacing to attach it!
It's frustrating that there are so many options when you're trying to prevent the mouth from reaching a body wound, but not so many when you're trying to prevent the foot from reaching the head.
She absolutely is a darling pig. She's SO patient with all the prodding and medicating and assisted feeding and chin shaving, and literally purrs non stop the moment you start touching her. So sad that her life has been reduced to this. She can't have a buddy live with her because he'll eat all her slurry (she's in a divided C&C, though, so she has a little company) and she refuses to attempt any veggies any more, so there's not even a way for us to give her a treat. It's pathetic at veggie time - she's screaming along with everyone else, then I give her a bowl of minced whatever, and she just stares at it sadly. Breaks your heart.
Sometimes I have to pat her or annoy her by patting her butt to get her going, but once she's eating, she eats. She has her veggies in one bowl and her pellet mash in another. I put the leftover mash/veggies in her C&C cage with her and her mom, who sometimes eats it but I don't worry about it if I know Casper has had enough to eat.
You know, I discounted that because all the archived threads said the pig would just chew off the bandage, but I didn't consider that since this one has no teeth that shouldn't be an issue! I'll get some vet wrap and try that the first day we go without the e-collar.
Have you tried hand-feeding her small strips of lettuce and veggies?
Oh, yes. She won't have any part of it. When she first came in, she was under 600g, and ravenous - she would eat romaine, kale, baby lettuce, banana, and tomato on her own if I minced it into 1/4" or smaller bits. Over the course of the first month, as she got her strength up, she realized that slurry and baby food are easier to eat, and she gave up on veggies. I still offer her diced veggies and she usually ignores them, while standing with both paws and nose pressed into the slurry.
I tried all the fragrant herbs - basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, mint - and wheatgrass as "handfeeding" foods. She really HATES when I poke something in her mouth, including syringes until she realize something good comes out. I'm actually slightly afraid that I made her hate parsley because I kept tormenting her with it. She's never touched it in any form.
Until this eye thing happened, getting her to eat more veggies/hay was the next step after the tooth removal. It's frustrating that this probably happened at the vet, during a major surgery, due to someone being careless or not watching her carefully during recovery. I'm also slightly worried that somehow during pulling teeth they damaged the nerve that allows her to close her eye, because I haven't seen her close it as much as I would expect, given the discomfort she's in.
So here's our update (click for bigger on all of these):
Here is a good shot of her bad eye, with the e-collar the vet put on her:
It's a bird e-collar, so it's very stiff and wide. He cut the inner hole up to accommodate the larger neck of a pig, but she couldn't move around at all without it hitting the ground.
I took it off the moment I got home last night and offered her some slurry (one with pellets, one with critical care, both mixed with baby food and pedialyte).
NOM NOM NOM
She ate about 12g of food in addition to another 15g that the vet had syringed into her about an hour before this. So at least the tooth extraction isn't interfering with her appetite at all!
While she was eating, I made this e-collar out of interfacing:
This was an excellent suggestion, thanks!!
Piglet still was not happy about it, though.
I left it on overnight, and this morning she was still wearing it. She had obviously continued to eat somewhat through the night, and her eye looked a little bit better - still dryish, but not quite as red. I took it off for an hour this morning, and although she wasn't too interested in breakfast apart from the carrot mush, I watched her eat cecals 5-10 times and do quite a bit of grooming. She only went after her eye once so I might try leaving it off tomorrow if her eye continues to improve.
Also, for anyone who is interested, there is a picture of the extracted teeth:
They're sitting on a GL weight sheet, so that should give you some size reference by the size of those printed boxes. The blue lines roughly indicate where the gumline was.
- Let Sleeping Pigs Lie
I hope she changes her mind about trying new foods once she is feeling better. She has been through so much in such a short time.
Sending more healing thoughts for sweet Piglet!
- Little Jo Wheek
Cavies and rabbits do REALLY well with their incisors missing since most of the work is done by their molars and premolars. I hope her recovery continues smoothly!
This is a pic of after we put the stuff in her eye to keep it from drying out. Her eye was really blue before but changed color.
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Of course! Glad they can be of use!
I definitely think I see improvement in the eye today. It still looks bad, but flipping back and forth between this and the first eye pic, it seems that the clouding is slightly less and that the redness around the inside corner is slightly less.
I ended up leaving the e-collar off, which may prove to have been a mistake, but she just seems miserable in it. I've been giving her time without it for about an hour morning and night, and each time I take it off, she grooms frantically for a few minutes, eats some cecals, and then takes a nap. Poor baby must be so uncomfortable.
Are you putting artificial tears to keep it from drying out?
Yes. She gets two types of antibiotic drops, and whenever those aren't freshly applied, she gets sterile saline drops as often as possible. I like the idea of a grease or gel lubricant, though, I need to look into that! I've been afraid the the drops just leak out because it's so bulgy.
Oddly, her eye looks MUCH worse as soon as I put any drops in. It sort of... convulses. Almost rolls back and shows much more of the gland at the inner corner. But it's not actually rolling, it looks more like it's moving backwards in the socket, which I don't think is anatomically possible. Utterly bizarre.
I'm also not convinced she's closing it at all. I think tonight my partner and I are going to sit on either side of her and have a staring contest to see if she closes just the good eye or both. Would it be possible that a lower incisor extraction could damage a facial nerve which controls blinking?
I would check to make sure her facial nerves arent damaged.
- You can quote me