Should I worry? Lazy "rag doll" pig

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poppypiggy

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 8:25 am


We have a little herd of four female pigs. Our 1 year old sow Poppy came to us at the age of about 8 weeks in the beginning of January this year - as company for Little Pip after her cage mate had died - and settled in nicely.

In the beginning everything seemed to be OK, but after a while it looked like her belly was getting unexpectedly large. And of course she was pregnant - in early March she gave birth to one single pup - a girl we named Molly.

Poppy has always been a bit lazy, so that might explain why she is fatter than the others, but the feel of her body is so different too! When we pick her up it is like she is floppy, if that is the right word for it. It is difficult to explain, but when lifted the proper way with one hand under her chest and one under her butt, her front legs come up, her back legs go out to each side and her butt is always the lowest point. I think it is like lifting a little rag doll filled with water, if that makes any sense. And she don't mind laying on her back either.

In most ways she seems healty enough, and when she decides to chase some of the others she does that at a rather high speed, but most of the time she is just laying around. She eats well, and weigh about 1200 g, but compared to the others she seems to be maby a bit thinner on the upper part of her body and much fatter on the lower part. Like she was when we found out that she was pregnant, only that she can't be now, since we only have sows, asd she has not been around other pigs at all. Poppys abdomen is rather round and soft, and when palpating it I sometimes get the feeling that it is filled with fluid, not fat, but I don't know if that is the case.

I have read some of the info about heart pigs, but I don't think that she really fits into any of the patterns there. On the other hand I have this odd feeling that not everything is quite right.

Has anyone any experience with "rag doll"-pigs like this?

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rshevin

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 8:38 am


I've never had an experience with a pig like this but I absoutely agree with your gut insinct that something doesn't seem quite right. It sounds like her muscle tone isn't right but I don't know of anything that would cause it off hand. I know you'll get some very educated opinions soon.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:22 am


You might read over the heart info sticky in this forum to see if there are other signs of heart problems.

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snowflakey
E's Moriarity

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:24 am


Yes, she sounds like she might have a heart problem. That heart sticky has lots of good information in it. We have a few folks here with lots of experience with heart pigs. Once on medication, they do really well!

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poppypiggy

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:25 am


Thanks! I have been thinking a lot about this, and tried to oberve Poppy very closely in order to decide if I am hypocondrical on her behalf or not. Your replies have convinced me that I am not!

I have been reading a lot on the care section, and I have never read (or heard) about anything like this. Poppy has been more or less the same all the time she has been with us. In the beginning I thought it was because she was afraid of us, or that her early pregnancy had something to do with it, but since there has been little or no change by now I think it is time to find out what it is.

I will read the heart section, and also the hart pig tread, over again and see if I can make something out of it!

Thanks again!

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:43 am


Two things come to mind: ovarian cysts and heart issues.

I've had some very 'floppy' pigs here - all heart pigs. And yes, they often seem to have a loss of muscle tone. One of them was very pear shaped, but showed no signs of cysts. All these pigs changed markedly after being on lotensin for a few weeks.

I have a pig in foster who is very pear-shaped, no muscle tone, and while she seems rather plump around her bottom end her top end is bony. She has severe ovarian cysts AND a mild heart problem.

Whatever it is, it doesn't sound normal.

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poppypiggy

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:04 pm


Pear-shape is exactly the right word, Mum! And that is so differnt from the other girls. The little "extra" they might have is more evenly distributed on them than on Poppy. I have to look into the ovarian cyst problems as well, then!

Right now I am printing out the whole heart pig-tread, as that makes it easier to keep track of all the information.

Part of my problem is that I don't have a good vet. I know about one 5 hours away, so she is an option, but I think I should try to find out as much as possible on my own first, and than discuss the matter with a vet that is closer.

I wonder if lotensin is sold here (Norway)? I have to look into that, too, I assume. Isn't Lotensin a medicin for humans? I think I read that somewhere. Could my own doctor perhaps prescribe that to my pig? I have to find out!

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:08 pm


Yes lotensin is benazepril - a human heart medication that must be compounded for animals. I believe sometimes if you can't find that you can use Enacard (enalapril) - also a human heart med, but not quite as gentle on the kidneys.

She sounds young for heart problems, but I have one pig who came into the rescue at about 6 months old with a very enlarged heart on xray. Your problem may be finding a vet who can recognise an enlarged heart on the xray.

Ovarian cysts need really to be diagnosed via ultrasound if there are no other symptoms. An ultrasound is also beneficial for diagnosing heart issues if there are no signs on xray. So, if it's possible an ultrasound of both the heart/lungs and abdomen would be very useful. However you may have trouble finding someone who can read the results.

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poppypiggy

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:21 pm


Yes, I guess finding a vet that knows how large a guinea pig heart is when it is healthy is difficult enough, so finding one that is able to see if it is enlarged is quite a challenge!

The ultrasound might be a better idea. Little Pip, the 6 and a half years old sow that Poppy was paired with when she first came to us, was finally, after weeks with diarrea and me handfeefing her, diagnosed with a tumor in her guts by ultrasound, but the vet that did that has left. And I don't think any of the others in that office are able to tell a healthy heart form an enlarged one.

What bothers me is that I am not sure if they really would admit that they don't know. I suspect that they would try to look into it, and than say "No, we did not see anything wrong!" They seem to be a bit arrogant, and when Little Pip was ill I don't think they liked me asking intricate questions about a guinea pig. Except for the one that finally saw Pip, and then left shortly after.

Anyway - at least I now have an idea of where to start. Your suggestions are very helpful, Mum! THank you very much!

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rshevin

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:36 pm


I wonder, since she's very young could she possibly have a hole in the cardiac septum like human babies sometimes have? Have you ever heard of pigs having this Mum? It would seem to imply a different cause than peripheral vascular disease or idiopathic enlargement maybe?

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:24 pm


I haven't run into that - but most of my pigs are older, and all have enlarged hearts.

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poppypiggy

Post   » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:19 am


Hmmm! I have been thinking about the same thing, since Poppy seems younger than most of the cases on the heart pig tread. I don't like that there could be several other things to consider, too! If pigs insist on beeing sick, then at least they chould suffer from something that is easily diagnosed and treated! That should be a rule!

At least I have made a little progress. The Norwegian online pharmaceutical list I have found does not have anything about Lotensin or benazepril in it, and no Enacard, but I have found Enalapril is sold here; from different manufactureres. I guess it doesn't matter what they call it as long as enalapril is the active ingredient.

So if it is enlarged heart Poppy suffers from, then it should be possible to treat her.

I still am a bit unsure of where to start when it comes to finding a competent vet, thou. I have to investigate some more on that issue!

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poppypiggy

Post   » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:18 am


Jippi! Further investigations brought me to a Vet medicine page, and there I found "Fortekor vet. Novartis, ACE-inhibitor, ATCvet no.: QC09A A07, tablets 2,5 mg contain Benazepril. hydrochlorid. 2,5 mg, const. q.s."!

It says Fortekor is used for treatment of heart failure, especially "dilated cardiomyopati and mitralisinsuffisiens" (??? my translation - sorry, I am not too familiar with medical nomenclature) in dogs, and in cats tentatively to reduce proteinuri in chronic kidney failiure when PCR (???) is > 1.

I think Fortekor is about the same as Lotensin. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:29 am


Yes, Fortekor is exactly right - it's a brand name for benazepril for veterinary use.

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poppypiggy

Post   » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:49 am


Thanks, Mum!

I have looked on Poppys nipples, and they might be a bit larger than on the others, and a little bit crusty. But isn't that just because she has had a pup and nursed her? Or will the nipples always go back to the size they had before? (I don't think *mine* did after nursing two greedy babies! :-) )

Anyway - I might have found a new vet! I phoned a clinic I just have discovered, and when I asked if any of the vets there knows anything about guinea pigs, the very friendly receptionist assured me that dr. B. has worked with exotics for a long time, that he is very knowledgeable, fond of animals (hopefully more than of money!) and more than willing to read up on subjects he don't know enough about. That sounds more promising than any of the others, so I got an appointment for Thursday.

I will bring printouts from GL with me in the hope that he is willing to discuss. Reports will follow!

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:11 am


and a little bit crusty.
This is a sign of cysts. She's not still nursing, right?

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poppypiggy

Post   » Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:34 am


No, her pup was born in March.

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rshevin

Post   » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:01 am


Looks like you got pretty good on the translation. I'm assuming "dilated cardiomyopati and mitralisinsuffisiens" is dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) and mitral valve stiffness (prolapse? stenosis?) which would be exactly what the benazepril treats. Pretty cool that you were able to find it. The Latin roots of most medical words must be conserved even in Norwegan.

"If pigs insist on beeing sick, then at least they chould suffer from something that is easily diagnosed and treated!"
I couldn't agree more!

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poppypiggy

Post   » Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:51 am


rshevin: Thanks! It is right that in Norwegian many medical words have Latin roots, but there are also what I guess could be called "truly Norwegian" words, or maby "popular" words, for most medical terms, so the "Medical Tribe Language" is sometimes very difficult to understand if you are not medically trained. I am not, but had some biology in school, so at least I understand a few Latin words!

The visit to the vet today was encouraging in the way that this new (to me) vet was very friendly and truly devoted to his work - the way he handled Poppy convinced me of that. He is not a guinea pig expert though, but I think he can be one with time.

He listened to Poppys heart and could not hear anything wrong, and I guess that is not very surprising, since she is so young.

Than he palpated her abdomen, and agreed with me that it is unusually soft and "spongy" in the lower part. But after a thorough examination he said that that is because her intestines can be felt directly under her skin! She must have some innate defect since she does not have, or just have reminiscenses of, (directly translated from Norwegian) oblique abdominal muscles! On humans these muscles go from the hips down to the perlvis and hold the lower abdomen togehter, more or less. (Is this understandable? To me it sounds a bit strange in English, but I don't know an other way to explain it.)

The vet said she has the "Rectus abdominus", but did not mention the Latin names for the missing muscels, only the Norwegian, and I forgot to ask. When looking at this guinea pig anathomy image

http://www.netherworld.com/%7Ecowboy/Anatomy/MuscularSystemVentralView.jpg

it seems to be likely, since her abdomen is bulging out in the area where I suppose the cutaneous trunk muscles of her upper body end - one little soft bulge to each side. It sounds very unusual, so I guess I have to examine her thoroughly over again tonight!

The vet also said that this could be the reason for her inactiveness, as her chest, lungs and diaphragm does not operate effectively when her lower body misses some of the support it should have. Or at least this is how I understood what he said.

The fact that she has given birht to a healthy pup should more or less rule out heart issues, he thinks.

I asked about ovarian cysts, but he told me that he is not very good with ultra sound diagnostics, and that the expert collegue is in Utrecht, Netherlands, at the moment, taking a specialist course in ultra sound diagnostics, if I understood him right! Utrecht is suppoed to be one of the best vet schools in Europe, so will I consider talking to this collegue when she's back.

I gave the vet the printouts from GL, and he had not heard about GL before, but was positive when I told what I have been learnig here. He thought it looked cool, and said he would like to read it over and even go to there to see more for himself. I hope he does, and read up to learn even more about piggies!

So what now? I am partly reassured, but not totally convinced that Poppys heart and ovaries are fine. On the other hand there isn't anything particular that can't be explained by this defect. Except the slight bonyness of Poppys upper body, perhaps. I guess I have to observe her for some time, and than see if I still feel that something is not quite right. And as I said, perhaps talk to the ultra sound vet when she's back.

Does anyone have other suggestions? Should I have insited on x-rays?

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Mum
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Thu Nov 16, 2006 12:08 pm


An xray would have shown you if she had an enlarged heart, which is common in my experience.

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