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Specialist Heavy Breathing/pulse

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Merithimas

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Hello! I've noticed that my three year old boar is moving a lot when he breathes, his back going up and down noticeably, especially when he's sitting. I say breathes, but it could also be something to do with his pulse, if that's possible. I also hear him give a sort of sneeze/puff noise every so often, as well as a loud cough once or twice. However, he has not gone off his food or become noticeably more lazy, and his nose is dry. I took him to the vet yesterday, who listened carefully to his chest and guts and said it was all very quiet with no sign of infection, so didn't prescribe anything but told us to be watch carefully for any developments. The only thing that she suggested is that, as one of his toes is red and a little swollen, he could possibly have fractured it and be in pain, but if that was the case she said it would heal itself.

The trouble is, I don't really know how long this has been going on. It sounds odd I know, but I've only noticed it recently because he has a new companion whose chest doesn't move at all, so it's very obvious in comparison. His old friend died suddenly two weeks ago. I'm pretty sure, though, that I'd have noticed it if he'd been doing it for ages, and it's definitely been going on for at least two weeks.

I was just wondering what could be causing this. The fact that the vet said she could see no signs of infection, and that it's been going on for some time, has stopped my worrying quite so much, but I'd still like to know what's going on!

I don't think this has any relevance, but just in case I should mention that he suffers from impaction which needs to be cleared daily. His coat is also looking a tiny bit thin, but it's always been rather wispy so it's not as if he's going bald! He's never been very active and is a little bit chubby, but I haven't noticed him lying around any more than usual.

Thanks!
 

Wiebke

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Heavy breathing from the diaphragm (the sides) can be amongst other things a sign of a straining heart, but it is generally very difficult to diagnose a heart condition for a vet and not all conditions will react to heart medication, either. :(
 

Wiebke

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As your boy is still active and eating fine, I would not panic! It is one possibility of several, but from my own experience, none will be easy to diagnose and some may not be treatable. Would you be prepared to have him checked through by a specialist? You have to be prepared that even he may not be able to find anything, though.

@helen105281 @Pebble
 

helen105281

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I agree you need to get him checked by a vet that is knowledgeable on heart issues. Also could you post a photo of his foot? the reason I ask is that Bumblefoot can be linked to heart/circulatory issues.

I have a few heart pigs who are doing well on heart medication - Benazapril (and diuretic where needed) following successful diagnosis by a combination of my vet and a friend who runs a piggy clinic at a vets in Broxbourne and has done a large amount of research on heart issues over a number of years. Some were xrayed which showed fluid and/or an enlarged heart, others were put on a trial of heart medication for a month which they responded well to (their breathing improved, they were more lively and they gained weight) so they were kept on medication. Mrs Fuzzy for example was 626g when she arrived and had very laboured breathing and her heartbeat was all over the place. 2 years later since her diagnosis she has no laboured breathing and has gained 400g, she also charges about like a loon most days. She hasn't needed diuretic for a long time.

How much does he weigh? heart pigs can be underweight, though I note that you believe he is chubby
Has he ever had an upper or lower respiratory infection?
Have you ever noticed a blue tinge to his lips, nose or ears?
Does he sleep very deeply and is difficult to rouse?
Does he ever have abdominal bloating?

Other methods of diagnosing heart issues can include an Echocardiogram or Electrocardiogram and some vets will perform an ultrasound scan. Please note that if the vet wants to xray, it is not recommended to use a GA on a pig that has a suspected heart issue. The pig should also not be placed on their back.

Let me know if you need any more information.
 

Merithimas

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Thanks for the advice! I've attached a picture of his toe, although my camera was deciding not to focus so it's not very good. One of his back toes has become swollen right above the claw and looks ređ. It is hard to the touch and doesn't seem to cause him much pain. There's no sign of any scab.

He weighs about 1.2kg.
No infections to my knowledge.
Never noticed any blue tinging.
He doesn't seem to sleep that deeply. He will stay lying down as I approach the cage and talk to him, with his eyes open, but he jumps up and runs off if touched.
His belly does feel rather soft. I don't quite know what bloating is like, but he is a little pear-shaped, in that his belly is wider than his ribcage. He is also often uncomfortable with having his belly poked/felt, squeaking and wiggling a little.

Two more things: Reading a little about this, I came across 'pea eye'. By the looks of things he had this, as I'm able to see the white all around his eye. But add far as I'm aware this has always been the case, and there's never been any redness or crustiness. I've attached a picture to show what I mean.

Second thing: he does a lot of finger nibbling, especially when being held or petted - is this showing discomfort? He has never properly bitten though.

Finally, what are the consequences of an untreated heart condition?
 

helen105281

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It all sounds pretty normal to me too. If you are worried about his breathing though then I would get him checked again by the vet and ask them to check they are happy with his heart and that there is no fluid on his chest that is affecting his breathing.

An untreated heart condition would result in heart failure, I don't think it sounds like that is the case here though at this stage.

Pea eye can be linked to heart issues, just for future reference.
 

helen105281

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You would know if he was in discomfort when touching him as he would turn round and bite you properly.
 
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