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Difficult decision to make about one of the dietcoke pigs. Would appreciate advice/words of wisdom

(10 Posts)
dietcokeandwine Tue 22-Dec-15 22:48:18

So one of our sows has developed a lump sad. The lump is right beneath one of her teats, about the size of a large marble. It's come up really quickly, doesn't seem to be bothering her at all - but vet is fairly sure, having examined her, that it's probably a tumour and quite possibly a malignant one.

So we have three options:
-do nothing for now, monitor situation, see how she gets on
-get vet to do a biopsy i.e. extract cells with a needle, send to lab for analysis and then make a decision from there. May well get an inconclusive answer from this approach, according to vet
-book her in for surgery to have lump removed and then analysed (obviously this would carry all the usual risks of anaesthetic and invasive surgery, with no guarantee of recovery if it did turn out to be a malignant tumour).

We are not sure of her exact age as she was a rescue pig but she's somewhere around 3 (we have had her two years).

sad sad sad

On the plus side - she seems utterly and completely unruffled by the lump. Behaving normally. I would never have known anything was wrong if I didn't handle and check her. She is bright eyed and glossy coated and eating/drinking/weeing/pooing with her usual serene enthusiasm (I put some slices of cucumber - her favourite - into the pet carrier for her journey to the vets; they'd all gone by the time we got there grin). The lump also causes her no apparent discomfort when she's examined (and although she's a very calm natured pig she will squeal when she feels unhappy or threatened) so I think - for the moment at least - we can safely assume that she's not in any pain.

We've agreed to take a few days to think about things and not take any drastic action one way or another, but we are going to have to make a decision in the coming weeks. I am torn between the desire to explore all available options to give her the best chance possible, and the realistic knowledge that putting her through exploratory investigations and surgery may do nothing but confirm the inevitable whilst causing her significant amounts of pain and distress. And as DH says, if we would be reluctant to put her through the stress of removing the lump, given the risks, why even go down the route of the biopsy (which in itself would be painful/stressful etc).

In theory I guess she could just carry on living with the lump as it is for now and enjoying her little piggy life? Obviously we wouldn't let her carry on if we felt she was struggling or suffering.

Gah. So hard. If she were yours, what would you do?

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 23-Dec-15 00:00:48

Oh, very sad diet and I can imagine your dilemma.

OK, if it was one of my girls.?

At the moment, my pig has an armpit lump which hasn't changed (size of a small marble) and I'm monitoring.

Your pig's lump sound mammary and fast growing.

If your vet has ruled out an abscess then I would (personally) have it removed but I'd waver on sending the lump off for tests (because I'm a skinflint)

If it's grown that size that quick then chances are it will cause her trouble at some time.
I'd be happier with a healthy pig having surgery than waiting until she's possibly taking a turn for the worse.

Yes, it's surgery with all the risks to take on board. But hopefully they can get the lump out without going into her abdominal cavity and belly muscle.

If it gives her a good few months/years then result! You'll know you made the right choice.
If she gets another 3/6/9 months or she gets another lump, then , you've done your best and you can be secure in that knowledge.

If she doesn't survive the anaesthetic, she'll be none the wiser.

Over the next weeks or so (why do they choose the most inconvenient times? ) then I think she'll make your mind up for you.

Paw holding from the 70 hogs.

HazelOrBigwig Wed 23-Dec-15 00:10:40

Hello, sorry to hear your guinea pig has this lump sad

We've recently had a similar experience with our old neutered boar, so I'll share it with you in the hope that it gives you any help.

About a year ago we noticed that our boy had a lump on his side. Similar size to a pound coin. He was absolutely fine and behaving as usual though. It worried me a bit, so we took him to our vets, as they're very good with small pets, rodentologists etc.

The vet said that she felt sure it was sebaceous, and harmless. But she took a sample of it with a needle- no anaesthetic needed. The lump appeared to be harmless so we left it alone as the vet advised this. A month or so later it started to grow. And kept growing.

We went back a few times to the vet and she persisted with the idea that it was harmless, but I feel that it obviously wasn't- because of it's growth rate and size. The vet also decided that it was becoming too large to remove quickly and easily- and felt that she didn't want to perform major surgery unnecessarily.

A few weeks ago we took him back again- the lump was huge and impairing his movement- though he still looked cheerful enough and behaved as usual. The vet decided that actually NOW she would operate, due to the massive size of the lump. (I wish very much that we'd made this decision a year ago- it would have been much easier.)

She operated and found that the tumour was indeed malignant and had spread all over the place, and was attached to a bone as well. She almost decided to euthanize him instead of continuing when she saw the extent of it, but continued with the op.

He never really recovered properly from the surgery, we nursed him for a few weeks, fed him critical care food and gave him several different types of antibiotics and painkillers. But he died on Monday, I'm not entirely sure why, but what's for certain is that he was never going to live long after the trauma of surgery and the massive tumour that had spread.

TBH, there's nothing we would have done differently at the time, but with hindsight, we absolutely would have operated earlier. The tumour could have been insufficiently sampled (my belief), or could have changed it's type (theoretically). I feel that the vet possibly mismanaged the case, but that's only with hindsight. She really did do her best, and her skill got him through a very big operation, even though he died soon afterwards.

The thing is, with such small animals ANY surgery is awfully risky- so any operation is problematic.

I obviously don't know what would be best for you to do, but I hope our experience helps. Best wishes x

HazelOrBigwig Wed 23-Dec-15 00:14:19

Cross posted with 70 's wise post.

Yes, it's surgery with all the risks to take on board. But hopefully they can get the lump out without going into her abdominal cavity and belly muscle.

This is what happened to us you see, and that's why I (NOW, with hindsight) wish we'd had it removed earlier. But he seemed totally happy and behaved absolutely as normal for so long, despite having the big lump... it's very hard to know what's best.

FernieB Wed 23-Dec-15 08:41:30

Sorry to hear this *diet coke***thanks]. Have to say I agree with 70 and would probably have it removed whilst the pig is happy and otherwise healthy, rather than wait. I also wouldn't bother with having it analysed - I don't think knowing what it is either way would help.

I'm glad she's happy in herself and probably looking forward to her Christmas dinner. Enjoy Christmas and then make a decision.

BTW I'm shock that she managed to make her cucumber last the journey to the vets. My boys don't make their travel snacks last the journey from the kitchen to the front door.

WyrdByrd Thu 24-Dec-15 10:18:15

Hi dietcoke - sorry you're having to deal with this, it's really rubbish when these things happen.

Based on Hazel's story I would possibly be inclined to look into the op.

Having said that, we discovered an almost identical lump to the one you describe on our Bella Pig back in February. No idea how long it had been growing as she not a fan of being handled and we discovered it while bathing her and hadn't noticed it on the previous occasion 2-3 months before.

We had a needle biopsy which revealed it was just a large fatty lump. It's still in situ and she's happily snuggled in the crook of my arm as I'm typing this!

Has your vet told you why they think biopsy results might be inconclusive?

fortifiedwithtea Thu 24-Dec-15 15:46:51

Millie has a lump on her tummy. So far she has not seen a vet about it, its not bothering her. I doubt we would go for surgery. Millie will be 5 years old in February.

Poor Fatimus aka Rosie was only 2 when she developed a lump on a mammary gland and she was leaking wee. She had a huge operation - hysterectomy and mastectomy at the same time. It was too much. She came round from the first operation but her stitches were uncomfortable. One night she pulled them out and needed another op to repair the damage. Again she survived the op but had lost the will to live. She didn't eat and became cold. I stayed up late with her but knew I would find her dead in the morning. Naughty Girl was heartbroken and jumped in the box with Fatimus. She stopped making all her guinea pig noises Naughty is a noisy girl. She stayed silent until the next weekend when we were able to take her to a rescue to choose new friends Millie and Coco

Sorry you have to make this decision for Dietpiggy. 3 is a in between age. I don't know what I'd do in your shoes sad <offers hand holding>

dietcokeandwine Thu 24-Dec-15 17:28:33

Thank you all so much flowers

We are going to have a good think about things over Christmas and see how she does over the next week. She is in pet boarding over Christmas as we are away (thankfully being cared for by brilliant pet carer who is hugely experienced with pigs and keeping an extra eye on her) so I will likely notice straight away if the lump seems to have grown a lot in a few days. I agree with those of you saying that if we opt for the surgery, better to do it now whilst she is healthy and happy rather than wait for her to deteriorate. But I am also mindful of fortified's experience - her lump is directly beneath one of her teats and I don't think it would be an easy op to do. I remember Fatimus's story sad

wyrdbyrd vet just said that often the biopsies come back as inconclusive, so we'd be none the wiser...

I am no stranger to nursing pigs post anaesthetic-both our boys have been under twice and recovered brilliantly-but this would be a bigger and more 'uncertain outcome' than theirs. Then again I don't just want to feel like I am giving up on her. Sigh. These things are never easy are they?

Thanks to you all for your support and hand holding, I hope you and your pigs all have a happy and parsley filled Christmas fsmile

binkiesandpopcorns Fri 01-Jan-16 16:29:29

I had a pig with probable tumour. He was only around a year and a half at the time. Paid around £100 for needle analysis which was inconclusive. We had tumour removed (was worried he would die during surgery), but he was absolutely fine. That was almost 3 years ago, and he is still a happy healthy piggy and so far has never had any recurrence. If I saw something come up like that again I wouldn't bother with the analysis, I'd just go straight to getting it removed. Unless he was very, very old and unlikely to survive the op.

Goingtobeawesome Fri 01-Jan-16 16:34:44

My piggie was found to have a lump. We weren't offered anything but to wait and see. She did end up not being able to move her leg so I panicked and rushed her to the vet where I was offered vitamin C for her but it would only buy her time. I had her put to sleep as vitamins weren't going to do anything and she was already slightly affected. Plus I couldn't face the excitement of the kids faces when I brought her back only to have her taken away again shortly after. We'd lost two animals that few months and I thought of them as well as the piggie.

I hope she's okay.

My cat had cancer. I found the lump the first day really. Biopsy was taken but the vet could tell without testing it was cancer. We refused surgery as she had other issues and had a bonus nine more months with her.

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