STEVE!

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:02 am


Sigh. Hi. I'm back. And I've got another crazy question.

So STEVE! was diagnosed with heart disease back in 2016 and has done pretty well on benazepril and furosemide, insert all the usual heart pig stories, blah blah. He's a good boy who lives mostly uneventfully with his three ladies. (VickieWhiskers has still not forgiven him for that unfortunate humping, and lives next door. She also still hasn't died, despite being in a special short-term hospice cage for 19 months now. But that's another thread about another weird pig.)

Somebody has periodically had small amounts of sludge for several months now. SMALL amounts and only occasionally. The four of them get, in total, 1/4 cup of SPS pellets once a day. And Cici is ginormous, so I don't think that division is even equal. Other than the pellets, they are on our patented too-many-bladder-stones diet: no dark greens, filtered water, etc.

A few weeks ago STEVE! started hooting intermittently and then he lost a little weight, and it had been a while, so we went off to see Doctor A yesterday. She did an x-ray and said that while his heart had neither improved nor worsened with the meds, she also saw spinal arthritis, and oh look there brightly illuminated was a thing even total x-ray n00bs could identify as a honking stone.

Steve is obviously older than we'd hoped (he was found outdoors, emaciated and flea-ridden, and nursed back to neuterable state by the amazing SlaveToFuzzy). His heart isn't improving and he is hooting and has some lung damage, so we're going to try pimobendan for a month before we even talk about surgery. In the meantime, he will join the apparently immortal VickieWhiskers on perpetual low-grade painkillers.

BUT WE AREN'T AT THE WEIRD PART YET.

It may be completely unrelated, but a couple of weeks ago -- right about when he started very occasional hooting -- Steve started eating coroplast. I had lids on the haybins, and over the last weeks I've reconfigured everything to create a situation where Rosalynn can't live IN a haybin but also Steve cannot just chow down on its lid. But he's obsessed. Finally tonight I took all of it away, and they're just going to have to discipline Rosa themselves, or eat peed-on hay.

And immediately after I cut out all the nice coroplast lids... Steve started eating fabric.

When our dog Buffy was a puppy she ate, not chewed but ATE, our couch, among dozens of other things. We once caught her trying to swallow a rusty nail. That tendency stopped immediately after her diagnosis with Addison's Disease and her associated treatment with steroids. Before that, the vet's pervailing theory was depression or anxiety. But after the diagnosis I have wondered if it wasn't a kind of knowledge that things weren't right, and an attempt to fix it. Like when (normal) dogs eat grass.

So that's the weird question. Could these things be related? Is Steve driving me nuts for fun? Or is he eating non-food items because he doesn't feel well? Do we know of this ever happening before? What do I DO?

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pigjes
Cavy Comic

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:21 am


It sure sounds like pain, that's the only reason why I saw pigs eat plastics. Being in a lot of pain myself, no painkillers I can take, I start doing things to put my mind off matters. I scratch like crazy, so I get the plastic chewing fancy very well.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:31 am


I agree with pigjes. Maybe the low-dose painkillers will help when they've kicked in a bit.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:45 am


I was also going to suggest just that (pain).

p.s. set up a soft hayrack elsewhere so there are more than one locations for hay.

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:59 am


Ugh. Jeez. See, my instinct with that kind of situation is not good. What do you guys think about the longer term question of surgery? If he's in pain and we can't operate soon, you know I will choose euthanizing. Poor little dude.

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:19 am


And, should I get those theoretically edible thingies to chew on? I'm always very skeptical of anything made in China that says it's edible, but if chewing is distracting him...

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:46 am


I wouldn't get anything that's held together with molasses, as a lot of things are. You might try some fiddle sticks and see if he'll nibble on those. They don't splinter, and my pigs have never been able to make very big inroads on them. I believe they're made by Kaytee, and are available almost everywhere.

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:49 pm


Good call. Just ordered some via Amazon. I hope he likes them (and that Rosalynn lets him near them!).

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:38 pm


Short update: the fiddle sticks are popular with someone, but I'm pretty sure it's TruvyPouf and not Steve. Steve HAS eaten the fabric off the outside of every. single. cuddle cup -- they're all ruined. Thank goodness he doesn't seem inclined to eat polyfil because he totally could have before I even noticed. He keeps halfheartedly trying to pull the fleece off the walls so he can eat the coroplast. And my efforts to foil him have had one definite effect:

Image

For the uninitiated, this isn't Steve, it's his cagemate Cici, who used to have uniformly long hair. This was two days ago, too. She looks even worse now. The truly strange thing is that I haven't heard her scream a single time while her hair has all been eaten... and we know Cici is a *very* vocal lady. Further evidence that she and Steve are actually pretty fond of each other, I guess.

That said, as funny as I think the barbering is, I am worried that Steve is really uncomfortable. He has also started making chirping noises when he pees that I suspect are about pain. And he's lost another 200g in 3 weeks. We do have an appointment with Dr. A on Friday to check in on his heart and discuss next steps, and in the meantime I'm going to increase his metacam a little.

So here's my philosophical question. In a best-case scenario, we do another x-ray, and his heart has actually improved in 3 weeks, and Dr. A thinks surgery is viable. I have a vague sort of policy that everybody gets one surgery. So that would be easy, and we'd do the surgery, and see if he's one of the lucky pigs who doesn't make new stones (yeah right!). But... if she says that surgery isn't an option, I get a little fuzzier. Steve doesn't seem to be *miserable*. He's clearly uncomfortable and feeling fidgety and things aren't well, but he's still mostly Steve. And this is the same stupid conversation we have over and over about how they hide pain and how we can't know and what to do.

So I guess I'm looking for votes and anecdotes and feedback. In general I'm not a fan of the whole force-feeding, doping thing. If he hurts I want to help him stop hurting. But I've never had a bladder stone, so I can't even empathize with the kind of pain he's in. Is this a euthanasia kind of pain?

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:53 pm


I don't know if reading over the pain page would help.
www.guinealynx.info/pain.html

It sounds like a lot of weight loss. I imagine you have been hand feeding?

I would talk this over with your vet, consider how it applies to what you know of Steve. Euthanasia is not painless but your vet would certainly try her best to make it as painless as possible. I am sorry you are in this circumstance. I hope a surgery is possible and buys significant quality time.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:25 pm


It's a hard decision, and I'm sorry you have to make it.

But just having had a pig euthanized in the spring, I wanted to say that it's about as painless as it can be. They let me hold Felicia with a mask near her face until she was really sound asleep before they gave her the injection. If she was aware at all, it was only minimally so.

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:29 am


Yeah, I'm not worried about the euthanasia itself -- I'm no newbie to that process. I'm just, as always, stuck in that place of responsibility with that decision, which is never easy.

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daisymay
Supporter 2016-2017

Post   » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:22 pm


I would hold of putting him to sleep if he is eating and being as normal as Steve can be. Wait for the pain meds to kick in. I think you'll know if or when it is time to say good-bye.

I'm not sure if these are good for piggies, I am sure others will tell us, but when our Petal and Rosie were sick we gave them Baby husks to chew on. Worked a treat, must have took their minds of a what ailed them.

Will keep Steve in my prayers and will pray you get the wisdom to make the right decision for Steve. But like I said if he's eating, peeing and pooping and doing things a piggy does, I would just wait and see how things go. Sorry you're in this position. C'mon Steve! Hang in there mate! Girls send many wheeks.

Love Cici's hair cut. Way to go Steve! You're a very clever piggy, you have much talent!

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:37 pm


We had our follow-up today and nothing has changed with Steve's heart. He hasn't been hooting but started again as soon as I put him in the travel carrier, and he was all wound up and panting at the vet's, so she got a good chance to hear it. He didn't scream at palpitations, but she can definitely still feel the stone. She says she'd give him at least a 25% chance of dying just from anesthesia, but that if I want to operate she will do it for the next month or so. After that, she thinks it's really not a good choice.

Given how quickly I've seen stones recur, and his chances of dying during the operation, and the chance of a difficult recovery, and the fact that he also has pretty bad arthritis that the surgery won't help anyway, I'm inclined not to do the operation.

I came home with buprenorphine and for now the plan is just to keep him comfortable and do laptime supplemental feeding (but not with syringes, because this is a quality of life moment). If anybody has any particular argument why this isn't the correct choice, I'd love to hear it, but I think I'm pretty well decided. Poor Steve. :(

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daisymay
Supporter 2016-2017

Post   » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:42 pm


I am so sorry to hear the news is not good! You know Steve the best and you made the decision that is best for him. I would still offer him hand-feeding via syringe just to see if he'll take it.
I will keep you all in my prayers and hope the time he does have left is a peaceful and pain free one and may it also be a long one! Sending big hugs to you. Give Steve a cuddle and kiss from us. Sweet little guy! May you all have the strength to get through this tough time and the road ahead!

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:44 pm


I'm so sorry, Alden. Big hugs to you and Steve.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:32 pm


This is the hardest part of having a pet. I hope his time here is as comfortable as possible.

Clint The Cuy

Post   » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:44 pm


I think the choice you've made is the kindest one for Steve and I am so sorry that you have to make that choice. Steve knows you've got his back.

GrannyJu1
Armcavy

Post   » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:05 pm


You and Steve are in my prayers, Alden. You know him best and you'll know when it's time. Sending hugs.

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AldenM1
Supporter in '16

Post   » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:29 pm


Thanks guys.

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