Some of her background:
-She has had a lump in her abdomen her whole life that comes and goes, and after a lot of testing over the years, the vets think it's a lymph node but can't say for sure. It's never seemed to bother her.
-She was spayed when she was 3 because they originally thought the lump was in her reproductive system (it wasn't).
-After her cagemate died in October 2018, she became lethargic. We originally thought she was lonely (hence the post in Cavy Chat), but it turned out she was anemic. After upping her iron-rich veggies, she's been energetic and happy ever since.
-She's had a stubborn case of bumblefoot on her front right paw since March. It's slowly getting better with twice daily betadine soaks and silver sulfadiazine cream, but hasn't gone fully away yet.
And now my current question. I noticed a few days ago that her neck fur was looking lopsided - bigger on the left side. I couldn't feel anything there, so I assumed her fur was just flatter on the right side from the betadine soaks. Well, today I checked again and there is definitely a lump on the left side of her neck. It's pretty small. Maybe the size of a pea or a raisin?
Has anyone else had a guinea pig with a lump on the neck? What did it turn out to be? I am really hoping it's a cyst or infection or something treatable, and not cancer. I know she's getting old, but it seems like she still has so much life in her.
We have a vet appointment on Thursday. Is there anything in particular I should ask for, e.g. a specific test? Due to the virus, we have to drop her off outside and the vet will call us while she does the exam. Since I can't be in the room to have a back and forth as easily, I want to make sure the intake form is as thorough as possible.
Thanks in advance for any advice!
- For the Love of Pigs
The vet definitely felt the lump. I think it's bigger than I originally realized, closer to the size of a grape. Not sure if it's really growing that fast or I just didn't feel it correctly the first time.
They took a fine needle aspirate. The vet said most of the tissue that came up looked like fatty tissue. She doesn't think it's a lipoma because it felt harder than that. She sent the samples off for testing, and we'll see what it says. She also did a basic blood draw. She thinks we might have the results by Sunday or Monday.
However, we got home about half an hour ago and she's acting funny. Walking around unsteadily, twitching(/coughing?) occasionally, lying down more than normal. Almost loopy like times she's been sedated in the past, but she wasn't sedated this time.
We called the vet, who said she did hear a heart murmur during the exam. She's had one in the past, but the vet thinks it's gotten a little worse. She's worried that even though she didn't visibly seem too stressed by the exam, this could be a delayed stress response . No one is at the clinic overnight, so she suggested keeping a close eye on her at home and making sure she continues to eat. She definitely is eating when offered her favorites like leafy greens, clementine sections, etc. And also nibbling on hay on her own.
Honestly, if being restrained for the blood draw and aspirate stressed her out this much, we are very reluctant to go down the road of X-rays or an echo or any other tests at the clinic or even at the ER (where there may or may not be a rodent specialist). And no matter what the cytology/bloodwork results say, we're only going to consider treatments that involve medications at home.
Unfortunately, if things get worse, they are not even allowing anyone into the clinic if a pet has to be put to sleep. And we don't have a car, so we'd either have to send her in alone or do it on the sidewalk. I really hope we don't have to make that kind of decision.
Please send good thoughts our way that she keeps eating and bounces back overnight.
She's still not 100% herself (basically hunkered down in her pigloo instead of being busy around the cage), but she ate well all night and isn't moving strangely anymore so I'm less worried than I was. A vet visit has never rattled her like that before. Poor pig. I wonder if they did hit a nerve as you say.
The next step she would normally suggest is a surgical biopsy, but we're definitely not going to do that. It's not worth the risk, especially since she is acting like herself again.
I am planning to ask if there is a chance this type of fluid could be from an infection and whether it would be worth trying antibiotics. Is there anything else I should be asking the vet? Anything else I should be doing at home for a cyst in the neck of unknown cause?
She's now officially 8, and still doing well. (We got her in early January 2013 when she was a baby, but don't know her exact age.) She lost a little weight after my last post, so we did end up starting her on daily metacam. Ever since then, her weight has remained stable and she seems to have plenty of energy.
She just had a checkup, and the vet thinks the lump has only grown by 30% in the last 6 months. The vet considers that pretty slow growth, so hopefully we'll still have a little bit longer with her. Our goal at this point is just to make sure she stays happy and comfortable for as long as that's possible.
Upon the vet's advice, we've added twice-daily gabapentin to the metacam to keep her comfortable. As long as she still seems like herself and is interested in eating, we're going to keep supporting her. But my guess is she won't have too much longer. I still don't regret not treating the lump further, though, because I don't think she would have tolerated it.
No matter what, I really hope that when it's time she will go quickly on her own. Frustratingly, humans are still not allowed inside the vet for any reason. So our options for putting her down are not great.