Mary is a 7 year old, intact, female crested smooth hair. I adopted her back in 2012 when she was (reported as being) 2 and a half years old. She had been cagemates with Robyn (http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=72587&highlight=robyn), and lived in the dark for the first 2 and a half years of her life. Since then she has lived with me and the rest of my herd and been remarkably healthy apart from some cloudiness in her eyes, thought to be due to her poor start in life, and this recent episode of bloat...
On saturday (June 4th) I noticed she was breathing hard. She seemed otherwise well and was eating, drinking, peeing pooping, so I kept an eye on her.
The next day (sunday the 4th) I saw that her stomach was distended and firm. I did the tap test and it rang out loud and clear and hollow. I called the emergency vet and brought her in.
When we arrived she was still acting pretty normal - wandering around and interested in food. Her poop production was down (though not completely gone), but they did not hear any gut sounds so they took an x-ray. The x-ray showed no blockage but did show a good quantity of diffuse gas in her stomach. They put her on fluids, pain meds, and motility drugs, syringe fed her CC and kept her in over night.
This morning, the regular exotics vet called to let me know that she was doing much better and can come home today. She wanted to take an ultrasound because Mary's ovarian cyst felt bigger. When they did that ultrasound they got a lot of information:
The cysts were big - they removed 7mls from each cyst via syringe. We will put Mary on hormone injections that target the cysts themselves (not Lupron... I forget the actual name) and see if that helps shrink them
There were some kidney changes... Again with the kidney changes! (I've seen kidney changes in 4 of my pigs now). On the back of this, the Dr checked Mary's urine and blood. The blood came back normal, but the urine did show some elevation in protein levels.
The ureters were a little enlarged which would be consistent with her having recently passed a stone. One suggestion might be that this caused pain which caused the bloat - though I'd be a little surprised because I really didn't notice any pain in Mary recently. They also didn't see any sludge in the bladder on ultrasound.
The spleen didn't look the way they might have expected. She stressed that it is unclear what we should make of this information - since they don't look at guinea pig spleens very often. Though the difference in the spleen did look consistent with the early stages of Lucy's spleen trouble (Lucy has several masses including some in the spleen - they are probably cancerous).
The plan for now is hormone injections, monitoring of the kidneys and spleen, an additional urine test to check for kidney related information, possible sodium citrate presumptively (since it's a pretty benign drug).
I wanted to share this for a few reasons -
1: just in case extra info on bloat treatments might be useful (since its a very dangerous condition and still pretty hard to treat as I understand).
2: In case anyone has advice for what I might change going forward to avoid future occurrences of bloat, or thoughts on possible connections between these factors.
3: I'm seeing a lot of kidney involvement with my pigs. I don't know whether this is just bad luck or whether perhaps kidney problems are prominent but often un/misdiagnosed. I wonder whether any of you have thoughts.
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I had a human doctor tell me once that there are really only two changes that come with normal aging, apart from serious disease development -- changes to the eyes, and changes to the kidneys. FWIW.
Once a pig has experienced a stasis/bloat episode, they are somewhat more susceptible to another. One of the best things you can do is keep some Reglan on hand, if your vets will go along with it. Administer it at the *first* sign of incipient stasis/bloat (which of course will happen, guaranteed, late on a Saturday night. :-/). Our vet is okay with this, and it has been a huge help, especially with older pigs.
I'll ask about the metoclopramide. My vet didn't seem aware of the idea that bloat is prone to reoccur, but i'll ask again when i take Mary for a check up.
As of now Mary is doing ok. she seems kind of painful if I try to palpate her stomach and her stomach feels quite hard. My sense is that she is tensing up when i pick her up or touch her stomach. I'm monitoring this but it doesn't have me freaking out yet because which the bloat episode an the fact that they drained her cysts it wouldn't surprise me if she is just a bit tender around that are (though if this sounds wrong to anyone i'd like to hear!).
Thanks for the links, Lynx. I did read them over in my panic on sunday night. Before taking her to the vet I had given her some simethocone and sat her on a towel on top of an electric toothbrush.
I think it's fair to say that I'd have lost my mind years ago if it hadn't been for this site and the forum community.
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Is she defecating? Eating, drinking, urinating properly?
Bloat can take several days (or more) to completely normalize. If she's eating, drinking, and especially defecating, she should be okay, or well on her way to okay.
Kudos to you for caring for your pigs so well. Never forget that what you're having done helps other pigs, too. That counts for a lot.
What I saw: head bobbing back and forwards as she breathes. Some increased 'visibility' of breathing in her abdominal area. Some slight firmness in the abdomen, but not severe.
Other than that she is normal - eating, drinking, peeing, pooping. Doesn't seem in pain or puffed up, still lounges around as usual. I haven't noticed increased lethargy, though she was always a 'relaxed' pig - not too interested in running around.
We saw an exotic specialist who heard an arrhythmia. They suggested taking an eco, which I agreed to. Now I'm waiting to hear to results.
Another thing to note is that no heart problems were noticed when she was admitted for the bloat last month.
I'll keep you posted. Never had a heart pig before - I suppose it's only a matter of time...
My vet told me that the eco was extremely unusual and interesting. I think she said that part/one half of the heart was enlarged and there was some unusual activity in one of the valves. She did say that its an irregular arrhythmia - the heart isn't dropping one beat consistently.
The very good news is that Mary seems to be doing well, oxygenating well, etc. They want to get the whole cardiology team together to look at the eco and see if they can work out what's going on. Hopefully, it is just a very interesting, irregular heart that is functioning well despite its idiosyncrasies.
Cornell thinks I have a penchant for finding 'unusual' cases...
(p.s. I can post the vet's full write up when I receive it if that would be helpful)
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We had one pig who also had an enlarged heart on one side, on cardiac ultrasound. I believe the vet said it was the side that serviced the lungs -- evidently their cardiopulmonary systems are set up somewhat differently from ours (and this is going from memory, quite a while back).
Interestingly, he also came from an awful background.
We found her unresponsive in the cage in her normal lying down position. I picked her up to check on her and felt she was floppy. I ran her into the bedroom where it was quiet because we had people over and laid her on the bed and tried to get some response out of her. Soon after that she started to take those big breaths that happen after death. I felt for breath or a heart beat. Nothing.
We took her in to be necropsied and then cremated. She must have had a heart attack? What happened?
I'm broken by this.
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She has ear infections in both ears - completely shocking since we saw no evidence of a head tilt and neither did the drs when she was in just 2 weeks before her death.
She had some significant pneumonia. Though the cause of death was undefinitive, there is a possibility that is was the pneumonia. This is extremely worrying to me since I had another pig (Ruby: http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=73249&highlight=) die unexpectedly of pneumonia recently.
She did have heart failure on one side of her heart and there was significant scaring found around the heart.
She had a malignant tumor in her lungs.
She had a tumor in one of her kidneys along with some kidney changes consistent with those seen in my other girls.
She had a splenic mass similar to Lucy's (I also have her necropsy report now which is surprising and worth a look: http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=72449&highlight=)
Lots going on with her, though she really never showed it. I have appointments for most of my girls in the next two weeks to check for any signs of pneumonia.
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Having your other pigs checked out is a wise precaution, but pneumonia is not particularly transmissible. The major causes of flat-out pneumonia are 1) a URI going unnoticed and untreated (not your case); 2) very poor husbandry (not your case), and 3) heart compromise.