Beef's Medical Topic

beefyduck

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 1:27 am


Beef is around 6 years old and she has some hair loss all over her body. It is most noticeable where her rosettes are (she is an abyssinian), but it is also affecting her sides and around her neck. She has also gradually lost about 100g over 4 months. Aside from this she seems to be perfectly fine. She gets excited for food and walks around the cage with a pep in her step.

The exotic vet said it could be ovarian cysts because the hair loss is somewhat symmetric (it wasn't obviously symmetric to me). She felt her sides but could not feel any lumps. She didn't do any further testing and sent us home with mite treatment(Revolution) for Beef and her cage mate. Neither Beef nor Duck have been scratching any more than usual and Beef's bald spots aren't flaky/inflamed/irritated at all. Is it still possible that Beef's hair loss is because of mites even if she doesn't show any signs of irritation?

A possibly important detail is that around the beginning of this year, she started rumble strutting A LOT. She would wake up from her nap and walk over to Duck just to rumble strut. Any time Duck passed by she would start rumble strutting or making a whimpering sound. She would even rumblestrut at us when we pet her. Duck was sick at the time, so I assumed Beef was trying to establish herself as the dominant pig, which Duck previously was. But maybe it was something hormonal this whole time?

I am quite worried that whatever is wrong with Beef will require surgery as she is an old pig so I'm not sure if she could handle it. What is the likelihood that it is just mites? or something that a little extra vitamin c can fix right up? We have a follow up appointment in 2 weeks where the vet will evaluate progress with revolution and do some diagnostics like bloodwork/ultrasound as needed. But I am so nervous thinking about the possibility of Beef needing surgery. Input/advice is much appreciated!

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:09 am


I retitled this topic (you have started multiple topics on Beef). Please keep all your medical questions about Beef here. They will be useful to refer to.

So there seems to be extra loss on the sides of the abdomen? Read the page and note the picture at bottom:
http://www.guinealynx.info/ovarian_cysts.html

The behavior you observed sounds like classic hormonal behavior, often a sign of ovarian cysts. It is also possible to provide hormone treatment (vs. a spay).

Is her skin changing, becoming more coarse? Can you post a picture? Have you read over this page for ideas?
http://www.guinealynx.info/hairloss.html

The weight loss may be problematic. Are you weighing regularly, at least once a week? There can be weight loss with ovarian cysts. If the skin is not inflamed and there is not lots of scratching, it is not likely there are mites - but getting a treatment with Revolution is still a good idea to rule it out. Unless the diet you are giving is poor (low quality pellets mostly with deteriorated vitamin C, no fresh greens) it is unlikely a vitamin C deficiency is the cause. That said, increasing the vitamin C is still a good idea.

So if this is hormonal/perhaps ovarian cysts, medications can counteract some of the issues.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 4:50 pm


I vote for increasing vitamin C. I had an elderly pig with generalized hair loss, and upping her vitamin C to about 50 mg per day worked wonders. I also have about 1/3 - 1/2 of the dose of multivitamins three days a week for several weeks. You have to be careful with multivitamins because the fat-soluble vitamins in them can cause problems for guinea pigs if they get too much of them. But a minimal dose on a minimal schedule while you see if it helps won't hurt anything.

beefyduck

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:10 pm


Lynx, I am weighing her regularly. She is down to 800 grams today from 920 grams back in April. She is still extremely interested in her food. I asked the vet tech if I should give her critical care just to keep her weight up and she said not to give more than 3ml per day for any longer than 5 days. She says there is a risk of her becoming dependent on it. Her weight is really alarming so should I just give her critical care? Is there some other food that I could give her to help her keep her weight up?

If we go the hormone treatment route, would bloodwork be enough to confirm the cysts/hormonal problem? Ultrasounds and xrays are insanely expensive where I am and I would rather not do them if bloodwork is enough to know that Beef's problem is hormonal.

Beef does have hair thinning that resembles the picture on the ovarian cysts page but she also has some random bald spots around her body. I found a bald spot a little less than an inch in diameter by her hip and the area around it is not thinning whatsoever. Her skin doesn't have any changes that I know of. I haven't really seen her skin until she started losing hair. Here are some pictures of a few balding areas.
https://imgur.com/91JRIuY
https://imgur.com/qDWSlaK
https://imgur.com/qeOsQk0
https://imgur.com/WrncrCA This is on that V area by her butt. It's hard to see but there are some flakes (?) at the root of her fur. I wonder if this could be mites.

beefyduck

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:13 pm


bpatters, I have been giving her oxbow vitamin c tablets daily. It says those are only 25mg worth of vitamin c. Would it be ok if I gave her two tablets every day instead of 1? Or would it be better if I gave her something like the vitamin c drops?

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Thu Aug 12, 2021 9:07 pm


Yes, two tabs would be fine. Drops are good too.

I could not see your pics with chrome and had to find a different browser to view them. I am adding them here so nobody else has this problem (let me know if that is okay):

Image

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Yes, quite a bit of hair loss. Not sure I would attribute the hair loss we are seeing to ovarian cysts though. However the behavior pattern is still typical. You might want to do some research on medications like HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and see if your vet would be willing to try them, given the signs she is showing. I do not know if blood work would give you a definitive answer. I forgot how well the vitamin C worked for bpatters' guinea pig - definitely focus on that.

Weight loss is serious. Having food moving through the system is extremely important. It sounds like the vet tech wants to bully your guinea pig into eating on its own. This is not how weight loss works. In my opinion, anything it takes to maintain weight and keep food moving through the system is important. One trick some people use (if the guinea pig likes the Critical Care) is to make a soft moist ball or small amount of mash and put it on a plate to eat. Self eating is much better than having to be hand fed, for both parties but there is nothing wrong with Critical Care being the thing eaten.

beefyduck

Post   » Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:12 am


Lynx, thank you for posting the pictures here. I will start giving her critical care once or twice a day and give her two tablets of vitamin c. Hopefully the vitamin c helps with her hair loss. I will ask my vet about hormone therapy during our follow up. Thank you!

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Fri Aug 13, 2021 1:26 pm


Keep in mind none of us conclusively know what is causing the hair loss. Your vet is much more knowledgeable! You can ask about likelihood of various diagnoses, what would confirm a diagnosis, and whether or not trying something similar to HCG might help if the vet's conclusion is that a hormonal imbalance and/or ovarian cysts is the most likely cause. Some hormonal treatments can also be expensive.

You may opt to continue with a higher dose of vitamin C to see if the hair loss can be controlled or reversed, while continuing to monitor behavior and weight, and looking for any other signs of illness.

beefyduck

Post   » Fri Aug 20, 2021 10:53 pm


Hello again. I am back with an update. We had a follow up appointment today and I asked about hormone treatments. My vet seemed to be very biased in favor of a spay surgery. She kept saying that the hormone treatments aren't guaranteed to help and kept pushing the surgery option in the event that the ultrasound finds cysts. She didn't acknowledge any of the risks that comes with a surgery, especially for a pig of Beef's age. Does anyone have experiences with a spay procedure on a senior pig? Would you avoid it or recommend it? At the moment I am very against surgery for her, but my vet seems very for it.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2022

Post   » Sat Aug 21, 2021 12:59 am


That’s a difficult decision to make. A spay is a big deal and with an older pig who has dropped some weight, I don’t know if I would do it.

My 5-year-old had an ultrasound recently and the vet saw a mass on her right side. She couldn’t determine for sure what it was and she advised against any surgery at her age.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:17 am


Questions for your vet would be how many spays has she done? What has been the success rate? What is the average age she has spayed a guinea pig? How old has been the oldest guinea pig she has spayed? Ditto that there are always risks.

And regarding the ultrasound, stray masses can also be cancerous growths. One of my guinea pigs had a tumor that spread to several internal organs. Her hair got coarser - I don't think it thinned though.

Bookfan
For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Sat Aug 21, 2021 10:36 am


We have had at least one pig who responded well to hormone injections. I'm not sure why a vet wouldn't want to try it - not saying there aren't some good reasons.

beefyduck

Post   » Sat Aug 21, 2021 11:53 am


ItsaZoo, I am extremely hesitant about a surgery. Beef has always been a pig to pee and then sit in it so to think about her doing this with an open wound makes me cringe. She also hates being handled so I fear she would wriggle too hard and tear open her incision when I try to inspect it. I feel like if this surgery goes well, all of this would still make the recovery extremely tricky and I'm worried that I won't be able to keep her as clean as she needs to be to heal well.

Bookfan, it seems like she didn't like the hormone injections because they aren't guaranteed to work whereas the spay would be curative. She also mentioned that the injections work well for a certain type of cyst (I couldn't catch the name), but that type does not happen to be the most common type.

I have to decide if Beef gets an ultrasound with our regular vet ($90) or with an ultrasonographer (over $500). With our regular vet she would only be able to look for obvious things that are wrong but the ultrasonographer would do a more thorough check of all of her organs and the scans would be sent to a radiologist for reading. I was originally going to do the ultrasound with our vet, but it seems that your experiences with ultrasounds weren't so definitive? Maybe it is worth it to get the ultrasound with the ultrasonographer..

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Lynx
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Post   » Sat Aug 21, 2021 4:39 pm


It is a difficult call. I think if funds were no problem at all, valuable info might be gained from a more professional ultrasound. But you still will likely be left with difficult decisions.

Has a set of xrays been done? It is also possible to gather information from an xray that could, for example, identify the ovaries and whether they are enlarged.

beefyduck

Post   » Sat Sep 04, 2021 7:37 pm


The vet preferred we go the ultrasound route over xray because she said it was more likely that we find something that way.

An update: We actually just got the ultrasound done today. I decided to get it done with our vet and she was not able to find anything (no obvious cysts or tumors). She said that if it is cysts then they are likely small and not too serious of a problem at the moment. She also did some bloodwork so we will see in about 3 days if that tells us anything new.

We went ahead with a lupron injection. I would have preferred cystorelin of HCG, but my vet does not use those and was not willing to get them. She said if lupron is working, we should see her hair growing back in about 3 weeks and I'm going to hope that it also stops Beefs rumblestrutting and grumpiness and weight loss!

Does anyone have experience with lupron injections? How often do they need to be administered? My vet said lupron absolutely must be administered monthly or it will be ineffective but I was under the impression that hormone injections are on an "as needed" basis. She recommended the deslorelin implant if the first shot of lupron works because they apparently work the same way? and the implant would turn out to be cheaper than monthly injections. In my research the implant has a really low efficacy rate whereas lupron seems to be fairly successful. So when my vet said the two are basically interchangeable it made me doubt her expertise in pigs. As always, input is appreciated!

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Sep 04, 2021 9:05 pm


It sounds like you've done your homework. I don't know what to advise you on the shot vs implant. You may be able to find more using a search of the forums.

I too really hope the shot helps with behavior and weight loss and most importantly, HAIR regrowth!

Periodic updates are greatly appreciated.

beefyduck

Post   » Sat Oct 09, 2021 11:52 am


It has been a little over a month since Beef's first shot of lupron and exactly 1 week since her second shot. She is still a bit rumbly but perhaps that is just her personality. We are seeing beautiful, soft, shiny, dark hair growth!!!! I am very happy with her hair growth. It used to be coarse and dry but it feels so healthy now! Her black fur has been fading to a brown color, but since the lupron that brown fur is growing out black

https://ibb.co/mqsPdYK

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2021

Post   » Sat Oct 09, 2021 4:13 pm


Very good news! The shots are definitely the right choice for a six year old.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Oct 09, 2021 9:50 pm


That is super news!

Your link doesn't work for me but I trust she is looking better.

beefyduck

Post   » Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:21 pm


Sorry about that. Hopefully this works? https://imgur.com/a/n9caqwc

Beef might be due for yet another vet visit :(

I noticed that she has a tiny area on her butt that has some flaky skin. When I tried to get the flakes off, a tiny clump of hair would come off with it. I noticed a very small amount of flakes in this exact area over 2 months ago (I believe there is a picture in this thread), but didn't think anything of it. It is only slightly more flaky now. I am wondering if this could be residual flaking from a possible mite infestation? She was treated with revolution about 6 weeks ago.

I have read that fungal infections usually cause flaky skin and hair loss in clumps that start around the face. Her butt is the only place she has flaky skin. It has been over 2 months since i first noticed the flakes but her cage mate doesnt show any signs of fungal infection, so I am hoping for the possibility that there is no infection going on. Could this just be a fungal infection that is progressing slowly? What else could it be? I am thinking about giving her butt a thorough shampoo to get rid of all the flakes to see if they come back.

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