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Weird grunting noise affecting 2 piggies, but not a URI?

Hiitshannah

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Around 2 weeks ago my 4 year old male pig Nutmeg started making a weird grunting noise - the same noise older piggies make when they clean themselves but repeated for a few minutes at a time, it was only happening while he was eating and occasionally whilst sleeping, and went on for about 6 hours then stopped. The next day it started again, around the same time, then stopped. We took him to the vets, they said they suspected a very mild respiratory infection and prescribed Sulfatrim, which he was on for 2 weeks.

9 days passed with no noise whatsoever, then he suddenly started grunting again really loudly, so we took him to an emergency appointment – the vet checked his teeth, throat, nose, eyes, temperature, heart, lungs, neck (for injury), EVERYTHING he could think of and said he was completely fine, no URI! We got him home and he stopped making the noise, until last night when he AND one of our other pigs Cashew, a 5 and a half year old male (who doesn’t live with Nutmeg but had been in contact through bars and has also been checked up in the past week and given a clean bill of health) started making the same noise, on and off - only whilst eating with his head fully down (snuffling hay on the floor etc) and they are both still making the noise on and off today.

Cashew’s friend Cinnamon has made no noises, and Nutmeg’s friend Butternut who is a 7 week old baby has also made no noise. It's worth noting Nutmeg lost his friend, Pumpkin, around a month ago after he became paralysed (he was x-rayed and had a spinal lesion, of unknown origin, and we went through around 3 months of various treatments for him...) and then suspected Lymphoma. There are no other symptoms, eating and playing as normal, no nasal/eye discharge etc. I have an appointment for both Cashew and Nutmeg tomorrow with an exotics vet, but I wondered if anyone had any ideas of things it could be that I could ask about? I don’t know how worried to be, but it seems if it’s spread between Cashew and Nutmeg then it’s likely all 4 pigs have it.
 

Wiebke

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Around 2 weeks ago my 4 year old male pig Nutmeg started making a weird grunting noise - the same noise older piggies make when they clean themselves but repeated for a few minutes at a time, it was only happening while he was eating and occasionally whilst sleeping, and went on for about 6 hours then stopped. The next day it started again, around the same time, then stopped. We took him to the vets, they said they suspected a very mild respiratory infection and prescribed Sulfatrim, which he was on for 2 weeks.

9 days passed with no noise whatsoever, then he suddenly started grunting again really loudly, so we took him to an emergency appointment – the vet checked his teeth, throat, nose, eyes, temperature, heart, lungs, neck (for injury), EVERYTHING he could think of and said he was completely fine, no URI! We got him home and he stopped making the noise, until last night when he AND one of our other pigs Cashew, a 5 and a half year old male (who doesn’t live with Nutmeg but had been in contact through bars and has also been checked up in the past week and given a clean bill of health) started making the same noise, on and off - only whilst eating with his head fully down (snuffling hay on the floor etc) and they are both still making the noise on and off today.

Cashew’s friend Cinnamon has made no noises, and Nutmeg’s friend Butternut who is a 7 week old baby has also made no noise. It's worth noting Nutmeg lost his friend, Pumpkin, around a month ago after he became paralysed (he was x-rayed and had a spinal lesion, of unknown origin, and we went through around 3 months of various treatments for him...) and then suspected Lymphoma. There are no other symptoms, eating and playing as normal, no nasal/eye discharge etc. I have an appointment for both Cashew and Nutmeg tomorrow with an exotics vet, but I wondered if anyone had any ideas of things it could be that I could ask about? I don’t know how worried to be, but it seems if it’s spread between Cashew and Nutmeg then it’s likely all 4 pigs have it.
Hi and welcome!

We cannot diagnose noises only from a description because the perception is very individual and can unfortunately vary much more than you'd expect in our experience on here. It would help us a lot more if you please uploaded a video on a public setting elsewhere (our forum doesn't have any facility since we are run entirely on voluntary member donations) and copied it across into your next pist.

Guinea pigs also grunt - like stiff older people - when bending over, straining to poo etc. It is not necessarily a respiratory issue.

Very dry indoors air (especially after increased heating/decreased airing due to a cold spell) can also affect the narrowed airways in older piggies. See whether a bowl of steaming water next to the cage eases the symptom; if it does, you may want to look into humidifiers.
 

Hiitshannah

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Hi and welcome!

We cannot diagnose noises only from a description because the perception is very individual and can unfortunately vary much more than you'd expect in our experience on here. It would help us a lot more if you please uploaded a video on a public setting elsewhere (our forum doesn't have any facility since we are run entirely on voluntary member donations) and copied it across into your next pist.

Guinea pigs also grunt - like stiff older people - when bending over, straining to poo etc. It is not necessarily a respiratory issue.

Very dry indoors air (especially after increased heating/decreased airing due to a cold spell) can also affect the narrowed airways in older piggies. See whether a bowl of steaming water next to the cage eases the symptom; if it does, you may want to look into humidifiers.
Thank you for your reply - I've tried uploading a video here:

This was one of his more extreme grunting episodes, it varies in volume, I will try and get some more videos but (of course...) currently there are no noises! We have had the heating on constantly for them as it's been cold, but we have infrared heaters so they don't heat the air in the same way as normal central heating does so I would think it's unlikely that's the issue. We did recently buy a dehumidifier, but it's not in the same room as the piggies and their humidity gauge reads 61% (and is usually within the 60s)
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for your reply - I've tried uploading a video here:

This was one of his 'milder' grunting episodes, it varies in volume, I will try and get some more videos but (of course...) currently there are no noises! We have had the heating on constantly for them as it's been cold, but we have infrared heaters so they don't heat the air in the same way as normal central heating does so I would think it's unlikely that's the issue. We did recently buy a dehumidifier, but it's not in the same room as the piggies and their humidity gauge reads 61% (and is usually within the 60s)
Thank you. It is not a pain grunt and sounds like a respiratory issue but more of an impeded air flow problem? I've never heard this sound in any of mine so I can only guess. Could you try to hold your ear closer to the body when they sniff on something near your head to get a better idea of which part of the respiratory system this sound originates from - nose, throat or lungs?
 

Hiitshannah

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Thank you. It is not a pain grunt and sounds like a respiratory issue but more of an impeded air flow problem? I've never heard this sound in any of mine so I can only guess. Could you try to hold your ear closer to the body when they sniff on something near your head to get a better idea of which part of the respiratory system this sound originates from - nose, throat or lungs?
They always stop making the noise as soon as we pick them up, or touch them :( I would say it's not from the lungs, but couldn't identify if it's throat or nose. I got a (very cheap) stethoscope and have been listening to them and their lungs/breathing sound fine as far as I can tell as a non-professional, which is also what the vet said on Friday! I suppose it's a waiting game until our appointment tomorrow. I've turned our dehumidifier off in the meantime in case your suggestion of dry air is a factor.

The only other thing I can think of is they were both given pro-c probiotic during antibiotics, and we actually gave this to Nutmeg the day his grunting started due to slightly mushy poop, I stopped giving this yesterday on the off chance they were inhaling it somehow (we were giving it on a slice of cucumber)
 

Wiebke

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They always stop making the noise as soon as we pick them up, or touch them :( I would say it's not from the lungs, but couldn't identify if it's throat or nose. I got a (very cheap) stethoscope and have been listening to them and their lungs/breathing sound fine as far as I can tell as a non-professional, which is also what the vet said on Friday! I suppose it's a waiting game until our appointment tomorrow. I've turned our dehumidifier off in the meantime in case your suggestion of dry air is a factor.

The only other thing I can think of is they were both given pro-c probiotic during antibiotics, and we actually gave this to Nutmeg the day his grunting started due to slightly mushy poop, I stopped giving this yesterday on the off chance they were inhaling it somehow (we were giving it on a slice of cucumber)
Probiotics don't impact on the breathing.

All the best! Piggies are very good at suppressing respiratory symptoms at the vets, as I know to my cost. But it is very good that the lungs are free and that the clicking sound doesn't sound like the one you can get with pneumonia.
 

Hiitshannah

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Probiotics don't impact on the breathing.

All the best! Piggies are very good at suppressing respiratory symptoms at the vets, as I know to my cost. But it is very good that the lungs are free and that the clicking sound doesn't sound like the one you can get with pneumonia.
Just thought I’d post our outcome for anyone who comes across this post in future. We took your earlier advice regarding the very dry air, and have been having the heating on periodically rather than 24/7, as well as turning our dehumidifier off, and putting a steam bowl next to the piggies cage, and allowing more fresh air into the room the pigs live in. Since doing this, we have actually had no more grunting episodes! I was advised to keep an eye on them rather than stressing them by taking them to an appointment after recently being given a clean bill of health, if the noises start up again I will be straight to the vets but as things currently stand, it’s been 48 hours and the pigs are all happy and grunt free! Thank you for your advice!
 

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Just thought I’d post our outcome for anyone who comes across this post in future. We took your earlier advice regarding the very dry air, and have been having the heating on periodically rather than 24/7, as well as turning our dehumidifier off, and putting a steam bowl next to the piggies cage, and allowing more fresh air into the room the pigs live in. Since doing this, we have actually had no more grunting episodes! I was advised to keep an eye on them rather than stressing them by taking them to an appointment after recently being given a clean bill of health, if the noises start up again I will be straight to the vets but as things currently stand, it’s been 48 hours and the pigs are all happy and grunt free! Thank you for your advice!
Glad that my tip has helped and has eased the problem.

It is always good to get feedback, as positive and negative responses will also influence any future advice we give. Some tips won't stand the test of time while others can do the trick, even though they may sound slightly counterproductive at first. We go a lot by what actually works and what not - or if you want, by our experiences with our own piggies but also with forum piggies.
 
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