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Could Ellie Be A Heart Piggy..advice Please.

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GPTV

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Hi there all,

Not been on here much lately had problems with intermittent internet connections etc.:hb:

Just wondering, my Ellie is now around 7.5yrs old& i've had her for approx 2.5yrs. She's had HCG injections for a walnut sized ovarian cyst approx a year ago & had no related general problems, bleeding or UTI's since.
She had a minor URI a couple of months ago, was given baytril & she bounced back :wub: but she has been steadily &slowly, losing weight, when i got her she was approx 1100-1150g. she's now just over the 900g mark.

Her teeth seem fine, she eats readily & has a very good appetite (she seems to think hay may be going out of fashion, so better get the most of it before its gone!) :whistle:

:zzz:Its just some days lately she seems to sleep very deeply, i can be in the room, talking to her & opened the cage before she takes any notice. Although Grace doesn't react much, but she's aware that i'm there &i'm about to stroke her. Where as Ellie seems completely oblivious-she was startled one night as i thought she had seen me,i stroked her, she panic'ed& ran off.

Ellie drinks far more these days, although she's always been a big drinker (i fill up 250ml a day roughly &have never seen Grace drink).

Some days Ellie looks a little bit puffed up &breathes quite deeply other days she seems normal, maybe with a slight nod usually when she's in a deep sleep but not much. But its clear breathing, no rattles, hoots or crackley fluid sounds.

Oh i forgot she does have a sebacious cyst on her rump/lower back that went a bit scabby, with some mess in, but baytril was prescribed & its more or less healed, she has a scratch at it every now & again as it has a little bloody cut to it occasionally.

She does seem to have a bit of a firm bulge on her left side, but i can't remember if this was the side of the cyst, something is telling me that it's usually on the right side for cysts, but personally i couldn't feel it when the vet pointed out the cyst lump originally, it was only that i could see it on the scan.

She always seems to have very cold ears, which makes me wonder if she has poor circulation. (really cold to the touch, not cool or ambient like graces go sometimes). occasionally cooler than normal feet&her nails are needing cutting more often, suggesting she doesn't move around as much & is often found pancaking in the flattest of styles.

The thing is my veterinary practice is not really a very cavvy savvy one, although the vet i usually ask for is the most experienced of them& she was happy to research/perform the HCG injections & ultrasound at my request, but didn't suggest them herself. she advised me a spay was the only option & that was too risky because of her age.

The most local savvy vet would be near Bristol according to the recommended vet locator &that would mean an appox 90mile round trip&my car probably wouldn't be up to it&i'm not keen to drive it that far to stress her out.

:help:Basically i would take her to my usual vet, but what would i need them to look for? What questions should i be asking or solutions should i be expecting?

Would it be xrays, ultrasound to look for fluid around or swelling of the heart? anything else?
What medications would i expect to be prescribed & for what reasons? I know a diuretic would be a possibility although she doesn't crackle at the moment.
I'm not sure they would do a blood test even if one was needed as they sound rather specialized. (not sure i'd like them to do it anyway if that's the case)

Could it just be her age is catching up with her & i'm being paranoid, or could it be ovarian cyst related, maybe needing another HCG treatment?

I know @helen105281 you have great experience of heart piggies, but sorry i cant remember the other member who has regular heart piggy posts on here.

Any advice greatly appreciated & sorry for such a long post!:roll:

Ellie, Grace & I. xx
 

helen105281

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It could be old age, heart issues or even her cyst pressing on other organs and affecting her breathing.

I now have 7 heart pigs and they were all diagnosed in various ways, some by conscious xray, others by stethoscope as I am lucky to know someone who can spot heart issues by stethoscope alone, I then worked with my local vets to get them on meds. The vet should be looking for any fluid but also any sign of the heart being enlarged.

For medication she would need an ACE inhibitor like Benazepril (Fortekor or Nelio) or Elanapril (this is known to be harsher on the kidneys) plus diuretic if there is fluid. Sometimes Vetmedin is needed too, though the only pig of mine that has needed that so far was Nigel.

Let me know if you need any further information. The symptoms you have listed do fit in with heart issues so it is something to ask your vet about. I have access to an article on heart issues so let me know if you need it and I will message you.
 

GPTV

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It could be old age, heart issues or even her cyst pressing on other organs and affecting her breathing.

I now have 7 heart pigs and they were all diagnosed in various ways, some by conscious xray, others by stethoscope as I am lucky to know someone who can spot heart issues by stethoscope alone, I then worked with my local vets to get them on meds. The vet should be looking for any fluid but also any sign of the heart being enlarged.

For medication she would need an ACE inhibitor like Benazepril (Fortekor or Nelio) or Elanapril (this is known to be harsher on the kidneys) plus diuretic if there is fluid. Sometimes Vetmedin is needed too, though the only pig of mine that has needed that so far was Nigel.

Let me know if you need any further information. The symptoms you have listed do fit in with heart issues so it is something to ask your vet about. I have access to an article on heart issues so let me know if you need it and I will message you.

thankyou for that information really useful, would an ultrasound show anything up-maybe an enlarged heart? as i would expect my vets to not to want to use GA as they are reluctant to on guinea pigs at the best of times. perhaps i should suggest putting her in a shoe box to keep her still, would a top or a side view show decent results? or would she have a chest one to be done from below/turned over above?

i would be interested to read the article @helen105281 if possible. thankyou

i am wondering if the cyst is playing a part in this. xx
 

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I will message you now.

Yes an ultrasound should show an enlarged heart, if not there are ways of restraining for a conscious xray. I think Nigel was the first conscious xray my vet did on a guinea pig and they taped him to the table. Not sure if they had to turn him over or not though.
 

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It is worth keeping a potential heart issue in mind, but they are very difficult to diagnose, as there is not just one heart disease. The easiest to recognise for a vet is an irregular heartbeat.

So far, none of any potential heart piggies of mine have ever reacted to a week long trial with fortekor, not even the piggies with heart rhythm problems. If it had been the heart, I should have seen a pretty quick noticeable improvement.
One of the suspects was finally diagnosed with upper and lower lung disease by a very experienced piggy vet with a top notch stethoscope and the build-up of fluid in the chest cavity of another piggy was likely caused by a lymphoma or other growth, but on the relevant scan while the fluid was masking what went on behind showed very clearly that the heart was fine. Sadly, she passed away a few weeks later.
 

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Hi GPTV

Not all heart pigs with heart issues have an obviouisly enlarged heart....nor is anything obvious when listening through a stethoscope.

An Xray "could" show an "enlarged" heart from a top (dorsal) view but is not always conclusive - (Albeit this is how many of the early heart piggies were diagnosed ref Guinea Lynx). A dorsal Xray may also show fluid either in or around the lungs but a side (lateral view) is also needed.
Most vets want to take both a dorsal view and a lateral view - but piggies cannot lie on their sides properly for an XRay without being anaesthetised.

An ultrasound for piggie heart issues would need to be conducted/interpreted by a very experienced medical imaging vet otherwise it will be a waste of time
However an ultrasound to determine if the cystic ovaries have enlarged and are putting pressure on the breathing/rib cage might be fruitful (if only to rule it out). Most vets can conduct this without a GA.

One thing that has not been suggested is a CT scan - this is expensive - but it could actually encompass all the imaging diagnostics/issues you may need to pursue for Ellie re heart and cyst issues with only one GA (Highcroft vets in Bristol)

Just to add more confusion to the mix - I have had a Rescue heart piggie who had no demonstrable issues on Xray/stethoscope/ultrasound ..(all negative) ..but we knew there was something wrong because of his abdominal breathing. It took an echocardiogram (without GA) with a very experienced specialist vet to find out that he had a heart condition called endocarditis - a defect of the heart valve caused by a past bacterial infection (a result of his former living conditions. -He was called Alan Maggots for a reason!). Once we got the diagnosis, vet agreed to heart meds which helped alleviate/delay his deteriorating condition but couldn't stop it.

You're caught between a rock and a hard place atm. You know something's wrong but your vets have limited experience. You;re trying to decide the best course of action - all of which entails GA's and procedures for little Ellie who is quite an elderly piggie at 7.5yrs old.

You do however have to bear in mind that she is a grand old lady of 7.5years. For most pigs reaching this age, they will be more sleepy, less alert..and you have to accept that their organs (especially heart and kidneys) will not be functioning as "well" as they used to....hence cold ears and paws.

I know you've not had Ellie very long - but it is clear you have always done your very best for her. You know her best - you can either consider pursuing a diagnosis (with all that may entail for this old lady) - or you can decide that she is in a very good place with you and you can make the later piggie years of her life comfortable.

Sorry if this isn't what you wanted to hear but you're clearly a wonderful piggie slave who is wanting to get as much info as possible in order to make the best decisions for your girlie. I am just posting my own personal experiences which I feel are relevant for you

Sending you hugs
x
 

GPTV

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grr! internet!!:rant:

thankyou for all your replies.:nod:

@helen105281 i will see if i can have a look through the article you recommended tomorrow evening. other commitments unfortunately need attending to tonight.
was it one of your posts i read that one of these (Fortekor or Nelio) is far cheaper/more easily accessible than the other?

I'll also have a bit more of a search through the forum to give me any other ideas to present to the vet. Ellie seems happy enough & has a good quality of life at present so i'm not being pressured into anything at the moment, but i would like to see if i can provide answers to a possible problem before it becomes one.

i will probably persue the cystic ovaries route first, just to see if like you guys have suggested, its them enlarging/ pressing on the various organs causing issues. i think an ultrasound for a start would be a good idea, its non invasive, not too stressful & may rule them out all together (also the cheapest option to begin with).
I'll have a good look around on here tomorrow & maybe guinea lynx.

@Pebble lol yes she is an old lady:fog:, i know she wont go on forever & 2.5yrs for me doesn't seem long but she's such a little sweetheart &i'm hoping she'll go on a bit longer yet :luv:
think i must be getting on a bit too... the hearings going & i'm often to be found dozing in the chair!:zzz::whistle:
oh & funnily enough her front paws sometimes seem cooler, but never her back paws? Not sure on putting her through GA's, CT scans, Bristol travelling, etc at the moment. I'll try alternatives first & maybe leave them for backup if needed. i don't think she would want the stress of it.
Alan Maggots eew poor boy :vom:

once again thankyou for all your replies.... we can always rely on you forum members for support & advice :clap:

xx
 

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Nelio is cheaper than Fortekor but I think they are both easily accessible.
 

GPTV

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Help! I really dont know what to do - Ellie had laboured breathing & a hooting sound about 3wks ago but the hooting only lasted about 30mins & went back to normal. Took her to the vets & vet listened to heart &all seemed ok as far as could tell. Commented on her drinking lots &decided she was probably diabetic due to excessive drinking.
Came away with her routine metacam &was told we're in the palliative care stage with her at 7 &3/4
Anyway alls been well until this evening. She was hooting /sounding rattley. I gave her metacam as usual &give her a cuddle. She seemed to settle a little when I held her at a slight downward angle. Then she coughed &spluttered a bit so I put her back in the cage fearing I had caused it.

I phoned the out of hrs vet. The one on call is more a farm vet tonigt tho.

He said just to wait for the metacam to kick in &wait to see what happens. &make an appt in the morning not to let her get too hot.

I'm now in a predicament as I dont want her to have fluid on her chest &be made worse waiting until morning. But the vet seemed to think she would be ok.

I have olbas oil in the room for her &she's still rattley-but I think it may have improved from earlier.

She's still eating drinking &pooping.

Sorry for the long post, I'm just really worried. :(

Xx
 

helen105281

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Has it been quite humid today where you are? if so that could explain it. I would ask for an xray or scan to check for fluid and any other signs of heart issues. Did the vet just listen with the stethoscope last time? if so that is not the best way to diagnose unless the vet has a lot of experience of heart issues and the subtle changes they need to listen for.

For tonight, the vet is right about her not getting to warm, I would get her seen first thing in the morning if you can and if she gets worse tonight speak to the vet again and ask about a diuretic.
 

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Any xray would need to be conscious if possible.
 

GPTV

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Thankyou for the replies. Yes its been a little bit humid here today. Not overly but I hadn't thought about that.

Yes it was just stethascope listening that she did.
But I dont think she's an expert in heart issues so to speak.

I did ask about heart medications but she was putting everything down to the excessive drinking &diabetes, perhaps water had gone down the wrong way.

I have the dentist at 930am tomorrow but will book up an appt before I go for Ellie.
Sods law its both 20-30mins from home &both opposite directions :(

What's the name of the most recommended diuretic?
Is it bisolven? Spelling?

She sounds ok when eating but then rattles again when finished. At the moment.

She's looking a bit sorry for herself when not eating :(

Dont think she would do too well with a ga for an xray so would have to be conscious.
Thankyou
x
 

helen105281

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Any suspected heart pig shouldn't be sedated anyway.

Bisolvon clears mucous in the nasal passages, diuretics are Frusol (liquid), and Furosemide (tablets). On the xray they would need to be looking for fluid around the heart or lungs and/or an enlarged heart. If she has a lot of fluid they may not even be able to see the heart. For diuretics it is sometimes best to give a big dose to start with such as 10mg which kick starts things and then taper it off. I always give additional fluids too while on diuretics and as it can also affect their potassium levels I sometimes give electrolytes too (Dioralyte).
 

GPTV

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@helen105281
I'm guessing the liquid form of diuretic is easier- to give?
&would also rehydrate the lost fluid? Or produce more liquid to need to get rid of.... Or am being thick?

How would u give Dioralyte?
Mix a sachet & throw the excess or a quantity of water mixed with how much powder?

I know there's the blackcurrant
flavour is this ok to use?

Xx
 

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I've never really thought of it like that. I think the Frusol is just easier to give and the amount you give is so small it won't help rehydrate her. The fluid you would need to get rid of would be on the chest.

I literally put a sprinkle of Dioralyte in a tumbler of water and syringe throughout the day. I put a little clip on the packet to keep the rest fresh. I tend to use the plain one but they can have the flavoured ones too.
 

GPTV

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Thankyou so much I'll jot it down to speak to the vet in the morning :)
Hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight. These furballs do keep us on our toes! :(
I'll let you know how we get on
Xx
 

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Rang up within 5mins of vet opening &couldn't get an appt until 3.30pm
Its not with the usual vet so I'm a bit apprehensive- but he's a young chap so hopefully will be open to suggestions :)

Ellies eating &drinking well. Scoffed some dandelions this morning, had the thought that theyre mildly diuretic so hopefully a practical treat :)

Is metatone the same as Dioralyte does anybody know?

Her breathing not as noisy today but she doesn't look her usual self still :(
Bit puffed up :(

Xx
 
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