Loud Coughing....Hairballs?

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 3:31 pm

Hi guys.
Lastnight before I went to bed, I was startled by a loud coughing sound. I thought it was my cat under my bed or something, so I looked and no cat.
Anyway, I turned off the light and heard Buddy munching away on something and turned the light back on and he ws biting off the newspaper that had poked up through his bedding. I got up, tore off the excess paper, discarded it and when I was getting back into bed, he started wheeking and then let out this loud, crazy cough...like a whooping cough. I know it wasn´t the newspaper, because he hadn´t eaten any, just bitten it off.
He´s been shedding quite a bit,though, and grooming as usual... do pigs get hairballs like cats? He was horking and heaving for about 10 seconds, then went back to normal and hasn´t done it since, but could it be hairballs?

Thanks, guys.

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Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 6:14 pm

While I have heard it mentioned on a couple sites, the general consensus no, they don´t get them. Since rabbits do, some people seem to think so and prescribe something to get the hair to pass through their system. I don´t think guinea pigs groom like rabbits which may account for the fact that it does not happen (or is very rare).

Also, guinea pigs reportedly cannot vomit and so could not eject a hairball if there ever was one.

My pigs will on occasion cough. Sometimes something gets stuck and this seems to help.

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Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 8:20 pm

I don´t know if aspirating and vomiting are technically the same thing, but my Piggie had her abscesses lanced today and the vet said she aspirated. She is fine, but he did say it is very unusual for a guinea pig.


Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 8:46 pm

I think aspirating deals with food in the throat or mouth while vomiting deals with food in the stomach.

My assumption, anyway.

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Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 9:00 pm

Vomiting and aspirating are not related.

aspirate Surgery. 1. to draw in or take away by suction. 2. the material removed by suction.

Think of fine needle aspiration. Could be the pig inhaled something. Not discharged.


Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 9:04 pm

The vets call it aspiration when food comes up when they´re under anaesthetic.

I believe when they aspirate under those conditions the food was actually on its way down to the stomach, not on its way up.

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Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 9:16 pm

I think I see what you are saying. I guess I´m kind of puzzled because there was no food in her cage after 7:30 last night and the procedure was this morning. Must be something never quite made it where it was supposed to go.


Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 9:54 pm

That is weird.

You´re not supposed to fast pigs before surgery. Our vet likes to withdraw food 2 hours before the procedure to make sure all the food is out of the mouth and throat so aspiration problems are avoided.

Maybe Josephine can tell us what the deal is. Maybe aspiration is just a catchall phrase for breathing problems.

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For the love of my girls!

Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 10:11 pm

I thought aspiration was when food and the like went into the lungs. I know that you are not supposed to give small children popcorn because they can "aspirate" it into their lungs. I think it means to "suck into." Into the lungs, into a syringe etc.

Where is Josephine?!


Post   » Tue Mar 05, 2002 10:50 pm

Well that makes sense - except for a pig who hasn´t had food for at least 12 hours.....

I was thinking it was a choking thing because our vets have described food coming out that was in the mouth when they were put under(hence the confusion with vomiting). Maybe the food went into the lungs and came out thru the mouth again?

Where the heck is Josephine?


Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 5:52 am

Years ago (when I was a child) I had a male pig who was physically sick quite regularly. We gave him a new home when his old owners couldn´t keep him anymore. They told us quite matter of factly when they handed him over that he often vomited and I remember him doing it. It didn´t seem to bother him at all and he lived with us for another two or three years.

I have never known another guinea pig to do so though. However, my two males sometimes make a choking, gagging noise when eating for a few moments. Probably because a bit of food went down with its legs crossed.

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Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 7:43 am

Pinta, why no fasting before surgery on pigs? I didn´t question it because that is normal for humans. The vet said no food after 8:00 and no liquids after midnight.

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 8:08 am

So, while the conversation has turned to vomiting/surgery here, the general consensus is pigs can´t get hairballs, right?
And he could have been coughing up a bit of the newspaper I didn´t see him swallow?

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Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 8:36 am

Sorry Dobby, I didn´t mean to hijack your thread.


Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:11 am

The vet said no food after 8:00 and no liquids after midnight.

That´s for cats and dogs who do have a tendency to vomit their stomach contents under anaesthesia. Pigs are not known to vomit up the contents of their stomach while under anaesthesia.

Pigs are herbivores who graze continually. If they go without food for too long their liver starts to shut down/have problems functioning properly. Their digestive system is designed for continual operation. Because it is often a while after surgery before they eat again fasting them puts them at too high a risk for liver problems. I think after 12 hours without food the liver might start to be affected. Not totally sure on the time span though. Blood panels we´ve had done on ill pigs ALWAYS show a compromised liver when their food intake has been reduced.

I suggest you ask your vet to consult with exotic vets or do some research. His directions are WRONG for pigs.

Do horses get fasted before surgery?

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Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 12:12 pm

Thanks for the info Pinta. I posted my follow up to the abscess thread I started a while back - don´t want to keep taking away from Dobby´s hairball posting.


Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 3:01 pm

Right - hairballs. I have heard reports of them but they arfe so rare as niot to even figuire in any of the med reference books I have.

Stacia´s Dixon had hair compacted in his cheeks and around his molars due to malocclusion. He couldn´t properly grind so hair he groomed ended up trapped in his mouth(my assumption). I´m guessing normally a pig would be able to masticate the hair so it wouldn´t collect in a hairball in the gut. So it would stand to reason a pig with a hairball has some circumstance happening that allows the hairball to occur.

I got nothing to back this up so it IS conjecture on my part, but since hairballs are so rare(and pigs do enough barbering that if they were a threat, we´d be hearing a lot more reports of them)their occurrence is probably a sign that something else is going on.

And pigs can get explosive coughs/chokes - I think Gurney calls them the heaving hiccups - that are very alarming. But they last all of 5 to 10 seconds and then the pig is back to normal.

And pigs can just cough occasionally. Some of ours make a sound like "braaaack".


Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 5:14 pm

That 5 - 10 seconds seems like a lifetime when you see if for the first time and don´t know what it is!!

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Wed Mar 06, 2002 8:03 pm

No kidding, my2piggies. It was only a quick burst of coughing, then another shortly after the first, and I´ve heard nothing from him since. It scared the hell out of me because I thought he was choking, but he seemed fine.
All is well in his piggy palace. No newspaper to chew on, as he has a habit of doing, and no coughing.

I an my pigs mom- No trouble. ;) I just wanted an answer to my question. I don´t mind a little hijacking now and then.

Little Jo Wheek

Post   » Thu Mar 07, 2002 12:03 am

Are we talking aspiration as in biopsy or as in taking fluids/foreign material into the lungs? It could definitely be applied to both. Aspiration could be taking material into/from a tissue or taking material by way of the trachea into the lungs.

Aspiration is forced in cavies. Operator/human error. Cavies do not vomit, but can aspirate from force-feeding, giving oral meds, or during recovery from a procedure where there is fluid around (dental work? usually). Vomiting deals with material coming from the stomach, but a cat or dog can aspirate vomit during anesthetic recovery. Normally an endotracheal tube is placed in cats and dogs to prevent this, but if the animal vomits post extubation the risk is real.

Aspiration causes pneumonia.

Since cavies do not vomit, there is no logical reason to fast prior to surgery or any other reason. The risk of shutting down the entire GIT is too high and hepatic lipidosis is as irreversible and fatal. Hepatic lipidosis is part of the secondary organ involvement when animals do not eat. Cavies can then catabolize the fat to use that energy, but it causes the irreversible metabolic changes.

I would seriously question any reception/technician staff that recommends fasting a cavy. I would RUN from a vet that told me to fast a cavy!

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