Age at onset: 3 years 10 months old
Signs: An occasional hop up and down
Bladder cancer was undetectable, only the weird occasional hop was an indication something was wrong.
Woozy had a history of slow kidney failure, but she managed to stay healthy on a low calcium diet. This diet came too late for her sister, who already died before we could try it out. The diet was started at 27 months old. Read all about that in this record here:
When she was 46 months old, we noticed that she did a weird hop up and down with her bum, 3 shakes up and down and that was it. No sign of pain, no sound produced, no facial expression, just a hop. It was not the same movement pigs make when they have a UTI. As we saw it once a day sometimes, not days in a row, we were not worried. Piggies have their own way of behaving sometimes, so we were not alarmed. Especially as it coincided with her two cage buddies developing ovarian cysts at that time. They were both very hormonal, so we considered the fact that it might be a stress thing.
When she was 4 years old, we suddenly saw the hop daily and sometimes even twice, which lead us to believe that the problem had increased. We were still thinking it could be stress related, as one cage buddy died after surgery and the other was sick for weeks till she recovered. She had taken such good care of her sick friend, stress was a possibility. To be on the safe side, we made an appointment with the vet.
We have limited vets here in Belgium who know at least the basics of piggies anatomy. We found this one just then, he is a lot better than the average Belgian vet. By the time she went for an x-ray, she had also developed a strong smelling UTI in a few days’ time. I had put her on Bactrim till the vet visit, with permission of the vet. The x-ray showed a bowl-shaped calcified object in her bladder. The vet and I were puzzled. It did not look like a typical bladder stone.
He gave her a large doses of Valium, put her on Metacam, so she would be groggy to pee the stone out, as the size was small enough to pee out. You can see that on the scale on the x-ray, in millimeters. Woozy was not groggy at all and that trick did not work.
She was also put on Marbocyl, an antibiotic for her UTI. The Marbocyl did only kick in after 6 days and did not seem to cure the UTI, but the vet indicated that as long as the stone was there, the UTI would not go away. She was also on Cisapride for her bowels, as she had a lot of gas in her bowels, plus Simethicone to clear the gas out. The vet and I suspected that the antibiotics and stress of being in pain caused the bloating.
Next vet visit, the entire procedure was repeated. This time, she looked drunk on the Valium, but still not groggy as the vet expected, despite that the doses was increased up to a small dog. A scan was also taken along with an x-ray. The scan revealed nothing and was very unclear. The vet and I became more and more convinced that it wasn't a stone, but it could possibly be a polyp. But then, why was the polyp calcified? It was a complete mystery.
Two days before her next vet visit, I called the vet to move the operation forward, as her UTI flared up again and it was obvious that the stone did not come out. There was also blood in the urine. The vet agreed. He took an x-ray and we saw that the item was gone. Then he manually emptied the bladder, by squeezing it empty, which hurt Woozy a lot. Then he took an x-ray again and there was a faint shadow in her bladder left, so he decided to go through with the surgery, as her remaining UTI on antibiotics, her continuous bloat on medication, suggested that there was an issue left in her bladder.
He called me during the surgery, to say he had unexpected bad news. She had a massive bladder cancer tumor, which had spread to her uterus and eroded that completely too. The item in the picture that is being held by the tweezers, is the tumor.
He suggested to close her up and take her home, as she was doing so reasonably well right before surgery, he said she had about a month left and would enjoy it, on pain medication to keep her happy. He said as soon as she lost interest in food, she needed to be euthanized. I asked him if that was a good idea. Loving a pet also means life extension is not done to please the owner, but to put the life quality of the pet first. But he insisted. I saw where that was coming from: she had been popcorning till 3 days before surgery.
She was completely miserable at home. I got up 3 times at night to feed her and the 3rd time, she refused veggies. In the morning, she was grinding her teeth, which indicated that the pain medication was not working. She felt cold, so we were sure that her organs were shutting down. We called the vet's practice to have her euthanized that morning.