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Poor Minion Has A Respiratory Problem :-(

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Junior Guinea Pig
Mar 20, 2014
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Near Southampton
For a week or so now, one of our Swiss teddies Minion has been doing noticeable breathing - this has become more abdominal and twitchy and audible in the last day or so, so I whipped him up to the vet this evening. She had a good look and listen, and said it was probably a UTI. She gave him anti-inflammatory and antibiotic injections (poor little love) and sent me off with instructions to return tomorrow to see if he has improved at all. If not, it'll be X rays to see what's going on in there.

Weirdly, he is not off his food or water - he is a big fat fluffy piggy so he has never really skipped about much, unlike his brother - and he hasn't been behaving oddly at all. He doesn't have crusty eyes or anything. I really just hope that these jabs can help him. My son will be devastated if anything happens to Minni.
Fingers firmly crossed! Is your vet thinking of a respiratory tract infection (URI) or a urinary tract infection (UTI)? It is unfortunately not quite clear to me. If he is breathing heavily from the diaphragm, there could be a build up of fluid in the lungs or the chest cavity, In this case a diuretic would help.

Please weigh him daily for the time being.

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Keeping everything crossed for him. If he has abdominal breathing an xray is a good idea to see if there is any fluid, as he may need diuretic if so. Also if he is given oral antibiotics he will also need probiotics at least an hour later. If he has any mucous in the nasal passages Bisolvon would also help.

Please could you update your location on your profile as it will help us help you.
Sorry - yes, upper respiratory tract infection.
I am near Southampton, on the south coast (across Southampton Water from where that car transporter ship capsized over the weekend!).
So far he has only had an injection of antibiotic, though the vet did talk about the possibility of oral medication if the injections have shown an improvement in him by tomorrow. Wondering whether to put some Olbas oil near their cage overnight. Do you think that might help?
He was weighed by the vet this evening so I will get another weigh-in tomorrow.
He doesn't have a runny or crusty nose although we do have flaring nostrils.

Poor baby :-( really worried about him!
Yes that would help, just put a couple of drops in a bowl of hot water next to the cage.

I would also ask the vet to check his heart tomorrow, as laboured breathing can also be a sign of a heart issue, though to me this sounds more like a URI or even Pneumonia.
She listened to his heart, and didn't say she heard anything odd. She did mention pneumonia as a possibility... how on earth does this happen?!
I'm not too sure on the science behind it but Pneumonia is actually pretty common, I have had a few with it. The best antibiotic for Pneumonia is Zithromax (Azithromycin) though your vet may want to try Baytril first as it is the only antibiotic licensed for pigs.
Yes, we've had an injection of Baytril, and one of Metacam.
He seems pretty calm at the moment though still very twitchy, his brother is keeping a close eye on him, so I will pop some Olbas oil near them overnight and hope for the best.
Thank you all for the advice and support, will keep you posted.
Best of luck! Pneumonia can hit in some cases without many warning signs. A scan may bring clarity about a fluid build-up.
John Chitty at Andover is your nearest exotics (and cavy-savvy) vet

Azithromycin is only effective if the bug caustng the infection is sensitive to it.
The last piggie of mine that had swabs cultured had a Strep infection that was sensitvie to baytril. spetrin and every other anitbioitic EXCEPT Azithromycin

Keep going on the baytril for now. If, after 48hrs there is no improvement (or it's got worse) then please go back to the vet for another antibioitic.

Whilst a swab culture following first round of antibiotics has limited value......it may still be worth taking a throoat/nasal swab afetr the baytril in order to determjine the next best EFFECTIVE treatmenet.

Pneumonia (ie Lower respiratory tract infection) definitly needs diruetics to help clear the fluids from the lungs
Poor little man. Three of my girls are currently on meds for a URI so I know what you are going through! Sending healing vibes your way!

So, it's not looking brilliant. Saw the head vet this evening. Minni is very grey around the mouth (compared to Mayhem who is nicely pink), and is still doing the flared nostril/slightly open mouth/abdominal breathing. Not as audible, but still not great. We weighed him, and he is more or less the same as he was yesterday - maybe a little bit less, but not much. He isn't eating much though, so it is not surprising.

The vet had major trouble hearing Minni's heartbeat. He tested his stethoscope on Mayhem, and could hear everything going on in there, nice and normal, but on Minni he couldn't hear his heart, nor any lung noise (so probably not pneumonia). He said this difficulty hearing his heart could be down to a pleural effusion or dense lung tissue - either way, it isn't brilliant.

So, I have Metacam and Baytril in liquid form to give him, which will be difficult if he isn't eating much as Metacam has to be given with food or on a full stomach...

As I left the vet, he suggested we should pray for Minni too :-(

Going to try and keep positive, but it isn't looking great.

Poor little fluffy sausage.
Bloody hell - he spat half the Baytril out. Vet said it was sweet and that guineas liked the taste... clearly not then!
Am sorry it is not better news, did the vet not think about giving diuretic if there is suspected pleural effusion? If there is fluid it really can make a difference. A conscious xray would show exactly what you are dealing with too.
I m now very concerned at the description of his breathing/condition (especially the greyness round the mouth = cyanosis)
Heart issues cannot be diagnosed with a stethoscope - you will need an Xray. (which would also show if pneumonia is an issue)
However given his current condition I would not recommend even a whiff of gas to take an Xray - your vet would need to do it conscious.

The fact that your vet has even mentioned pleural effusion and can't hear his heart would suggest that his difficulty in breathing is because of fluid accumulation either within the lungs (Pneumonia) or around the lungs (heart).

Any decent cavy vet knows that if fluid accumulation is suspected of inhibiting breathing in a guinea pig that is cyanotic then it needs prompt action with diuretics (normally frusemide) as a matter of urgency. Telling you to pray really makes me think you should change vets.

This article on guinea lynx on heart issues details symptoms, medications and has links to case histories with Xray images - worth printing it all out including the images and taking it in to the vet. This was what I had to do to get my first heart pig diagnosed after being told there is nothing wrong with the heart as it sound OK by stethoscope.My pig however was not having acute respiratory problems like your pig.

You have to decide if you want to continue to deal with your current vets or seek a more cavy savvy vet. Minioin's situation is acute and urgent.
He needs diuretics to start at the latest by tomorrow morning (preferably a daily injection for 3 days as this is most effective to kick-start the fluid removal process in such a seriously compromised piggie) followed by oral administration (normal frussol) for the following week.
Then you can do an Xray to see if he indeed has congestive heart failure and needs heart meds. It may take a while to get the right dosages.

Prompt action now (rather than praying) could mean your little boy gets to enjoy many more piggie years with you.
John Chitty is here:
Update for Thursday

Minion has actually been much brighter today. He looked more alert and perky this morning, I hand fed him some sugar snap peas (his favourite) and later he ate some curly kale and carrot... he has been nibbling on hay throughout the day and has had a good tea this evening. He is looking much more pink around the mouth now, and although he still has the flaring nostrils and abdominal breathing he is generally looking much less ill. He even managed a popcorn or two this morning, and has been chirping at me too, with a few little wheeks thrown in for good measure.

I called the vet with an update on his condition this morning and asked for a call-back on the diuretic, but have been out most of the afternoon (friend's 40th birthday lunch followed by school run followed by child's violin lesson) so haven't heard anything. I will call again tomorrow.

Clearly not out of the woods yet, but things do seem to be looking up. Just need to get his medicines into him now... off to make "pigs in blankets" with him to prevent the wriggling!
I'm glad to hear he has improved.
I have given my input and do not think I can bring any further constrctive thoughts to this thread so will bow out now

Wishing you both well
Update again.

Minion is so much better, I am so relieved. He is pink properly around his mouth, the abdominal breathing is practically gone, he isn't flaring his nostrils any more - it is amazing.

He is still having Metacam once a day and Baytril twice a day, but his eating and drinking are back to normal, he is wheeking at me in annoyance if I tickle his chin (which he wasn't doing when he was feeling rubbish), and he is skipping around with his brother.

Thank you all for your advice and support - it is so lovely to know you are all here!
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