Hyperthyroidism

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amysanimals

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:19 pm


As the title suggests, my guinea pig Oscar was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. His regular veterinarian, Dr. Keefer, diagnosed him with this approximately a week ago through physical examination and blood tests. Oscar shows all the classic signs--weightloss, excessive drinking, excessive eating--he also has a large macadamia-nut-sized lump under his throat, which can be felt easily upon palpitation. Dr. Keefer said that he is completely healthy in all other respects. She checked his lungs, heart, teeth and stomach--all turned up clean.

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?

Help =(

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:27 pm


Have you read this page?

http://www.guinealynx.info/hyperthyroidism_case_study.html

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.

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GuineaPigGoddess

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:29 pm


Amy, it's been much too long since I've last talked to you. :) Although Im sad at the news. Oscar sure doesn't deserve it. I'm sure whatever you choose will be in the best interest of your little boy. Good luck and kishes to Oscar.

egustavson

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:08 pm


There was a thread recently about a guinea pig with hyperthyroidism. You may want to do a search on the medical forum and read it.

It is a difficult situation and the more knowledge you have will help you make decisions. I wish you and Oscar the best.

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2018

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:55 pm


My pig Scooby showed the most important sign of hyperthyroidism--weight loss despite large amounts of hand-feeding. Lacking a model for the disease in cavies, our vet opted to follow the protocol for cats with hyperthyroidism and treat her with methimazole (Tapazole). The vet did a couple of blood tests, but the results were always inconclusive. As we raised the dose, the weight loss slowed until we were able to maintain her with less hand-feeding, and she clearly felt better, so we did not bother with the invasive-but-unhelpful blood tests. In retrospect, I wish we had been less conservative in the rate at which we raised the dose, because it took weeks and several adjustments while Scooby continued to lose a scary amount of weight.

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!

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Tracy

Post   » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:40 pm


I, too, found blood tests unreliable. My Inca's T-4 levels were "within normal range," yet we treated her with tapazole based on a lump in her neck, weight loss, and rapid heart. We increased Inca's tapazole dose a few times, but it seemed like it wasn't helping because I couldn't get her to gain weight (despite supplemental feedings) and her heart continued to beat fast. She also wasn't keen on the tapazole. As a result, I gradually decreased (skipping doses when she resisted too much) and then stopped the tapazole, in the interest of letting her be happy for her remaining time.

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!

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pigjes
Cavy Comic

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:41 am


I recently lost a piggie with hyperthyroidism. I live in a country where this is not treated by any vet, so I was forced to find herbs which had an effect. They don't even do blood works here on piggies, except the ones that can be done with a testing strip. My piggie had all the symptoms, but she developed the swollen thyroid as last, only then I was sure. I gave her the herbs as tea in small amounts with a syringe and the dosage was correct after the second attempt. It worked very well.

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2018

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:07 pm


pigjes, that is very interesting. What herb did you use?

Tracy and my vet (same person) did not have a treatment protocol for hyperthyroidism in cavies, so she followed the usual procedure for cats. I'm sure a vet in Belgium could do that too.

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AliceMcmallis
Supporter in '08

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:33 pm


I would get surgery done to remove the thyroid gland tumour. I have had this procedure done on 3 guinea pigs now and it worked out wonderfully all 3 times.

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.

egustavson

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:03 pm


I did have a cat with hyperthyroidism who had the radioactive iodine treatment. I took him to a specialist recommended by the veterinarian we used at the time. He lived another 9 years after the treatment.

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.

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Tracy

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:01 pm


AliceMcmallis, would you be willing to send your vet's name to me via e-mail? I'd love to pass it along to my vet, in the event they consider doing some thyroid surgeries on piggies. Right now she's very leery of going that route, especially without a period of tapazole beforehand. I know the hospital's surgeons would definitely be familiar with cat thyroid removals, so maybe they'd all be more willing to treat piggies that way after learning about a few success stories. Thanks! (And if you'd rather not, that's fine.)

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AliceMcmallis
Supporter in '08

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:19 pm


Will do! He's a bit difficult to get hold of sometimes, but is definitely willing to consult with other vets.

Also seems to be on VIN quite often, so if your vet were to post for info there I could let him to know to look for it.

EllieMom

Post   » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:56 pm


My Ginger had a thyroid tumor removed in September and seems to be doing very well, too. I would definitely looking into the surgery route if it is at all possible. Some, like Ginger's, are less tricky than others.

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pigjes
Cavy Comic

Post   » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:08 am


I do not recommend using herbs, if there are meds. Herbs are far more difficult to dosage right and stable. They are a last resort if there is absolutely no other option available. I used Balm (Melissa officinalis) herbs.

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daveandtiff

Post   » Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:50 pm


Tracy, I know this thread is a bit older, but just saw that you are in Boston. Who was the doctor doing radioactive iodine trials in piggies? Am finding Angell to work with cats, but don't know of a facility that is working with piggies and would really be interested in learning more on I-131 cases

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?

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2018

Post   » Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:28 pm


daveandtiff, I suggest you message Tracy through the mailer, as I don't know how regularly she reads the forums. Click her name and then the email button.

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daveandtiff

Post   » Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:43 pm


thank you, mmeadow

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Tracy

Post   » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:55 am


Hi Dave and Tiff. Thanks for reaching out via e-mail; I'll admit I haven't been contributing to GuineaLynx much lately, though there's lots of valuable info here.

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.

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2018

Post   » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:36 am


Agreeing with Tracy's recommendation of Dr. Graham--she's amazing.

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daveandtiff

Post   » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:48 pm


Hi Tracy,

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...

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