Another URI

Post Reply
User avatar

Post   » Wed Apr 03, 2002 11:39 am

I´m new to this forum-- a member at Cavymadness suggested that Ipost here as well.

I´m looking for any feedback/ideas/suggestions on anything else we can possibly do. Snickers has had 3 URI´s in the past year. After each trip to the vet we were given Baytril to give orally and he received injections of Baytril and something else to reduce fluid in the lungs (can´t remember the name of it). He would be fine for awhile and then it would come back. This last time (about a month ago) we changed our bedding again from kiln dried pine to corn cob at our vet´s recommendation. A couple days after the last dose of oral Baytril he started to get rattley and breathing hard again. So we changed the bedding to CareFresh, called the vet and he let us just pick up another 10 days worth of Baytril. Now, with a day or two left of the Baytril, Snickers is breathing hard again. He´s still eating pooping and peeing, but isn´t his normal spunky self. He just wants to sleep so much (maybe this is normal with piggies over 1 year old?).

I really hate to complain about the cost, but at each visit it´s about $115 a pop. I really don´t know what else to do for Snickers. Could the Baytril not be working? Is there something else we could suggest to our vet (he does specialize in exotics by the way)? Could the Baytril be causing the heavy breathing- I don´t know if you would say that it´s labored breathing or not. Could he not be getting enough vitamin C? He does eat plenty of parsley, romaine, red and green peppers, etc.

If anyone has any suggestions, please, please, please pass them along. I would like to call our vet today. I just want to make this little guy better!

Thank you so much.

User avatar

Post   » Wed Apr 03, 2002 12:58 pm

I think sometimes these are heart problems. Pinta has had heart problems treated. She posted this in a long thread (it was buried so I am reprinting it here). You might be able to find other posts on chronic uris using the search feature. I highlighted the part tying chronic uri´s with heart disease:

If heart problems were that easy to diagnose, vets would know how common they are. The last autopsy we had done revealed heart disease that had been going on for a long time. No clues, no symptoms. Chronic pneumonia too. The only real, clue was that he did not do well under anaesthetic, and had a recurring snotty nose.

I would get an xray or an ultrasound done and as long as there is nothing to contraincate it(like kidney problems) try Lasix. Small doses like 0.5 cc daily, take a few days to see results. A big dose like 1cc you see results much faster. But with a larger dose you run a bigger risk of dehydration. So with large Lasix doses, our vet does a hydration subcue. Pigs who have been in heart failure have received 1cc of Lasix twice a day til stabilized, along with hydration subcues. Also for daily maintenance our heart pigs are on Fortekor (Benazepril) 2mg/ml 0.5cc daily for a 2 pound pig

Our vet will give an injection of Dexamethasone(I assume she gets the dose from her reference books) to "rule out" asthma. If there are improvements within a day - asthma is indicated. But Dex is a steroid and can lower the immune system. But I also know the vets have given pneumonia pigs Dex along with Baytril. Josephine will know more about drug interaction - I´m just going by memory. Our vet does not give Lasix and Dex at the same time simply because she won´t be able to tell which med having an effect.

Terbutaline 1mg/ml 0.5cc was the asthma drug that I had Zag on. Josephine used the same drug for her pig and saw great results. Unfortunately Zag´s heart did her in, despite heart meds.

I believe heart disease is far more frequent than asthma. In a recent discussion with my vet bemoaning the difficulty of diagnosing heart disease, she said she is coming of the mind to try Lasix on any pig with chronic URI symptoms that are not alleviated with standard drug therapy. In other words on the basis of autopsies proving a high incidence of heart disease - to assume its likelihood.

You could also try Bramble on oxygen. I don´t know how accurate a diagnostic tool that would be but essentially pigs with heart disease can´t get enough oxygen - but then again you could say that of asthma and URIs too.

Up the C as well.


Post   » Wed Apr 03, 2002 2:28 pm

Every fibre in my being is shrieking out heart disease.

Ask the vet to try lasix.

An ultrasound or xray can help diagnose but aren´t guaranteed. Do a search on heart for what to look for in the xray.


Post   » Wed Apr 03, 2002 2:33 pm

Lots of posts on heart problems.

Having had 5 pigs (out of 19 adults)_on heart meds - 2 suspected of heart
disease and 3 confirmed - I would get the heart checked out. Get an
xray, a really good one. Look for air in the stomach, enlarged liver, fluid in
the lungs. Zag, who we thought was suffering from chronic URIs was very sedentary.
Since she got on on Lasix she became more active. Some pigs with bad hearts
tire easily and sleep a lot. Bloom just never ran anywhere. Walked
deliberately and carefully. Then one day she had trouble raising her head. Lasix saved
her. She had a bad heart and was going into heart failure.

Our two pigs with suspected heart problems have already lost 2 in their
family to heart failure. They´re on ace inhibitors as a precaution.

Our vet thinks heart disease in pigs is more common than thought and
believes many of the unexplained mystery deaths one hears about may be heart
failure. Symptoms: exhaustion, inactivity, sudden loss of muscle tone and
difficulty keeping head up, rattling from the lungs (combined with loss of muscle
tone, silent lungs could be a sign they are full up with fluid), chronic URIs
that don´t seem to compromise the pig.

Sudden loss of muscle tone requires an emergency vet visit for Lasix.
When they get to that state they can die within hours. We lost Nougat within 12
hours of the URI symptom of clicks in the lungs. Put her on Baytril immediately.
Took her to the vet at 10am, she died at 4pm. Autopsy revealed heart disease.
Prior to loss of muscle tone - she was the picture of health. She was 18 months
Last edited by pinta on Wed Apr 03, 2002 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar

Post   » Wed Apr 03, 2002 8:15 pm

And Josephine said on another post:
They need diagnostics, either xrays or ultrasound (or both), to negate fully or diagnose properly heart conditions. Some heart problems are obvious with a stethoscope, but it is impossible to check the exact problem without other information. I also had a pig I thought was a heart patient have harsh lung sounds instead. We confirmed through ultrasound.

User avatar

Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 8:54 am

Thanks Lynx and Pinta for responding! I called my vet yesterday morning and she had me stop in to pick up doxycyclene. Although this morning Snickers is still rattly (like a baby would be with a cold) he has regained most of his spunk. He was waiting for me to come and feed him this morning rather than being curled up in his pigloo, and he fought me like crazy when I gave him his dosage just now. If I see no improvement over the weekend, I´ll call my vet back and request the lasex. Hopefully that won´t be necessary though.

I never knew that a piggy could have heart disease! What a scary thought.

Thanks again.


Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 1:56 pm

Request xrays or an ultrasound before the Lasix. I doubt any vet will give it to you without doing some diagnostics.

I have Lasix on hand for my heart pigs but I would never dose a pig with it for the first time without my vet doing an examination and giving me an okay.

Chronic URIs should be regarded with suspicion. It might be that when you are treating the URI you are only treating a symptom of an underlying problem.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Apr 08, 2002 7:47 am

Well, it´s Monday morning and this is how our weekend went. We saw improvement on Friday, but Saturday morning, while I was out of town, my son forgot to give Snickers his doxy. So the improvement was short lived. Last night we set up a hot mist vaporizer outside his cage with a blanket to kind of tent it and this morning he had NO congestion and raced around his cage and did the rumble strut thing when I came to greet him. He is breathing much easier too. He devoured his romaine, although he ate none of his parsley, and when I gave him his meds he put up a huge struggle! His eyes are nice and bright- no lethargy here! I´m thinking that while I´m at work I´ll turn off the vaporizer and come home at lunch to check on him. That way if he seems to have gotten worse I can call the vet this afternoon. Boy, I hope he continues to improve! This little guy has had a rough go over the last month or so.

I´ll keep you posted- thanks so much for all your support!

User avatar

Post   » Mon Apr 08, 2002 4:12 pm

Well, Snickers is being a little pistol! He´s running around our family room, oinking and kicking up his heels. I was just laying on the floor with my eyes closed, and when he oinked his way to me I reached out to pet him. Usually he flattens right out and purrs. Instead he did the "get off" flip of his head, popcorned and ran away. Then he came right back so I reached out again. This time he popped up in the air, swung his butt around and shot me right in the arm with a little spray of urine! Then he popcorned and ran away again. Gross! I think he just got me back for all the meds I´ve been giving him-- haha.

So far so good with this doxycyclene. Keeping my fingers crossed.

User avatar

Post   » Wed Apr 17, 2002 10:37 pm

We took Snickers off the Doxycyclene 2 days ago since that was the length of time that he was supposed to be on it. Last night he started with the congestion again. Darn, darn, darn! We still had some doxy left in the bottle so I started him back up on that again and called the vet this morning. These are our options:

1) Switch him back to Baytril for a 6 week duration of time.

2) Have a culture done of any junk coming out of his nose- there really isn´t any though.

3) Have him sedated so that an x-ray can be taken of his chest cavity (I suggested possible congestive heart failure) to see if that shows a heart problem. Then treat as needed.

Tonight after the 3rd round of Doxy Snickers has really perked up and is eating and running around outside of his cage. Hallelujah!

We are going to see how he is tomorrow morning (I think he´ll be even better on the doxy) then decide what to do. My daughter (who is actually Snicker´s mommy) really wants him to be xrayed and wants to go in half for the cost of this visit. My husband has said to do what we need to do--- again! This will be the 4th or 5th $100 plus visit-- he really is a gem.

This couldn´t have happened during a worse week either! I have parent teacher conferences with my students this week and have been working into the evening! I think I may try to squeeze a visit in before conferences tomorrow if all works out. Saturday a.m. my son has his last hockey game of the season so that day will be tough too! Or I can cancel my doctor appointment Friday afternoon again and reschedule that. Sheesh!

Okay, enough of my lamenting! Just like any parent, we do what we need to do, right? We just want to see this little guy get better. He was so funny tonight-- I brought him up to say goodnight to my kids and let him look at himself in the mirror. He saw his reflection and got scared-- crawled up onto my neck and hid under my hair!

Anyway, thanks for letting me bend everybody´s ears.



Post   » Wed Apr 17, 2002 10:55 pm

You may need longer on the Doxy (maybe 3 weeks?)but I would be inclined to investigate whether it may be heart related.

How old is he?

Your vet might be open to trying him on Lasix for a week or so, if nothing definitive shows up, to see if there is an improvement.

The other option is Terbutaline. If he improves on that it could be asthma related.

Diagnosing via meds is not the best way to go but sometimes you have no choice.

User avatar

Post   » Wed Apr 17, 2002 11:28 pm

Snickers is about 16 months old. We seem to have been fighting this congestion off and on since last summer. He does well for quite awhile after a shot of lasix and baytril, then it comes back.

I will remember about the Terbutaline when we take him back in.

Thanks for your help!


Post   » Wed Apr 17, 2002 11:37 pm

If it is heart he´ll need the Lasix regularly for a while. I think Josephine has weaned her heart pig off some meds. We had to gradually up Willie´s Lasix dose.

The true test is if the URIs stop occurring while he is on heart or asthma meds.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 8:26 am

Snickers had his vet visit yesterday, of which he was not happy. The doc said he really did not feel that all this was from his heart- he doesn´t feel that Snickers would have gotten that much better if he did have congestive heart failure. Lungs and heart sounded good and clear. He did say that if we wanted to go ahead with the xray he would do it, but if it were his piggy he´d try a longer round of doxy first. When he´s finished with this this round, if the symptons come back then we can get him in immediately no questions asked.

So, that´s where we are. Please say a little piggy prayer that all this works for the little guy. He´s happy and full of spunk right now.


User avatar

Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 10:43 am

My Chewy used to get better after the antibiotics for awhile, then in a few months would get a URI again. Then we found out about his heart. At the time I was using a vet who didn´t know much about pigs (but was willing to learn) and I wasn´t aware of drugs to help pigs with heart medications.

I just bring this up to let you know my experience, that my pig did get better and then worse more than once, because of his heart.

At any rate, I sincerely hope your guy gets better and stays that way!


Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 3:58 pm

That is the pattern. Zag would come down wuth a URI every 4 to 6 weeks without fail. She would always get better and then worse again. We had xrays done - the whole works. An expert radiologist diagnosed walking pneumonia, which I had doubts about because other than the rough breathing she was functioning great. I actually pressured my vet to try Lasix becuase I couldn´t see that it could be "just" a URI or pneumonia when none of the other pigs were getting sick. After a week on Lasix - she improved. She never had a URI again. She had rough breathing that we thought may be asthma and was given drugs to compensate without huge improvements. Basically the Lasix kept her going until her heart won out. When she died her autopsy revealed an extremely diseased heart but no asthma.

It could well be they are improving on drugs because their heart is too weak to fight off bacteria that doesn´t affect healthy pigs. Once the ABs kill the bacteria they´re fine, but because (I´m assuming) some bacteria is always present, they get sick again.

Pigs with heart disease are often killed off by a final URI that their weak heart can´t deal with. The deaths I´ve noted at these times come very fast - within 24 hours of symptoms. Because URI and heart symptoms are so similar it´s hard to know if it is just heart failure dealing the final blow.

Ask your vet to join the online VIN network for vets. He can post questions and get input from other vets. My vet is on it as well as vets like Karen Rosenthal.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 6:40 pm

I really regret that I hadn´t learned all this at the time. We had Chewy put to sleep, because my vet and I did not think that pigs with heart problems could be helped. He was my buddy. I wish I had known about lasix and the other drugs.


Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 8:05 pm

Beijing was our first heart pig. So long ago details are foggy but I think she had chronic URIs too. She was also severely allergic to mites.

I think my vet might have seen something on an xray and just did what she usually does when presented with a new pig problem. Check if there are any contraindications and then just extrapolate dog or cat treatment for the same thing.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2002 10:20 pm

I´m am checking out this board for the first time this week. Zoe, if you haven´t read already is 7 1/2 years old and she has heart problems recently diagnosed. She is on Enacard which is doing well... so there are heart meds out there! Good to know that there are alternatives. She is doing great so far. She also had the snot crunchies on her nose... still does... eyes a bit too... not really bad. Nothing at all obvious. Part of me always says, well she´s old, whadda ya expect.

I took her in because because she was falling over... degeneration of her spine... stiff legs... falling and couldn´t get up. Rimadyl took care of that nicely.

Zoe´s x-ray showed a very enlarged heart. Before the x-ray, the vet could hear a significant heart murmur.

Yes, guinea pigs have hearts and they have problems sometimes.

I have learned a lot in the last few weeks from Pinta, Josephine, my vet and this post. Thanks.

Post Reply
19 posts • Page 1 of 1