I have a 4 year old, male neutered pig who has recently begun making low hooting noises on inspiration that last 5-15 minutes and end in a wet cough. He's had two episodes in the past week. Prior to this, I've never heard him make this sound. Got 2 view chest radiographs, which *I* can't convince myself of any pathology; radiographs were sent to an exotics specialist and interpretation is pending. No obvious heart murmur. No obvious lung sounds. Couldn't get an echocardiogram performed due to patient behavior (he was *very* unhappy). He is nice and pink.
Typically a lower energy pig, but still popcorning and active, eating and drinking normally, pooping and peeing. Gets 2nd cut timothy hay and 1/8 cup Small Pet Select pellets once a day. Oxbow Vit. C hay tab once a day. Fresh veggies. Weight is stable (2.5 lbs!).
The plan currently is to wait until the specialist interprets the radiographs, but this second episode has me more worried. I'm trying to put off taking him into the exotic vet in town due to my work schedule & *other* special needs pet amassing a large vet bill.
Do I work him up as a heart pig and start benazapril? Or do a trial of antibiotics (recent outbreak of the canine flu at work and I'm worried about secondary bordetella infections)? What else could I be missing?
- And got the T-shirt
I hope you can get it identified!
And congrats on finishing vet school! I wish I had a veterinary or medical background.
Hooting is focused right around the carina, so probably tracheal compression. Ugh this just blows.
I am not saying that he is not a possible heart pig, but the acute onset and more recent rapid decline makes me wonder if it isn’t respiratory. If you feel comfortable (in light of his recent decline) performing the trial of benazapril first, I would do that to rule out cardiac disease.
Radiographs were looked at by a criticalist who works with exotics and she said they looked like pneumonia with the pattern of pulmonary infiltrates. He's currently on Baytril, 15 mg/kg every 24 hours for 3-6 weeks. So far, no more hooting, and a little more energetic, maybe? I did notice some clear nasal discharge on Friday. He did get a few doses of benazepril and one dose of Lasix before starting the Baytril.
I'm happy he's sounding better, but his cage mate is annoyed he's perkier! Ha! I'm keeping the heart meds on hand if I don't see improvement with the Baytril in 3 weeks. He's just such a historically mellow guinea pig that it's hard to tell "healthy" from "sick" when he's not obvious fluffed up, half closed eyes, coughing/hooting sick.
I decided to keep him on the benazepril because my gut just said heart. He's on week 2 of a 6 week course of Baytril. He's eating mostly hay, and is completely off pellets. Took Wilbur to an exotics vet who thought his heart looked enlarged on radiographs, and recommended adding Reglan since his gut sounds were quiet. She thought his teeth looked fine on oral exam.
I'm supplementing him with 12 cc of Critical Care once a day, and increasing it to 24 cc or splitting it into 2 feedings. He's not interested in treats. He is still eating veggies. The only good news is that his energy is UP- he is wheeking and popcorning and chasing his cagemate around. I just wish his appetite would come back.
His cagemate went off the pellets as well (Small Pet Select), so I bought them a bag of Oxbow Organic pellets. They're uninterested in that as well so I'm about to buy KMS pellets to entice them.
I've put a couple piles of hay throughout the cage so Wilbur can eat where he pleases. He seems to like chewing the fleece/carpet/paper more than eating real food. His weight has been stable these last two weeks, but I think he's lost more muscle. The exotics vet and I are both concerned something else may be going on as well due to the muscle wasting. I've decided not to pursue an abdominal ultrasound because it won't change my plan of management. Current plan: Baytril, 15 mg/kg q24h, benazepril, 1 mg/kg q12h, reglan (don't know the concentration) 0.4 mL q12h for now.
I'm just so sad because I truly think he only has weeks left, unless he starts putting muscle back on.
He actually seems to prefer to eat carpet (if he's out), the fleece bedding, or his towels. He's almost hyperactive and hypertalkative.
He is up 8 grams since Tuesday.
We discontinued the benazepril because it was making him hyperactive. Side effects are appetite loss and tachycardia, so I was wondering if these were aggravating the issue. Continuing Reglan and supplementing his GI tract with his cagemate's poop as a soup. He seem to be eating a little more (always munching on hay when I see him, pellet bowl is emptying at a more normal speed).
However, the concerning thing is that he has been maintaining weight around 1020 (low for him) and dropped to 990 tonight. I've been weighing him daily and that drop is terrifying to me.
He is eating great otherwise- loving his veggies, hay, and pellets. Appetite is still not 100%; I would say it's about 90% of what it was prior to him getting sick. Lots of poops. He's even doing the occasional zooms and wheeking. If his weight would start trending upwards, I could rest easy- he's so bony. :(
He's still bony and in poor muscle, but these little gains are very promising. And he's running zooms, squealing, and gobbling up everything in front of him again.