• Discussions taking place within this forum are intended for the purpose of assisting you in discussing options with your vet. Any other use of advice given here is done so at your risk, is solely your responsibility and not that of this forum or its owner. Before posting it is your responsibility you abide by this Statement

Low blood pressure in guinea pigs?

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Skip to *bold* to read about my current issue. Here's some backstory in case it helps.

I have a 20 month old neutered boar, Flash. Until a couple of weeks ago he lived with his brother Quint. They were (and still are) the happiest and laziest pigs I have ever seen; literally no dominance behaviour, quite a lot of popcorning, but the vast majority of their time was spent snuggled under a hidey together sleeping.

Since Rolo passed away, we thought we'd try to bond his cagemate Blackjack with these two brothers. Our reason for this was because all the pigs were so incredibly chilled out; if any trio was going to work, this would be it.

The bonding went amazingly well, everyone was really happy with one another and there was minimal dominance behaviour when they went in their cage the first time. Quint seems to be the boss, which was always the case. Quint and Blackjack rumble at each other sometimes, but then popcorn like madmen. Blackjack never rumbles at Flash, though they will lie next to each other.

*Problem description starts here*

Over the last 3 weeks, Flash has lost about 150g in weight. He did have a touch of heavy breathing, but that was sorted with a short course of Baytril. He continues to slowly lose weight unless topped up with syringe feed once a day.

The vet could not find anything wrong with him on examination, so she recommended taking a blood sample. Both times we tried under anaesthetic we were unsuccessful.

Our cavy-savvy vet did get enough blood this time to do a PCB which apparently would let us know if there are any so-called grumbling illnesses in the background. Everything was fine in that regard.

She also did a full body X-Ray and that revealed nothing whatsoever his teeth are fine, his heart is not enlarged as far as she can see. He's a little bit gassy but not very much and no bladder stones. Since he was a little bit gassy she'd like to put him on ranitidine and see if that helps at all with the weight gain.

One thing she did note is that his blood pressure is generally very low no matter what anaesthesia she used his blood pressure was always low and that could be the reason for his inactivity in general. She did counsel me on the fact that we might have to change that grouping (i.e. remove Blackjack) if the weight loss continues.

My thought is that because there's low blood pressure if he's being forced to move around more just because there is another pig in cage (not fighting or anything, just all three of them can't fit in a single hidey so there's more chopping and changing) that might make you feel rubbish and not up to eating as much (though Flash seems as keen for his hay and pellets as ever, he just can't lightning speed munch now). The fact he's having to move a bit more and spend calories may be why he's losing weight too, though this is just conjecture.

Has anyone had experience with pigs with chronic low blood pressure before? I'd be sad to split up this grouping since it was working so well...

One other symptom I've seen is Flash shakes his head quite a lot more often now, and for a few second after he does there's a very obvious head tilt which sorts itself out after a moment. He definitely doesn't have an ear infection though, which would be my first thought. The vet doesn't have any suggestions for this symptom.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
@Jaycey the vet listened to his heart and also x-rayed with his heart in mind. Apparently nothing came up.

He's never hooted and the laboured breathing was more just a constant version of the "panic breathing" one of my males does when you've just picked him up. It only lasted for 3 days with the Baytril.

No necrotic ear edges, swollen limbs, or discoloured gums etc either.

I'll admit, heart pig was my first thought too... But even if he was, I doubt he would tolerate medication due to his blood pressure.
 

Swissgreys

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
8,953
Reaction score
20,673
Points
1,965
Location
Zürich, Switzerland
It sounds tricky and it also sounds like you have already been pretty thorough with the checks and treatment.

What happens if you take him out of the cage and put him on his own in a confined space (e.g. a washing basket) a couple of times a day with access to unlimited pellets and fresh food?
Does he eat willingly or does he still just lay around?
I guess I am trying to work out if he isn't eating as much becasue he is tired, or becasue he is wary about something in the changed boar dynamic.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
I understand what you're getting at @Swissgreys. When put him on his own he alternates between standing or lying relatively still, and munching on hay and pellets like... Well... A pig! At floortime he moves about quite a bit for the first half hour, but then lies under a hidey and snoozes away.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Update: we had to remove Blackjack from the cage in the end, as he was somewhat bullying Flash.

Unfortunately Flash is still losing weight unless we syringe feed him around 45ml of really thick syringe feed per day. He's not enjoying it either; the first 5ml are eaten with little protest, but then he turns into a ninja trying to evade the syringe. As usual with my trickier piggies, I have to resort to feeding him while he's in a "sitting up" position against my chest. He's keen for veg and still having a good munch of hay here and there (especially when he's out the cage being syringe fed...), so it's frustrating trying to figure out why he's anorexic and hardly moving about at all.

We've just been away on holiday for a few days, and left him with an exotic- (i.e. rat and bearded dragon) but not pig-experienced friend. She was amazing and managed to feed him 30ml or so of thick syringe feed per day, apparently he took it rather well. I am a bit worried for tomorrow when we do the initial morning weigh-in as to what we'll find, but at least I'll have confirmation about whether he can eat a bit more for himself if he's hungry.

Worth noting he's on ranitidine as the vet found him a bit gassy (likely due to us not catching his anorexia at the start of the illness, as he's a very quiet sedate pig anyway), and also Metacam. Unfortunately, neither seem to have much effect. Oh well, we'll be syringe feeding a pig for Christmas, nothing new there :roll:. Just wish we could figure out what's up!
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Oh no no no, he's lost 80g in the four days we've been away (and his syringe feed was reduced from 45ml to 30ml).

I don't know what to do! The only other thing we can try is ultrasound, or taking him down to Simon. We've tried getting bloods twice under anaesthesia and it's just not happening, his blood pressure is too low.

Other investigations we might try: testing his urine and just giving him thyroid medication to see if it makes a difference.

We're very scared. He's only 21 months old.
 

VickiA

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
27,530
Reaction score
39,370
Points
2,465
Location
Cheshire, England
I can’t offer advice, but just wanted to send support.
Over the Christmas period all you can do is continue to offer support until you can get to a specialist vet for a longer term plan.
 

Merab's Slave

Forum Buddy
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
27,884
Reaction score
36,066
Points
2,375
Location
Wirral, UK
I can’t offer advice but wanted to offer support.
It must be so frustrating not being able to find the problem when you seem to have thought of everything.
Holding you in my thoughts
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Thanks for holding us in your thoughts everyone.

Today we've managed to get Flash into the vets for an ultrasound scan. They've found he seems quite bloaty and also has a thickening of his lower intestine (made me think of you @Wiebke). I was commended on keeping him going entirely with handfeeding, he apparently has a reasonably full tummy.

He's quite lethargic and isn't hungry any more, not eating for himself or grabbing the syringe. For the most part he just stands there as I syringe feed him, it's very sad to watch.

We've given our consent for laprascopic exploratory surgery, it's happening as I wrote this. I really hope it's fixable, or at least just needs time and care. We don't seem to have much luck around Christmas, pigs always choose the best time to get ill, bless them.
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
78,097
Reaction score
55,549
Points
3,466
Location
Coventry UK
Thanks for holding us in your thoughts everyone.

Today we've managed to get Flash into the vets for an ultrasound scan. They've found he seems quite bloaty and also has a thickening of his lower intestine (made me think of you @Wiebke). I was commended on keeping him going entirely with handfeeding, he apparently has a reasonably full tummy.

He's quite lethargic and isn't hungry any more, not eating for himself or grabbing the syringe. For the most part he just stands there as I syringe feed him, it's very sad to watch.

We've given our consent for laprascopic exploratory surgery, it's happening as I wrote this. I really hope it's fixable, or at least just needs time and care. We don't seem to have much luck around Christmas, pigs always choose the best time to get ill, bless them.

All the best and fingers very firmly crossed!

Pili Pala was treated for IBS (metacam, emeprid, zantac and cisapride) for her thickened lower bowel. It did actually relax somewhat during the year she lived after her GI stasis.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
How long did Pili Pala take to recover from her initial stasis episode @Wiebke? Was there anything that turned things around for her?

Flash isn't keen on any food at the minute and is very lethargic, but is taking syringe feed and pooping okay. We'll see how he is after his op, I'm expecting him to be quite flat... I never know when to start syringe feeding after anaesthesia! I'm hoping his swallowing isn't impaired.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Update! Flash was very flat after the operation, and for a couple hours he couldn't swallow. However we managed to get a couple of millilitres of syringe feed into him last night, another 2 ml at 4 a.m., and at 8 a.m. managed to get 10ml into him. Totally worth it even if it took 2 hours. His poop looks a bit like silly string at the minute due to the large amount of gut motility medication he's been given. It's very painful for him to poo at the minute but don't quite know why this is.

So, the exploratory operation found that actually his gut wasn't thickened! The only three things of note was one, his bladder was incredibly thick and inflamed; this was not picked up by ultrasound or x-ray. He has no stones and no sludge, but the bladder is still really angry. Looking back he's had quite a few calcium-y wees recently so who knows (no blood or squeaking though)?

Two, his adrenal glands are very inflamed indicating high cortisol (stress) levels. Reason for this is unknown, whether it's the failed bond with Blackjack or the constant force feeding.

Three, the bloat they observed was entirely in his cecum, which is very odd! I noticed he's not been producing many if any caecotrophs recently, and I'm not sure how to help this type of bloat.

Our plan going forward is to continue the supportive care; metacam for pain relief, ranitidine to keep his guts going, a 2-week course of antibiotics just in case the inflammation is due to infection, and of course syringe feed, probiotics, and vitamin C. I'm also going to give him cystease to calm down his bladder. Poor little man.

Has anyone ever heard of a guinea pig having interstitial cystitis with no bloody or squeaky wees?
 

flintstones

Forum Donator 2021/22
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
15,077
Reaction score
2,555
Points
1,345
Location
Never never land
Yes, I had a pig chalked full of kidney stones, I'm sure he had bladder stones to. He never cried the indication that something wasn't right was weight loss and we found the stones on X-ray. Sadly we had no treatment options due to the amount of stones found he was on Tramadol until PTS was the only option.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
I'm sorry @flintstones, that sounds like it was a very difficult decision. I wish we knew why some pigs are so suceptible to stones!

My boy didn't even show up any stones on sludge on the x-ray, so I don't know why his bladder is so inflamed.
 

Danielle Smith

Teenage Guinea Pig
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
1,090
Points
625
Location
Whitehaven, Cumbria
Unfortunately no improvement to report.

Flash was maintaining and even gaining a little weight on 45g of syringe feed, so we tried to reduce it to 30g daily. He lost what's he'd gained very quickly and now we're back up to 45g again.

Upsettingly, he's gone off his legs. His hind legs are partially paralysed; he can hop about (to get to his favourite cuddle cup) but prefer to drag them a bit, and he's not squeezing poos out very well. He's also needing daily bum baths due to a very wet bottom as he literally isn't moving around at all.

I've increased his vitamin C for a few days to see if he maybe started to have scurvy, but I'm just so worried. His quality of life is absolutely crap at the moment, but we have no idea what's wrong, all investigations have come back with nothing. I definitely don't want to PTS yet, he was doing great before Christmas and was a very sudden downturn. It's just so hard seeing him like this, he's not even 2 yet!
 
Top