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URI/Upper Respiratory Infection Heavy breathing, hooting sounds when resting

sandalwood

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Hello,

I’m seeking advice.

I have a 8,5 y.o female guinea pig. For most of her life she was in wonderful condition and I feel so lucky and blessed for having her with me for such a long time.

In 2021 unfortunately she caught a semi-severe respiratoral infection. It was cured with nebulizations, antibiotics + prebiotics. She had many USG and was under a constant vet care. It mostly went away, a tiny part of her lung had a bit of scarring which we saw on ultrasound, but it was okay.

In October 2022 she started to breathe more heavy when resting or sleeping. He had a big appetite, she was active with other guinea pigs in cage, no weight loss, no high temperature – the only problem was this heavy, squeaky breathing when resting.

We immediately went to vet, she was under the vet care for around 3,5 months. We were making USG every 2 weeks, we made an echo of heart, she was taking antibiotics + prebiotics. We were also making nebulizations.

On the USG all of the signs of the respiratory disease finally disappeared, heart is okay, vet said that on the stethoscope everything sounded okay. Unfortunately, the wheezing/hooting (?) noise when resting didn’t go away – the vet said that it might be due to her old age and the diseases she’s been through, maybe there is just something blocking her airways a bit, something with her trachea etc. She said to not be concerned about it that much and treat it a bit like „snoring”. Vet confirmed that she’s not in any pain. Her blood tests are also great.

In the last week I feel like the wheezing/hooting/heavy breathing intensified.

She is still eating a ton of food, pooping normally, she’s active, not losing weight, but the breathing concerns me a lot. She is breathing normally when eating or going around, but a minute she decides to rest – the heavy breathing goes again. I caught it on the camera in the container when she was just after the nebulization and finished eating her treat, cucumber, before going back to cage. I’m uploading a video of it - https://www.youtube.com/shorts/ee_lG2gCWuA?feature=share

Of course, I scheduled an appointment with my vet in the next days when she comes back from holidays, because I’m concerned, but I wanted to also reach to other owners – maybe do you have an experience with old guinea pigs with breathing like this, when USG/echo/blood tests are fine, but apparently something must be wrong?

Thank you very much for your time.
 

Guinea Pig Papa

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When you see your vet, I would look into treatment for congestive heart failure.

My boy Pooper was breathing in an identical fashion, which began in May of 2016. We tried many different treatments, none of which seemed to work. Unfortunately CHF was NOT one of the options we had considered. If it WAS CHF, the treatment would have made him more comfortable but would not have prolonged his life. He lived another 5 months almost exactly.

I will also add that Pooper was 6 years old at the time of onset. He was 6 1/2 when he passed.
 

bpatters

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Ditto. I'd ask for an x-ray to see if the heart is enlarged. Hooting at rest is a classic sign pf CHF.
 

sandalwood

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Thank you very much for quick answers. I was afraid that this might be the issue, but I have to admit that it's a bit of relief to finally have a clue about what is happening. I'll definitely ask for an x-ray and we'll treat Phoebe accordingly.

Do you, from your experience, think that it requires a very urgent visit? My vet is coming back next Thursday and I don't know if I should wait that long or should I look for another one ASAP.

Also – do you know if CHF is painful for the guinea pig? Is there any way to treat it? Can guinea pig live with it for a prolonged time...?
 

bpatters

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Yes, it's treatable, but may require frequent tweaking of the meds. I don't think it's very painful, but the pig probably won't have much energy until and unless it's under control. Look at this link for some good info on the drugs and medical histories of heart pigs: https://www.guinealynx.info/heart.html
 

sandalwood

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Thank you a lot. Thanks to this forum and quick answers I booked an appointment with a vet and x-ray for the first possible date, today, 9PM.
I'm hoping that the damage is not too big and that we will get meds that will help Phoebe and make her more comfortable.
 

sandalwood

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Unfortunately the vet didn't do the x-ray because they are doing it only with the sedation and he said it will be risky with Phoebe. I'm looking for a place with x-ray and echo now.

Today we did only the ultrasound of the chest. Unfortunately it showed that Phoebe has active inflammatory changes in the lungs, so active URI. I got antibodies for it, prebiotics and nebulisations.

The vet was skeptical about CHF, but the ultrasound showed that the heart is a bit enlarged.

I hope that now the meds for URI will help her and in the meantime I'm looking for the x-ray and echo + the second vet to get an opinion about her heart. I hope that her not getting any heart meds now won't be a risk for her.
 

bpatters

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Some vets are reluctant to consider CHF in guinea pigs, but it's pretty well documented if they'll just look for the information on it. I hope you can find someone who will check her out and treat her if necessary.

Where are you? City and state, not your actual address. We might be able to help you find a vet.
 

sandalwood

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I will definitely look for an x-ray and echo as soon as possible, as well as another cardiologist. I'm located in Warsaw, Poland, but I'll travel to the cities around if needed.
 

spy9doc

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Sandalwood.........welcome to the Forum! So sorry that both you and Phoebe are going through this. Unfortunately, I don't have anything positive to add to the excellent advice of both @bpatters and @Guinea Pig Papa. I had forgotten the very-complete article from Guinea Lynx.

My Sparky was diagnosed with CHF at about 3.5 y.o. and lived to just past his fourth birthday. He lived well with my good care and his medications. It's interesting that CHF is treated much the same in cavies as in humans.

He didn't exhibit many signs of illness except that he slept more soundly and occasionally his respiration was a bit labored. When he was obviously nearing the end, my husband took him to the vet. The vet opined that, "I don't know how he (Sparky) has survived this long (and managed to breathe) with his heart in this condition". Even though I'm the medical person in the family, Sparky was "Papa's boy" and Gary wanted to take him to the clinic. That also meant that he was the one who was there when Sparky crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

We were so devastated by his death that we couldn't conceive of getting another cavy (or two) for six months. I firmly believe that Sparky lasted that long because his spirit simply couldn't let go of us.

You sound like a very knowledgeable and experienced cavy owner. I hope that you will stay with us and contribute to the many and varied discussions.

I'm attaching a picture of Sparky on his fourth birthday. 🌷🌈🐻‍❄️
 

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Sparky BD2.jpg

sandalwood

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Hello, sky9doc,
Thank you for your reply and I'm really sorry to hear about Sparky. I'm sure he had an amazing and strong spirit, and was given much love and care. Thank you for sharing your story.

When it comes to my experience, thank you very much, m but unfortunately it's not as big as I would like. I'm blessed to have my amazing girl for more than 8 years, and another one (Piggy Stardust, 5 y.o lab rescue) and the third one (Just a bit over 1 y.o), but I'm really devastated that I didn't do enough research that might help her earlier. I should've write this post a long time ago, instead of just believing that it's just labored breathing after URI.

If I could ask you for a further advice, because I'm torn – I've found an amazing cardio-pulmology cavy expert around my city, but unfortunately she's available only on 23.03, 10 days from now. The schedules for x-rays, heart echo are also ridiculously long – 10+ days from now everywhere I ask. I really hope Phoebe will survive that long.

Currently I'm treating her lung inflammation:

1 x day 0,03 ml marfloxin, injections (marbofloxacin, fluoroquinolone antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, especially those in the bladder, kidneys, prostate, or skin. It has also been used to treat leishmaniasis in dogs and feline tuberculosis and hemoplasmosis) + probiotic
1 x day 0, 15 ml loxicom, injections (meloxicam, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever)
2 x day nebulization with Berodual (fenoteroli hydrobromidum + ipratropii bromidum, medicine for URI problems, especially helps to widen the bronchitis) + Gentamycin (An antibiotic from the group of aminoglycosides, used topically in the treatment of bacterial infections) + NaCL
2 x day nebulization with nebbud + NaCL (glikokortykosteroids, local anti-inflammatory agents in bovine mammary gland)

1. If she has heart condition (and she probably has severe), is it still a priority to heal her lungs (there are many active inflammation's in lungs shown in recent USG)? Or could it be done in the same time, both treatment for lungs and for heart?
2. Would you, personally, risk waiting 10 days for an expert in cardio-pulmo diseases in guinea pig? Other vets (I've seen 3, specialized in rodent care) are focusing only on the lungs, which I believe are only a symptom of heart disease, not the cause.
3. Is there anything that I could give Phoebe right now that can help her, if she has CHF – any supplements, any non-prescribed by doctor medicine, any natural help? I'm giving her parsley which she loves (and has diuretic effect), vitamin C of course (and a variety of vegetables, hay, dried herbs and food of course, but I'm asking for anything more available that could help in the next 10 days). Or is there any chance that the medication she's getting now (inflammatory, antibiotics, etc, listed above) will also help her in the next days also with CHF?

Thank you all very much once again for your kind support and words. All of you are right now my huge source of comfort, help and peace.
Im attaching a photo of Phoebe dressed up around pumpkins for the Halloween 2022. She was very happy to munch on some of that Hokkaido pumpkin afterwards. She doesn't look 8 y.o, does she? :)
 

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Zrzut ekranu 2023-03-13 o 08.41.46.png

spy9doc

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Hello, sky9doc,
Thank you for your reply and I'm really sorry to hear about Sparky. I'm sure he had an amazing and strong spirit, and was given much love and care. Thank you for sharing your story.

When it comes to my experience, thank you very much, m but unfortunately it's not as big as I would like. I'm blessed to have my amazing girl for more than 8 years, and another one (Piggy Stardust, 5 y.o lab rescue) and the third one (Just a bit over 1 y.o), but I'm really devastated that I didn't do enough research that might help her earlier. I should've write this post a long time ago, instead of just believing that it's just labored breathing after URI.

If I could ask you for a further advice, because I'm torn – I've found an amazing cardio-pulmology cavy expert around my city, but unfortunately she's available only on 23.03, 10 days from now. The schedules for x-rays, heart echo are also ridiculously long – 10+ days from now everywhere I ask. I really hope Phoebe will survive that long.

Currently I'm treating her lung inflammation:

1 x day 0,03 ml marfloxin, injections (marbofloxacin, fluoroquinolone antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, especially those in the bladder, kidneys, prostate, or skin. It has also been used to treat leishmaniasis in dogs and feline tuberculosis and hemoplasmosis) + probiotic
1 x day 0, 15 ml loxicom, injections (meloxicam, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever)
2 x day nebulization with Berodual (fenoteroli hydrobromidum + ipratropii bromidum, medicine for URI problems, especially helps to widen the bronchitis) + Gentamycin (An antibiotic from the group of aminoglycosides, used topically in the treatment of bacterial infections) + NaCL
2 x day nebulization with nebbud + NaCL (glikokortykosteroids, local anti-inflammatory agents in bovine mammary gland)

1. If she has heart condition (and she probably has severe), is it still a priority to heal her lungs (there are many active inflammation's in lungs shown in recent USG)? Or could it be done in the same time, both treatment for lungs and for heart?
2. Would you, personally, risk waiting 10 days for an expert in cardio-pulmo diseases in guinea pig? Other vets (I've seen 3, specialized in rodent care) are focusing only on the lungs, which I believe are only a symptom of heart disease, not the cause.
3. Is there anything that I could give Phoebe right now that can help her, if she has CHF – any supplements, any non-prescribed by doctor medicine, any natural help? I'm giving her parsley which she loves (and has diuretic effect), vitamin C of course (and a variety of vegetables, hay, dried herbs and food of course, but I'm asking for anything more available that could help in the next 10 days). Or is there any chance that the medication she's getting now (inflammatory, antibiotics, etc, listed above) will also help her in the next days also with CHF?

Thank you all very much once again for your kind support and words. All of you are right now my huge source of comfort, help and peace.
Im attaching a photo of Phoebe dressed up around pumpkins for the Halloween 2022. She was very happy to munch on some of that Hokkaido pumpkin afterwards. She doesn't look 8 y.o, does she? :)
VERY interesting case history. Tell Phoebe she looks great for her age! Just wish we humans aged so well. Don't beat yourself up for not treating her sooner. You obviously go above-and-beyond when it comes to care, and besides, there is a genetic component to CHF which means that it could have been inevitable for her to be affected.

Sometimes one can treat the same illness in cavies in a similar fashion as humans, and other times things just don't present and respond the same. I'm sorry that I don't have any other advice for Phoebe since I'm a human doctor, not a Vet. I've learned most of what I know about cavies just from experience with their illnesses. Keep us posted about Phoebe and we will ALL learn valuable knowledge.

Insofar as heart or lungs, there is no choice in my opinion. She can't live if either or both are dysfunctional. Considering her age, I think I would be treating both.
 

sandalwood

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Hello,
Thank you once again for your kind words. I will definitely keep you updated. I'm just hoping that the language barrier is not too big and that I won't let anything important get lost in translation, since English is my second language, and a medical vocabulary might get a bit tricky for me. Guinea pig respiratory and cardiovascular diseases – not something that I've learned in language classes, for sure!

I have some good news. Yesterday I was so determined to get Phoebe a consultation with a best guinea pig cardiologist that I've found in my country, that I've called every single clinic that she's been working in. I've asked to be put on every reserve list that there is... And guess what!

I've got a call that someone postponed their visit and there is a spot for Phoebe for today, for 5PM. That's an incredible news for me, because I'll get to talk to vet today, instead in 10 days. I'm really crossing my fingers to get diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

Right now I'm sitting with her nearby – she's snacking on a fennel after nebulisation. My smart girl, her body probably knows that's a diuretic too! :)
 

bpatters

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Let us know how the vet visit goes.
 

sandalwood

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Hello,

We’ve had a vet pulmo-cardiologist visit with a vet who specializes in guinea pig and other rodent cardiology care, and she gave Phoebe echocardiography yesterday. Vet was very interested in her case, I gave her all the previous USG results and echocardiography results. I’ve also shown the videos of Phoebe and told her about the current treatment.

The echocardiography didn’t show anything wrong. Her heart is in perfect – as vet said – condition. She said that due to this, and after seeing the ultrasonography, there is no reason to believe that her condition is connected to the cardiology issues. She looked for the other causes, and said that her recent and previous cases of pneumonia might’ve scarred respiratory system, which might be the cause of her labored breathing and hooting.

I have another echo and visit scheduled for 23rd of March, until then I’m advises to continue with the medicine (injections + nebulizations). I’m also weighting Phoebe daily and watching her food intake, as also het breathing. She’s definitely more quiet than 3-4 days ago, but I don’t want to jinx it. It’s too soon to say anything for sure.
 

spy9doc

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Sounds like encouraging news! Keep us posted. And BTW, your work with English translation is nearly perfect. You have obviously worked very hard to perfect it. Great language translation if you are using a software program.
 

sandalwood

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Hello,
I'm back with some Phoebe news.
It's almost 2 weeks now since we started the antibodies, Marfloxin. We are also doing nebulizations twice a day.
She's definitely way more active and social, than some time ago. She even has a bit of attitude again! :)
Yesterday and today Phoebe had an USG and the cardiologist visit. Fortunately, the lung inflammation basically went away. There are some changes in her lungs, but these are some scar tissues after her pneumonia (this one and the one before). We're ending antibodies injections today, but we continue with nebulizations.
Cardiologist checked her heart again on the USG and everything is in a great condition, according to her. The blood flow is perfect, the size of heart also. There is no liquid in the abdomen or in the lungs.
There is still heavy breathing and hooting while resting, definitely smaller than before, but present. All veterinarians which I visited said that this will be probably the permanent issue. The sounds come from the upper respiratory areas, there is a small inspiratory dyspnea – one of the possibilities is the remodeled nasal conchae that makes her breathe more heavy.
They said to not worry unless her condition gets worse and to check Phoebe again in the few months. :)
 

bpatters

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Glad to hear there's some improvement!
 

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