Tuesday my other pigs were kinda harassing her a bit (last couple weeks there's been a lot of dominance play in the herd and I was starting to wonder if it was starting to get a bit abnormal) when I look in and she's got nystagmus, head tilt, and a left side weakness. I call my regular vet and they say they can't take her, and to go back to the emergency vet. I go immediately, it's a ~40min drive. When we arrive and I hand her off (can't go inside of course due to COVID-19 procedures), she appears alert, coordinated, sitting upright. No nystagmus. They keep her for a couple hours, do more x-rays, attempt more bloodwork but she's too stressed out. X-rays show the same thing from a month ago: arthritis, maybe fluid in the lungs but it's not clear, high esophagus. They want to keep her overnight to the tune of $1900. At this point I'm starting to think heart issues, and one of the vets suggests maybe the neurological symptoms could be because she briefly did not have enough oxygen going to her brain. Their best guess at this point is congestive heart failure, and they prescribe lasix and they give her an injection of it at the ER. I ask about an ACE inhibitor but they won't prescribe it, instead they say I'll need to follow up with my that vet. They send me home with antibiotics as well. She seems very tired the whole rest of the day and I keep her separated from the rest of the herd. By the next day she seems almost been to normal. We continue with the AB, lasix, and the Metacam for 4 days and she seems to be doing great, breathing is generally calm most of the time. I requested a copy of the records and received them but am still waiting on the x-rays.
Now it's Friday night and I got her out of the cage at 8pm for the last round of meds for the day. I give her 3 meds and a piece of cucumber as a reward. She is totally fine when I grabbed her from the cage and within 2min I can see something is wrong. She has left side weakness. As time goes on she has a head tilt and nystagmus as well. It's worse than the first time. I'm right now sitting here with her on my lap in a towel. For a while she was trying to turn herself around and around on circles. It's heartbreaking to watch.
It's now about an hour and 30min since this "attack" began. She has recovered a bit, ate a big piece of lettuce, but is breathing pretty fast. The nystagmus has improved or is mostly gone, she's sitting up, no head tilt. I've been trying to get my regular vet on the phone since Tuesday to discuss her most recent health issues and now obviously I'm going to do whatever the hell I can to talk to them tomorrow since she's obviously had two strokes? heart attacks? in a week.
Without the x-rays obviously I don't have a lot of good raw data to share here. Does any of this make sense? Been reading up a lot on heart pigs and I'd like to get Mavis on an ACE inhibitor to see if that would help but how can I prevent whatever is happening to her right now? Am I even going on the right direction?
Here she is this past Tuesday after coming home from the ER:
I've got her back in the cage now. She's eating a couple snacks but still seems to be weak/paralyzed on one side and acts stressed. Definitely seems like a stroke. Not sure there is anything else I can do for the poor girl this evening. :(
But the thing is symptoms goes away in three days ...and little head tilt stays permanently.
They say to me if the dog gets better in three days its vestibular if not its a stroke-cats can get that, too..probably pigs, too?
Left-right eye movmenet and head tilt on right its better than if eyes go up and down cause that means its central( brain is affected)
Just wanted to share the vet notes from the ER visit on Tuesday:
Pet’s Name: Mavis Age: 6.5 yrs Sex: IF Breed: Guinea Pig Wt: 0.97 kg
Color: Black Marking: Solid
Mavis presented for neurologic issues. Owner states that yesterday Mavis was fine but this morning she
noticed a head tilt, nystagmus, and some left side paralysis. She was still responsive and eating some
greens that the owner offered. She was hospitalized a month ago for pneumonia and potential heart
disease. She is on Meloxicam PO BID for arthritis.
- T = 101.7 F, P = 300 bpm, R = 100 rpm
- Attitude: Distressed, alert, responsive
- Hydration: <5% dehydrated
- BCS: 5/9
- EENT: normal incisors and cheek teeth, MM pink, moist; eyes clear OU; ears clear AU; no nasal d/c
- H/L: harsh lung sounds, increased RR/RE
- GI: abdomen soft and uncomfortable on palp; no organomegaly or masses palp; decreased gut sounds
- MS: ambulatory x4 with no lameness; normal musculature
- Neuro: appears neurologically normal
- LNs: NSF
- Gen/Uro: NSF
- Integ: clean/healthy hair coat; no ectoparasites seen
Discussed PE findings and that Mavis is still in respiratory distress. Rec. radiographs to better assess.
Lateral and VD full body radiographs revealed: cardiac silhouette is obscured by severe pulmonary
pattern, dorsal elevation of the trachea is appreciated; pulmonary vasculature is not visualized; severe,
diffuse edema in all lung lobes; diaphragm appears intact; liver is of normal size and shape; the kidneys
are obscured; the stomach is of normal size and axis and contains gas/ingesta; the entire GI tract is full
of ingesta and gas, the cecum is distended with gas; the urinary bladder is small with no evidence of
Discussed rads with the owner. Potential infection vs heart disease vs neoplasia vs other. Rec. oxygen,
nebulization, antibiotics, Lasix, and supportive care 24 hrs. owner declined hospitalization and elected
12:30pm Telecom: called furosemide prescription into compounding pharmacy. Furosemide (4 mg/ml) 0.5 ml PO Q12 until directed otherwise (#30 ml; 5 refills).
1:05pm Administered Furosemide (Lasix™) 2mg IM. JMC
Rule out Congestive Heart Failure vs. Pneumonia
The following instructions have been reviewed and sent home with your client upon discharge.
Rule out Congestive Heart Failure vs. Pneumonia
Your pet has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and likely underlying cardiac (heart) disease. Left sided heart
failure can lead to pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can lead to difficulty breathing and a history of coughing and
decreased appetite. The pet may need oxygen therapy, evaluation by a cardiologist, medications to improve pulmonary
edema and cardiac medications to improve cardiac output. Prognosis is dependent on response to therapy and the underlying
cardiac disease that is determined by echocardiogram with a cardiologist. It is very important to follow up with your regular
veterinarian and cardiologist when recommended.
<Removed section about GI Stasis, they diagnosed her with this both times but she had no issues eating, drinking, maintaining weight, producing normal stools>
The antibiotic they prescribed is Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim 40 mg/ml x2/day at .5ml.
Today Mavis seems to be doing fine, she's on the increased lasix which seems to be causing some very soft and smelly poo, and her weight is down a little bit, but is otherwise in good spirits.
I am concerned but am not really sure what to do. My vet doesn't seem to have any experience with heart pigs. She was open to prescribing meds after I sent her heart pig info from GL, but it doesn't sound like there are any additional avenues for diagnostics with her besides treating symptoms and hoping for the best. I've already increased the furosemide back to 2mg/2x day but am still hearing her cough. I've got a stethoscope and to my extremely untrained ear her breath sounds are clear on both sides (used a healthy pig as a control), heartbeat is strong. She acts completely fine besides the coughing.
As an aside, I am noticing an increase in mounting behavior and dominance displays from my other pigs towards Mavis over the last couple of days. They could just be in heat and I am reading into it too much, but back in October before Mavis was on any medications, there was a period of a couple weeks where it seemed like they were all ganging up on her and it was just constant mounting behavior. This stopped after she went on meds and I attributed it to the herd knowing she was sick. I am concerned that this behavior occurring again means Mavis is sicker than I know. Has anyone else observed this with a group of pigs where one is sick, or am I just overanalyzing things?
Hoping for the best for Mavis!!
- Supporter in 2020
If it were me, I would continue with the original recommended dosage of furosemide for a couple of weeks. The medication starts working immediately, like within an hour, to eliminate excess fluid. Within one week you should see a difference with the cough. Furosemide usually needs to be administered at least every 12 hours and sometimes every 8 hours. It just doesn't last long enough to administer once a day.
- Supporter in 2020
I hope Mavis starts feeling better.
After a few weeks of that and no change in symptoms I recently decreased the dose to 2.5mg, but within the last couple of days I've noticed Mavis' breathing has become quite labored. Her weight is good and she acts alert, but is breathing quite hard even though her lungs sound clear. I've bumped her Furosemide back up to 4mg for now and hope to see a positive change in a couple days.
I've got an appointment in for a consult with a different vet and will be asking them about Vetmedin. It's been a minute now since I've had to actually see a vet and I'd hoped it would be easier to get an appointment now that we're more than a year into the pandemic, but nope, had to call three places and the soonest I could get was 2 weeks out. :(
When I started this thread I didn't think Mavis had much longer to live, let alone still be here to eat grass again in the spring, but here's the whole herd enjoying themselves just the other day: