Aurora's Mystery illness

Posted by: Tamandua Girl / Category:

Otherwise known as nearly 4 weeks of hell.

Sept 25th: Aurora has pneumonia. No I have no idea why. Pua is fine. I'm starting to think Aurora may actually be an old lady. We had some chilly nights but don't think my room got below 65 which should have been safe. Obviously the heat is being cranked up. She stopped eating so took her to the vet today. She appears to have pneumonia. She was mouth breathing, high temp, x-rays showed some fluid and inflammation in her lungs. We started her on baytril. Blood work to come back tomorrow. I gave my vet a copy of the blood averages from ISIS from 2002. She has been of her food for about a week at this point and only taking some blue cheese water now and then before stopping that as well.

Aurora at the vet

Aurora at the vet

Aurora at the vet after being examined. Trying to find a place to nap.
Aurora at the vet after being examined. Trying to find a place to nap.

Tamandua with pneumonia side x-ray

Tamandua with pneumonia chest x-ray

Sept 26th:
I was sleeping draped over Aurora to keep her warm then mom came with some blue cheese and I was happily eating when Aurora started complaining that mom stabbed her in the butt. We all settled back in again quickly though. 

(mom's note I decided not to keep them apart since Pua has been sleeping with Aurora a lot she probably would have got it by now if she were going to.)

Pua has been wrapped around Aurora keeping her warm, though here she stretched out some after falling asleep.
Pua caring for Aurora
I don't think Pua is at any risk but I'll give her echinacea for a few days to be sure. It works for me when others have flu in the house

Sept 27th: Aurora got up and paced her shelves and tried resting on her hut then the cat tree but went back to the closet. She did have a tinny sip of blue cheese vitamin water(anteater ensure).

:( bad news. Blood work does not confirm pneumonia. Instead it points to possible autoimmune issues but they are odd and my vet is consulting with another who sees more tams and exotics. She has a low red blood cell count and a lot of immature red cells and a raised count on some really weird sounding thing that can sometime mean parasites or autoimmune. The thing is you normally don't see the two autoimmune issues together.

But auto-immune is very common in them. The real question, if that's the issue, is how she lived to however old she is as it normally kills them young.

I'm going to try force feeding her this afternoon (or tonight with help if that doesn't work) to get some nutrients and more fluid in her she has been drinking but probably not enough. She's used to getting her fluids in her soup food and not drinking water. Might be like a cat where if they don't eat for too long their body forgets how to be hungry so might also spark her eating if we are lucky.
Well, the anteater burrito did not work so we I will have to have my dad hold her while I force some food in her. There was also blood coming from her mouth(not from anything I did). Her lower lip looks odd and poofy. Maybe she has an infected lip owie but no raised white cells so I don't know.

Sept 28th
 Aurora was more interested in blue cheese water last night but kept spilling the cups. I will fill her bowl tonight with blue cheese water/infant formula but if that doesn't work we will have to follow through with the force feeding tomorrow. She drank well last night. She started off kind of bad as she fell off the shelf into the safety hammock but she moved around some and looks decent today. Better coordination and a little more ornery about the butt jab. She left the closet to go sleep behind her hut so no one can jab her again.
Pua slept in her washer but spent an hour sitting in it peaking out crying. Nothing made her happy. She wants her friend better.
The vet called and we will go pick up a couple shots of steroids tomorrow. Hopefully they will help her feel better. The other shot she had to offer lasts 6 weeks so she didn't want to give that. This stuff is shorter lasting. She was happy to hear Aurora drank about a 1/2 cup of water last night.
Sept 29th
Double team syringe feeding this morning did not go well. I only got a few cc's in her. Funny I had to force feed Pua when she first came here and was ill and it was kinda easy and did it myself as a one person job. With Aurora it's like trying to force feed a ninja squid.
We got her 4 shots of Dexamethasone to be given once a day a bit before "meal time" so in her case around evening wake up time. It's a powerful appetite stimulating steroid, so I am hopeful. It is also used in pneumonia cases and has been shown to help with faster recovery times.
Pua tried to get Aurora to play last night but it didn't work. Pua felt better after some mild play and lots of cuddle time with me.
Sept 30th
The steroid shot seemed to get Aurora high(not a usual outcome) but she didn't get the munchies like desired. She ate nothing but did drink water.

Still some blood coming from her nose and or mouth.

Aurora a little stoned
Aurora resting
She lay there not moving at all even as I did stuff around her

Mouth breathing and blood
Mouth breathing and blood

Mouth breathing and blood
Currently sewing an anteater straitjacket so I can force feed Aurora. Cut sleeves off one of my old sweaters and stitching them onto one of Quasi's shirts that Velcros up the back, so can tie her arms down to her body.

The back up plan should it fail is a blanket with head sized hole in it.

Making anteater straitjacket while watching Dexter. Yep I'm officially a little nuts.

Drooling and blood, after second dex shot
Aurora drooling
Aurora drooling
Stopped Dex after just those two shots as they did not help, made her high, and gave her large bruises.
Oct 1st:
The manual feeding(I like that term better) went so so last night. I think the main problem was the syringe and I made the hole larger today so think that will help.

The straitjacket worked okay but she still had some room to squirm and eventually was able to work her arms out the neck hole but making the neck hole smaller is easy enough. The blanket worked surprisingly well until she got really
POed and I let her go.

Only got about 20ml into her though it's 20 she'd not have had otherwise and was watered down nutrical. If I can do more in less time with less fight it could be worth trying again. The problem seemed to be the syringe. Though a lot actually went on the blanket(59ml is a 1/4 cup).

Hoping to get metacam from the vet tomorrow and pick up some "Chicken soup for the cat lovers soul" as seems a lot of sickly tams like it

Blood values

Oct 3rd:
Hope I'm not speaking too soon but it looks like we got the bleeding stopped with the vit K shot. Yesterday morning her water bowl was red with blood but this morning was normal and I manually got a few ccs of food into her and no blood from the mouth, though I did it quick up on the shelf so was way less stressful for her.

Tamandua don't recycle their vit K like normal animals they need lots of
K in their diet instead, but they stop eating and they stop getting their K. It's like having an animal that's always on rat poison. I'll try and get some oral K into her daily but I have another shot if needed.

She was more active last night but that's a mixed bag, she felt better with the metacam but hasn't eaten yet so don't want her using energy. Looked like she might have taken a couple tastes of the apple sauce.

So I bought a bunch of juices and apple cider and some fruit baby foods. We will find something she will like. In the mean time now that I can do it with minimal stress, I will keep getting a few ccs of food into her now and then by feeding her in bed.
Pua: Mom gave me one giant mango, just one. So I found where she had the rest hidden and dug into them. Just saying I'm important too and worth at least 2 giant mangos.
Oct 5th:
Still all Aurora will take is apple juice. Think she took about a 1/4 cup last night. Maybe can try adding vitamins and slowly wean her onto food again.

Aurora looking blue gray
Aurora looking blue gray
Mystery illness. We are stuck lobbing grenades into the dark hoping to hit something. Switched to metacam once the dex was out of her system fully as it has helped other tamandua.

The metacam helped the swollen lip and the K shot stopped the bleeding for about a day and a half then she started bleeding from genitals again and got to where she looked all walking corpse zombie gray all over(more than above).

So waited till the metacam was out of her system and gave Prednisone. The bleeding once again stopped and her color returned to pink, and she got stronger.

Still the only sustenance she will take is a little bit of apple juice. Trying mixing some nourishment with the apple juice tonight.

Pua and Aurora
Pia and Aurora

Aurora's lip
Aurora's lip

Oct 6th
I put out a cup of apple juice with vitamins and a cup of apple juice with an egg in it. Aurora took a 1/4 cup of the juice and egg mix. I thought that might be the case as the egg has hardly any flavor raw.

Will still syringe feed her at least once today to get her K into her.

Pua with Aurora
Pua with Aurora
I think that's Aurora's rump. Later I heard them moving about and peeked and Pua was laid out flat and Aurora was sitting on her belly. At least she had a nice soft cushion.

Well, we learned at least one thing. Aurora is a tough old bird. Could be a long road though.

Aurora pooped last night. It's been two weeks since her last poop but she normally poops once a week. Normal isn't quite the right word though since normal anteaters poop every other day.

She didn't eat any apple "food" last night but her appetite is often decreased on poop nights and she didn't have much to start with. Will give her the Sucralfate before bed tonight.(this was added with the metacam for tummy soothing).

Getting pretty good at the manual feeding. Quick hit and runs work best. Already got 10cc of food into her today. Anteater soup food thickened with formula.

Oct 7th
Mom gave Aurora a mild sponge bath of her nether regions. She wants to be sure none of the blood is new. Aurora complained but just sat there since it didn't involve syringing food into her mouth.

She didn't take any food willingly

Oct 8th
Gave Aurora some dandelion and milk thistle today as they are supposed to be good for appetite.(she did not touch the apple egg mix, last night)
Pua: Grampa made some orange Julius and mom offered her a tinny bit in a cup, seriously not expecting anything and she liked it!

And she was looking for more! Mom gave her some in a bowl.

She didn't take much more but it's her normal sleep time. She has the bowl and the rest set aside for later.

any signs of appetite are thrilling right now

Gave Aurora her evening dose of herbs and meds(sucralfate(kind like pepto)). She was pissed. They taste nasty but they seemed like they may have helped so going with it.

If I could do a tasteless pill I would baby but you're not made that way.

Odd tid bit her genital mound is now flat, guessing due to using up fat stores from everywhere.

I'm guessing dehydration and lose of fat. When well hydrated the skin snaps back into place and it is probably flattened from her laying on it. Looked weird seeing that.

Oct 9th
I kept bugging Aurora offering her things after her morning herbs and of course she kept telling me off. Told her I'd keep bugging her till she takes something. She just took some home made runny yogurt.

PS I added some sage tea today. Supposed to be great for appetite and good for lung and other breathing issues, soothes throat and such.
yay she just took another 1/4 cup of yogurt. Guess she needs several small meals during the day for now by hand. Better than forcing food down her.
Aurora had some more yogurt but she also spilled some of it so got mad and paced the shelves. So I changed her blanket and she got even more mad, she hates change, and went to mope on the clothes rod. I guess that's kind of a good sign as it's normal behavior.

Today she has taken more "food" (in the form or yogurt) than she has in weeks.

PS, she is NOT nice and plump like the photos looks. She is quite thin though not scrawny in person now. I think it's just an illusion of the rib cage and her saggy belly skin. She's looking much better though, good color and such.

You can see some of her monster bruise here.

Aurora's monster bruise
Aurora's monster bruise
You can kind of see how this used to be much bigger, the darker pink parts were part of it. It covered that whole area and her thigh and down her tail and even her genitals were black at one point.

Pretty scary to look at but it was from a slow leek from her dex injection sight and once the bleeding was stopped it started to heal fast, as it was just pooled blood and not a real bruise from damage.

She sure looked like a walking corpse for a couple days there with the mega bruise and zombie color skin. Managed to pull her through though. She is finally showing some signs of real improvement. Ate a good amount of yogurt today.



Offered Aurora some more yogurt. She's still moping/napping on the clothes rod. She sniffs and looks at me, "Aren't you leaving"

Sorry there's no where to set it.

"Well, this simply wont work"

Hmm, well what if I don't look at you *closes eyes and turns head*

"Okay that'll do" And she drinks just shy of another 1/4 cup


Will have to add clear fiber tomorrow and try to find some either tasteless or fruity vitamins to start with. Maybe after that adding a few drops of real food soup to it per day will work or up it a couple drops every other day.

Aurora in the play pen
Aurora in the play pen
Well kind of half in.

She came down the cat tree and went under the play pen then came up between the play pen and the trunk, where there are blankets and plush toys kept for all.

I think this may have been a bit more looking for a place safe from the mean nurse who gave her, her evening herbs than for fun but she seemed pretty relaxed.

Oh yeah when she came up she was under the blankets so had to burrow her way through them. Enough exercise for one night. She is resting on the hut roof now.

What's behind the curtain?
What's behind the curtain?

Oct 10th
Aurora took a 1/4 of the yogurt left out last night but surprisingly she also took almost a 1/4 of orange flavored real food soup too. Thanks to the appetite stimulating effects of sage, dandelion and milk thistle. Will keep her on them for a week and till we get her taking more real food then see if she still eats if we wean her down off them.

Pua: I was sleeping with Aurora but then mom came and gave her morning herbs and there was lots of growling and squirming. I tried telling mom Aurora didn't want it but she didn't listen. I was worried mom was going to be force feeding her all day again so I went back to my quiet washer. Mom said she wouldn't but I don't trust her. She's been weird lately.

Okay I got back up and returned to the closet but I don't want to see any force feeding going on.

Mom offered some more yogurt but I wanted it and started eating. Aurora looked annoyed so mom sat the cup down and backed off and she started eating too. There might have been a bit of a disagreement over who's yogurt it was and it got spilled. Aurora said a few choice words and moved to the back of the shelf. Aw, come on, she can't hog all the treats for herself. Maybe mom will have to use a bowl next time.

Pua: I let her have it at the next feeding as I wanted to keep sleeping.

Oct 11th
Nearly a half cup of Aurora soup food was gone this morning and the whole cup of yogurt. I have no interest in her soup food but I'm not telling about the yogurt. I didn't show any interest in it before bed though, I had plenty during the day. I am currently sleeping on top of her. Herb time should bring lots of complaints.

Herb giving went pretty smoothly actually. Mom says I have a calming effect on Aurora. PS. Aurora pooped a small poop last night, that's just 4 days since the last time.

Pua: Some one was whimpering/squeaking in the closet. So mom came to investigate. We were both sleeping. I might have had a bad dream or something. Aurora was like, um no food? A new batch of yogurt is in the works so mom mixed some real food with the little bit of yogurt left in the bowl and Aurora is happily eating it. I will just keep sleeping.

Came back from dinner and Aurora was sniffing around her bowl so put some more food/yogurt mix in for her and she's happily eating. :)


Mom came up and was grabbing at Aurora. Well, I knew what she wanted... She wanted to play! So I grabbed her hand and said Aurora doesn't want to play but I will.

Aurora watched us play in confusion for a bit. Then she decided she'd try and sneak off while I had mom distracted but mom got the herbs in her quick then and she went to lay on the blue shelf.

Aurora thinks she doesn't need those icky
things any more since she is eating but mom says they gave her, her appetite so she needs to stay on them for awhile still.

Aurora hardly even protested other than pushing mom's hands away. Now that the syringing has been worked out mom quit wearing gloves so it's less scary for Aurora. She's just annoyed by the nasty tasting herbs and human interference.

Oct 12th
Aurora and Pua sleeping
Aurora and Pua sleeping
Aurora ate nearly 2 whole cups of food last night so I let her sleep all day with no herbs or meals as that is normal as long as she eats enough at night but I will still give her appetite herbs late tonight.

Pua: I went back and forth a lot this morning but have settled in my washer for the day.

So part way through the day I moved to my hammock and mom has hosed my washer out. Aurora is still sleeping. I bet she'll feel better having a solid days sleep.

Aurora was very argumentative about her herbs tonight. Guess she thought they were done since morning ones were skipped.

Oct 13th
Aurora ate a bit over a whole cup of food last night and a little of the yogurt too. I'm sleeping with her today. The washer needs some time to get it's homey smell back.

Oct 14th
Aurora ate 1 whole cup of food and 3/4 cups of yogurt. So that's nearly 2 cups of food in some form which is good. So I wont need to add the morning herbs and day feedings back. Can try weaning back on her evening herbs in a day or two. Maybe take the milk thistle out first as it tastes worst.

She pooped last night too(3 days since last). Hoping that's due to the yogurt. It wont hurt to keep some in her diet to keep her pooping more often.

Pua and Aurora napping
Pua and Aurora napping

Pua hugging on my knee
Pua hugging on my knee

Pua: Oh mom found an inchworm hanging from a tree, guess it was getting ready to make a cocoon. It was yummy but would have liked more.

Pua: Herb giving went fairly smooth since I was there to keep Aurora calm.

Oct 15th
Aurora ate a cup and a half of food and about a half up of yogurt. So still about 2 cups of food. I'm sleeping with her again today.

Pua: Aurora did not want her herbs so I helped by trying to block mom's way. Mom kept trying and Aurora kept refusing so I threw myself over her body to protect her.

Mom decided to not stress us and see if Aurora will eat tonight without the herbs though she will be a bit stressed herself as she'd rather wean them down but they are not super serious herbs where that's necessary. She'd just feel better doing it.

Also mom saw an obvious scar now under her jaw a bit past her "lip" area. So maybe this WAS all caused by a mouth wound and everyone missed the obvious. The vet did say it's possible the lungs were incidental as sometimes in old domestics they just have funky looking lungs sometimes and nothing really wrong. Or maybe as someone else theorized she did have pneumonia but from inhaling saliva and blood. We would only know with another x-ray to see if her lungs are now clear but that would be a lot of stress for no benefit.
Never saw a wound and don't think I missed it, just the swollen lip/jaw. So Spider bite? Maybe black widow, we have those, or something else seemingly not bad but anteaters react to it, hmm. Could be Pua accidentally clawed her but don't think so, think that would have been more obvious. Think spider bite is the most likely, venom could do all kinds of things to a delicate anteater's system. It's just a round scar, smaller than a dime bit bigger than a pee(though flat). It's white with a darker center. Oh, maybe a wolf spider bite. We have hobo spiders but would expect the wound to have been worse

Pua: Aurora ate and now she's playing with me! YAY!

Oct 16th
Aurora ate a cup and a half of food and a half cup of yogurt so all is well and I am sleeping in my washer.

Pua and Aurora
Pua and Aurora

We found a great K supplement just to be used in times of stress, illness or not eating. We normally get enough K naturally from our food. Only need 1/8tsp(17.85mg of K) for a 15 pound tamandua. If the situation is not dire you could give half(1/16tsp). Figured out based on the dose we gave Aurora and double checked with the vet to make sue no mistakes. Oh and it's apple flavored.
Good to talk to a vet first or at least know the proper dose and be decent at math. This was originally made for horses and relabeled here for dogs but same stuff, apple flavor and all and just says 1/4tsp as dose per dog. That might OD a chihuahua but not be enough for a Saint Bernard. We gave Aurora a middle of the road dose of IM K shot 2.5mg/KG Aurora being 6.8KG that's 17mg of K so the 17.85 is still well within the dose ranges used that are safe.

So that's nice and long and confusing and a bit disjointed but so was the ride Aurora took us on.
Oct 18th
Aurora has been eating well each night and playing some. Last night after playing with Pua she sat and moped on the shelf till I finally got the hint and went and changed the blanket then soon as I left the closet she went and settled in. Maybe she heard me when I said I needed her out of there in order to change it. She also was complaining this morning till I gave her some fresh cold soup. She ate nearly the whole cup of yogurt and over a cup of soup food.

This we learned
Dexamethasone: Apparently not good for tamandua
Metacam: great anti-inflammatory for tamandua, said to be great for pain. Didn't seem to help Aurora eat.
Prednisone: seemed to really help in that it made her look better and stopped the vaginal bleeding but still didn't seem to help appetite, maybe even hurt it a little.
Sage tea: Awesome appetite stimulant
Dandelion and milk thistle: also good stimulants.
Aurora is a tough old bird, emphasizing the old and tough
An ill tamandua is always going to be a wild and scary ride
Watch out for spiders!

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