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Specialist Gut issues and excessive drinking

Adelle

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I'm an old member and am desperately seeking some help with my girl Rowan, 4 years 8 month old neutered sow.

Since around April 2020, Rowan has been having "flares" of excessive drinking, air filled teardropped poos, stomach full of gas and weight loss. She would eventually get over these flares with no real understanding of what helped after trying so much.

In July 2020 we moved vets and Rowan has been under the care of 2 specialist exotics vets who are excellent. Rowan was found to have extensive athritis in her spine and knee, with a few compressed disks in her spine. Despite all of this, Rowan's mobility is not affected and still walks/ runs normally but was painful on examination. We believed these flares to be as a result of pain.

After a few months of juggling, Rowan's pain is fully under control with several pain killers and accupuncture sessions. We thought we had got her sorted, but then she had another flare. She was found to be non painful in her joints, so we successfully ruled out pain as the cause.

This time Rowans weight loss continued despite her "flare" seemingly ending i.e the bloat and excessive drinking stopped.

Rowan has went from 1250g when this started to 930g this morning- she is a large girl, and is currently skin and bone with extensive muscle wastage. The vet believes she has a protein losing enteropathy - basically leakng protein from her guts.

Rowans flares have gotten closer and closer together to the point now the weight loss won't stop. Rowan has always ate well throughout and has still lost weight despite syringing feeding every 4 hours on top of her eating hay and veg. I only manage 60mls when I'm working but up to 100ml when I'm off. Rowan has not been fed pellets for over a year due to bladder sludge (no longer an issue). Rowan has only gone off her food once due to antibiotic treatment.

Things to note- Rowan remains bright, active and cheeky. Despite her bloat flares making her abdomen absolutely huge with gas, it never affects gut motility I.e she still poos during it and doesn't go into stasis (this has happened once, again due to antibiotic treatment ). She does however get painful in her abdomen when it is full of gas.

We have tried :
The usual gut stimulants i.e cisapride, metacloprimide
Gripe water to ease gas (does help )
Daily famotidine to support the stomach (still in use)
Pancreatic enzymes incase of pancreatic insufficiency (still in use)
Hay only diet i.e no veg (still flared)
Both benebac and fibreplex (still in use)
Fully controlling her joint pain (still flared)
14 day 20mg/kg metronidazole course for overgrowth of bad gut bacteria (recently finished but weight loss continues)
Petbiom stool culture (have been waiting over a month for these results due to covid)
Xrays (only show joint issues)
Full blood panel 6 months apart (both all normal)
Urine tests all clear
Teeth are perfect

Rowans vets held a meeting with the others today and they have agreed that the next (and only) course for Rowan is to treat her for a protein losing enteropathy with steroids. Rowan stopped her metacam today in preparation for starting steroids in the morning... I am aware of the risks and I am incredibly nervous about this, but we are out of options and I'm not sure what to do!

I've requested Rowan has an ultrasound in the morning to check her kidneys as it's known guinea pigs can have kidney disease with normal kidney parameters. She will have these and the rest of her abdomen scanned in a last ditch attempt to get an answer.

The only thing we haven't done is open her up, but realistically there isn't anything to be gained from this.

Thank you if you've gotten this far.. any advice would be much appreciated. Realistically Rowan will be facing put to sleep if these flares continue as she just has no reserves left. She is bright, active and eats great however does get uncomfortable in her abdomen when it's full of gas.



Current weight/ muscle loss
IMG_20210113_124309.jpg

Her poos this morning IMG_20210113_094727.jpg

Muscle/weight loss
IMG_20201228_211740.jpg

Bloated abdomen during a flare
IMG_20200827_234542.jpg

When she was her normal weight
Screenshot_20210113-210006.png
This evening, relaxing with her feet out after her syringe feed ❤
IMG_20210113_192331.jpg
 
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Wiebke

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Hi!

Wow - that is a massive medical cocktail your piggy is on!

Unfortunately there is nothing I can contribute apart from that the side effects of so much stuff may need to be taken into consideration and that sadly your lovely girl is simply reaching the limits of what any medication can for her. She is getting about everything possible that can be done for her.

Unfortunately, despite their big personality, guinea pigs are still small animals with a fast metabolism. There comes a point where that is turning against them when they become frailer. Medication is also rather limited. :(
 

Adelle

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Hi!

Wow - that is a massive medical cocktail your piggy is on!

Unfortunately there is nothing I can contribute apart from that the side effects of so much stuff may need to be taken into consideration and that sadly your lovely girl is simply reaching the limits of what any medication can for her. She is getting about everything possible that can be done for her.

Unfortunately, despite their big personality, guinea pigs are still small animals with a fast metabolism. There comes a point where that is turning against them when they become frailer. Medication is also rather limited. :(
She's currently on her pain relief for her joints and famotidine and gripe water for her tummy. The rest have been tried and failed methods or used during a gas flare only. If nothing shows on her scan to orrow she is due to start steroids for the protein losing enteropathy.. I as well as many others on here I'm sure aren't a fan of steroids in pigs, but when she is likely facing pts then I guess we don't have anything to lose really. It's such an odd one and she has the vets well and truelly puzzled 😔
 

Wiebke

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She's currently on her pain relief for her joints and famotidine and gripe water for her tummy. The rest have been tried and failed methods or used during a gas flare only. If nothing shows on her scan to orrow she is due to start steroids for the protein losing enteropathy.. I as well as many others on here I'm sure aren't a fan of steroids in pigs, but when she is likely facing pts then I guess we don't have anything to lose really. It's such an odd one and she has the vets well and truelly puzzled 😔
I have/have had two guinea pigs with a thickened lower gut with occasional flares; my vet is treating it like the very similar rabbit problem with the same drugs you are using - emeprid, cisapride and metacam (they are basically the only ones available since best treatment option, steroids, are a no no for ant rodents except for those on terminal care).

It is always very tough in these situations but please also consider how much, and especially how much discomfort, you want to put your beloved girl through when you are nearing the end of the line. There is no right or wrong as long as you are putting their welfare and interests at all times before your own fears of losing your pet.
You may find the considerations in this guide here helpful when making your decisions in this difficult time that nobody generally dares to talk about because there is one huge gift hidden in all the sadness, desperation and anxiety. A Practical and Sensitive Guide to Dying, Terminal Illness and Euthanasia in Guinea Pigs
 

Bob's mom

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Hi, I just wanted to reach out and give some emotional support. Sorry, I'm not able to help much. I hope that your piggie will pull through on this one and recovery quickly. Please keep us updated.
 

Gem789

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Hi adelle, I remember you and I also remember your girl Rowan. I'm afraid I have no advice but wanted to send you hugs xx
 

Bill & Ted

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Thinking of you both, I hope the scan gives some idea of what’s wrong with beautiful Rowan :hug:
 

Wiebke

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BIG HUGS

I am ever so sorry but Rowan could not have had a more loving owner - and for her, this makes a world of difference. When the chips are down, would we not rather shoulder the pain ourselves than let our beloved one suffer?

Be kind to yourself in the coming days but do not feel that you have failed Rowan in any way. she couldn't have had a better send-off when her time had come. You have so many precious memories that will allow her to stay in your heart forever.

Human Bereavement: Grieving, Coping and Support Links for Guinea Pig Owners and Their Children
 

Lady Kelly

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I can only echo what Wiebke has said. Your first post is evidence that you went above and beyond for your girl. Sadly it is not always enough but I have no doubt she knew just how loved she was. Sleep tight Rowan
 

VickiA

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Huge hugs to you @Adelle. Rowan was blessed to have lived such a pampered life with you. She was so loved. I am so sorry that you have had to say goodbye to her.
 

Danielle Smith

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@Adelle, you did absolutely everything you could to help Rowan, including ending her suffering. Rowan had a wonderful life with you and your other piggies, and the love you have for her is palpable. Please be gentle with yourself as you grieve, you've spent such a lot of time and resources helping her that I'm worried you don't have enough left for yourself :hug:

Rowan, may you rest on your dewlap over Rainbow Bridge, with neverending supplies of dill and lettuce 🌈
 
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