Timmay - choking with handfeeding


Post   » Wed May 16, 2007 8:47 pm

Timmay was a classroom pet who was dropped by a child during weekend care. He came into the vet on 05.09 with hind end paralysis. He also had very minor crusty eyes. An xray was done and there were no obvious spinal fractures. He was prescribed 0.07cc meloxicam q24h and given .2 ml dex phos IM. Parasites were visible and he is being treated with ivermectin.

His eyes seem to have cleared up quickly with the use of triple antibiotic ointment applied q12h.

Timmay has since shown minor movement in his right hind leg, but continues to drag his back half. A cart is being constructed per pinta's post, which he'll make use of once out of quarantine.

During the last week, Timmay has lost approximately 2 ounces. Yesterday he was given 25cc of CC as a supplement and lost .9 ounces. Today he's been on steady handfeeding. He does still eat and drink, just not enough. Today I noticed that he may be aspirating some of his CC, despite his head being in a good position and food not going faster than he can swallow. He does not choke during the feeding, but anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes afterwards, so he might be fine and 3-4 minutes later make choking/coughing noises.

The position used to feed him is on all fours with his head held steady and tilted up a little bit (but not straight up). The CC is not overly watery. I prefer it as thick as will suck up in the syringe gracefully. I have hand fed multiple piggies and not had this issue before. His paralysis does not affect above his mid-back, so I am not sure what is going on with him.

Thanks in advance for suggestions of what may be going on and where to go from here.

You can quote me

Post   » Wed May 16, 2007 9:44 pm

What's your best guess on how old he is?

It sounds almost as if there is something preventing, or restricting, the passage of food through his esophagus, stomach, and/or on into his lower GI tract.

Can the vet take another look at the x-ray done on the 9th, but this time focus on anything else anomalous, like a potential mass or obstruction? My other guess would be some neurological damage from the fall that's affecting his digestion. One of our vets told me once that there is a bundle of major nerves, governing everything from mobility to digestion, that come together approximately where our lower back would be.

If that area was damaged in the fall, perhaps this will get better as his mobility improves.

Bless you for taking him and helping him.


Post   » Wed May 16, 2007 9:58 pm

His chart states that he's about 3 years old.

I didn't know about the bundle of nerves in the back - that's a very interesting idea. Once the food gets in, he has very healthy output. I was very pleased when I picked him up that he had no impaction issues (the last back case had a serious impaction issue which has lessened with time).

I will call the vet tomorrow (different one than the one who saved him from euthanasia, but even more experienced) and have him give another look at the xray.

There was no way I could not help this guy. He would have absolutely been put down if I had not and he seemed to be in such good health (good quality of life) at the time, other than needing a set of wheels.

I've got a little bit of a bad feeling at the moment. It would suck so much to lose this guy. I just don't like the general trend and the choking thing. I was thinking if it was a neurological thing and he's having difficulty swallowing because his brain was scrambled, it would be so awful to put him down and there wouldn't be much recourse.

Quick rant: I think it would have been an excellent classroom lesson to keep Timmay and have the class build him a mobility device. It would really teach "living with consequences of our actions."

You can quote me

Post   » Wed May 16, 2007 10:05 pm

I empathize with your rant, but I'm very glad he's out of there.

I'd rather the vet that saved him from euthanasia convince the school district to eliminate animals in the classroom.

There's another possibility, albeit a little unlikely -- maybe his body is just having to adjust to relatively large, relatively steady amounts of good food. You know he hasn't had that up to now.

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Post   » Wed May 16, 2007 10:23 pm

Have his teeth been checked? How did his heart look on x ray?


Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 2:21 am

His teeth were not checked thoroughly. I suspect they were so busy looking for broken bones that they did not ogle his heart. I've got a call into the vet to have a second look at that xray.

Talishan: Good point about animals in the classroom. You may have a point about large amounts of food, but since he's been increasingly eating and drinking less, I just think something is wrong. I pushed him some fluids tonight because he barely touched his water today and he was a great drinker when he first came in.

You can quote me

Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 10:33 pm

How much does he weigh and what is the concentration of your Metacam?

You may be able to give him more than 0.07 cc. It might be worth an experiment to see if a higher dose of the NSAID helps him.

He is no longer on dex, correct? You can't mix an NSAID and a steroid.


Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 10:43 pm

After waiting all day, I missed the vet's call by 1 second! Grrrr. So he said he checked the xray and that *maybe* there are a couple of "chest vertebrae" out of alignment. He went on to say that if there isn't rapid improvement, the prognosis of paralyzed piggies is bad. Actually, this pig HAS has minor improvement... he can twitch his right hind leg, so signal is getting through at least to one side. I don't think he entirely understood the Timmay is declining and that I'm not worried about paralysis, I'm worried about his lack of eating. We do have an appt next Wednesday, but until then. we're going through the weekend.

Just to complicate matters, Timmay has quit drinking so I've been giving subcues and today he pulled the IV extension set out of the needle, so the end touched his hair. Now that it's not sterile anymore, I'm in the awkward position of either disinfecting it the best I can or syringing fluids every two hours until either Wednesday or when he magically starts drinking again. I was hoping I could persuade this doc to call in a set over at the clinic near me so I could pick it up tomorrow at least, but now... what to do?

I could also just directly inject him with the 35cc syringe, but I'm not sure my IV skillz0rz are that elite. It'd be better than nothing, but eek.

Ideas, people? I don't want to lose this guy. I'll euthanize him if he's suffering, but I want him to pull through. He was *fine* last week, what am I not doing?

You can quote me

Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 10:56 pm

" ... what am I not doing?"

Not necessarily anything. I would think the 'couple of chest vertebrae out of alignment' could possibly affect his eating and drinking as you are describing.

I agree with you (and disagree with your vet). The 'prognosis' for paralyzed guinea pigs isn't good ... if you expect a 100% return to complete normal health. They can and do regain some of their mobility. Otherwise, they'll need special care and your vet may be assuming this is not 'acceptable', since many folks would, unfortunately, feel that way.

Well, not you.

Can you boil, and thus reuse, the needle and extension set? Then get him to call you in a set over at the clinic by you.


Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 11:08 pm

I believe the extension set would melt fairly quickly. If I were careful, I may be able to boil just the tips by holding them really carefully in the water, but I wasn't sure if that would be enough. The rest is just thin hose and it gets pretty soft just by putting hot water on it. Assuming I manage to get ahold of him tomorrow, he won't call til after business hours, so if I am lucky, the best I'll do is to get another set on saturday. Will boiling the tips (for 5 minutes? 30?) be enough to kill the germs?

Oh, did I mention I have to ask him to do the shady thing of ordering it in a different pig's name (one he's never seen), because the place by my house won't fill a prescription for an animal they've not seen? Bleah. I suspect all of this may not be as crazy as I feel like, because i've also got 2-3 other major events going on in my life right now. Every tiny straw feels like another 50 pounds. :)

I suspect you are right about the standards he is applying. I think most of what he said boiled down to "yeah, a paralyzed pig is going to be... paralyzed." He even said "Just like Christopher Reeve." Well, DUH. I think this pig will improve eventually, and if he doesn't, it doesn't matter... as long as he quits declining. He is actually eating some small amount of hay still, but refuses other foods. It doesn't help that I think his molars are too long. When he chews that syringe, he really mashes it good. With a new syringe *every* feeding, I may run out in a few days/week! But if it were only his teeth, he would have not been eating anything when he came in.

More determined than ever.
Last edited by PigHerder on Thu May 17, 2007 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

You can quote me

Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 11:14 pm

I'm going to say 7 minutes would be okay on the tips. A guess only! I'm pretty sure Pinta has done this. Search for "boil" with Pinta as the author. There's 7 posts there and I think a couple give details.

Christopher Reeve did a hell of a lot of good from that wheelchair. Just sayin.


Post   » Thu May 17, 2007 11:27 pm

ahh. I saw posts about boiling needles, but didn't know it would apply equally to plastic items. Thanks.

I think he thought I expected Timmay to get up and walk after a week and I was panicking when he wasn't. He was still focused on the spinal injury when that's not what I was really interested in. I wanted to know if there had been some other internal injury that was perhaps missed in all the attention to the bones.

This vet is not as familiar with me as the one who entrusted Timmay to me, so he has no idea of my expectations or sort of care I give. The other vet has gone on maternity leave.


Post   » Mon May 21, 2007 5:06 pm


Timmay seems to be doing better today so far. He is eating more and started drinking last night. I do not know if it was coincidence, but he started eating/drinking after being put on .35cc Baytril. He is also receiving .5cc reglan q12h and .07cc metacam q24h. The reglan was prescribed when he quit eating to promote the GI tract to keep moving. Is it safe to dc this, once I am assured that he continues eating? He has been on it a few days. I figure there is no issue, but I wanted to double check.

Regarding his paralysis, when he drags himself now, his back feet frequently pull up as if to help him. It has not been quite two weeks. I take this as a very good sign and think getting him a set of wheels once he is out of quarantine will be especially helpful. He certainly looks ready to come out to play and be in a little bigger cage!

I may trim the pics later to a postable size, but for right now, here is a picture of when he first came in:

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E's Moriarity

Post   » Mon May 21, 2007 6:19 pm

Timmay is beautiful! It's okay to keep him on the motility drugs for a bit - I had a pig on them long-term (intermittently) for chronic intermittent inappetance. Keep an eye out for antibiotic intolerance, and get some acidophilus to feed him an hour or so after the baytril. I don't know if the motility drugs help keep him eating with the baytril. My pigs always get a bit off their food when on antibiotics.

He needs a little wheel chair. Have you read the "Roxy Roller" thread?

Duh, I see that you've mentioned pinta in your first post. Roxy did really well with her cart! Good luck with Timmay.


Post   » Mon May 21, 2007 7:00 pm

The odd thing with the baytril this time is that just after I started it, TImmay actually BEGAN eating. It could be coincidence or it could be the baytril really knocked the infection sideways and Timmay started feeling well enough to eat.

Yes, he gets benebac 2 hours after baytril, 50mg of vitamin C and simethicone prn.

I am still perfecting his harness, but life (and feeding him every 4 hours) has kept me away from finishing the project. It's fairly moot until he gets out of isolation later this week.

Currently Timmay does not eat much when food is placed in his cage, but only when out on my desk when I actively flaunt it in front of him. It is still a whole lot easier than handfeeding him.


Post   » Thu May 24, 2007 6:18 pm

Timmay had that brief period where he was eating and drinking normally. He still continues to drink, but he rarely eats.

We saw the vet yesterday and he was given an injection of Buprenex, to see if it was pain that was keeping him from eating. He woud not eat that evening, but during the night he ate a little. Unfortunately, he lost 2 ounces yesterday. He will not eat this morning.

The other theory is that his GI tract just feels lousy/doesn't feel it much because of the hind end paralysis. I will start him on cisapride soon (he's been on reglan, but that's more for upper GI), but wanted to give a chance to see if the Buprenex helped.

If it is because of the paralysis, this guy may need handfeeding for two months before recovering enough function. It is interesting to note that he was eating when he came in (a couple days after the accident) and slowly stopped.

99% of the time, he ignores the food in his cage - frequently he lies on top of it. He does eat some amount of hay. His teeth have been visually checked by an experienced cavy vet and pronounced more perfect than most.

Every once in awhile, the boy of the house is able to "trick" him into nibbling a little lettuce by playing with it. I have tried this trick, but it doesn't seem to work so well for me. Then again, I'm the one always shoving a syringe into his mouth.

I am not sure what to do here. With surgery coming up next week and moving in June, I'm not going to be able to take care of this guy to this extent, this long term.

I would welcome any suggestions folks have as to how to get him eating better or what I might do next week when it will not be possible for me to take care of him. There aren't any shelters here that would do this level of care and affording boarding at a vet is not an option. I am currently casting about for volunteers, but of course it is an enormous task to ask a person to take on. When I took him, I did not know about the surgery or about the moving.

edit: I discontinued the Baytril when he quit eating, but it has not made an impact.

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Barbara Osborn
Supporter from '05 - '12

Post   » Thu May 24, 2007 6:40 pm

Ah, poor little guy.

Pigherder, I hope your surgery goes well and that you can enjoy your rest and cure.

Anyone here at GL live in Portland , Oregon area who can help her out?


Post   » Fri May 25, 2007 1:36 am

Thanks Barbara. It seems I have some amazing friends who will try to make it to my location to help take care of the pigs (and heat up my soup) next week.

If both of my friends make it up here, they claim they can handle it, which solves the immediate problem. What I'm going to do when I am in Seattle hunting for an apartment for two weeks and then moving, I am not sure.

BTW, I do have a potential adopter lined up for this guy - I just have to get him healthy enough to go home. :)


Post   » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:42 pm

This is driving me crazy. Timmay continues to not eat or drink enough to support him, but the cause is very unclear. It almost looks psychological. I know the good folks here sometimes come up with very innovative ideas, so I thought people might have some good suggestions. I have not had bloodwork done for him yet, but I am not convinced anything would show up. If it's a gut or behavioural issue, it wouldn't. He looked to be in good condition when I got him, besides the obvious trauma from the fall.

Timmay will not eat when food is put in his cage, or if he does, it's tiny nibbles. He will not drink in his C&C cage (next to a neighbor, but they get along fine). It doesn't matter what bottle is placed on the cage or where. If he does drink from it, it's just a sip or two and he stops.

He does more drinking when placed in the 30x30" cage with the narrow-mouthed bottle. Again, I've put this bottle on the C&C cage to no avail.

He also does some drinking if you HOLD the water bottle, angling it so the spout is horizontal, then tipping up as he gets more enthusiastic. He is perfectly perky when he starts drinking, it's not that he's too lethargic to drink. I have tried rigging up an angle on the C&C cage, no luck.

Food is similar. He'll sit and eat lettuce, provided I am right there, preferably playing with the lettuce if he stops eating. He could hungrily eat a whole leaf of lettuce, but if had put that same lettuce right in front of his nose in the cage, he wouldn't touch it. Only on my lap.

His paralysis has improved dramatically, but his eating/drinking pattern has not changed, which you'd think there would be if it were related to the paralysis as hypothesized. Come to think of it, he does eat a little bit more while on my lap. Last visit he was given a strong pain killer to see if the pain was keeping him from eating, but aside from some nibbles during the night, he did not eat.

I've wondered if some of this behaviour is related to being a classroom pig with children never leaving him alone (and taking him home on weekends), but he just has to eat on his own sometime. Not only is he not adoptable this way, but it's making it incredibly difficult to move/apartment shop to another state.

I am still handfeeding him and would like to hear schedules that other people follow with handfeeding. Typically I do every four hours, but I found this guy tolerates 6 hours, so I would sleep for 6 hours, then do every four hour feedings after that. When I inquired at the exotics vet about boarding, they said "we get enough food into them during the day, that it's not a problem to go the 13 hours at night." That sounded weird to me... their little guts always need food going through it. I am however going to give every 8 hours a go... he seems perfectly perky, long as I make sure he stays hydrated. 8 hours would be far more manageable if it comes to taking him to Seattle with us to apartment shop.

help! Is there anything else I can try to get him to eat/drink on his own?


Post   » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:45 pm

Aww the poor little guy! I am so sorry he isn't eating and drinking on his own.

Is he still on the reglan? Did he start the cisapride?

Has the vet given him metacam or steroids? One of the vets my babies go to put Joey on metacam last year when he began losing weight and we couldn't find a reason why. He said the idea was that it tends to stimulate the appetite as well as relieve pain. It worked. Joey began eating normally and regianed his lost weight in a few days.

Perhaps the nerves that signal hunger are still healing or inflammed. If they are inflammed a steroid may well help.

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