Brody's Thread - Anal Impaction, Vitamin Deficiency?

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Post   » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:23 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm a first time poster and long time lurker and thanks to all of you I have learned to care well for my pigs.

Brody, my 5 year old boar has had an impaction problem for a few years now. I clean out his sack every other day and this has worked well for us, but a recent bout of mites has caused him to lose a lot of weight.

The mites have now been treated and he is on the come back, but it still has been very difficult to put weight back on. During the last few cleaning sessions of his sack I have noticed that the impaction is much smellier than usual (and he refuses to eat what I take out) although his pellets are of a normal consistency and color. It seems like he is having a hard time getting ANY of his pellets. When we cuddle and I see him trying to get one, I try to take them out and feed them to him, but I never catch the cecal ones. It worries me quite a bit!

I know a deficiency in vitamins could add to the trouble he is having and I was wondering what a good supplement for B complex would be, how I would go about administering them (Both pigs have been supplemented 25mg a day of Cs already) and what the dosage would be per oz of body weight? (Brody is at 1lbs 7oz)

Thanks in advance for your help!

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:39 pm

I'm sorry to hear about Brody's impaction issues. B complex can be syringed to him or put in pellet mash or on vegetables if he'll eat it that way. Use a human grade one without artificial colors/sweeteners/preservatives. The GuineaLynx care guide on impaction says 25 milligrams per day of the B complex, dissolved in water. Human grade acidophilus cultures can also be given and may help his digestive system since he's not eating his cecal pellets.

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Post   » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:49 pm

Generally mites do not account for severe weight loss unless it was an out of control very serious infestation. Pigs whose immune systems are down may be more susceptible to an outbreak. Has he been evaluated by a vet for other illnesses?

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Post   » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:46 pm

Ditto Lynx, but in the meantime I've had very good success with these:

Dissolve readily, don't smell too bad

They're available at Whole Foods in the US. Health food stores may also have them.

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Post   » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:08 pm

Thanks so much for everyone's help i have purchased a regular multi and am giving him 25mg a day for now.

In response to Lynx's post you're absolutely right. It wasn't an infestation that was out of control, my vet agrees with you but could not find anything when we went last. His teeth, eyes, ears, nose skin, feet, pee and poop, water and eating habits are all fairly normal.

She has recommended that I go to an more cavy savvy vet that is about two hours away from me and I will be booking the appointment next week. I wish I could go sooner. Unfortunately this means that Brody will have to be in an "air condition-less" car for a long time. I am trying to wait the weather out so it won't be too hot or drafty in the car for him.

His condition seems so far stable but I'm having a battle keeping weight on him. Today he seems not as bright eyed as usual and although interested in food and eats, he won't eat a substantial enough amount to put some fat on his bones. He dropped to 1 lbs 6 3/8 oz. It's devastating considering two weeks ago we were on an upturn.

Thanks again for any suggestions everyone might have.

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Post   » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:24 pm

" purchased a regular multi "

Ditch it if it contains anything OTHER than vitamin C and the B complex. These are the only two vitamins guinea pigs will need in supplement form. The others can actually do harm.

If you've bought a B complex multi (the B's alone), then that's fine.

My gut hunch is that there's something else wrong and it isn't "just" impaction or vitamin deficiency. I hope I'm wrong. I'd want to get him to the cavy-knowledgeable vet sooner rather than later. Could you keep him cool with blue ice bricks or similar?

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Post   » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:52 am

Talishan, thanks, good eyes! I did mean B complex, not a multi vitamin... It's been a long day here, sorry about that. I was nervous about buying the right one when I went to the store and got one without vitamin C since he likes his chewables. Today his poops were smaller and he didn't finish his guinea salad so I'm getting more and more worried that time is of the essence and theres something major going on that the vet missed. Going to the vet sooner rather than later.

In the mean time are there any tips or tricks any one has for calorie rich sustenance for guinea pigs? I have read the section on hand feeding and have been supplementing his diet with a pellet slurry to ensure he is eating enough since there's been a drop in the last few days in the substance of his poops and the amount he has been eating, but as I dont have access to oxbow is this the best option? what types of food are fattening? I thought apples and carrots were so I've been feeding him those, but it's not translating to weight gain unfortunately.

Also good idea about the ice bricks. I have been putting a frozen water bottle wrapped in a towel in his cage. I was wondering, as some people say it is beneficial to put a heating pad in when a pig doesn't feel well (i guess to conserve energy) and he is so small, is there a chance he could feel cold even when it is very warm out?

Thanks again for all tips and help. Guinea lynx is a life saver.

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Post   » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:49 pm

So today we went to the vets. Last night I stayed up all night worrying and at different intervals trying to force feed Brody the pellet slurry. His weight in the morning had dropped to 1 lb 5 5/8 oz and in the afternoon to 1 lb 5 1/4 oz. The weight just kept falling off with no sign of improvement so we bit the bullet and did the hot car ride thing.

Savvy vet was a big treat for us, a very thorough and knowledgeable vet who doesn't assume anything (let's clarify, it's guinea pig timothy pellets, not rabbit?) He did a thorough check of his molars (no spurs) and x-rays in case of an obstruction. He also evaluated his heart which was slightly enlarged but nothing serious and his kidneys which are much enlarged. He suspects Brody could be suffering from renal failure and thinks he is a good candidate for a urinography which we are going to attempt next week. Hopefully I can get a non-contaminated sample.

As there is no obstruction presented by the x-rays we got a hold of some critical care (tastes so good we'd eat the syringe, too, if Mom would let us) Cisapride, Flagyl and Fortiflora to treat possible bacterial issue.

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Post   » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:14 am

I'm sorry for the renal diagnosis, but very glad to hear you found such an excellent vet.

Even if Brody's heart is just "slightly" enlarged, he may benefit from heart support medication (benazepril to start). The heart's function affects the function of every other organ and system in the body. This is the voice of experience.

I'd see if the vet will consider a clinical trial of benazepril to assess Brody's response to it. Otherwise, it sounds as if you have a very good vet.

Urinography => urinalysis?

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Post   » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:24 am

Ahem, yes :) Urinalysis. No more posting after staying up all night! Maybe Lynx will be kind enough to edit my post for me and save me some embarrassment....

Heart problems I know are serious business, is there any sort of direct connection of heart issues to renal issues? Lack of blood flow to kidneys?

I'll definitely check more into Benazepril. With so many possibilities of problems and just getting started sorting them all out I didn't even really consider the heart issue. It was said as more of a side note when we were looking at the x-rays. I'm glad you pointed that out Talishan because it is a good thing to consider. I'll ask my vet about the heart issues on our return visit next week, but I haven't noticed any hooting or trademarks of a heart pig in Brody. Not to put down your good suggestion, I ask out of curiosity: Are there ill affects to dosing a pig with Benazepril who may NOT have heart issues at the age of 5?

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Post   » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:57 am

Not generally. Benazepril is a later generation of the same family of ACE inhibitors that contains enalapril (Enacard). Many, if not most, vets are thoroughly familiar with the use of Enacard in other species and it does have some side effects to be cautious of.

Benazepril has fewer. The only risk that I am aware of in using it in an animal that doesn't need it is excessively low blood pressure. The way to avoid that is to start with a small dose and work it up slowly to the recommended dosage.

If his heart is "slightly enlarged" on x-ray, that means heart issues. They may not be critical or immediately life-threatening or immediately impact other organs or systems. But the condition doesn't go away and it doesn't self-resolve. Starting medication now and seeing if it is beneficial can potentially extend his life comfortably down the road.

Not all vets are open to this. It's worth an ask, though, IMO.

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Post   » Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:41 pm

So Brody is eating again and he seems to be vastly improved, but still not gaining QUITE enough weight or eating quite as much as I'd like. We're continuing with FORCED critical care once daily to supplement his intake of water and nutrients for now. If anyone has any ideas how to keep weight on him in the meantime, I'm open to any suggestions.

We're back after our follow up visit. The kidney failure has been confirmed, unfortunately, so we're working to extend his quality of life. It's really sad, for obvious reasons, but nice in a way because right now he doesn't seem to be in any pain and I have a chance to spend time with him and enjoy our time together.

The vet prescribed an acidophillus just like Sef suggested in a thread I started for Kidney failure. The forti-flora, although not harming him, doesn't really seem to be helping him. He is really trying to get at his pellets lately and actually bit himself trying to dig one out. So we'll be starting on the supplements for probiotics.

The vet also prescribed Lotensin (good call Talishan) for both his possible heart issue and the kidney failure. The hopes are that it will increase blood flow to the kidneys and therefore increase the filtering that happens. Has anyone heard of this use for Lotensin before? I read up on it in the medication files and it suggested that it can actually cause kidney damage.

I brought up the subcutaneous fluids but the vet wasn't keen on sticking needles into him every couple of days. He said he'd be happy to try it if it's something I really wanted to do, which I appreciate, but I've held off on in for now. I was hoping you could all give me your knowledge of the subQ route. Do your guinea pigs tend to resent you or feel a lot of pain when being injected? Was the quality of life worth the suffering?

Also, a question that looms in my mind is, how do you know when it's time to let go? I have a feeling I'll know when we get there, but I am a control freak. I wish I knew how much time we had left.

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Post   » Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:48 pm

I think you have a very good vet.

"Has anyone heard of this use for Lotensin before? I read up on it in the medication files and it suggested that it can actually cause kidney damage."

1. No, but it makes good logical sense. 2. I haven't heard that it can cause (or exacerbate) kidney damage but that doesn't mean much.

How much is Brody drinking on his own?

"Do your guinea pigs tend to resent you or feel a lot of pain when being injected? Was the quality of life worth the suffering?"

Varies completely by pig. Some take it just fine, even multiple sticks a day. Some start out tolerating it well and then just get sick of it. For some it's not anywhere near worth it just from the get-go.

IME (check this with the vet), if Brody is drinking well on his own right now, I'd hold off on subcues at present.

"I have a feeling I'll know when we get there."

You will. I'm a control freak too. You will know.

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Post   » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:37 am

Thanks again talishan. Just for information sakes I read up about the medication and got this from the Benazepril page on Wikipedia:
According to a 2006 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients with advanced renal insufficiency taking benazepril showed "substantial" kidney benefits.[1]

A long term study of patients' kidney disease revealed that patients who took benazepril had better kidney function and a slower progression of kidney disease. Kidney function was much better in the group of patients taking the drug than their peers who took a placebo drug.[2] This is notable because this category of pharmaceuticals have long been thought to cause further kidney damage or increase the rate of progression for kidney disease.
In other news Brody is currently full of beans and squeaking while exploring the room. Unsteady still on his feet and not speedy, but still moving and bright eyed. It seems like the medication has made him feel a bit better and I feel a bit better now too.

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Post   » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:30 pm

Thanks for adding that. I included your comment on the only thread we have about kidney disease with a link back here:

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Post   » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:04 pm

I'm choosing this thread because it has Brody's name in it. Please keep all info on Brody here so others can reference it:

Information about kidney problems here

Information about compulsive dropping eating here

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Post   » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:24 pm

Thanks! I realized that Brody's stuff was kind of drifting to the Renal thread I started, and I wanted that thread to be more about Renal failure in general, not just Brody's case. Sorry if I crossed any lines there. I appreciate the links coordinating the two :)

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I dissent.

Post   » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:55 am

That's a really interesting reference, armoftheland, with regard to Benazepril and renal function. I printed it off and am going to do some more digging on it as well.

As far as subcues...if you go that route, I can't recommend butterfly infusion sets highly enough. They can make the process a lot less stressful for pig and human alike. :)

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Post   » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:39 pm

For history sakes I think now is a good time for a recap of our daily schedule:

Dose of Flagyl (50mg/ml - 0.24CC BID)
BNP ointment (for scratch in right eye - DIN 005161414)
10cc of 1:4 Critical Care and Water
Benazepril (50mg/ml - 0.05CC SID topically - alternating inner ear flaps)
Long HUGS and praises about what a good boy we are for putting up with the morning torture. This is the most important part.
Guinea salad
Dose of Flagyl
Dose of Flagyl (50mg/ml - 0.24CC BID)
BNP ointment (for scratch in right eye - DIN 005161414)
Floor time with Murray
Guinea salad treasure hunt
Scale time
Poop soup with added pro-biotics and B vitamins.
Cuddle time

I urge people who think of guinea pigs as good "starter animals" for kids to think again....

As far as health goes I'm still researching a lot about renal failure and kidney disease. Brody really seems to be benefiting from the Benazepril. He has put on another 5 grams in the past few days and is drinking and eating well. When I come home he is again able to stand up and great me and beg for food and he even is starting to stand up a bit to Murray (his former cage mate who started trying to dominate him when he got sick) at floor time. He is exploring more on his own instead of hiding under a table and squeaks a bit while traveling which I've always loved.

During cuddle time last night he seemed so worn out from the days work (struggling to get out of hand feeding is a LOT of work) he just passed out on me. He sleeps in fits and spurts and lays very still with his eyes half open like he's a wise old man meditating. I know he'll never be out of the woods but little triumphs like holding weight on is a nice treat.

Thanks, Sef, for digging around on the Benazepril, please let me know if you find any more on it. I've been trying to find more on Renal Failure and treatments but haven't had much luck. I never realized veterinary treatment for guinea pigs was such a niche market. Sigh.

I read up on the butterfly syringes. I think if Brody continues to do well I'll still put off the subQs until he really needs them, but if/when he does I'll definitely be using those. This way if he stops drinking enough to keep hydrated at least we have an ace up our sleeve.

Thanks again for all of your help. I question whether Brody would have made it through without all of your wonderful knowledge.

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GL is Just Peachy

Post   » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:56 pm

ACE inhibitors mostly cause kidney damage when combined with furosemide (Lasix) and an NSAID (like Metacam or ibuprofen). They affect the circulation of stuff inside the kidney, which I would imagine could help or harm depending on the exact problem with the kidney.

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