Whats a mother to do? Oscar seems to be very happy and content, other than the increased appetite. Dr. Keefer, who has treated another guinea pig with this condition, stated that if I would like to treat Oscar it would require weekly bloodwork, twice-daily medication administration and a period of weeks or months to find the correct dosage. Im torn. I would love to just give my pretty pig a 2 week course of medication and having everything become better, but that wont be the case. From previous experience, I know that Oscar HATES taking medication. He fights with all his little strength. Should I go with the route of medication and force him to endure it twice daily, not to mention the blood tests weekly, or should I let nature takes its course and put him 'to rest' when he shows signs of suffering. Hes only 3 years old. Is it fair to make him take medication for the rest of his life? Or is it unfair to NOT make him take it?
Is there any way to help lessen the affectives of this illness?
A while back Brian Martin contacted me with this information about his guinea pig. I do not know if you can glean useful info that might improve his outcome but perhaps a close reading could give you some ideas.
- Supporter 2004-2020
We did not find giving her the small amount of medicine twice daily to be a problem.
As time went on, there was a palpable thyroid nodule, so it may well have been cancer. After 9-12 months, she had a "thyroid storm" (extreme secretion of thyroid hormone) crisis and we chose to let her go since it was not manageable.
Good luck with your pig!
Turns out the med was probably helping (she was losing weight slower) because without the med she had a thyroid storm that lead to an ER visit; unfortunately her sped-up metabolism could not be managed and she died before I got back for euthanasia. My "lesson learned" is what all vets will tell you -- tapazole is for life. If you go that route, do not stop even if you may have an incorrect dose, if it doesn't seem to be helping, or if your piggy does not like it. Correction: If you decide to stop tapazole for any reason, be prepared for consequences.
By the way, it's a pretty cheap drug. And, for whatever it's worth, my Inca liked the regular flavor better -- HATED banana. Also, my girl did not seem to suffer while losing weight (had great attitude up until the night before her thyroid storm), though it was very tough on me to watch her weigh drop and feel her bones. (She died around 505 grams, half her peak weight.)
Some piggies have had surgery for thyroid tumors -- according to cat protocol they should receive tapazole first for a while (don't remember how long) so that their body does not go from one extreme to the other. My vet also has a few hyperthyroid piggy patients in a trial for a radioactive iodine protocol used with cats; I can send you her contact info if your vet wants to learn more about that. Finally, I think I read something about a kind of tapazole applied to the ear instead of oral doses (don't recall exactly, but do a search and ask your vet).
All things to consider. Good luck to you!
- Cavy Comic
- Supporter in '08
Do a search on "Maggie" with me as the author and you'll find her thread. She was the 1st guinea pig my vet had ever done this surgery on. We tried the medication route and it lowered her levels slightly, but didn't improve her condition enough. When the other two pigs presented with the same symptoms + increased thyroid levels we just did the surgery rather than mess around and waste time with medications.
All three pigs recovered well - Maggie I believe lived another year after surgery until her little heart gave out, another pig lived about 2 yrs after surgery and died from kidney failure which was unrelated to the thyroid condition, and the third had her surgery in February and is still doing wonderfully.
The surgery is basically the same as on a cat. So if your vet has experience doing it on cats and experience with other types of surgeries on guinea pigs, I would see no reason why she couldn't do it and have a positive outcome. He could live another few years quite happily.
I don't know how widely available the radioactive iodine treatment is--I don't think many vets did it at the time my cat had the treatment. Surgery may be a good option.
Also, how soon after you weaned Inca off tapazole did she experience thyroid storm? And did doctor confirm that this was actually what was happening with her at that moment? And that she passed of complications of thyroid storm and not potentially any other reasons?
Inca's been gone a while now, but I reread some threads, including this one: http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=40942&start=80. Was tough to relive such a stressful period for me, but I'm glad it also prompted me to remember that Inca was happy until her final hours. They just keep living and doing their piggy thing, while we humans are scared and frustrated and trying to make the best decisions.
Anyway, looks like I tapered off the tapazole and Inca died a month later. We do think it was a thyroid storm that morning, and vets just couldn't manage it or turn things around. At some point I wrote that I wouldn't change what I did and did not do, but I do think it's important to give tapazole for life, as vets recommend. Perhaps Inca could have lived longer.
At the time, we were going to Angell Animal Hospital, and our top exotics vet was Dr. Connie Orcutt. She's not practicing there anymore, though I'm still in touch periodically. I can ask her about that trial with piggies using radioactive iodine. My thread said not many participants, so I wonder if it ever took off. I do know there's a cat expert at Angell with lots of experience in thyroid issues: Dr. Jean Duddy.
I'd also recommend Dr. Jennifer Graham, who is at Tufts out in Grafton MA. She's triple certified, including in zoology, which is great because she knows about many species and can sometimes relay/apply other cases/treatments that were similar to the current patient. A vast body of knowledge and definitely a drive to "solve the puzzle." Of course, not all of them can be solved, yet hopefully we learn a bit more from each.
Best of luck with your piggy... I'll be reading along now.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, and I appreciate your thoughts, though this is a hard memory for you. I understand as have had some hard memories on similar things, so I appreciate you caring enough to write back. I'm sorry with how you had lost Inca and am hoping she was able to live a long, otherwise healthy and happy life (it sounds as though she was happy until her final hours as you had written, which is relieving. was similar with our boy who had a longterm mammary tumour, who incidentally Dr Orcutt had said lived the longest she had seen with a mammary tumour, 3.5yrs. she said usually it is 2-2.5yrs for piggies. felt fortunate that he was active and even nibbling at food a couple of hours before he finally passed at home naturally, at age 6.5. we were very fortunate that he was peaceful and near his brothers as usual.). Yes, Connie Orcutt and Jen Graham were the super team at Angell. We have seen both and I was in touch with Jen through yesterday about our boy. She is straight up with information and knowledgeable. You are right...she has a "solve the puzzle" personality, which is really perfect and makes her so good at what she does. Have appreciated having her in our lives. She had been the one to recommend the doctor we currently see when we moved westbound, Dr. Kilgore, and our doctor has consulted with Jen on this situation with our boy as well. I didn't realize Connie had been considering I-131 trial on piggies. I also connect with her occasionally and may ask her about this (she is retired now, as a medical writer. prior, she had moved from Angell to Putnam Veterinary in Topsfield).
I believe our doctor was mentioning Dr Jean (Angell) as we talked yesterday (possibly) as we were wondering if there is even an option with Angell to perform I-131 treatment on piggies. Seems they offer it to cats (and even dogs are omitted from the cat environment).
It doesn't seem as though anyone is aware of a piggie who has undergone radioactive iodine treatment up her, though folks here on glynx have been talking about this (had they actually received the treatment, and where?).
What caused you to believe that Inca experienced thyroid storm? Or did the doctor state this? This was the question my doctor was asking as the happened weeks after you had stopped the meds. Were there certain symptoms to suggest this? Of course, this would be my concern with starting methimazole (tapazole)...first, that our boy could experience side effects on the med, then a risk if trying to take him off it. There is someone else here on glynx who had said she had taken her pigs off methimazole eventually and they did not have this issue. So not sure what the contributing factors are.
I had wanted to be sure his blood chem and cbc were not pointing elsewhere (ie blood disorder, diabetes, etc) and that levels are within range before starting a drug which might further compromise levels. Would be good to have a whole picture so that we are making wisest choice with treatment plan and overall outcome. Unfortunately, doctor could not get enough blood for the T4 test to be run and the yellow fluid drawn from neck nodule was negative inhouse (no cells seen). So we were not able to get to having CBC/Chem Panel for this reason. Would not want him to go through more than he has to so we may be taking a chance with Methimazole soon. He was down 17g this morning from 2 days ago, where 2 days ago he was the same as a week and a half ago. He seems to be off/on with food interest due to flavour. He will search for food, but if it doesn't smell good enough, he will deny it. everything has to be uber fresh. I even questioned a little clear nasal discharge that he developed at some point after we brought home a little girl. She's had this d/c, but doctor didn't hear anything going on with lungs. Had wondered if he doesn't smell his food as well now, eats less. That's a stretch, but maybe in part is true. He was already a very picky eater, but boy, was a big eater at 1380g. He is 1122g today, which scares me.
Thank you again, and I just did start to read several of your comments at link you shared. Have rushed through this message as on way to work again, but will read thoroughly again when home. Thank you for sending this...