weight loss in older piggy

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Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:47 pm

Is there any way you can aspirate the lump in her neck to confirm that it's a thyroid gland tumour? Have you found the thread on Maggie in your searches? She was about 5 years old, had a thyroid gland tumour, heart issues, etc. and was very tiny when diagnosed.

We tried her on tapazole first and while it lowered her thyroid level, it wasn't enough to really improve her overall condition. We decided to go ahead with the tumour removal, and it worked out extremely well for us.

It might be an option for you to start a course of heart meds first, and see how well that stabilizes her. She may improve considerably, leaving the surgery option a less risky one. (hope that makes sense!) I believe there is a type of tumour that can be around/near the thyroid gland and cause hyperthyroid type symptoms, but not actually change the thyroid values. This might be something for you to investigate further as I'm not positive about it.

If memory serves, we did find kidney issues on Maggie's postmortem, but these were not the cause of her death. Maggie was also on Metacam longterm which may have affected her kidneys.

There are so many factors at play in these situations, it's so difficult to know what to do. My vet and I have agreed that when it reaches a point where the pet is declining when we are doing nothing, we're obligated to try something, even if there's a chance that the something we try could cause more/other issues.

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Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:01 pm

Thanks, Alice. Think I did read through Maggie's thread (or parts of it) and will do so again. Yes, lots going on at once. And yes, I thought if Inca can just improve a bit -- whether from thyroid meds or heart meds -- I might consider surgery. But we've got to take one step at a time. I'm waiting to hear back from my vet as to what plan she recommends.

Didn't sound like a good idea to mess with Inca's lump (aspiration nor surgery), but maybe that was mostly my resistance to anesthesia and willingness to presume it's a thyroid tumor without evidence.


Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:51 pm

. With the stethescope, my vet said her heart was racing -- I think about 400/minute. She said even when they're stressed it's not that fast. When the cardiologist listened, she thought maybe she heard a murmur or an arrythmia, and my vet thought maybe a "gallop." Then the cardiologist listened again and said the puzzling sounds were really respiration, not heart. Only finding with echo was a slightly enlarged left ventricle (I think), and they said there's not enough diagnostically to conclude she's got a heart issue.

I'm going to assume the cardiologist has not dealt with a lot of pigs and is basing a lot of the diagnostics on cat and dog experience. (Pigs don't tend to be a niche market with any specialists).

Our "hyperthyroid" pigs have to remain assumed hyperthyroid as the vet couldn't find the thyroid glands for necropsy. However, based on hyperthyroid cats, we assumed the revved up activity level would be a stress on the heart(confirmed by stethoscope - heart rate was too fast to count) and heart meds would be necessary to keep pig from collapsing. Heart meds helped level things out.

It makes no sense to not give heart meds to a "hyperthyroid" pig with the diagnostics you have. Tapazole and Fortekor can be given concurrently. What is your vet waiting for? Collapse?

With pigs you don't have the timeline for screwing around testing treatments that you have with larger animals. Sometimes you have to treat the symptoms as well as the cause and in the end, as long as the pig improves you're winning. Fortekor is an extremely safe heart med. There is no benefit to not treating a pig with a murmur or an arrythmia and slightly enlarged left ventricle for the heart issues indicated .

Again, what is your vet waiting for? Heart failure brought on by hyperthyroidism? Or is your vet gambling that the "hyperthyopridism" can be brought under control before the heart fails.

That's a hell of a gamble.

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Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:17 pm

Thanks, Pinta. I was on board for heart (for a while) and trying to convince my vet. Figured we'd do the echo if that's what would shed light (rather than just my theory about clinical signs Inca has had that can point to heart). Then both docs didn't see "enough" with the echo to piece it together, though it certainly sounded like some abnormalities were perceived via both stethescope and echo (I was there the whole time).

After reading stuff this morn (about cats), it's all clear to me. And I've notified my vet what I want -- to treat heart and thyroid, but perhaps not concurrently at first (help heart first). She's more on board with a tapazole plan (only), but I'll bet she'll prescribe Lotensin if I'm persistent.

Now I'll reread some heart threads to see how fast improvement might occur...or can someone give me s sense here and save me some time searching? Once Inca's heart is a bit better, we'll start tapazole. Hope she can hang in there for the ride ahead!

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:21 pm

heart threads to see how fast improvement might occur
It depends greatly on the pig. I've had pig show results in as little as a couple of days, and other pigs have taken 3 weeks.


Post   » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:52 pm


"request for heart pig stories" sticky.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:26 am

Today is Day 1 of tapazole for Inca's hyperthyroid. Vet explained that giving both thyroid and heart meds would be too much -- sounds like a redundancy to me. Her heart is racing because everything is racing due to thyroid. Reducing the excess thyroid hormones should help everything calm down within a week or sooner (if our dose is not quite right, may take longer). Giving both meds may result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

After the tapazole kicks in, hopefully Inca can start gaining some weight back (or at least stop losing). By my scale (just shows 25-gram intervals) she seemed around 620g this morn -- poor thing. And we will likely do some blood work in a few weeks (if I'm not too nervous about the anesthesia) to check Inca's kidney function; hyperthyroid masks kidney problems, yet when thyroid levels improve kidney disease is sometimes revealed.

Fingers crossed we're on a road to recovery for my little girl! She just turned 5-1/2 and is nearly half the weight of one of her sisters (who is same age).

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Bugs Mom

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:44 am

No advice here just hoping things start to go well for you and Inca.

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:51 am

I hope you see some results soon.

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Supporter 2004-2021

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:59 am

Good luck with Inca! Are you dosing once or twice a day? I believe we were doing twice, based on some data my partner found showing that a divided dose was more effective.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:19 am

Inca's dose seems small compared to the few doses I've seen posted here on GL. But maybe it's a stronger concentration; I don't fully understand dosing of meds. Vet prescribed .07 twice daily. I told her my preference is to be cautious and then increase if necessary (because of the effect on kidneys), and she said I can do once daily if I want. But I'm gonna give as per instructions unless I observe something concerning with Inca.

My vet had discussed the whole case with hospital's "guru" on hyperthyroid (has treated thousands of hyperthyroid cats, on which piggy protocol is based) as well as a cardiologist and another doc (maybe head of critical care?). So I feel I've got a panel of experts helping us out and need to just trust them now.

mmeadow, Scooby's name has come up every so often. Sounds like she was improving well until her thyroid "storm" -- condolences again about her, but hopefully they will learn with each case, right? Until they are more confident about best treatment. Inca will further the cause, too.

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Supporter 2004-2021

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:39 am

I can't read John's cryptic notes on Scooby's meds. I'll get him to decipher for me and then post tonight.

As I posted earlier, she definitely improved--she became more active, had a much better attitude, and ate much more on her own. We continued to hand-feed her Critical Care, but not vast quantities. (Before the methimazole kicked in, she was getting a whopping 60 ccs/day, and even that wasn't enough to stabilize her weight. AND it took more than 3 hours a day.)

Again to repeat--if we could have a do-over, we might continue to increase her dose beyond that which got these results. John wonders whether the thyroid storm could have been prevented by additional suppression of her thyroid function.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:22 am

mmeadow, I think Scooby may have been worse than Inca. Inca already is active, has good attitude, and eats well -- even before the meds. And to supplement Inca is quite easy; don't think I've given up to 60cc of Critical Care per day, but that wouldn't be hard to accomplish. Sounds like maybe Scooby's weight loss made her weak, whereas Inca -- thank goodness -- is acting okay despite her size/weight. I'm really hoping for a good outcome, yet remain cautious and ready for anything.

Please do send along Scooby's tapazole dose, though; I'm trying to learn doses other members have given. In one post, you wrote .30 for Scooby, divided into two doses/day. And in the skinny/T4 thread, a few folks posted about 1.25 daily for tapazole. That's why I think Inca's concentration must be higher because her total daily dose will be only .14.

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Supporting my GL Habit

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:25 pm

Good luck with Inca - I hope this stuff does the trick.


Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:43 pm

she definitely improved--she became more active

Inca already is active

Huh??? Hyperthyroid pigs are already active, frenetically active. You want to calm them down, not get them more active. All that activity requires extra fuel(excessive eating and drinking) but the calories are burnt off before they can add to weight. The major organs all work harder and faster. The poops are bigger as the food rushes thru the system faster. Everything is speeded up.

Hypothyroid animals are not active, sluggish. As I understand it Dogs can get hypothyroidism and cats hyperthyroidism. As no research has been done on pigs it's anyone's guess if they can be hyper and hypothyroid.

Weight loss and inactivity indicates something other than hyperthyroidism. In our experience these symptoms have usually been heart related.

I can't remember what diagnostics were done to conclude hyperthyroidism is the problem. Ultrasound?

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:04 pm

Sorry if that got confusing. mmeadow said her piggy got more active with tapazole; that's why I guessed maybe her hyperhtyroid piggy was weak from weight loss and frenetic activity.

My piggy, Inca, subject of this thread, is not sluggish yet also not frenetic. Her energy is a bit inconsistent, but not drastic. She has presumed hyperthyroid based on a lump in her neck, weight loss that couldn't be explained by other diagnostics, racing heart, and slightly enlarged left ventricle (seen with echo); T4 was okay, which is why I went down a "heart" path with the vet. But once we felt the lump, now we're pretty sure thyroid is causing all problems.

We'll check Inca's T4 and other blood levels again after she gains some weight (or stops losing) and her heart slows at least some. Those will be indications the tapazole is working. That's our plan.


Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:22 pm

No utrasound was done? Our suspected hyperthyroid pigs didn't tire no matter how much weight they lost. Even my vet commented they will run themselves into a heart attack at the rate they were going - hence the heart meds while we tried to slow them down with the tapazole.

They also did not have any lumps anywhere.

This sounds like an "assumed diagnostic". Because so much is at stake and heart disease is fairly easy to deal with, I think you need to confirm the hyperthyroid diagnostic. Has the lump been biopsied? Ultrasounded?

T4 was okay I believe that is the only indicator of hyperthyroidism.

My brain can't compute the hyperthyroid diagnostic with a pig that is not frenetically active. Honestly, hyperthyroid pigs act like they're on speed. They will jump out of their basket at the vet and run around the examining room. Very freaky to see since they regard their basket as a safe zone and usually won't leave it in un familiar surroundings. My vet was amazed at the change in pigs she knew well.

Maybe you vet should be trying heart meds first and see how they work and THEN try tapazole.

I also think Josephine should look at this thread.

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Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:18 pm

Yes, it is indeed a presumed diagnosis. Inca is not at a frenetic point, and certainly I'm glad for that. Sounds like yours was very revved up, so that's how you knew.

We're going on weight loss (despite much supplemental feeding)plus the lump, plus rapid heart that is likely secondary to the hyperthyroid. We were thinking to retest her T4, but I don't want to anesthetize Inca for bloodwork while she's so underweight and has racing heart (and we couldn't collect from her leg). We can try heart meds or thyroid med, but not both (can be dangerous for blood pressure and kidneys, plus we wouldn't know which is working), and the way my vet explained it, makes sense to try tapazole for her thyroid first, which hopefully will slow her heart (and everything else) closer to norm.

I'd love if Josephine chimed in...or anyone else.

Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:50 pm

You may want to send Josephine an email and ask her to look at this thread.


Post   » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:05 pm

We're going on weight loss (despite much supplemental feeding)plus the lump, plus rapid heart that is likely secondary to the hyperthyroid.

Extract the lump symptom and it describes heart issues. Bart is just over 2 years and has been on heart meds for over a year. We knew his meds needed adjusting when he lost 12 ounces rapidly from his norml 3 pound weight. Lasix did the trick. He regained all his weight back. He started losing again and we upped his Fortekor. Weight is coming back on.

In my experience, without the frenetic activity, it just doesn't sound like hyperthyroidism. We had T-4 counts that certainly indicated something was off. We used healthy pigs for T-4 controls. Without the T-4 counts, what else do you have to go on to diagnose hyperthyroidism?

Has the lump been biopsied? What makes your vet think it has something to do with the thyroid?

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