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Specialist Breathing issues

Caroline Hughes

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Hello everyone,
We have 3 guinea pigs and one has been poorly for months.
She initially had a wheeze, runny nose and sticky mucus on her chest. Septrin had no effect, neither did a few weeks on Baytril. Baytril gave her a UTI. She was also on Bisolvon granules. The sticky mucus on her chest was coughed and sneezed out back in July using an F10 nebuliser. She has continued with laboured breathing on and off ( but more often than not) ever since. She is being treated by a fantastic vet. Throat and nasal cultures showed no bacteria and she has tried another antibiotic. I forget the name but it was tablet form and she had a quarter twice day...it possibly began with R? She's had a steroid (orange) inhaler. Bloods came back normal. Xray (last Wednesday) showed her teeth, heart and lungs are fine and her nasal passages appeared ok too. It did show that stomach was full of gas which explained her weight loss. She is around 780g and was just under a kilo at the end of March when we got her. The vet thinks that she is swallowing air while eating as she is trying to breathe. I have been syringe feeding a mixture if powdered nuggets, oats and a little weetabix twice a day but since Wednesday, I've split it into smaller amounts, 4 times a day and added a probiotic and 1ml of gripe water with each feed. She will eat hay and veg and nuggets without encouragement sometimes but can need a lot of coaxing despite being on 2 appetite stimulants. I massage her tummy with an electric toothbrush during the evening and she passes around 40 poos while I do it...I am hoping that some of the gas is released too. She is now on a combination inhaler with steroid and something that is meant to open the airways. There has been virtually no discharge from her nose for a couple of months and neither the inhaler nor the nebuliser have any immediate effect. Am I missing something? Could this be an allergy? Her vet says it is her nasal passages that are the issue so could something have irritated her nose at some point. Her sister and niece are both fine and weigh over a kilo and eat constantly! She has always been a bit smaller than them and could possibly be a runt as she has deformed front feet. Please does anyone have any suggestions or experience of something similar? Thank you for reading this very long post x
 

Wiebke

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Hello everyone,
We have 3 guinea pigs and one has been poorly for months.
She initially had a wheeze, runny nose and sticky mucus on her chest. Septrin had no effect, neither did a few weeks on Baytril. Baytril gave her a UTI. She was also on Bisolvon granules. The sticky mucus on her chest was coughed and sneezed out back in July using an F10 nebuliser. She has continued with laboured breathing on and off ( but more often than not) ever since. She is being treated by a fantastic vet. Throat and nasal cultures showed no bacteria and she has tried another antibiotic. I forget the name but it was tablet form and she had a quarter twice day...it possibly began with R? She's had a steroid (orange) inhaler. Bloods came back normal. Xray (last Wednesday) showed her teeth, heart and lungs are fine and her nasal passages appeared ok too. It did show that stomach was full of gas which explained her weight loss. She is around 780g and was just under a kilo at the end of March when we got her. The vet thinks that she is swallowing air while eating as she is trying to breathe. I have been syringe feeding a mixture if powdered nuggets, oats and a little weetabix twice a day but since Wednesday, I've split it into smaller amounts, 4 times a day and added a probiotic and 1ml of gripe water with each feed. She will eat hay and veg and nuggets without encouragement sometimes but can need a lot of coaxing despite being on 2 appetite stimulants. I massage her tummy with an electric toothbrush during the evening and she passes around 40 poos while I do it...I am hoping that some of the gas is released too. She is now on a combination inhaler with steroid and something that is meant to open the airways. There has been virtually no discharge from her nose for a couple of months and neither the inhaler nor the nebuliser have any immediate effect. Am I missing something? Could this be an allergy? Her vet says it is her nasal passages that are the issue so could something have irritated her nose at some point. Her sister and niece are both fine and weigh over a kilo and eat constantly! She has always been a bit smaller than them and could possibly be a runt as she has deformed front feet. Please does anyone have any suggestions or experience of something similar? Thank you for reading this very long post x
Hi and welcome!

Please do not feed weetabix but help stabilising the weight loss with feeding recovery formula; enough to try and stabilise her weight. Monitor the food intake by weighing daily at the same time (ideally first thing in the morning as the weight will be lowest then). Normal kitchen scales are perfectly OK. around 80% of the daily food intake should be hay; you can't check that by eye. The poo out put lags 1-2 days behind the food intake and will not give you an accurate picture.
Our guide links below contain vital information on appropriate support care. Please take the time to read them and bookmark:
Digestive Disorders: Diarrhea - Bloat - GI Stasis (No Gut Movement) And Not Eating
Probiotics, Recovery Foods And Vitamin C: Overview With Product Links
Weight - Monitoring and Management
Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment

Can you please either take a video or clarify what breathing problem your piggy has - is it hooting, rasping, crackling or clicking in the lungs; very fast and noticeable or with heaving sides?
Have your vets considered upper or lower respiratory disease which is result of permanent damage to the lungs or the upper respiratory tract? It took me two years and a number of vet visit as well as a very experienced vet with a very good stethoscope to have my Ffraid diagnosed with that for her persisting respiratory tract issues.
In view of the bloating, there may be another not yet found underlying problem in play that is also accounting for the persistent breathing issues, like something pressing on the heart, lungs or gut.

Please accept that we can only guess.
 

Qualcast&Flymo

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This sounds a lot like what my Zebedee had 2 years ago, a URI and a gas filled tummy at the same time. I don't know if the two were connected, but we tried various different antibiotics, including Zithromax, Baytril, Marbocyl, before I was able to get a sample of a sneeze analysed and we found the particular bug he had needed Sulfatrim. About the same time, it was suggested by a member here that the gas problem could be due to yeast overgrowth, which could be treated with Metronidazole (that can have side effects though so we only used it because nothing else had worked). The sulfatrim and Metronidazole did seem to do the trick, his URI began to clear and most of the gas disappeared so he could eat better.

This is my particular one-off experience, however I'm not a health & illness specialist unlike @Wiebke .
 

Wiebke

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This sounds a lot like what my Zebedee had 2 years ago, a URI and a gas filled tummy at the same time. I don't know if the two were connected, but we tried various different antibiotics, including Zithromax, Baytril, Marbocyl, before I was able to get a sample of a sneeze analysed and we found the particular bug he had needed Sulfatrim. About the same time, it was suggested by a member here that the gas problem could be due to yeast overgrowth, which could be treated with Metronidazole (that can have side effects though so we only used it because nothing else had worked). The sulfatrim and Metronidazole did seem to do the trick, his URI began to clear and most of the gas disappeared so he could eat better.

This is my particular one-off experience, however I'm not a health & illness specialist unlike @Wiebke .
Any personal experiences with similar symptoms can help and are always welcome in this section. None of us is a vet, has direct access to a piggy. This means that we can only go by our own experiences or by those made by other forum members if there has been a striking case. Unlike you, I haven't got any personal experience with this combination of symptoms so my own contribution on this issue can only be limited. @Qualcast&Flymo
 

Caroline Hughes

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Hi and welcome!

Please do not feed weetabix but help stabilising the weight loss with feeding recovery formula; enough to try and stabilise her weight. Monitor the food intake by weighing daily at the same time (ideally first thing in the morning as the weight will be lowest then). Normal kitchen scales are perfectly OK. around 80% of the daily food intake should be hay; you can't check that by eye. The poo out put lags 1-2 days behind the food intake and will not give you an accurate picture.
Our guide links below contain vital information on appropriate support care. Please take the time to read them and bookmark:
Digestive Disorders: Diarrhea - Bloat - GI Stasis (No Gut Movement) And Not Eating
Probiotics, Recovery Foods And Vitamin C: Overview With Product Links
Weight - Monitoring and Management
Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment

Can you please either take a video or clarify what breathing problem your piggy has - is it hooting, rasping, crackling or clicking in the lungs; very fast and noticeable or with heaving sides?
Have your vets considered upper or lower respiratory disease which is result of permanent damage to the lungs or the upper respiratory tract? It took me two years and a number of vet visit as well as a very experienced vet with a very good stethoscope to have my Ffraid diagnosed with that for her persisting respiratory tract issues.
In view of the bloating, there may be another not yet found underlying problem in play that is also accounting for the persistent breathing issues, like something pressing on the heart, lungs or gut.

Please accept that we can only guess.
Thank you for your reply. I will stop adding weetabix and get hold of some Erimaid as she's had this before. I do weigh her daily, first thing in the morning. She has been xrayed which showed nothing abnormal and no lung damage. I tried to add a video to the original post but it was too large a file. She breathes with heaving sides and it's audible. I'll get shorter videos today and hopefully can upload them. I'll take a look at those links too, thank you x
 

Caroline Hughes

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This sounds a lot like what my Zebedee had 2 years ago, a URI and a gas filled tummy at the same time. I don't know if the two were connected, but we tried various different antibiotics, including Zithromax, Baytril, Marbocyl, before I was able to get a sample of a sneeze analysed and we found the particular bug he had needed Sulfatrim. About the same time, it was suggested by a member here that the gas problem could be due to yeast overgrowth, which could be treated with Metronidazole (that can have side effects though so we only used it because nothing else had worked). The sulfatrim and Metronidazole did seem to do the trick, his URI began to clear and most of the gas disappeared so he could eat better.

This is my particular one-off experience, however I'm not a health & illness specialist unlike @Wiebke .
Thank you for sharing your experience. I will ask about yeast overgrowth at her next appointment.x
 

Siikibam

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You’ll have to host (upload) the video elsewhere - such as YouTube or Vimeo - then post the link here.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for your reply. I will stop adding weetabix and get hold of some Erimaid as she's had this before. I do weigh her daily, first thing in the morning. She has been xrayed which showed nothing abnormal and no lung damage. I tried to add a video to the original post but it was too large a file. She breathes with heaving sides and it's audible. I'll get shorter videos today and hopefully can upload them. I'll take a look at those links too, thank you x
We don't have a video uploading facility on our forum, which is entirely run by voluntary member donations and moderated on a volnteer basis by unpaid forum members in their free time; the video uploading facility requires a wider bandwidth, which is significantly more expensive. You will have to upload it on a public setting elsewhere and then copy across into your post here.

Heaving sides point to either the lungs or heart straining. Finding out what is exactly going on can be extremely difficult as it can be an internal growth deep in the body pushing on the heart for instant, which may not show up on scans or x-rays. Very often the diaphragmic breathing is connected with a build up of fluid either in the lungs or the chest cavity but not always.
 

Caroline Hughes

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We don't have a video uploading facility on our forum, which is entirely run by voluntary member donations and moderated on a volnteer basis by unpaid forum members in their free time; the video uploading facility requires a wider bandwidth, which is significantly more expensive. You will have to upload it on a public setting elsewhere and then copy across into your post here.

Heaving sides point to either the lungs or heart straining. Finding out what is exactly going on can be extremely difficult as it can be an internal growth deep in the body pushing on the heart for instant, which may not show up on scans or x-rays. Very often the diaphragmic breathing is connected with a build up of fluid either in the lungs or the chest cavity but not always.
Thank you, I have posted to YouTube and there should be a link below?
It doesn't sound like she has a good prognosis from what you've said😭
 

Wiebke

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Hi!
The breathing is somewhat laboured and is coming from the diaphragm and not only the lungs (i.e. the body is working harder to breathe), which means that either the heart or the lungs are struggling for some reason - which may be lying outside either organ but pushing on them or it could be a genetic time bomb in one of the organs (like the heart) going off. Of course, all I can do is guess based on my experiences on here and with my own piggies. :(

Could you please ask your vets to check for potential causes outside the respiratory system?
 

Caroline Hughes

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Hi!
The breathing is somewhat laboured and is coming from the diaphragm and not only the lungs (i.e. the body is working harder to breathe), which means that either the heart or the lungs are struggling for some reason - which may be lying outside either organ but pushing on them or it could be a genetic time bomb in one of the organs (like the heart) going off. Of course, all I can do is guess based on my experiences on here and with my own piggies. :(

Could you please ask your vets to check for potential causes outside the respiratory system?
Thank you. I will do so st the appointment tomorrow. Here is a close up of her nose...her left nostril is almost totally blocked and there's also a bit of discharge. Do you think this could all be connected?
 

Wiebke

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Thank you. I will do so st the appointment tomorrow. Here is a close up of her nose...her left nostril is almost totally blocked and there's also a bit of discharge. Do you think this could all be connected?
Yes, it can be the cause of the strained breathing; several nasal blockages are just not as common as pneumonia or a heart problem.

Guinea pig airways are very narrow and are therefore easily blocked. They can't breathe much through their mouths so a blocked nose is a much bigger health issue than it is for a human as it can make breathing very difficult or at the worst, impossible. The severity and persistence of your problem is rather uncommon.

Could your vet do a swab for a lab test to see which antibiotic the bacteria are responding to best and then treat targeted. It is not cheap, but you are at that stage where you have tried all the standard measures without success and the breathing is still impeded to a rather worrying extent. It would be the next step I would want to discuss with my own vet if I was in your situation. It not cheap, but by now you have run out of the cheap options unfortunately. :(
 

Caroline Hughes

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Yes, it can be the cause of the strained breathing; several nasal blockages are just not as common as pneumonia or a heart problem.

Guinea pig airways are very narrow and are therefore easily blocked. They can't breathe much through their mouths so a blocked nose is a much bigger health issue than it is for a human as it can make breathing very difficult or at the worst, impossible. The severity and persistence of your problem is rather uncommon.

Could your vet do a swab for a lab test to see which antibiotic the bacteria are responding to best and then treat targeted. It is not cheap, but you are at that stage where you have tried all the standard measures without success and the breathing is still impeded to a rather worrying extent. It would be the next step I would want to discuss with my own vet if I was in your situation. It not cheap, but by now you have run out of the cheap options unfortunately. :(
This whole illness has been far from cheap! She's the most expensive piggy I've ever had! I paid £80 for swabs to be taken in the summer and no bacteria were found🤷‍♀️
The video was taken this morning and this is the worst I've seen her. I even tried to suck out the snot out of sheer desperation! Nothing came out which worried me further thinking that it's blocked purely by inflammation? But the inhaler she is on is supposed to open the airways but it's making no difference☹
 

Caroline Hughes

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This whole illness has been far from cheap! She's the most expensive piggy I've ever had! I paid £80 for swabs to be taken in the summer and no bacteria were found🤷‍♀️
The video was taken this morning and this is the worst I've seen her. I even tried to suck out the snot out of sheer desperation! Nothing came out which worried me further thinking that it's blocked purely by inflammation? But the inhaler she is on is supposed to open the airways but it's making no difference☹
Thank you for your replies. I'm going to go through this whole thread and make a list for tomorrow's appointment x
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for your replies. I'm going to go through this whole thread and make a list for tomorrow's appointment x
I am very sorry; I have never come across a piggy with your problems before, so I can only guess but don't have practical experiences to contribute. Unfortunately every now and then, owners come up against rare problems. It is very much sod's law when you do so. :(
 
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