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Thread: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

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    Cavy Slave Snugglybutt's Avatar
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    Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Last week I brought my 4 month old skinny pig, Hippo, to a vet and he was diagnosed with a URI and was given Baytril to take for 2 weeks. He didn't seem to be improving, so today I drove him 3 hours to an exotic vet to get a second opinion. The vet listened to him and said that he has a heart murmur, and that his lifespan will probably be shortened to 3-4 years. She said Hippo didn't have a URI and to stop giving him the Baytril the other vet prescribed.

    I'm just a little concerned, Hippo wheezes when he squeaks and it doesn't sound very healthy. The vet heard him wheeze but it didn't seem to phase her. I thought guinea pigs with heart problems needed medication? Maybe I'm just misinformed, but I thought some kind of treatment would be given! Can a guinea pig live with a heart murmur and not need meds for it?

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    I'd have thought that medications would have been necessary, too. But a lot of vets don't know much about heart meds for pigs.

    Meds usually are a trial and error affair, and require occasional tweaking to keep them at maximum efficiency.

    Here's a good intro/summary of heart issues in pigs: http://www.guinealynx.info/heart.html. There's another excellent thread on heart problems over at GL, but I can't find it at the moment. I'll ask about it, and post back here if someone turns it up.

    Where do you live? City/state, not actual address. We might be able to help you find a closer exotic vet.

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    Cavy Slave Snugglybutt's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Thanks for the link and reply! Unfortunately there is not a lot of exotic vets in my area (NB, Canada). The other locations are another 3 hour drive ��. She said that other than the murmur, he is completely healthy and to only return if he stops eating/breathing heavy/has nose crusts. I don't know if I should follow her advice or not. I have already spent a pretty penny on appointments and driving so my next vet appointment would have to count. I'm scared I'm stressing Hippo out by driving him around so much. Would a pocket pet vet be another good option to bring Hippo to?

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    I haven't heard the term pocket pet vet, but if that means training in the care of pocket pets, that should work. I don't know whether it's the same in Canada, but here, small animal vet means dogs and cats. Those vets get almost no training in the care of exotic animals, and what they do get covers everything from gerbils to giraffes.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Here are some more GL threads on heart disease: http://www.guinealynx.info/records/v...5083f39854a2af. This isn't the one I was looking for, but I'll keep looking.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    I think this is the thread I was looking for: http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=25375

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    In my experience, which is not a whole lot (I'm a student and I don't start learning to specialize in exotics until next year), usually whether or not meds are given for a heart murmur depends on several things, one of which is the original cause of the heart murmur. The other thing is the severity of the murmur and whether or not it is causing problematic symptoms.

    Sometimes murmurs are caused by infections. In that case I would assume a "pulse" treatment of antibiotics would be advised. On antibiotics for a week or 2, then off for a week or 2, etc. But since guinea pigs don't tolerate antibiotics very well it would really be trial and error.

    If it is congenital (which it very well could be, given the age of the guinea pig and the fact that it's a "skinny" pig) then it depends on the severity of the heart murmur. (1 being the least severe, 6 being the most) If it's just a slight murmur that isn't causing any troubling symptoms, I wouldn't see any need for medication. It's more of a just watch and see how it goes type of thing. If more symptoms come up, or the murmur gets worse, then they will probably want to try medicating for it.

    *I am NOT a licensed veterinarian. This information is from personal experience ONLY. If the vet suggests something else, listen to them!*

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    Cavy Slave Snugglybutt's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Hey everybody! Just thought I'd give an update on Hippo's heart condition since I brought him to the vet today. I wasn't able to go to the exotic vet I went to last time, which is a shame as she's the guinea pig "expert" in my province, due to distance (3 hours away). I brought Hippo in today because he sneezes, coughs, and wheezes multiple times a day. For example, last night he was sitting in his fleece tunnel and was wheezing with every breath he took. When we got to the vet, Hippo sneezed on the examination counter and covered it with clear liquid/mucus. I never noticed this before as it's hard to see wetness on fleece :s The vet had a phone conversation with the exotic vet I went to last time and they concluded that he has fluid in his lungs and he might not have a very long time left, her exact words being 2 to 6 months. Sadly there was not much more that the vet could offer, there are no cardiologists in New Brunswick and they said I would have to bring Hippo to Montreal to see exactly what is causing the murmur. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds for that, as the appointment alone is $600.

    The vet then told me that I could start medicating Hippo for the rest of his life, and gave me three medication names and that I can research and choose which one I want to order from her. The medications are enalapril, pimobendan, and furosemide. I'm really unsure which one to choose... does anybody have any experience with these medications? I feel a bit overwhelmed with such a big decision :(
    Last edited by Snugglybutt; 07-17-18 at 06:05 pm.

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    See http://www.guinealynx.info/heart.html for a lot of good information.

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    I'm so sorry to hear about your pigs' diagnosis, @snufflybutt. I was looking at the link that @bpatters provided. I'm not sure if you've looked at it or not, but one of the case studies mentioned on the page discuss a pig that had heart issues in addition to fluid in the lungs. The page said that after being given two medications, in 16 days the pig was feeling much better. Obviously I am not a vet and I don't know if it is the same thing that your pig might have, but that sounded like a positive possibility. I'm not sure if you've read it or not but I will copy and paste the part that I am discussing. I'm hoping this helps or gives you a little bit of hope. Good luck!

    Frosting: approx 6-8 year old sow
    • Signs: frequent morning hooting, generally followed by coughing, 'pancake' pig - lay in one spot, rarely moved, underweight.
      Auscultation: normal
      X-ray: extremely enlarged heart and fluid in lungs View 1
      Treatment: lasix 3mg twice daily, lotensin 1mg twice daily. After 16 days was popcorning and running around her cage


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    Cavy Slave Snugglybutt's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Thank you! I read the page and was interested in that part as well, Frosting sounds a lot like Hippo. I will definitely be talking to my vet about Furosemide (Lasix) and the possibility of Lotensin as well! : ^ )

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    @HollyG, and anyone else who might consider this, please don't copy and paste such large sections from GL. It's far better to just post the link, and some clue as to where to find what you're referring to.

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Sorry, just wanted to make sure Snugglybutt saw it. I didn't think it would come up as big as it did!

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Praying for your piggy. Hate that our babies can get medical issues.

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    Cavy Slave Snugglybutt's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Thanks so much. I know.. it sucks. Especially when they're so young too :( The vet said medication might prolong his life for a few years, hopefully the medicine that's coming in on Monday will help :)

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Little update: Hippo has been taking 0.1 ml of apple flavoured furosemide twice a day for 3 days and he loves the taste. He seems pretty much the same, no better or worse. He seems very lethargic and is always laying down in his fleece tunnel. His eyes look more watery than usual, almost like he just finished crying. He is still coughing but he hasn’t been wheezing when he wheeks. I went to the vet and tried buying some critical care, just incase Hippo stops eating, but everything in stock was expired. The assistant gave me an expired pouch for free and said it works fine, but it expired in Feb 2018. The CC was stored on a shelf and not frozen. Is it still good?

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    It'll still be fine. It has vitamins and minerals added to it, and the expiration date is no doubt set according to the shelf life of those things. They won't suddenly go bad, but will just slowly lose potency over time. CC is mostly made of hay, and it doesn't lose nutritional value for a couple of years.

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Quote Originally Posted by Snugglybutt View Post
    Little update: Hippo has been taking 0.1 ml of apple flavoured furosemide twice a day for 3 days and he loves the taste. He seems pretty much the same, no better or worse. He seems very lethargic and is always laying down in his fleece tunnel. His eyes look more watery than usual, almost like he just finished crying. He is still coughing but he hasn’t been wheezing when he wheeks. I went to the vet and tried buying some critical care, just incase Hippo stops eating, but everything in stock was expired. The assistant gave me an expired pouch for free and said it works fine, but it expired in Feb 2018. The CC was stored on a shelf and not frozen. Is it still good?
    You can buy critical care on amazon and have it shipped fast . That one is compromised on nutrients this far out from feb. Best wishes

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    It'll still be fine. It has vitamins and minerals added to it, and the expiration date is no doubt set according to the shelf life of those things. They won't suddenly go bad, but will just slowly lose potency over time. CC is mostly made of hay, and it doesn't lose nutritional value for a couple of years.
    Agreed. It is likely still good and certainly better than your other alternatives. Much of it depends on where it has been sitting on the shelf and the ambient temperature of that area. I keep mine in the basement close to the floor where the temperature is moderately cool year-round, and wouldn't hesitate to use it if needed.

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    Re: Piggy diagnosed with a heart murmur today - still worried

    Thanks for all the replies everyone. Hippo is a very picky eater so I ordered a little pouch of apple banana flavour too, it should be here tomorrow! I have another question though, during my cage cleaning tonight I noticed a lot of white spots on one of my darker fleece liners. I don't use that colour often so I never noticed them before. On one of my smaller liners there was a rock solid white chunk on it too. Here is a pic of the spots on the fleece. They aren't hard. Is this normal? I feed my pigs a low calcium diet.Click image for larger version. 

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