Also, when I said I thought Penny's weight had redistributed because I could feel her hip bone, I was wrong: She has a cyst on her hip as well. I feel terrible for not noticing it, but at least it doesn't seem to be sensitive to touch or anything.
I also learned that, at some point, Penny had a broken leg. It showed up on the X-ray when the vet was looking to see whether Penny had a cyst or a bladder stone or a tumor. I forgot to ask which leg because I was preoccupied by stress about the cyst, but it's healed beautifully, and the vet says it probably happened before I adopted Penny because I would have noticed if she'd broken it while I had her.
Anyway, Penny has to be spayed, so I'll have to call and schedule that appointment on Tuesday. The vet said that during the spay procedure, she would poke the cyst on Penny's hip to see what was going on there. Regarding the spay procedure, I have some options to consider: I can have the procedure done with a scalpel or with a laser; the vet tech gave me a non-answer when I asked whether one was significantly safer than the other, but she did say that the laser method results in less bleeding because it cauterizes the wound as it cuts. There is also an optional post-op laser to stimulate the skin cells so that the wound heals faster. Is anyone familiar with these methods? When I had Rosie, one of my previous pigs, spayed, it was at a different vet (my regular vet had no openings soon enough), and they didn't say anything about lasers.
I also have the option of getting Penny tattooed so that if she has to be re-homed for any reason, future vets will know that she's spayed. I'm inclined to skip that since Penny will be 5 on September 8, my parents have said there's really no situation in which they can't help me take care of Penny (they're supporting me financially right now because I currently have no income), and I wonder if a tattoo doesn't carry a risk of complications (I know human tattoos can get infected, for example). Does anyone have any guidance on whether or not to do the tattoo?
I think you can likely do without a tattoo.
p.s. you may want to reread this page:
Thank you for confirming that it's probably okay to skip the tattoo and for sharing the very helpful link!
I've been reading about laser surgery on various vets' websites (including my vet's), and they all say that laser surgery has less bleeding, less inflammation, and less post-op pain than scalpel surgery. I wish I could find an academic article or something, since the vets are all obviously trying to convince people to pay the extra money for laser surgery. But I doubt *all* the pages I've looked at are lying, so I'm leaning toward laser surgery.
A short search I did includes a description of the benefits you describe. I didn't find any research papers either.
I dropped Penny off at the vet at 7:30 am and didn't get her back until 6:00 pm, but I'm told Penny did a very good job of eating post-op: She ate lots of hay, all the veggies I packed for her (her usual daily serving), and a few pellets. The vet gave her one syringe feeding but didn't give her any additional feedings because she was eating well. Penny was very excited about the lettuce I gave her on the way home to keep her hydrated, and she ate it all. When I put her back in the cage, I divided the cage (which I always do for pellet and veggie time so that Penny doesn't take more than her share) and picked up all the poop on both sides so I could tell whose poop was whose. So I know that Penny pooped plenty during the night. After I divided the cage, I gave Penny her afternoon vitamin C biscuit (she gets two a day) and her day's serving of pellets. She ate the biscuit right away and started on the pellets later in the evening. The pellets were gone when I checked on her this morning, and there's evidence that she's also been eating hay.
Penny is to receive Meloxicam once a day for five days, starting today. The vet gave her a Meloxicam injection while she was there, which is why my instructions were not to start the oral doses of Meloxicam until this morning. She's supposed to take it with food, so I waited until she'd had her biscuit and started on her pellets.
I imagine you read the postop page link I put up. The idea with pain killers is to give enough at the right times that pain does not break through. It is harder to relieve the pain once it has started than it is to prevent it.
I recall some people advising that once a day meloxicam may not last long enough and by the time the next dose would be needed, she may be experiencing pain. Some people break up the dose into two daily doses so there is more continual pain relief.
I hope her recovery progresses well!
p.s. Regarding the spay, were only the ovaries removed and not the uterus?
Yes, I did read the post-op page link you put up, and I found it very informative. Since I gave Penny the full dose of meloxicam this morning, I can't give her more until tomorrow morning. I was told that the post-op injection she got should last 24 hours, so there should be some overlap between that and the dose I gave her today at 9:00. If it seems like she's not feeling well tomorrow when it's time for her next dose, I could start splitting it up into a morning and evening dose.
Right now I'm keeping the cage divided for now so that I can tell how much Penny is pooping, but I obviously can't keep the cage divided forever. If Penny doesn't stop eating or pooping, how long should I monitor her this closely before I can safely say she's out of the woods? If it's a long time, I should probably set up a whole separate cage for her, but either it would have to be a little pet store cage or the pigs would have to be in different rooms.
I would still separate them for a few days.