We've got two pigs Legend (male) and Little One (female). We've had them for a few years and think they are about four years old. I'm making this Legend's thread, since he's doing worse, but both pigs are having the same problem.
Until last week, they've been healthy except that Legend has been having problems with a sebaceous cyst for several months.
Last Monday and Tuesday, they seemed a little off and didn't finish their meals, but weren't really outside of normal. Wednesday, there was something clearly wrong, but they were still eating and we took them to the vet on Thursday.
The vet examined them, took their temperature and checked their teeth. Teeth and temperature were normal. The vet thought that his belly especially, and maybe hers as well, were somewhat enlarged. They x-rayed him and found a lot of gas but no blockage. They gave sub-q fluids and sent us home with Critical Care to hand feed, and prescriptions for Mylicon (gas relief), Meloxidyl (pain/inflammation), and Cisapride (motility).
They initially improved a bit, but have since been same or slightly worse. His weight has been steady-down from 1250 last month to 1150 at vet thursday, but has been hanging in at 1140ish since. She was 950 last month and 940 at vet last week, but went down to 910 and then back up a little.
We took them back yesterday. Saw a different vet at the same practice. She repeated the exam, added a prescription for lactulose with milk thistle (laxative?) and did sub-q fluids again. No further tests - so we still have no idea of the cause. Sent us back home to try more hand feeding.
She is eating a little, but not close to normal. He will sometimes nibble on something, but mostly he's just getting the CC. Both are pooping, but he seems like there is some effort involved, although frankly I never watched too closely before. The poops seem to be fairly normal, just not many. They are not lethargic but certainly aren't moving around like they used to, and of course are being skittish and trying to hide from all the handling.
We've tried car rides, and that seems to help. We tried a massage pillow - he didn't like that but we'll try again.
The main advice I'm looking for is what can we get them to eat? They only seem to only want stuff like collard greens, parsley, and watermelon that they shouldn't eat much of. We don't want to add bladder stones on top of the problem. Their previous daily diet was green leaf lettuce, bell peppers and a little bit of carrot. (Hay and pellets always available). They just don't want to eat any of that now.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
- You can quote me
Hydration makes a disproportionate difference in how a guinea pig feels. Are they drinking well, or at all? If not, try offering water and/or unflavored Pedialyte (infants' electrolyte solution) by syringe. Many pigs love it and will readily take several cc's at a time by syringe. They may start feeling better, and more quickly, if they stay well-hydrated.
You might ask the vet about substituting Reglan for lactulose, but that's a minor tweak.
How much CC are they getting daily?
My gut feeling is not to worry about how to get them eating normally just yet. Push the Critical Care until their GI systems, output, and activity level have normalized.
Watermelon has a lot of water in it (a lot of sugar, too, which can contribute to stasis. :-/). I agree you don't want to give them a lot of this, but a little melon and parsley won't hurt. I think (not sure) that collards can be a gas producer, so I'd give very little of that.
Keep going in full-on Critical Care mode for the time being imo.
I've never seen Little One drink, though Legend used to drink a little. He is not drinking now, though. We'll definitely try the pedialyte this evening.
They had been really fighting the CC, so I'm sure we weren't giving them enough initially. Now he is getting 12cc's (after mixing with water) four times a day. Since she was eating some on her own, we didn't try to force her, but she has been getting 3cc's and we've managed to up it to 6cc's the last couple of times.
Still, we got some pedialyte for tonight's feeding and we'll try the wet hay thing. She had been eating small amounts of it, and he had eaten almost none (until just now).
We are out of Cisapride, so I spoke to the vet about refilling it or what to do. She felt they should be improved by now, so another dr. visit would be in order. This is the first vet we saw, and I think she's a little more diagnostically minded than the second one. We're seeing her tomorrow at noon. She thought maybe another x-ray, but cost is starting to be a concern.
Any suggestions of specific things to have her check? Thoughts on the value of another x-ray? Are we being too impatient? There must have been something that caused this, so I feel like maybe there is something to find and correct. But we don't exactly have a herd of pigs so it's good to hear a more experienced opinion.
- You can quote me
I'd want a refill of the Cisapride, though. Taper it off as they continue to improve, but it'd be nice to have some extra to keep on hand. Pigs that have a stasis/ileus/bloat episode and recover are somewhat more prone, or sensitive, to developing another. The more of the meds you used to treat this that you can keep on hand if they start to have another episode, the better, because you may be able to nip it in the bud as soon as you notice the very first symptoms -- especially if that's at 2 am on a Saturday morning.
I'm really glad to hear they appear to be recovering. They'll do that sometimes; like flipping a switch, they're better.
Keep going with the CC and Pedialyte for a little while to make sure they're thoroughly out of the woods. (Note: Pedialyte only keeps 48 hours even in the fridge; there's no preservatives in it, so maybe pick up one more bottle.)
Best to them and to you. I hope they continue to improve and normalize!
We took the pigs back to the vet and went ahead with x-rays (on both) and blood work (on Legend). Turns out that Little One had bladder stones. They were able to remove all but one, which is small and they think will come out on its own. She is now taking Poly Citra to prevent any more. I doubt this was the cause of the issue, but the vet feels like it was preventing her recovery. Legend had no sign of stones or sludge, but is still very gassy. The results of the blood tests will take a day or two.
The pigs are modestly better. Between about 7:00 and 9:00 PM the last two days, you would swear they were fine, but the rest of the day they've still been down. Their weight continues to slowly drop. I don't think they can eat any more CC unless we go to 5 times daily instead of 4. We may have to do that.
We noticed the 48 hour thing on the pedialyte bottle. I can't imagine anything could grow in that stuff. You could cure meat with it. Still, we put another bottle on the shopping list.
- You can quote me
Also glad to hear you got the x-ray; I was wrong on that one, and it was great they could get most of Little One's stones out.
Best to both of them. Keep pushing the CC and fluids, and please keep us posted.
We had an interesting observation, though. They are on Meloxidyl once daily (works out to about .5 mg/kg, if I did the math right: .38mL of 1.5mg/mL for 1150g pig). We've been giving it to them at 5:00 PM. How quickly does this stuff work? Could that be why the sudden burst of energy? I'm thinking of splitting it half morning/half evening tomorrow.
She said to go ahead and try splitting the Meloxidyl and see what happens.
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It seems to take effect maybe 25-45 minutes post-administration, at least usually for ours. It's an NSAID, so that makes a certain amount of sense; it'll work about the same as if you take an Advil.
The after-dinner energy boost may simply be from the food, and from the fact that most like their greens and get excited about them. But that'd also be about when the meloxicam kicks in ... so yeah on that score; your observation makes sense.
We mixed in some canned pumpkin with their CC. Legend can't get enough. He bites at the syringe when you try to take it away, and he is volunteering to take nearly double what we've been forcing him to eat. He's also eating more on his own.
Unfortunately, Little One is not so impressed with the pumpkin. We tried a small amount of berries in hers, since she liked the berry flavored medicine, but I think she likes it less than the plain stuff. I asked at the pharmacy if I could buy some of their flavoring, but they wouldn't sell it to me.
- You can quote me
If you have the original (anise) flavor CC, you can try the apple-banana flavor. Some pigs prefer it, and they're usually sows, interestingly enough, in my experience.
You may be able to go up a little on the meloxicam dose, too. Please let us know what the vet says.
Continuing well wishes to them and to you.
I spoke to the Dr. yesterday about upping their Meloxidyl. She said she had concerns about increasing their dose, since it cleared through the kidneys and they were looking a bit dehydrated. She did offer to add another pain med, and we'll be picking that up this evening. I'm hoping for good things.
We tried squash and carrot baby food. Nothing as dramatic as Legend with the pumpkin (although, he's less excited about that now), but Little One did seem to like the squash a little more than anything else we've tried. I ate some of the left over berries, since the pigs didn't want them. Yuck. Apparently something happens to the sweetness when they're frozen.
We do have the apple-banana flavor. I'm wondering if it makes some bad combinations with things they otherwise would like. We debated getting the other kind, since we were running low, but decided not to rock the boat.