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Pericardial effusion

Sashaj_

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Hello,
I’m after some experiences from other owners with piggies with heart conditions. My 3yo female guinea pig was started on treatment for heart problems around 6 months ago. She was doing so well no further issues until 4 days ago when she stopped eating/drinking, lethargic. I took her to have a heart scan done where a pericardial effusion was shown. She is currently on:
Cisapride: 0.12mls q12hrs
Frusol: 1.2mls q8hrs
Benazepril q12 hours
Spironolactone 5mg q12 hours (only started this last night)
I’m also syringe feeding oxbow every 2 hours. There is really no improvement other than a little lettuce munching every so often. Her breathing isn’t even as bad as it’s been in the past.
I’m starting to give up hope.

I’m wondering if anyone has any experiences like this and has any advice on anything else I can try for my little girl?

Thanks in advance.
 

Siikibam

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Sorry to hear your girl is unwell. We usually advise that you work with your vet to find the best treatment for your piggy. I’ll tag @Wiebke @PigglePuggle @VickiA
 

Wiebke

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Hello,
I’m after some experiences from other owners with piggies with heart conditions. My 3yo female guinea pig was started on treatment for heart problems around 6 months ago. She was doing so well no further issues until 4 days ago when she stopped eating/drinking, lethargic. I took her to have a heart scan done where a pericardial effusion was shown. She is currently on:
Cisapride: 0.12mls q12hrs
Frusol: 1.2mls q8hrs
Benazepril q12 hours
Spironolactone 5mg q12 hours (only started this last night)
I’m also syringe feeding oxbow every 2 hours. There is really no improvement other than a little lettuce munching every so often. Her breathing isn’t even as bad as it’s been in the past.
I’m starting to give up hope.

I’m wondering if anyone has any experiences like this and has any advice on anything else I can try for my little girl?

Thanks in advance.
Hi and welcome!

I am very sorry. Your girl seems to be on a pretty comprehensive cocktail in order to drain the fluid from the chest, lower the blood pressure and help with heart failure as well as a gut stimulant/anti-bloating med.

Unfortunately there is only so much you can do for small animals with a fast metabolism when it turns against them. There is sadly so much less leeway to buy time when a major organ fails compared to larger pets or humans. Your vet is already using the strongest drugs they can think of and at the highest possible dosage - as far as I can see that is about the largest kitchen sink a vet can throw at it. :(

You may sadly have to start facing the stark fact that your girl may not improve again within the next 24-48 hours and get better again. I am never happy having to say this but the more you start clutching at straws for your piggy to survive because you dread losing her, the harder it is going to deal with her loss for you. Heart medication in guinea pigs generally tends to either work straight away or not all. You will have to consider how much you want to put your beloved one through if there is no improvement. It is always totally heart-breaking when you come to the limit of what medicine can do for your pets; especially as you are already giving a lot more medication than you would be have been able to just a few years earlier. :(

Unfortunately there seems to be an underlying issue that is causing the build-up of fluid in the chest, whether it is the heart or coming from another organ or is caused by cancer (potential tumour) pressing on the heart. It is impossible to tell because the fluid in the chest often masks the crucial area on a scan. I had that similar problem with my Tegyd back in 2014 where what my vet could do (mainly maxing out on the frusol) was limited by not being able to work out what was the underlying cause of the fluid build up which was masking on the scan what went on underneath - apart from the fact that her heart was looking fine in her case and the suspicion was more pointing towards a tumour or lymphoma pressing on the heart in her case. Not that the possible options would have been treatable... :(

HUGS
 

PigglePuggle

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Hi, I'm sorry to hear your piggy is so unwell, pericardial effusion is fluid collecting around the heart. The choice of medicines here from the vet seem very appropriate, frusol is a diuretic that will reduce fluid retention, and benazidril will relax and dilate the blood vessels to ease pressure on the heart. Spironolactone is also a drug known to reduce fluid build up around the heart, but it is less widely used in veterinary medicine- though that isnt to say it wont work, I just dont think it is used much in small animal medicine. Seems like your vet is trying everything they can here, short of fairly radical surgery to physically drain away the fluid- but even if this was attempted, there must be some serious underlying issue with the heart, kidneys, or perhaps a tumour somewhere, that is causing the fluid build up, and it would just come back.
Your vet sounds very knowledgable and like they are pushing the boundaries of known safe and effective drugs to treat this in small animals, so I think you really have to be trusting your vet here- they are doing absolutely everything that can be done really, and I'm very sorry if this is not going to be enough to help your piggy recover a good quality of life x
 

Sashaj_

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Thank you to everyone who replied. Sadly little Peaches passed away Sunday evening peacefully in my arms. Myself and her 3 sisters are heartbroken and miss her very much. Thank you once again ❤
 

Wiebke

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Thank you to everyone who replied. Sadly little Peaches passed away Sunday evening peacefully in my arms. Myself and her 3 sisters are heartbroken and miss her very much. Thank you once again ❤
I am ever so sorry for your loss but glad that the end did come gently for her.
We have got a Rainbow Bridge section for those that feel they would like to post a tribute whenever it feels right for them.

You may find the information in this link here helpful in the coming days and weeks: Human Bereavement: Grieving, Coping and Support Links for Guinea Pig Owners and Their Children
 
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