Bonnie - ovarian cyst w/ no symptoms

puffin

Post   » Tue Nov 09, 2021 9:22 am


Hello! I have three pigs (I posted about one of my other sows Louise on another thread). Bonnie is ~3.5 to 4 years old and in good shape for the most part. On a prior physical exam with an experienced exotics vet, the vet noted an ovarian cyst she could feel and advised just monitoring her since she wasn't having symptoms. She did not advise any surgery due to the risk/reward calculus and I was okay with that more conservative approach.

Yesterday, I took all three pigs in to a different exotics vet for a few concerns (we have had to alternate due long to lead appointment availability, which isn't optimal). Bonnie has had some weight loss and squishy droppings. I suspect she has been getting too many greens and the weight loss may be partially due to reducing pellet intake over the past year and her getting more exercise. She had blood work (normal) and I requested a fecal test for the squishy droppings since the problem has been on and off over the past two months. I am waiting the results of that.

This vet did an ultrasound to confirm the cyst since she could not feel it and did see it was there. She suggested that since Bonnie was relatively healthy and not symptomatic [no hair loss, crusty nipples, hormonal behavior], she was a good candidate for spay surgery. She gave her one hormone shot and she would get a second one in two weeks. We have not booked any surgery and I am unsure about going this route based on what the other experienced vet said.

I understand both vets' rationale but am unsure how to proceed. I would welcome any sage advice! Thanks!

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Lynx
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Post   » Tue Nov 09, 2021 11:32 am


Hard to know. There are risks to every surgery. If you were very proactive and your vet could give solid feedback on how many spays done and what the recovery rate has been, it might be worthwhile. Unsure if I would have a spay but certainly other people might choose to do so.

Note also whether or not her body shape has changed, with a shifting of weight to the abdomen and weight loss in other areas.

How does her coat look? Any coarseness or hair loss on the sides?

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Catie Cavy
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Post   » Tue Nov 09, 2021 1:53 pm


My personal history is that I’ve had very bad outcomes with spay surgeries. I think many vets are over confident with their surgery skills. I personally wouldn’t do a spay surgery on a middle aged guinea pig who wasn’t having symptoms. Apparently the cyst was so small, the second vet couldn’t even feel it. If the cysts ever start to bother her (and they might not), there are other less invasion options, like the hormone shots mentioned.

puffin

Post   » Tue Nov 09, 2021 2:30 pm


Thank you both for your replies! Bonnie has lost weight (she was too fat to begin with when we brought her home from the rescue) but I would not say she is overly rounded on the abdomen relative to the other parts of her body. Her coat is shiny and lustrous - no hair loss.

I am leaning towards watching and waiting and staying away from an invasive procedure. The first vet (who recommended against surgery) is more experienced and seemed to feel like the outcome may not be good. The second seemed more confident, but asking about some data and experience would be useful.

I will continue to educate myself on symptoms of cysts and things to watch out for. I think the hardest part is just wondering if they are suffering since they hide pain so well. I do not want to miss something critical and have her needlessly suffer.

Talishan
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Post   » Tue Nov 09, 2021 3:30 pm


Enormous ditto to Catie Cavy. My experience with spay surgery with an otherwise healthy female and an overconfident vet was an agonizing death. I will not have another female spayed.

At our house we've had good success with hormone treatments. They're not permanent and may need to be repeated, but they have worked well.

In my experience ovarian cysts, unlike in the human female, don't much hurt unless they get very large. We had at least one girl whose cyst would fill, then drain on its own.

You write as an alert, caring and savvy owner. Monitor her behavior, and I think you'll be able to tell if she's uncomfortable. Good luck!

puffin

Post   » Wed Nov 10, 2021 9:44 am


I so appreciate your insight on the surgery and hormone treatments. It has been so useful to get others thoughts and just to have a place to bounce ideas and concerns around.

puffin

Post   » Thu Nov 18, 2021 11:21 am


I guess I should have made my Bonnie thread more generic, because I'm having a non-cyst issue with her and I'd like to get a sanity check on!

Bonnie has been having loose droppings and some weight loss. She was ~980 g in August and is now ~900 g (depends on the time of day I weigh her but that seems to be an average). The vet wasn't concerned about the weight loss because she did comment Bonnie was too fat on previous visits. As I mentioned above, some weight loss I think is attributed to less pellets and more exercise.

Bonnie had bloodwork and it was normal. A fecal test showed no parasites. The squishy droppings seem to be correlated to more greens (I'm not sure why this a problem now because she's been a voracious greens eater with no problems). When I eliminate greens, her droppings get more normal looking, so this seems like the issue. I have not been great about eliminating them for more than 24 hours because of the weight loss concerns. But I think I need to do so just to get her droppings regulated.

She is a good hay eater and has unlimited hay access. I change the three hay boxes they have (the cavy kitchen from Guinea Pig Cages Store) every day. I have been offering a critical care slurry, which she laps up happily, just to give some extra sustenance, when she is not having greens. I'm also trying Bene-Bac for small animals.

Is there anything else I should have checked for the weight loss? Is some loss expected on a primarily hay diet?

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Lynx
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Post   » Thu Nov 18, 2021 11:44 pm


Possibly. Is she otherwise perky and happy? Putting on any muscle? There are some guidelines provided by a vet on the weight page to help you evaluate her weight. Perhaps about midway down:
http://www.guinealynx.info/weigh.html

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ItsaZoo
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Post   » Fri Nov 19, 2021 12:01 am


I think the extra Critical Care is a good idea since it provides nutrients and fiber. There are also some Oxbow Timothy treats that may add a few extra calories. And the Benebac should be helpful.

I would reduce the greens and maybe try some other veggie. I notice leaf lettuce and dandelion greens cause a little softer droppings. I feed corn husks and don’t notice any change, probably because they have more fiber.

puffin

Post   » Sun Nov 21, 2021 5:34 pm


Despite Bonnie's incessant screams for greens, I have not relented for three days (it has been horrible to deny her wheeks) and her droppings are finally looking and staying normal. Day two of no greens was challenging - her droppings didn't seem to be getting better at all, but then in the evening, she left a few normal looking "gifts" (as we call them!).

She was down to 860 grams this morning, which is concerning. I weighed her in the afternoon and she was 875. She has a good appetite for her hay, and I am offering her some pellets (Oxbow garden, which she loves). She has been taking critical care, although I haven't been forcing it. I am not sure if I should but may give it another day to see how her weight is. Since she takes it willingly when she is hungry, I hesitate to put her through forced feedings lest she became wary of me coming at her with the syringe that she does now enjoy. I have the Vitamin C biscuits that I have been offering her and ordered the Oxbow digestive support ones.

I was thinking of giving maybe another 3 days or so without salad just to make sure she is back to normal. She loves corn husk, so I may try that first as a litmus test. It is so perplexing because I vary her greens and it doesn't seem correlated to one thing in particular. The only constant is red pepper, so I am wondering if that is what is causing it.

She is perky and happy and has been more active once some of the chub came off. Last week, she was even doing zoomies which I have never seen her do before. I think it is just distressing because her weight was so constant for so long and now it has been going down. I am hopeful that if we can get her digestive system back to normal, she will regain some weight.

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Lynx
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Post   » Sun Nov 21, 2021 11:12 pm


Have you ever tried moistening some critical care into a soft mush and putting some pinches/balls of it on a plate? Some guinea pigs will eat it that way, meaning you don't need to hand feed.

Once her poops completely stabilize (hopefully), you can try slow introductions of a single vegetable/green (only one for a few days) to see if any particular vegs cause the soft poops. It can be difficult to find correlations. Perhaps a longer testing period might help. I can say a handful of guinea pigs have issues with peppers, though I think they are a wonderful food (and generally have lots of vitamin C).

Happy to hear she is perky and active. I do hope she stabilizes.

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ItsaZoo
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Post   » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:52 pm


Good to hear she’s active and eating. I agree with Lynx, try a little Critical Care mush on a plate and see if she eats it that way. The package also has instructions that you can let the leftover dry and serve as a wafer treat. If she is struggling to maintain weight this is a good supplement.

I feed corn husk as well, and found that to be a lifesaver, literally, when my previous guinea pig was ill from Baytril. Small amounts will perk up her appetite and the fiber should keep her digestion moving. Just limit the amount so she doesn’t go off her hay in favor of corn husk.

puffin

Post   » Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:52 am


A little update on Bonnie. Her droppings have been normal now for over a week - Yay! She is loving the corn husk, and I have also given some frisee and endive, and she is doing fine with those. I have a variety of hays, including some oat, orchard, second and third cut timothys. The third cut is very popular with all the pigs. I mix it in to the others and they like to go rooting it out. With regards to the critical care, I think she was just tired of it. I gave her a day off from it, and the next day, she was eagerly gobbling it up. Her weight is gradually increasing/stabilizing. She seems to be averaging about 920 grams now. I'm not sure how quickly pigs should put on weight. I feel like the 960 range is a good weight for her, and am so happy she is trending up again!

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Lynx
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Post   » Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:20 pm


Sounds like all is going well! Always great to hear positive updates!!

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2022

Post   » Thu Dec 02, 2021 9:54 pm


Thanks for posting a follow up, I’m so glad she’s doing well.

puffin

Post   » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:14 pm


Well, I was premature in my optimism. We had a squishy dropping setback last week. I was first attributing it to the escarole. I put her back on hay and pellets and CC, and things normalized, so I reintroduced corn husk, which was ok for two days and now she her droppings are bad again. So back to hay it is. The droppings will fluctuate from being formed to being more cow patty looking (a greenish brown color), and they usually stink. I am thinking that in my zeal to help her weigh increase, I am still offering too many greens, although it seems like such a small amount. I am also wondering if I am introducing them back too fast after they normalize?

It is so perplexing because this was never an issue until one day it just was. Would it be detrimental to her health to eliminate greens altogether if she is getting hay (offering a mix of orchard, second/third cut timothy, oat) and pellets (oxbow garden select)? Or perhaps something every other day? I just feel at a loss for what to do. I've had her checked for sludge/stones. She is a very good drinker and showed no signs of stones so I am hoping pellets are safe for her in that regard.

We have had a fecal float test and she had blood work which showed nothing. Is there anything else we could check?

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Lynx
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Post   » Mon Dec 06, 2021 8:07 pm


Maybe for now, eliminate the greens and then try one that never causes problems every other day?

puffin

Post   » Thu Dec 09, 2021 1:42 pm


Bonnie is recovering from a minor bout of stasis now. After her last squishy dropping episode, we were doing hay and CC. She was leaving very few droppings on Tuesday morning and was lethargic and without an appetite. We went to the vet, who gave her fluids and took an x-ray, showing food in her system and some gas. She was leaving a few droppings (very dry and mucousy). We increased the CC and the dropping floodgates opened yesterday with so much squishy greenish/brown cow patty droppings. These seemed reminicint of her other squishy poos but much worse. Took her back to the vet yesterday afternoon and she really perked up and was nibbling hay and took some pellets. They did a little more CC for her and more sub-q fluids. Her x-rays showed a lot of improvement. She is doing well today nibbling hay and some pellets. The vet thought the droppings that were greenish/brown and very frosting-like looked like the result of CC versus true diarrhea. She is eating her hay and pellets this morning and her droppings look great.

However, her weight is down to 840 from 870 yesterday. I am offering some very thick CC rolled up in my hand - avoiding the more liquid slurry since that seemed to be contributing to the squishy droppings. She isn't terribly interested right now but I'll keep trying. The vet advised that if she eating hay and pellets not to force CC on her and wait a few days to see if her weight stabilized. They said to reintroduce small amounts of greens tomorrow if she was still doing well.

My anxiety and obsession with her weight I'm sure is making things worse, so I am trying to just weigh twice a day now. I know it fluctuates depending on bladder and belly fullness. Thanks for listening. I feel we are stuck in this cycle and I am making things worse but interfering too much for fear of not interfering enough. We had that good week where she did put some weight on after being this low, so I am hoping she will get on an upswing again.

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Lynx
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Post   » Thu Dec 09, 2021 8:46 pm


Her "squishy greenish/brown cow patty droppings" may have been cecal feces, the kind she should reingest for valuable nutrition. If so, they would be pretty stinky too.

I hope things improve, for you both.

puffin

Post   » Thu Dec 09, 2021 9:47 pm


I wondered that too initially. I offered them up to her but she was not interested. There was so much of it too. She’s doing well today. Has been producing nice droppings and eating cecotrophs as well. Her weight was at 850 at the end of the day, so stable. Thank you for your good thoughts!

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