Pippin's Tummy Troubles (Long)

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Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:40 pm

My four-year-old neutered boar, Pippin, has always been around three pounds and the least energetic of my pigs. Over the weekend his energy level was pretty good. I was out of veggies so I bought some romaine lettuce at a local mom and pop store. It was a little thinner and paler in colour and neither he nor Pandora seemed to like it as much. Tuesday night-Wednesday morning he was noticeably less active and less interested in food. When I turned out the light I heard a “mewing” sound, but I wasn’t sure whether it was him or Pandora.

Wednesday morning his weight had dropped to 2 lbs 14 oz and his appetite/energy levels were in fits and starts. I gave him a slug of Mylecon and dropped him off at the vet’s and he didn’t finish the lettuce leaf in his carrier. The vet said she first saw him he seemed noticeably “under the weather” and disinterested in food.

His heart and lungs sounded fine, teeth were fine, hydration was good, but he seemed slightly gassy. Vet asked permission to do an X-ray and blood work. X-ray showed everything fine including bladder and kidneys, again a little gas. She could not get any blood without stressing him and she sent him home. She was considering giving him Reglan but said to keep trying the Mylecon. By that time he was noticeable better. I bought some fresher romaine and parsley at Safeway and he ate both enthusiastically. Wednesday nite he was fine. He ate all his hay and veggies. I didn’t see the need to give him oral hydration or subcues. I dosed him a couple times with Mylecon.

Thursday he seemed practically perfect, was up to 3 lbs one oz. He had cleaned up everything I left in his food bowl. I didn’t give him any pellets, as both pigs seem to do less well on a pellet-heavy diet. I gave him a slug of Mylecon and dropped him off at the vet’s to try the blood work again. I heard the “mewing” sounds coming from Pandora’s cage, so I knew it could not be him that time. He did great Thursday, appetite and energy wise. His last dose of Mylecon was around 10PM.

This morning around 11:30 AM he was kind of lethargic and picky about his food. He was back down to 2 lb 15 oz. I gave him some of the leftover romaine from a couple days ago. I walked to Safeway and got him more parsley and romaine. He stood up on his hind legs and begged for the romaine, which I take as a good sign.

The vet has not heard from the lab yet.

I’m sorry to have gone on in such detail but I don’t want to leave anything out. He had a similar problem about ten months ago but not it resolved itself in a couple hours. Pandora has had similar bouts with tummy trouble that last a couple days. Mercifully, she is fine now.

Some things I have noted:

1) Both pigs seem to do better with fewer pellets.
2) Neither one liked the romaine from the mom and pop store as much.
3) I live directly over the boiler room in an 80-year-old building. Pippin felt very warm when I picked him up, but felt cooler at the vet’s office, so I doubt he has a fever.
4) All three of us keep irregular hours. If I’m not home the lights are off and the blinds are down, so I’m wondering whether the decreased light levels are affecting either of them, especially in winter. I try to feed them regularly, but with my work/sleep sked this isn’t always possible to do it perfectly.

Sorry about the length of this post, and thanks for your input.

Obey My Authority

Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:07 pm

I am sorry JaneDoe, but I too have no idea.
McMac had an episode earlier this summer where his weight was slowly but steadily on a decline, a total of 5 oz in 6 weeks.

Our vet never has found anything conclusive, no gas was found, no heart murmur, 2 X-rays and poop lab. He too was showing lesser interest in the pellets and was eating mainly fresh veggies and hay.

He eventually came out of it, and has been maintaining his original baseline weight (prior to the weight loss) since September.

I wish you the best of luck, and some more experienced members would come by soon and offer their advices.

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Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:20 pm

No ideas either. Weighing him a couple times a day at regular times (am & pm) might show a normal fluctuation in weight).

How about a fecal smear to see if there is any bacteria?

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Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:17 pm

I've nothing of value to add, but will mention that as our pigs age, they're progressively less tolerant of even the slightest sub-standard produce. We've had a run of less than ideal produce for several months now, and two in particular, a (best guess) 5-year-old intact female and 6-year-old intact male, can only tolerate small pieces of greens. They'll become sluggish, a little puffy, a little gassy for a few hours, then be back to normal. Fruit and carrot seem to bother them less (though we haven't completely substituted that for greens.)

I'd stay completely away from the mom and pop produce. No guarantee that the stuff from Safeway is 100% safe, but we've done better with fully packaged, brand-name heads from a large grocery chain (Kroger here = Safeway).

The fecal smear is a good idea.


Post   » Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:31 pm

I'm sorry about your little guy. I wish I had more to add.

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Post   » Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:04 am

Thank you, everybody. Pippin was doing much better when I left for work a couple hours ago. I have talked to the vet a couple times. She said his CBC was normal but they could not get enough blood for any other tests at this time. She thinks it’s probably a passing GI upset such as the kind Pandora has had.

Momo, how old is Micmac?

Interestingly enough, Pippin has had the toughest stomach of the three. Baby Pandora, who is half his age, seems to have a more sensitive tummy, and so did Lightning, who died at about age three. The vet seems to think he “relapsed” after having to go back to her office and be restrained to get blood a second time. She is in favour of waiting till he’s completely better. I left her a voicemail message asking about a stool culture, however, as his CBC was normal and Pandora’s last culture was it’s probably not too pressing.

You can quote me

Post   » Sat Dec 09, 2006 7:20 pm

"... Pippin has had the toughest stomach of the three."

Interesting. Our MamaPig, the 5-year-old female I mentioned above, used to could eat absolutely anything, in virtually unlimited quantity. Not so much any more.

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Post   » Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:11 am

I wonder about the off-brand stuff. I have bought stuff from this Mom N Pop place before me with no ill effects. Neither pig liked this last bunch of lettuce much.

Pandora has had the most tummy troubles of the three, and when she's under the weather she is the most picky.

Our vet says pigs usually know what's good for them. It was so funny a couple weeks ago -- Panda's not a big parsley fan, but when I bought her some to settle her tummy she stood on her hind legs and begged for it voluntarily.

Pippin begged for his mylecon the other day, and he hates the stuff.

On the other hand, Mom's cat refused to end her favourite brand of catfood. It turns out it had gone bad -- Mom thought she had killed the poor cat or at least ruined her health. Fortunately the cat got over it. Maybe we should listen to our pets more.

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Post   » Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:25 pm

So Pippin is looking and eating better than he has in days and I wake up feeling kinda coldish. Nevertheless, I get into the car to get him veggies. Spoiled, spoiled pig.

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Post   » Sun Dec 10, 2006 11:30 pm

I am glad to hear he's doing better - those days are nice aren't they?

Here's hoping you feel better soon too!

Obey My Authority

Post   » Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:40 pm

This is good news JaneDoe, now all Pippin has to do is eat up and poop lots for us. : )

McMac is 5 years young to our best estimate.
He too is our most sensitive child when it comes to feeding changes (we need to ration his wheatgrass and weekly fruit treats).
He is now sitting tight around 2lb 14.5oz to 15oz, roughtly about 1290-1305 grams.

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Post   » Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:27 am

Pippin is doing great -- weight back up to where it was. I am still watching him like a hawk, giving him a little Mylecon and being VERY careful with his diet.

His vet and I agree a stool culture is probably not necessary now as he doesn't have diarrhea and neither does Pandora. We may get more blood work but I want that to be while I'm at my mom's and he and the vet will have more quality time together.

I, on the other hand, think I have an ear issue going on -- stuffy nose, nausea, dizziness :(

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Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 1:51 am

Both pigs are doing great, but I had blood drawn today. It was only one prick, but the woman squeezed and squeezed. I thought of how poor Pippin hated it. No wonder :(

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Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 2:03 am

Pippin is now officially five years and five months old but I think he’s closer to just five. About ten days ago I noticed both he and Pandora were looking a little puffed up and uncomfortable. This was during a cold snap – I don’t have central air/heating so I put it down to climate change. About a day later they both looked fine.

About one week ago I noticed both had lost a little weight. When I took them to the pignic, Pandora pooped and peed up a storm in her carrier. Pippin made only two poops, one very big one and a little one that looked like a ball bearing. He made a bunch of bigger-than usual poops at the pignic.

All week long his weight has been up and down and so have the size of his poops. Some are perfect, some are huge, some are tear-drop shaped or shriveled-up looking.

I have been giving him oral hydration and Mylicon. On Wednesday I took him to the vet. She said there are no abdominal masses and she could feel formed bowel movements. The poops he left in his cage were kind of small and he peed twice – urine looked normal, no blood.

She said continue what I was doing and give him a little pineapple juice diluted in water. Like a dummy, I also gave him some fresh pineapple chunks Wednesday and Thursday. Pandora got some too. Then I did a web search and found out pineapple is a diuretic, so I stopped giving him pineapple in any form.

Friday I started syringe-feeding Pippin sweet potato baby food in addition to his regular food and oral hydration. Saturday his weight was down a little more, but so was Pandora’s. Pippin is pooping well, but his poops are still inconsistent in size and shape.

I will call the vet again Monday morning regardless – she mentioned Reglan as a possibility but neither of us wants to over-medicate him. She is also reluctant to do an X-ray as she did one less than two months ago and that one was perfect.

I am hoping this is all temporary and just due to change in climate/irregular feeding schedules. This has happened twice before with Pippin and at least once with Pandora. Both are eating like horses, but Pippin has been a little weird, for instance, he was originally grabbing for carrots and chowing down, now he is less enthusiastic about them. A couple days ago he wouldn’t touch romaine lettuce but wolfed down several leaves this morning and would have eaten more had I given them to them. Ditto for broccoli, tomatoes and red/orange bell peppers.

The vet says his teeth looked good on inspection but has not ruled out tooth problems, however, the other day he tried to eat the bark off his play-log.

At about 5PM ET Saturday I left him and Pandora with some pellets, tim hay, romaine lettuce and water. Both their energy levels seem good, it’s just the weight loss and inconsistent poops which worry me. Shortly before midnight Saturday/Sunday I snuck (sneaked?) home to check on them. Pandora hadn’t eaten much but Pippin had left a dent in the food I left him and there was a goodly number of poops.

Sorry to ramble, but any advice, good thoughts etc are appreciated.

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Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:41 am

You don't mention the actual weight variation. Maybe it is not extremely significant?

Do they eat lots of hay? Can you get your hands on some nice fresh grass? The vet likely suggested the pineapple on the theory there was some sort of hairball in the system and the pineapple would help it move along (this is pretty rare but was found once in a guinea pig).

Sounds like you're doing what you can. I imagine you're weighing at least once a day to keep track of things. Picking regular times to weigh would let you know if they are normal fluctuations or not.

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Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:46 am

Thank you, Lynx. It was less than 10%, but I wanted to nip it in the bud -- didn't want it to turn out like Oreo's situation.

I am weighing them both once per day. I guess I could get them grass (they got some at the pignic) but in my neighbourhood I am afraid as it might either be sprayed or contaminated by dog/cat urine. They do get Oxbow tim hay. I am trying to feed them smaller amounts often, although that's hard with the hours I keep. I will be home in little more than an hour.

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3 Little Pigs

Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:23 am

I'm sorry that Pippin isn't feeling well. Hopefully it is just him trying to give you a scare.

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Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:26 am

That's what I'm hoping, Three Little Pigs. I know it sounds crazy, but I think the pigs, especially Pippin, can pick up on what I'm feeling. My stomach is in knots between work (See General Chat) and refinancing the condo.

Their tummy problems seem to coincide with very strenous/erratic work schedules or climate/diet changes.

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Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:25 pm

When I got home about 9AM ET today both pigs were wheeking for food.

At about 4PM ET Pippin's weight was up a little, Pandora's was down. Pippin is now eating more enthusiastically than Pandora, which is normal. His poops were a little gloppy, but that's not surprising considering the extra food/hydration I've been giving him.

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We miss our sweet Oreo

Post   » Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:54 pm

Keep an eye on what veggies you're giving. Maybe there's a connection between the item and the smallish poops, suggesting they clog him up a bit. Remember that it can take as long as 24 hours for food to move through a guinea pig, so think in terms of what was fed the day before you see the smallish poops.

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