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Mystery illness

SusieW

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Hi,

Before I start we have been to the vet multiple times and are waiting for a referral to a specialist from our vets but I thought someone here may have had a similar experience.

I have a 4 and a half year old boar (he lives with his cage mate a 4 year old boar). He's been losing weight gradually for a while but has been eating loads and loads- more than normal and always seems hungry. He used to be 1300g and is now 800g, although the vet says he has lost another 20g over the last week. He has been fine in himself- so active and friendly and just the nicest pig anyone could ever wish for. He constantly eats hay, i have increased his vegetable amounts since he's so hungry all the time, and he eats nuggets daily. His poos have been getting smaller and smaller. Multiple vet visits have revealed...nothing.
Last Thursday I noticed he had developed a snotty nose so took him straight to the vet to get antibiotics for an upper respiratory tract infection as soon as it developed. The vet says he's recovered from the respiratory tract infection. This morning he was fine- eating and active, then at lunch time I went to see him and he had saliva literally pouring out of his mouth and was doing weird hiccup type retching movements (I know they can't vomit but it's the best way to describe it.) He was flopping about so rushed him straight to the vet. The vet gave him a really thorough examination and says there's no signs of any abdominal tumours, bladder stones or anything else and says apart from the weight loss everything is fine. He examined his mouth and throat and said all his teeth are fine, as is his jaw, throat, mouth, and no sign of abscesses or ulcers or anything. Also he said there doesn't seem to be fluid on his lungs.
Also, there's loads of orange red coloured urine and no one seems to be able to work that out (not dietary, it's regardless of whatever vegetables he eats)
The last couple of days his cagemate has been humping him, which he doesn't normally do.

I've been really pleased with this vet compared to the others we've seen in the past and he does seem to do a thorough examination. He's given us a referral to a specialist but I don't hold out much hope. He said the situation isn't dire but looking at him now I feel like it is. The vet said maybe 4 and a half for him is just old for him like how some humans age faster than others and maybe he's right.
His eyes are really sunken in and he has now not eaten since we got back from the vet an hour ago. I don't know what to do and just want to know what has happened to him.
I've had five pigs and he's by far the best- sweet, beautiful, friendly and gentle.
Has anyone else had a pig with the same symptoms?
The photo is him :)
 

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Wiebke

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Hi,

Before I start we have been to the vet multiple times and are waiting for a referral to a specialist from our vets but I thought someone here may have had a similar experience.

I have a 4 and a half year old boar (he lives with his cage mate a 4 year old boar). He's been losing weight gradually for a while but has been eating loads and loads- more than normal and always seems hungry. He used to be 1300g and is now 800g, although the vet says he has lost another 20g over the last week. He has been fine in himself- so active and friendly and just the nicest pig anyone could ever wish for. He constantly eats hay, i have increased his vegetable amounts since he's so hungry all the time, and he eats nuggets daily. His poos have been getting smaller and smaller. Multiple vet visits have revealed...nothing.
Last Thursday I noticed he had developed a snotty nose so took him straight to the vet to get antibiotics for an upper respiratory tract infection as soon as it developed. The vet says he's recovered from the respiratory tract infection. This morning he was fine- eating and active, then at lunch time I went to see him and he had saliva literally pouring out of his mouth and was doing weird hiccup type retching movements (I know they can't vomit but it's the best way to describe it.) He was flopping about so rushed him straight to the vet. The vet gave him a really thorough examination and says there's no signs of any abdominal tumours, bladder stones or anything else and says apart from the weight loss everything is fine. He examined his mouth and throat and said all his teeth are fine, as is his jaw, throat, mouth, and no sign of abscesses or ulcers or anything. Also he said there doesn't seem to be fluid on his lungs.
Also, there's loads of orange red coloured urine and no one seems to be able to work that out (not dietary, it's regardless of whatever vegetables he eats)
The last couple of days his cagemate has been humping him, which he doesn't normally do.

I've been really pleased with this vet compared to the others we've seen in the past and he does seem to do a thorough examination. He's given us a referral to a specialist but I don't hold out much hope. He said the situation isn't dire but looking at him now I feel like it is. The vet said maybe 4 and a half for him is just old for him like how some humans age faster than others and maybe he's right.
His eyes are really sunken in and he has now not eaten since we got back from the vet an hour ago. I don't know what to do and just want to know what has happened to him.
I've had five pigs and he's by far the best- sweet, beautiful, friendly and gentle.
Has anyone else had a pig with the same symptoms?
The photo is him :)
Hi!

I am very sorry about your handsome boy.

Has your vet checked for blockage anywhere in the in the digestive tract from the mouth, throat infection, swelling at the back of the throat, developing blockage in the gut or - if you are very unlucky - the loss of the ability to swallow? In the case of a blockage somewhere (above is a list of what my own piggies have come up with in that respect over the years; it is not comprehensive but may give you an idea), the saliva can no longer pass and will build up and then run out of the mouth and even nose. :(

I am extremely sorry to say this and give you a nasty shock, but please see a vet asap to spare your boy some more hours of suffering. His body is sadly in the process of closing down and he is dying. It is the one most loving and at the same time heart-breaking gift left that you can make him. :(
A Practical and Sensitive Guide to Dying, Terminal Illness and Euthanasia in Guinea Pigs

BIG HUGS
 

SusieW

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Hi Wiebke,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your speedy reply and for your compassionate, informative and helpful message. We booked him straight in at the vet for the second time today after reading your message and I told them what you had said. Cashew had been going over to the food and water and trying to eat it but it did seem like he was unable to swallow as he kind of convulsed and more saliva flowed out of his mouth when he tried. The vet anaesthetised him and looked all the way down his throat and said everything looked healthy so was assuming there would be a tumour somewhere he couldn't reach and there was nothing that could be done.
We had him put down and I am devastated. He really was the best guinea pig anyone could ask for. I know 4 and a half may not be that old in comparison to many people here's guinea pigs but he was a really happy boy for all his life up until lunchtime today and I think that's what matters.

I'm really worried about his cagemate now - I don't want to get another guinea pig as as much as I love the five I've had I don't want to carry on the cycle and Tiger Nut has a tendency to be a bully so I would have to be very lucky to pair him up again. I'm very worried about him being lonely though as they were very close and have been together all of Tiger's life- Tiger used to have four friends and now he's alone, so not sure what to do now. Is guinea pig fostering a thing I could do?

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and expertise, I'm extremely grateful for your honesty about Cashew's situation and for letting me know so I could do right by him.
 

Merab's Slave

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I am so sorry to read this.
It’s heartbreaking when there is no answer.
You gave Cashew that last gift of love in letting him go.
Be gentle with yourself as you grieve.
Holding you in my heart
 

Wiebke

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Hi Wiebke,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your speedy reply and for your compassionate, informative and helpful message. We booked him straight in at the vet for the second time today after reading your message and I told them what you had said. Cashew had been going over to the food and water and trying to eat it but it did seem like he was unable to swallow as he kind of convulsed and more saliva flowed out of his mouth when he tried. The vet anaesthetised him and looked all the way down his throat and said everything looked healthy so was assuming there would be a tumour somewhere he couldn't reach and there was nothing that could be done.
We had him put down and I am devastated. He really was the best guinea pig anyone could ask for. I know 4 and a half may not be that old in comparison to many people here's guinea pigs but he was a really happy boy for all his life up until lunchtime today and I think that's what matters.

I'm really worried about his cagemate now - I don't want to get another guinea pig as as much as I love the five I've had I don't want to carry on the cycle and Tiger Nut has a tendency to be a bully so I would have to be very lucky to pair him up again. I'm very worried about him being lonely though as they were very close and have been together all of Tiger's life- Tiger used to have four friends and now he's alone, so not sure what to do now. Is guinea pig fostering a thing I could do?

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and expertise, I'm extremely grateful for your honesty about Cashew's situation and for letting me know so I could do right by him.
BIG HUGS

I truly feel for you! It is such a nasty shock but you have done exactly the right thing and not failed Cashew. The blockage can be somewhere in the gut (I've had that twice, Myfina over Christmas Day 2017), or anywhere further up (three other piggies of mine)...
They are often not easy to see or to find, depending on where they are sitting. If they are deep inside the body, only an x-ray may show but there is no outward sign. :(

Anyway, after losing four of my own piggies ranging from not even 3 years, two just short of their 4th birthday and only one 7 years old to blockage/inability to swallow with pretty much the same symptoms as Cashew but different causes each time in 2017 alone (two of them within 3 days of each other), I am unfortunately more familiar with the symptoms than I'd like to be. And with the desperate rush to the vet... :(
A blockage can happen at any time in the life, whether something is getting stuck in the gut, an infection that swells a pipe closed or a tumour or other lump pushing it shut; so please feed sad, but not bad. It's one of these cosmic bad luck issues that are not very common but can happen to anybody at any time.

You are a very caring owner; you've done everything right - including seeking vet care repeatedly and making the right decision at the end. The usual guilt loop at the onset of the grieving process is always stronger when something happens suddenly and you cannot brace for it. Be kind to yourself in the coming days when you have to digest both the loss and shock at the same time.

Of course you are not feeling ready for another piggy and companionship. Give Tiger Nut time to grieve (4 days for deep mourning is about average). I would however strongly recommend to contact Cavy Corner Sanctuary in Doncaster and work out with them how you can provide companionship of his own choice for Tiger Nut for the remainder of his life but with a piggy that will return to the rescue. Sue is a wonderful woman and a very experienced bonder; you and Tiger Nut will be in the safest hands in all of South Yorkshire there as a number of forum members can confirm! Rescues are becoming more aware of the dilemma loving owners are facing with their last standing piggy and there are now practical solutions available.
Give it a chance sometime in the next week to month when you are feeling a little bit more yourself again or whenever you feel that doing something actively for Tiger Nut will help you feel a little bit better about yourself or you feel that Tiger Nut is not coping well with being alone. Also be aware that Tiger Nut is now at an age where the testosterone is starting to gradually fizzle out and even the most dominant piggies are mellowing quite noticeably. ;)
Rescue Locator (our list of recommended and carefully vetted good welfare standard rescues we can vouch for)
You can contact Cavy Corner also via facebook. Tell Sue that we have sent you to her.

This guide link here will take you to our grieving guide for humans, which you may find very helpful for yourself and any family now and in the coming days and weeks to make sense of all the strong emotions you are experiencing as well as our bereavement guide for guinea pigs, for the immediate impact as well as the longer term.
Death, Dying, Terminal Illness, Grieving and Bereaved Companions: Information and Support for Owners and Their Children
 

VickiA

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I am so sorry to read your post. You were called upon to make the toughest decision and you did not fail your piggy. Big hugs.
 
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