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What next? Any options?

marsuli

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Hi! This is my first post here ever and I am at my wits end. I live in Finland and I have a 2 year old boar name Veeti. Veeti has had health problems since last October. It all started when he was showing some URI symptoms, temperature (40,1 celcius degrees) and sneezing and some wheezing noises when he ate and cleaned himself. So I took him to the vet and he got antibiotics (enrofloxacin). The URI symptoms stopped and he was not sneezing. However his stomach started acting up when the course of antibiotics was about to finish. No diarrhea but Veeti was sometimes complaining when he was pooping (the poops were normal looking). So he got some probiotics and Metacam but they did not take the occasional complaining noises away. The vet took X-rays for possible stones but the X-ray was clear. Then he was prescribed Tramadol drops, 3 drops per day and then Veeti was not showing any symptoms. Whenever we stopped giving Tramadol the occasional pain when pooping came back. Veeti was otherwise happy and active during this time and ate normally and did not lose any weight. The vet told us that we should monitor him and if the pain episodes would be really bad we could always give him Tramadol. She also said said that sometimes it takes a while for guinea pigs' stomachs to return to normal after antibiotics.

So fast forward to Chirstmas. The occasional pain had not left us so I decided that I wanted Veeti to be examined more. His stomach was examined with sonogram which came back clear. No tumors, blockade or bloat or anything unusual was found in the belly area. The sonogram was performed by a different vet since the original one did not have a sonogram machine yet. Both vets were exotic vets btw. So I decided to let the issue rest for a while and keep a close I to Veeti. We had a lovely Chirstmas holiday with the guinea pigs. They were roaming around in our apartment every day and Veeti was so happy about this since he has always been a crazy explorer piggie. He had a good appetite and the pooping pain episodes where happening maybe once every two or three days so I was not very worried at this time.

But early in January when I weighed Veeti I noticed that he had lost some weight from 1020-1030 grams to 980-990 grams. He had not weighed under 1000 grams for many months so I got concerned. I did not notice any remarkable change in his appetite at this time and thought that maybe he has had too much exercise during the holidays. But then his weight continued in the next few weeks to 965 grams and I decided that he needed to be seen by a vet. At this time the pooping pain had gone away almost completely but a week before the vet appointment I noticed that he was not eating enough hay and pellets so I gave him CC once a day. The original vet took blood tests, fecal analysis and checked his teeth (front and back). The vet said that teeth very okay. The same day when tests were taken in the evening I noticed that Veeti felt hot, he was breathing rapidly and was kinda flat so I tried to measure his temperature and got (40,4 degrees Celcius) so I called to the emergency vet and they said that I should give him Metacam and bring him to the emergency vet. At the emergency vet Veeti's temperature had returned to normal (38,5 degrees) because of the Metacam but they said that he his breathing speed was elevated (200 times per minute). Heart sounded normal. So they gave him antibiotics (combination of trimethoprim and sulfadiazine).
During the next week on the antibiotics Veeti's appetite was worse than before and I had to support feed him even more (his weight was around 945 grams). I also got the test results back and fecal analysis was clear: no bacterial infection or parasites. Blood tests showed that kidneys and liver values were within normal limits but there was some inflammation.
The antibiotics caused some deformed stools and Veeti was complaining more when pooping and he was still breathing rapidly. He still ate some hay and pellets and all veggies. I also decided that I wanted to do a CT-scan on his whole body since I started to suspect that Veeti may have a heart problem. And this was indeed the case. The CT-scan (performed by the same exotic vet tht did the belly sonogram at Chirstmas) showed an enlarged heart and a diffuse increase in the lungs but nothing else alarming. So Veeti was prescribed a diuretic Furosemide for a few days course and heart medicin Vetmedin (1/4 tablet per day) for indefinetely. His appetite increased and I gave him CC only once a day. His weight was hovering 935-945 grams. We had a control checkup with the original vet who also prescribed the Vetmedin and she looked Veeti's heart with a sonogram since she had acquired one. She said that Veeti's heart problem was minor and that the Vetmedin had helped: the heart was contracting better. His breathing speed had also decreased. But I complained that Veeti's appetite was still abnormal and his weight would drop if I stopped the CC completely (I had tried and Veeti wnt down to 920 grams). So the original vet said that they were at the end of their skills and said that if I was feeling that Veeti was not okay I could bring him to another exotic vet (a third one). So I decided that I wanted to do that since I was still worried and knew that I could not support feed him for the rest of his life.

So at 1st of March I took Veeti to the third exotic vet and explained him the situation. He also looked at the earlier papers written by the other vets. He took Veeti's temperature and it was elevated AGAIN (40,4 degrees Celcius). He also wanted to look at Veeti's teeth again since it was his experience that when there was problems with eating the teeth were a very common factor to that. And to my surprise he found some problems with his teeth. This is direct quote from the diagnosis paper I got: "The teeth were largely fine, but the upper cheek teeth were short and almost not extend above the gingiva (the gums). Also the first lower cheek teeth were a bit longer than normal, and on the left lower side there was signs of a minor diastema (a space between the teeth). Also the mucous membranes were a bit irritated and inflamed. All sides were smoothened." Veeti also got a injections of antibiotics, pain medication and fluids with multivitamins. He suspected that Veeti might still have some persistent pneumonia due to the heart problems. He also said that we should give Metacam 0.15 ml per day and come back a week later for a another antibiotic injection.

So this week has been weird. After the appointment Veeti's appetite has decreased even further and he barely eats on his own. Just some small bits of veggies. He also stopped drinking from the water bottle. So I have been syringe feeding him for every 3 hours and giving him water with syringe which he accpets sometimes very eagerly and sometimes not so eagerly. He is resisting the support food much more than before the Monday's appointment with the teeth smoothing but is not spitting it away when I get it into his mouth. And for a few times he even wanted the support food voluntarily. When he chews he is also struggling in a way I have not seen before and is also teeth chattering sometimes after he has chewed the support food and also chattering more just on random. Not seen before or at least not so consistently. So on Wednesday the 3rd of March I called to the third vet's office again and explained the new worsening situation and they said that I should bring him there again on Thursday the 4th. There was a different vet on duty on Thursday and she took Veeti's temperature and it was 40,9! degrees Celcius and she also analysed Veeti's urine with a pH-sort-of-paper which tells if there is white blood cells in the urine indicating inflammation. There was not and the paper showed also that Veeti had no keto-bodies in his urine so he was not in ketosis. The pH of the urine was also normal. The vet said that we should increase the Metacam dose to 0.3 ml a day and on top of that add 2 Tramadol drops and see how Veeti does. She also said that the temperature could lower his appetite of course.

During this week Veeti has been more slow and flat than before but I have also seen him popcorn and chase after his brother and he has been making happy noises and does not seem to be in pain when he is not eating or pooping. The poops have been somewhat odd looking sometimes and sometimes they are normal looking. He is also complaining very often when he poops. Today I gave him the first 2 drops of Tramadol and increased Metacam but did not see improvement in his appetite or appeareance. He does seem still interested at food in general and today came running from his hidey when he heard that I was chopping some veggies and then ate a few thin stripes of cucumber. He also wanted to leave his enclousure and explore the living room which I let him. And I forgot to mention earlier but he should not be vitamin C deficient since I give him drops of it mixed with his support food and should not have been before or during his problems since I give him bell pepper every day and also parsley quite often. He also has very good looking skin and fur.

So if you have read this far first of all thank you very much and I have a couple of questions.

Could even higher doses of pain medication improve him?
Also is it possible that the teeth smoothing is causing these new problems with eating? The vet at Thursday did not seem to think that.
Is there any hope for Veeti? I am very very tired since I have sleeped only 5 hours a night for 4 days now because of the constant feeding :( and I am losing hope and am scared that this ends up to a situation where Veeti needs to be put down.
Has anyone else had experience with worn out cheek teeth and can a guinea pig recover from that by growing the worn out cheek teeth back under vet supervision? How long this would take? I am ready to continue support feeding him around the clock if his teeth could improve but of course this cannot go forever like this also for Veeti's sake.

So what should I do? At least I support feed him around the clock till next Monday's vet appointment.

Feel free to ask questions if I failed to mention something you think is important!
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum.
I’m not a health expert but wanted to say that there a number of people here who will be able to give you advice.
I’m just assuring you that there is a lot of support here for you.
 

weepweeps

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You must be exhausted. They are such a worry. You are doing all you can for Veeti. An expert will respond soon.
 

Siikibam

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:wel: I’ll tag @furryfriends (TEAS) who has experience with dental piggies. But please do be patient as she’s got a lot to handle 🙂
 

Free Ranger

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Long post - perhaps something will be useful?

I know that these dental surgeries are tricky to get right for the piggy and can leave the mouth very tender afterwards. I had a sow who wasn't eating properly and her teeth were found to be too long and a small spur had formed on one. She had the back teeth ground down under general anaesthetic. My girl was prescribed painkiller for a week after this dental surgery. We had the 'dog' type metacam (1.5mg/ml, not the 'cat' type which is 0.5mg/ml) and we had 0.23ml twice a day. This is a typical dose my vet prescribes for a 1 kilo pig like my girl although we have been on double that in the past with no ill effects (bladder stone). We didn't have any other painkiller (but I have heard tramadol is very effective). It did help her eat her syringe food that week (sadly she still passed a few weeks later as she did not start eating by herself again). Her problem had not been dental: the primary problem which led to reduced eating had then led to teeth overgrowing. I syringe fed for a long time but not through the night for most of this. We settled on 4 sessions as each one took about 2 hours as we think her problem was to do with swallowing (starting at 7am and finishing about 11pm) and aimed for about 50ml of food per day.

We also had antibiotics that week for resp. infection which developed after the general anaesthetic and may have been caused by that or actually by the syringe feeding when something could have gone down the wrong way. It is something to watch out for.

Will Veeti eat the slurry from a plate or spoon instead of a syringe? This might allow you to get a bit more sleep in. Also some pigs are fussy and will only eat some types of recovery food. I changed between recovery food and soaked, mushed pellets for some variety and it made her more interested in the food. If it is possible to get a different type in to give him a change? If he has been struggling a while he might be feeling down.

I have a blender and used it to make mush of raw carrots (although she only wanted the juice) and also tried blending grass! She very much wanted to eat grass - it is a really good thing to try and tempt them to eat again. It should be fresh picked and free of dog-pee which is toxic for them. My pigs have loved fresh grass more than any vegetable or other treat.

Your Veeti's problems started last October and if the primary problem had been dental I am thinking it should have shown symptoms to the first 2 vets before now.

If top cheek teeth were a bit short and bottom cheek teeth a bit long perhaps that was just how they had worn... if they have all been 'smoothed' they might not currently be meeting properly meaning he can't chew his hay or harder veggies. They should grow back but I don't know when. Also, keep an eye on his front biting teeth (incisors) as if he is not biting and chewing now these can also overgrow (my girl had to go back after 2 weeks to have these trimmed but it was a quick procedure not needing any GA). Perhaps have something wooden they can bite on in the flat? This is how I knew my little sow was having trouble as I saw her trying to bite on something wooden in the garden and this was unusual for her.

Sometimes pooping pain can indicate a problem with the bladder as the poops squeeze past the urethra but you've been scanned for stones and bacteria. You'd likely have more clear symptoms if it was this like blood in urine, pain when peeing and incontinence (wet around the bits from urine dripping). There is also something called sterile interstitial cystitis (SIC) where the bladder flares up for no apparent reason but again symptoms should be bladder related - not bowel.

I know guinea-pigs can get IBS symptoms and there is medication that helps them long term, but I thought bloat was more of an issue if it was this - I'm no expert though. @Wiebke does this sound like any IBS you have experienced?

I have no experience with heart piggies but I know pneumonia is dangerous so it is good that they are keeping an eye on this. Poor Veeti has been through the wars and maybe the rounds of antibiotics have affected his guts a bit too much? Are you able to give probiotics or 'poop soup'? Take a few fresh poops (within minutes) from a healthy companion and crush in a little water - add this to the slurry food straight away and syringe in. Do it at a time when he is not having the antibiotics. The idea is that you are repopulating the gut with 'good' digestive bacteria. It can really help. And the fact that he is still bopping around with his companion and acting normal when he feels a bit better is encouraging.

I understand you are feeling desperate and I really feel for you, but it sounds like you have got access to some really good vets there and they are prepared to keep following him through. Try and get a little more sleep just in case it takes another couple of weeks to get his teeth back to normal and his meds sorted x

Good luck Veeti, my heart is with you 💕
 

marsuli

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Thank you all who replied especially @Free Ranger! I have been feeling quite lonely since I feel that nobody here really understands how much my piggies mean to me and how invested I am in their wellbeing so it is nice to hear that there are like minded people here :) In Finland most people have dogs and cats as pets and not so many rodents. There is not even a single rescue dedicated only to guinea pigs or other rodents.

UPDATE: Yesterday evening I gave Veeti 3 drops of Tramadol instead of the 2 given in the morning since I felt that he was too uncomfortable and the 3 drops made a difference. In about an hour Veeti wanted to drink from his bottle again. He was also more willing to eat the support food not from a spoon or plate though. He is also eating veggies again and ate a piece of carrot all on his own in the cage and a lot of cucumber and also little bit of fenol. He even attempted to eat a pellet but is was too much and he ended spitting it out. There is also less struggling with chewing now. His poops have been normal looking from yesterday evening and there has been only a few times when he has been squeaking when pooping. I started also a probiotic on Thursday evening. He does not want to eat hay though.

Today I gave 3 drops of Tramadol and 0.15 ml of dog Metacam in the morning and plan to give the same in the evening. He has still been willing to eat the support food more easily and veggies but no hay. Did not wanted to eat from a spoon. Also I have not seen him drink from the water bottle today but he has been going to look for it and been sniffing it. His temperature has been about 39,5 degrees so it is still quite high (my other piggies where 37,4-38,1 degrees for reference). He is still popcorning sometimes and is rumblestrutting to his brother and wanted to explore the cleaned enclosure.

As for the support food I have been mushing pellets for this whole time and given them or mixed them with CC. Veeti likes the pellet mush more but I don't want him to eat only pellets so I still give CC. Sadly there is no grass here in Finland at least for a month or so. There is still snow on the ground :D

Veeti's weight is somewhere 860-870 g with empty stomach now so it has been going down still. He was 890 g a week ago. I wonder could he be burning more calories because his temperature is up because I have been giving him more than 50 ml of food every day...? Or is he just so stressed out that he consumes more calories from that?

As for the bladder issues I don't think there is a problem with that since Veeti is peeing normally and has never squeaked when he pees.

He is not getting oral antibiotics now but was given an injection which should be effective for a longer period on Monday and he is getting a new one on next Monday.

I would hate to put him down since he does not seem be giving up on life and I have seen piggies that have given up so I now what it looks. So I really hope that his teeth and temperature gets better!

I also slept for like 7 hours last night and was energetic enough to clean around the apartment :D
 

Merab's Slave

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A few tips I learned here to help a piggy gain weight.
I mix a small piece of mashed banana into the critical care feed - all mine love it.
I usually put a small bowl into the cage as well as syringe feeding to help encourage the piggy to eat for themselves.

Grated sweet potato or carrot mixed with plain oats also goes down well.

Holding you in my thoughts.
 

Free Ranger

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Oh that's great you got some sleep - it can make all the difference! I'm so pleased to hear Veeti is doing better too. If he is tackling his veggies then his teeth must be feeling a bit better... the hard food like hay and pellets that need grinding well with the teeth are his next challenge. Maybe it was adjusting his painkiller. I have never used the Tramadol so I don't know how much is too much or if it can be given long term but you can always check this with your vet. We have only been prescribed the metacam here to take at home. Maybe the water bottle spout was also hurting his teeth after his procedure - will he drink from a bowl perhaps?

I forgot Finland can still have snow at this time of year! We can now buy something here called 'Readigrass' which is grass specially dried to retain the flavour and colour. There are also things called hay cakes or hay cookies which are just dried compressed grass. It's not hay - but sometimes pigs can be tempted to take the next step with something like this. Perhaps have a look on Amazon... see what's available over there? My pigs just get these as an occasional treat if the neighbours start rumbling at each other... it makes a good distraction as they all like to nibble on them.

Yes, people here on the forum know how a little pig can mean all the world and what a struggle it is to try and help them when they are unwell. When I was struggling with my girl last year I got so much understanding and suggestions. And in the end when she deteriorated, and we realised that whatever she had she wouldn't get over it, people were so kind. Sometimes people post from far away countries where keeping any pet is frowned on, and they are trying to care for their brave little piggies in very difficult circumstances. The health experts here must have such big hearts and be so resilient to hear difficult stories every day. It makes me feel lucky to have access to vets and medication.

I am thinking that if you can get him back to eating and drinking as before and maybe even putting that weight back on, Veeti might still have his original problem of squeaking when pooping, so you might be kind of back to the start and I don't have anything to offer about this. The only pooping problem my boar has is the early stages of impaction, not helped by him being older and not very active. It did not make him squeak though. When we got him over his first little bout the vet examined him for fungus down there which surprised me. She said that this could sometimes be a problem but as he was clear I didn't ask any more about why that might be a problem. And I don't know anything about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in piggies although some that have it can be made comfortable with medication if they have a flare up. Good luck with him for now and I hope he continues to improve 💕
 
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