Smokey - pharyngeal abnormality

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Post   » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:37 pm

So, just to share some good news as well as the bad. . .

As with Olive, Smokey eats his veggies well if I slice them into little pieces. He seems to have trouble getting pellets out of a dish, so I tried putting them on a flat plate and he was able to gobble them up.

The increase in Metacam is helping. When syringe feeding him, if I slide the syringe into the side of his mouth, rather than ask him to take it with a (slightly) up-turned head he does better.

The above makes me think there really must be something happening in his neck area that interferes with his eating, breathing, etc.

He's come to enjoy lap time. I elevator him out in his hidey, then we sit on the sofa. I take him out and put him on my lap and he gets his CC until he decides he's had enough (I usually try to push at least one more syringe full in anyway!). Then I bring the hidey back and he clambers in. I pull him back on my lap for awhile, and that's when he gets funny.

He'll get brave enough to poke his head in and out, even occasionally venturing a bit down my leg to the sofa, then quickly scrambling back inside. He'll just stare at me, while I do some paper work. Last night he came out and sniffed my face, then dashed back in like he was being by a hawk!

I just love this guy!!


Post   » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:46 pm

Smokey sounds like he is coming out of his shell. He definitely is a happy camper even though he has his medical issue. This is because you give him love and great care.

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Post   » Wed Jun 04, 2014 1:31 pm

Ditto. Carry on. There will be bad days and good days, probably. If the Metacam is helping, by all means keep it up. It's possible the anti-inflammatory action of it is keeping the neck/throat problem swelling reduced a little, at least enough to give him some relief and that's what you're shooting for.

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Post   » Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:33 pm

Well, who'd have thought! I decided to move Smokey into the soft herd. I figured if he was going to just hang out in his hidey, he may as well do it there. He wouldn't get picked on, and it would free up a spot for a cage and some other pigs.

Well, I put him down, via an elevator ride in his favorite hidey, and he's become a different pig! He's running around like a maniac - even popcorning!! He's alert and hasn't yet spent a minute inside his hidey since landing. He's terrifying Dak (my pig with LWS), but not too badly. He just seems so happy!!

I'm keeping an eye on his breathing, but so far he's doing okay. I'm guessing he'll self-regulate anyway.

I'm astounded and pretty happy. I'm hoping that Dak and he will come to terms pretty quickly however. Dak doesn't really do well with new pigs - he's pretty defenseless - deaf, blind, no opposing teeth to bite with. .

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Post   » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:23 am

That's awesome. :-)

Please keep us posted. I hope he and Dak can come to terms beneficial to them both.

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Post   » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:38 pm

Alas, Smokey simply could not stop terrorizing Dak, I had to remove him for Dak's sake.

But seeing the change in him was so heartening that I decided to try to pair him with Hawkeye. So far, so good. the two of them are getting along as good as any boys would. There's chasing, only a little teeth chattering and rumbling. But the hair standing up has almost disappeared, so I'm guessing it's settling down to boys just pestering each other and rough housing. There was never any biting, whihc I take as a good sign. Maybe the two of them were each so lonely being together, they appreciate the company.

They're in a pretty big space right now with hay and a tent - no hideys. I'll leave them here all day and put them in their new cage tonight. I may try to make their cage a little more than 2x4, at least for now.

Cross all crossables, please!

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Post   » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:48 pm

Done. :-) Please keep us posted.

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Post   » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:14 am

There's an interesting thing here. I think it happened with both Smokey and Charlie Brown. Both of them are/were special needs - CB had a too much trauma and was emotionally scarred and Smokey has the breathing problem.

Both of them always came out of the gate fighting and on the offensive. Makes me wonder if there isn't something else at play her. Like a perspective towards the world that means you have to fight extra hard when you're sick and vulnerable.

I don't have an other explanation for Smokey right now. When he's alone, he sits quietly in the corner, and runs to hide when I just walk past his cage.

But when I move him in with other pigs, even quiet gentle ones, he turns into a ninja pig. Sad for him. But he has such a limited life span that I don't need to push this. The last piig I had with this abnormality lived only a couple of months.

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Post   » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:11 am

I think your psychological analysis is probably correct.

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Post   » Sun Jun 15, 2014 4:02 pm

Smokey's gaining weight - that's the good news.

I fortuitously discovered two small bite wounds that were infected. but not yet abscessed. Cleaned them out and am treating, He's already on ABs. They must be close to 2 weeks old, since that's the last time he was housed with another pig.

The really bad news is that his breathing has worsened. It is quite an effort for him to breathe - his whole body just struggles. I don't know quite how to describe it. But when I hold him, his whole body kind of spasms.

He still eats hay, veggies and pellets. He's very sweet and docile at this pint - I suspect mostly because he just doesn't have the energy to run away or resist. He's a great snuggler, and will just perch himself on my shoulder, under my chin, while I whisper sweet nothings in his ear and hold him.

It's breaking my heart. He's pretty much on the highest does of the metacam my vet is comfortable with. There's not much else that can be done.

How long do I let him struggle for every breath like this? What the vet and I foresee is that a respiratory crisis will occur and lead to his death. That's what happened with Olive.

There's a part of me that thinks I should just let him go now, and not put him through any more suffering. On the other hand. . .

I just don't know. Any thoughts?


Post   » Sun Jun 15, 2014 5:14 pm

What a dilemma Jacqueline, and I wouldn't know either what to do.

I think you just have to do what you think is right in this situation (which we all know you will).

Is there anything other than the Metacam that would help his breathing or relax him?

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Post   » Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:31 pm

It's hard to know what they would define as "suffering". We can define it for ourselves, of course, but to him it may just be a factual "it's hard to breathe" like "it's hot today" would be for us. They don't think about it.

Do you see the spark of engagement in him still? Engagement with you, his surroundings, his food? Is he in pain, at least as far as you can tell? And what dose of Metacam is he currently on?

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Post   » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:19 pm

He doesn't really engage with his surroundings much - he tends to stay in one place. He does seem to like sitting with me when I give him his meds. His metacam does is .3ml 2x day.

The episodes where he can hardly breathe are increasing in frequency. He's starting to cough and seems to struggle to get stuff cleared out of his throat. This is how it goes with his pharyngeal problem. The muscles needed to control breathing and dealing with phlegm and other fluids just don't work well enough.

I've discussed some more with my vet. Here was her last email to me: "From what you are describing, it sounds like this little pig should be put to sleep. If he is struggling that much to breathe, that is not good. You have always been a good judge of quality of life for your pigs and you will come to the right decision again. I hope this helps a little."

I'm bringing Smokey in Thursday afternoon. Dr. M. has asked permission to do a necropsy afterwards, which I agreed to, so we can find out what this weirdness is.

This will be hard for me. I really love this guy.


Post   » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:05 pm

I am so sorry Jacqueline. Loving and then letting go is not easy. He has had a wonderful loving home with you.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:49 am

Sit with him lots between now and Thursday. Sing to him. Let him know he is loved. I know you'll do that.

Know that he is getting the best possible care in the world from you.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:45 am

Thanks. I'm also hoping to get some real answers about what exactly the problem is. He's the second pig I've had with this thing - maybe Smokey can help us better help the next one.

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Post   » Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:08 pm

So, I spoke with the vet today about the necropsy. It was a little surprising.

There was no abnormality that she could find anywhere in his throat, etc. The only thing she could spot anywhere was that Smokey had lots of "spots" on his lungs. They were "a mess"

Apparently pigs' lungs are pretty dense, so spotting tumors in them is hard.

She thoughts there were a couple of possibilities:
1. There was an underlying fungal or bacterial thing happening in his lungs. It wouldn't have been knocked out by the Baytril.

2. It's entirely possible he had lung cancer, though it isn't that common in pigs.

Whatever it was he had it for quite some time and it was pretty advanced.

Poor boy! It was just a bit surprising, since his lungs always sounded clear, and the noise seemed to be coming from his throat and nasal areas in a really profound way.

Well we've learned something here. And at least he didn't suffer for too long. I just wish we had tried to figure some of this out before the necropsy. . .

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Post   » Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:02 pm

It sounds like there was not much you could have done to help the poor little guy. Does this mean he did not have a pharyngeal abnormality?

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Post   » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:34 am

We had one with what the vet described as "lung scarring". He came from a bust on an extended-stay hotel, where four were living in a bathtub.

I suspect Smokey came initially from somewhere with a houseful of heavy smokers/dopers. We were pretty sure that was Littletan's situation, and he was not in as bad of shape as Smokey was.

Ditto Lynx. I doubt there was anything at all you could have done about this, except exactly what you did -- give him the best care possible and a lot of love.

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Post   » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:49 am

Correct Lynx. The vet found no anatomical abnormality in his pharynx or anywhere else.

The vet didn't seem to think it was scarring. What she saw were white spots that looked to her like they were either tumor or fungal things (I picture moldy/mossy stuff).

What I did know about Smokey was that he was obtained when he was little by one person. Once his problems started, he was surrendered to the rescue. The home he was in didn't have any obvious environmental issues and he was in otherwise good shape when the shelter initially got him.

Who knows?

Yes, I did the best I could at the time. I just wish we had thought about fungal stuff. If we had treated for that, he might have improved and had more time. If wishes were horses. . .

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