Chronic stuffy nose

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TheFerg

Post   » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:12 pm


I don't know why I didn't check these forums earlier, as we've been struggling with chronic stuffy nose in one of our guinea pigs as well. Fergie is about 6.5 years old now, and for the past year it has been on/off again. Stuffy for a few minutes, hours, or days, then clear sometimes for weeks at a time. About 6 months ago it became more constant. At this point I can't recall the last time she had a full day of clear breathing. We've had repeated rounds of vet appointments, listening to heart and lungs, a few tries of antibiotics, etc. So far nothing has changed it. I take her in about every 3 months just to verify she's still good and I think the vet might consider me slightly crazy but it's worth it for my girl.

Our vet did a nasal flush, similar to a human netty pot, which made her sneeze quite a bit and temporarily (for 2 days or so) give her clear breathing. But it came right back. We've changed hay, take her into the bathroom with us when we shower to act as a humidifier, and other things. She has a good appetite and is fairly normal otherwise. She sleeps a lot lately, but I am not sure if that is related to the stuffy nose, or just age. And she sleeps hard - almost like she's dead and sometimes gives me a scare, ha! As a note we use fleece & u-haul bedding, KMS pellets and orchard grass or timothy hay. We switched to orchard grass to reduce my husband's allergies, but it had no impact on Fergie's nose.

She hasn't had very labored breathing where it is too worrisome, but it is definitely audible anywhere within our bedroom or the guest room nearby. It is really concerning, but the vet has given her a clean bill of health over and over again. I worry about her all the time and I know we shouldn't admit favorites, but she is definitely the coolest guinea pig I've ever had and is just that special pig to me so..yeah...she's my favorite though I love her cage mates very dearly as well!

I will check back on this thread and see if anyone ever does have a stroke of genius and figure something out, or share our updates if we find something that helps.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:57 pm


Have the vet check her for an enlarged heart -- the hard sleeping could be a clue to that, and possibly to the stuffy nose.

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Lynx
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Post   » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:53 pm


www.guinealynx.info/heart.html

Has the vet identified the obstruction that makes her seem stuffy as a nasal discharge? I understand it is possible to stick a swab in the nasal passage ways to identify it. Have you tried any antihistamines?

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2020

Post   » Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:29 pm


Why, why, why are they so reluctant to consider heart issues?! Especially in an older animal, after every antibiotic and antihistamine has done nothing. I have had two older pigs whose quality of life (ease of breathing--of course, but also higher activity level, weight gain) was vastly improved by furosemide (Lasix). I wish I'd known to push for it in a couple of others.

My vet did an ultrasound of the heart, which in both cases showed fluid. One had an enlarged heart as well. Congestive heart failure. It's really common, just as it is in older humans.

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:31 am



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Catie Cavy
Supporter 2011-2020

Post   » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:27 am


Yes, Dr. Nathan at Sharon Center is open to considering heart issues and I’m sure he’ll work with you. I went to him after another vet refused to consider heart issues without doing an echocardiogram after my Fluffy was showing classic signs of a heart condition. Dr. Nathan said his son’s guinea pig died from cardiomyopathy so he has personal experience that heart issues do exist in guinea pigs. I’m sure he will consider a trial of heart meds.

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TheFerg

Post   » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:46 am


We live in CA so we can't get to OH or other states unfortunately. We have done a swab, and x-rays. We haven't done antihistamines. We have a vet appointment tomorrow for another guinea pig and are taking Fergie in for a quick check as well since we'll be there. I will ask about antihistamines. Our vet, Dr. Nakamura at Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Gatos, CA, is well known and treats several other piggies with heart issues, including my friends. I asked him about it early in the process but will bring it up again. She does sometimes improve after doing a nasal flush but only for a few hours or a couple of days. After the antibiotics she was much better for a little while, and she wasn't sleeping as heavily. But she's been a bit sleepy the past two weeks and her weight has bounced around so we're taking her in for a check up again. Why do they have to worry us so much?!

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TheFerg

Post   » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:53 pm


I kept thinking about the heart question during my meetings so I called the vet to verify, and we did do chest x-rays in June but nothing turned up, he said Fergie seemed really healthy. So we did antibiotics just in case, and she did improve a bit for a couple of weeks. Since then, over the past 2 months, it's been a slow decline in her activity levels and she is slowly starting to sleep more heavily again. Sometimes I brush her cheeks with my fingers 2-3 times before she wakes up with a start. So we have another appointment set up to see. Unfortunately they can't fit both my piggies in tomorrow (cage mate Astrid developed a HUGE bump on her face between her right eye and right ear, practically overnight, so we are going in tomorrow morning - so far no impact on breathing, eye, appetite, activity, poops, etc. and doesn't seem painful when I touch or squeeze the mass). So Astrid goes tomorrow, I'll take Fergie in next week when they have another open appointment.

I've done a bit of research today and see the meds frequently used. I also saw that heart conditions can be a bit tricky to diagnose, that the heart isn’t always enlarged enough to see on the x-rays so you diagnose via multiple avenues. What I haven’t really seen, and am wondering if anyone has input, is whether you can “test” the heart meds? For example in June Dr. Nakamura put Fergie on antibiotics just to see if it helped due to the ongoing recurring congestion. It did seem to help for a couple of weeks, but now that it’s back and intermittent (versus a persistent stuffy nose that I would expect for a URI, and it doesn’t spread to any other guineas), I am wondering if it is heart after all. And if it’s more minor and thus harder to diagnose, can we “test” the heart meds? Or are they dangerous and thus, like human heart medication, too dangerous to take unless you have a known heart condition?

I will ask my vet as well, obviously, but curious if anyone is aware of any thread, topics, research points that I should look at ahead of that appointment on Sept 6th to educate myself and ask the right questions when at the vet?

Thanks!

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:44 pm


Dr. Nakamura is great! If he was your vet, I'll bet he would be fine with testing out heart meds and trying to fine tune them. Consider also having your current vet consult with another vet or go online to vin.com.

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:30 am


Ditto Lynx. Yes, "testing out" heart medication based upon clinical sign is not only possible but quite common.

In my opinion only ask Dr. N. (known to us as Naka-san :-) to start with benazepril. It is a relatively benign ACE inhibitor with a significantly less harsh side effect profile than its predecessor, enalapril.

http://www.guinealynx.info/heart.html

In my experience, begin at 1/4 dosing and increase in 10-15% increments. Most of our heart pigs have stabilized at one-half the dosing recommended on that page. A few have needed the full dose, plus furosemide, plus pimobendan (Vetmedin), but that's down the road. Heart meds are an ongoing combo-tweak process, but they're usually very well tolerated and we have had pigs on them successfully for months or even years, just like humans.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

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TheFerg

Post   » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:49 pm


Great, thanks so much! On the one hand I hope I get a diagnosis so I can ease my mind, and yet on the other hand obviously hope she's 100% healthy on her own. But my intuition just keeps saying that she's not quite right....So we'll see what Nakamura says this upcoming week.

Talishan
You can quote me

Post   » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:55 am


Trust your gut. It's probably right.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

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TheFerg

Post   » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:55 am


At the vet appointment Dr. Nakamura did a heart ultrasound and found no fluid around the heart. He listened to her lungs and she seemed OK other than the nose rattle she has going on. He didn't do another x-ray but he did flush her nose with a syringe of saline, caught it, and is running a culture. We should have the results tomorrow.

Her cage mate Astrid also went in for biopsy on a huge lump on her face (between her right eye and ear) and we also get those results on Wednesday. It's been busy times at our house the past two weeks, sheesh!

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Lynx
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Post   » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:58 am


I hope these issues get positively resolved!

4piggies_

Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:23 pm


Hello, I am curious to see how this all worked out for you- I have a guinea pig who seems to do the exact same "hooting" your piggy does. Ever since we adopted Roxy a few years ago she has been noisy. It usually only happens for a little bit at a time, once every couple months or so, sometimes more. Although now I am a lot more worried about it as to the fact that I lost my darling Ginny earlier this year to a URI/pneumonia. It comforts me to know that you're going through the same thing and your piggy seems overall fine, although I'd definitely like to hear how this whole thing worked out and if you have any recommendations. Roxy has done this on and off for a while, she's does it mostly in the morning or when she's eating her pellets. Her weight has been steady and she has a normal appetite and activity level. We have had her checked out by the vet and he has never found anything too concerning. I can't help but get so worried over her "hooting", though! i just don't want to miss any signs, but it's hard because I'm worried I'm overreacting and this is just what she does occasionally.

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TheFerg

Post   » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:09 pm


4piggies_ wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:23 pm
Hello, I am curious to see how this all worked out for you- I have a guinea pig who seems to do the exact same "hooting" your piggy does. Ever since we adopted Roxy a few years ago she has been noisy. It usually only happens for a little bit at a time, once every couple months or so, sometimes more. Although now I am a lot more worried about it as to the fact that I lost my darling Ginny earlier this year to a URI/pneumonia. It comforts me to know that you're going through the same thing and your piggy seems overall fine, although I'd definitely like to hear how this whole thing worked out and if you have any recommendations. Roxy has done this on and off for a while, she's does it mostly in the morning or when she's eating her pellets. Her weight has been steady and she has a normal appetite and activity level. We have had her checked out by the vet and he has never found anything too concerning. I can't help but get so worried over her "hooting", though! i just don't want to miss any signs, but it's hard because I'm worried I'm overreacting and this is just what she does occasionally.
Hi 4Piggies - sorry for not replying! I opened a Fergie-specific medical thread rather than responding on this one and didn't link over. She has had a multitude of issues since then, unfortunately. Here is the new thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=74897

I am not sure if she had pneumonia the entire time and it was a case of oversight, despite repeatedly bringing up her energy levels and breathing concerns, but during a case of bloat we did x-rays to check that and to check her lungs becuase her breathing became even more labored. They saw her lungs were "gunky" and prescribed 10 days Baytril. At the end of the 10 days she was certainly not improved, perhaps worse, so we headed in again and they switched her to TMS. We were told 3 weeks to really see much improvement, but I see others on here with some positive turnaround in 24-48 hours. I have an email into the vet, as it's been a week, because I just don't want this to get worse. She is ~25% lung capacity right now and scary. But she's alert when she interacts with me, just rather lethargic and puffy when I am not directly interacting.

It's been really hard, but she keeps eating a little on her own and doesn't seem ready to say goodbye, so we keep fighting....

I hope your little piggy is doing well.

Akozar3

Post   » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:20 pm


Writing to update on this thread as Champion's chronic stuffy nose continues to be an issue and is getting worse lately. She is 4 years old now and about 6 months ago her congestion got worse than usual and she seemed to be having more difficulty breathing: her nostrils were flared, her abdomen was jerking with each breath, and she had mucous coating her nostrils.

I took her back to Avon Lake Animal Clinic to see Dr. Krupka. He was fabulous with our cat and he is specialized in exotics. He was more intent to listen to my concerns and not just immediately treat her for another URI. He did a swab of her nostrils and found infection only in one nostril. He said this was strange and not indicative of a URI. He offered to run a CT scan, thinking it is possible that she has a mass in one nostril that is causing an infection. We declined the CT since it would be over $1,000. He put her on Baytril, but a longer course (3 weeks). After 3 weeks she seemed mostly back to normal. But who is to say if the antibiotics worked, or if the symptoms just subsided again over time?

Anyway, a month ago she became worse again and Dr. Krupka refilled her Baytril and I administered to Champion for the last 3 weeks. There has been no improvement and I think she is worse than ever. She is breathing harder than ever before and is having trouble eating because she is exerting so much effort to breathe. She is very responsive to hand feeding critical care, so we have been able to minimize her weight loss. But she is still underweight (1.4lb).

I took her back to Dr. Krupka yesterday because the Baytril had not improved her breathing. He agreed this was concerning and was beginning to suspect a heart problem. He did X-rays and determined (along with a referral to cardiologist) that there is no evidence of a heart condition. It is not enlarged and there is no evidence of fluid in the cardiac/lung area. Now the cardiologist is recommending a CT scan to check for "upper airway disease". Again, we cannot pay for a CT scan, so Dr. Krupka has decided to try Prednisone to see if it will help with inflammation.

I have tried to look up "upper airway disease" but all I can find is information on upper respiratory infections. Has anyone else heard of this diagnosis?

Between her and my other pig Stormy who has been ill for the last month (unrelated symptoms) as well, I am losing my mind. They both seem to have mysterious (and expensive!) ailments. I just want them to be comfortable. :(

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:17 pm


I am unfamiliar with "upper airway disease" also. Perhaps the next time you could ask more about it (if it is bacterial or what).

You have read the heart page, no? Do you see any signs of possible heart issues?
www.guinealynx.info/heart.html

I wonder what specifically he was looking for on the xrays. If there is any chance there is excess fluid, a duretic like furosemide and possibly heart medication could help.

Is there any way he might be willing to do a trial just to see if it helped with her breathing?

Akozar3

Post   » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:56 pm


Yeah, he was rushed today because he was in and out of surgery. But he said he’d call me back to explain more and to check on Champion after a few days of the prednisone.

I have read the heart page and I printed it out to show him and highlighted the symptoms I felt Champion was exhibiting: lethargy, chronic congestion/URI, labored breathing, and weight loss/slight loss of appetite. He agreed at the time it was possible she had a heart condition. But he agreed with the cardiologist that the X-rays showed no signs of an enlarged heart or fluid in the cardiac/lung region. They also ruled out pneumonia.

I am willing to try the Prednisone, but I will ask him when I talk to him next week if we could trial the heart meds. I read a few threads where pigs didn’t show an enlarged heart on an X-ray, but still benefitted from the heart meds.

Is there anything I need to keep in mind with the Prednisone. I saw that increased thirst and urination is common. Is it a relatively safe drug for pigs?

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Lynx
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Post   » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:15 pm


I can't comment on the Prednisone but hopefully some members who have had guinea pigs with heart issues will chime in. Pinta has several heart pigs, I believe, and her vet is okay with a trial to see if it helps.

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