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Cyst care in an older piggy


New Born Pup
Jan 26, 2021
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Hi everyone,

I have a little piggy who is coming up 6 years old who lives like an absolute king! In December, he developed a cyst and I just wanted to run my current situation by some knowledgeable piggy folk, just in case I can do anything else or anyone might have similar experience. I've done a fair bit of reading up and I trust my vet (although she is not on the current list, she has a lot of experience) but it's always good to get other views and opinions.

The cyst is on his back right hip, on the pokey bit. I should say, for background, he has always taken a bit of feeding and presents on the skinnier side of body shapes, but is a healthy weight (1273g at the mo). He is long haired so I cut his hair to keep him trim. He also suffers significantly from impaction so bum squeezing sessions are a regular thing (his favourite...). He is on Pro-C and it makes a big difference. He lives indoors all year round, on fleece, with veggies twice a day, pellets twice a day and really good quality hay on tap. He has a pea-sized lump on his neck but he's had it for a long time (6+ months) without growth. I've had him for 5 years now and he and his brother were rescues (privately, I took them on as the previous owner couldn't cope). He does live on his own as his brother died in August 2019 but I monitored him very, very carefully at the time and instead of regressing, he thrived and came right out his shell. They always had independent lives from each other, bless them. He is generally a happy pig who is engaged but sadly, I think his squeaker is broken as it comes out a little husky!

The cyst developed (or at least appeared on the skin) at the beginning of December. It was a black scab with nothing coming out at that time. I took him to the vet and saw another vet at the practice who said it was a small cyst but that it wasn't cause for concern (it was very small) but who gave me a gel cream to try. I wasn't sure on that so that's when I started reading up. I tried the gel cream but it didn't appear to make any difference. Within a week, it had doubled in size but still wasn't big (I can't stress to you how small it is!). I finished using the cream after 7 days and swapped to warm salt water every couple of days and it settled. I have to say, I was surprised it seemed to calm down and didn't get any bigger - bit of a relief.

On Friday just gone (so this is 6 weeks after finishing the gel cream), I noticed it was a bit more of a hill shape and when I touched it, he wasn't happy. I gave it a very gentle squeeze (I didn't really need to squeeze to be honest) and stuff did come out but didn't go further than that. On Sunday, it was the same, but still very small compared to a lot of pictures of cysts I've seen. He is obviously bothered about it now, but it's hard to tell if it's pain, irritation, uncomfortable etc - sadly I don't speak piggy but I wish I did. He is still so happy though, doing his half-arsed popcorns and popping out his house with his nose in the air when food comes near. Having seen his brother decline, I like to think I would know if he was really upset.

I went to the vet today and saw our usual vet. She took me through a few options, starting with anti-biotics, which I have agreed to. Her view was that if he has those for 5-7 days and appears better (both less irritated by it and the cyst itself getting better in any way) and then comes off them and if he gets annoyed again or it gets worse, we can either go back on them or we can try pain killers. She also recommended using a warm face cloth draped (not too wet and not rubbed on, just draped) over it for a short while every couple of days, to help draw anything out, like a poultice. I was close to trying that any way as I'm familiar with poulticing in animals but when stuff came out, I thought I'd better get it checked.

We briefly discussed surgery. She said really, it only becomes an option if backed into a corner with no other solution and we're not there yet. She did say some people want piggies in, surgery, out again, quick, permanent fix, job done. But I'm probably pretty much sure that I don't want him to go through surgery. He's older, he's not 100% healthy, I don't think he'd cope with the aftercare and the pain.

Sorry this is long! I guess I'm just after views and experiences...

If push comes to shove, I can take him to the very piggy-savvy vet we were registered when at our old house but I do trust my vet and in current times, it doesn't seem sensible to make a hasty decision to drive an 80 mile round trip when I'm confident he's getting good care at the moment.

Thanks in advance for any replies and thanks for reading this monster post :)