Guinea pig with head on one side

(53 Posts)

Took him to the vets on Xmas eve and he said he had a middle ear infection. He gave Steve 2 injections and some antibiotics which DH & I have been giving him orally.....hes getting worse though, not better. Head still on one side and he is just lying in his bed sad

He just came into the living area where his friend Nibbles was chomping happily on greens, took one look and then staggered back into the bed area. They have a lovely snuggley bed.

I havent got him out today as dont want to stress him even more.
Hes only 10 mths old sad

any advice as we're new to pigs

Poor Steve sad

No personal experience of head tilt but a quick Google (various GP sites) suggest ear infection as most likely culprit.


The anti-biotics are your first line treatment which your vet has done (Did they give you ProBiotics to go with them? Their gut flora can be affected by antibiotics)

If he's not getting better after this time then he really should go back (I work with humans and I'd expect an antibiotic to start having effect within 48 hours) so there's maybe something else going on.

Respiratory problems can affect ears
Teeth problems (the eyes and ears can be affected by dental problems)

There might be a ripenening abcess in there- if it bursts (poor piggie) it will ooze out.

You need to keep him eating and drinking though. Mash up some of his pellets with warm water to make a sloppy paste and spoon it into him.

Muminwestlondon Fri 28-Dec-12 20:16:00

I had a rabbit with wry neck some years ago. I believe it was assumed to be a brain parasite and she was treated with a preparation that is normally used as a large animal wormer. This was some years ago.

Our vet didn't expect the rabbit to survive but she did get better even though she still had a head tilt. She did lose the use of her back legs a couple of years later and eventually was put to sleep after becoming paralysed.

mercibucket Fri 28-Dec-12 20:19:29

Have you used ivermectin as well? Could be ear mite infestation. You can buy it online - either for small birds (500g v small g pig) or for rabbits (normal size g pigs). Or get the vet to prescribe it. You need to give it 3 times over a period of 3 weeks.

mercibucket Fri 28-Dec-12 20:19:31

Have you used ivermectin as well? Could be ear mite infestation. You can buy it online - either for small birds (500g v small g pig) or for rabbits (normal size g pigs). Or get the vet to prescribe it. You need to give it 3 times over a period of 3 weeks.

Head tilt is more common in rabbits than guineas though isn't it?

shriekingnora Fri 28-Dec-12 20:24:46

Try googling images of wry neck in guinea pigs and see if it looks similar. Hope he gets better soon.

Muminwestlondon Fri 28-Dec-12 20:27:32

We had a guinea pig put to sleep on the vets advice after being found one morning in his cage, paralysed, he was fairly young. This was fairly soon after the bunny developed wry neck. We were infested with mice at the time and I always wondered whether they spread some sort of virus or infection?

Thanks for responses. Have cuddled him tonight and he seemed relaxed making little noises. Just not eating though and spending all time in bed. I think antibiotics done no good. Bought some probiotics / vitamin supplement but again, he's not drinking so far as I can see. Trying to give him fluids using syringe vet gave us for antibiotics.

mercibucket Fri 28-Dec-12 21:48:30

not eating is serious. can you take him back to vets tomorrow?get him ivermectin as well as whatever the vet suggests

I am hoping to take him to vets tomorrow as he has gone down hill in last 2 days. Will get him ivermectin too.

Vet didn't seem to have much idea sad

mercibucket Fri 28-Dec-12 22:10:56

is vet an exotic animal or small furries specialist?maybe try a second opinion. also buy from vets a sachet of critical care or similar to syringe feed gp
hopefully it is mites
one of mine had this and hsd a twisted neck and completely recoveref. hope for similar for your furry

mercibucket vet is neither. Will do as you suggest. Thanks x

Mistressmiggins you can get Critical Care from your vet or online (I have some in my Guinea-First-Aid-Box) but you'd need to allow for delivery.

You need to get some food down him- did you know GPs can get liver failure if they don't eat for 7 hours?
And their guts can go into stasis?
They are meant to constantly eat (and pooh).

Have you got some nice hay he'll munch at. His favourite veg? Parsley?
Do try softened pellets- it'll give him fluid and food.

Guinea-pigs can be complex little creatures. And they are quick to go.

WRT your vet- is there a vet at your practice who specialises in small animals (not easy at this time of year. I'm guessing alot of them would be reduced opening hours/holidays)

KRITIQ Sat 29-Dec-12 00:25:24

Good advice from 70. What some vets know about treating guinea pigs sadly could fit on a postage stamp. They spend most of their time studying cats, dogs and larger livestock. It's only those with a special interest who take the time to learn about guinea pigs for themselves that know their onions.

You may have to join the forum to see the page, but there is a long list of recommended guinea pig vets from all over the UK here. .

As 70 says, it's crucial that a guinea pig continues to eat and have water, whether or not they can do it for themselves, or their chances of survival are slim. Lots of information on how to do it here

Good luck!

It's all been so quick. He was eating fine but just had lopsided head. Now in last couple of days he's taken to his bed. I wasn't sure whether the antibiotics were making him feel worse especially as vet said wasn't sure how much to give him [hmmm]

I've just been into them and steve was in the outside area. He came up to me at the bars and let me stroke his nose but when I offered him parsley leaf and then some other fresh greens, he just sniffed and ran off.

Will feed him with syringe as you've suggested.
Thanks for your good advice.

guineapiglet Sat 29-Dec-12 11:06:55

Im so sorry to hear your guinea has been so unwell, it shows how poorly they feel when they take to their bed and dont eat, so as everyone else says, you must try and get food and drink down him as often as you can, some intensive care therapy indoors under your watchful eye - if you can line a biggish cardboard box with paper and hay and bring him in for some tlc. -If he is going downhill quickly, it would be best to bring him in and really look after him, once he starts to eat again you will know he is going to rally. Try things like grass, dandelions and cucumber, anything to tempt him and get his innards working again.....really hope he rallies, he is so young to be this ill. Keep him warm.
Good luck, will be thinking of you.

right. Bought some probiotic and managed to get some mashed up pellets & fluid into him. He was making little squeaks after this when I was just holding him. He was also grinding his teeth - well thats what it sounded like. Taken to bed again. Going to feed him little but often as the other forum suggests.

guineapiglet - if I put him in a cardboard box, he will get more stressed wont he? They are indoors anyway in the utlility room so I can see him all the time. Should I just leave him in his fluffy bed apart from feeding? I just want to cuddle him but DH says leave him alone.

guineapiglet Sat 29-Dec-12 12:06:03

Hi again, sorry for some reason I took that he was outside, so if he is in and in familiar surroundings, do leave him in his fluffy bed, he will be most comfortable there and not stressed about being somewhere new. Is he still floppy? You are doing well to get food into him, it is hard going, but keep persevering, the little squeaks show he is trying hard. He needs to do it his way really, but you may have to prepare yourself if he doesnt start eating and drinking independently within a few hours or so, he needs to get his strength to do this, so try and keep on with the feeding, poor little soul. TBH, I would be tempted to cuddle him a bit too, just for reassurance. You could get an old towel, swaddle him in it a bit, and sit with him on your lap in a quiet warm room, stroke him gentle and coo to him - you will get a feel for how it is going - will check back in a while so good luck. IS he managing to poo normally the other end after this food has gone in?

I have done the swaddling last night and a little this morning. Have just popped my head round door and given other guinea pig some green pepper. Steve popped his head out the bed and took a tiny piece off me. Don't know if he has eaten it but that's a huge change from this morning. Maybe the little fluid I have managed to get into him has helped a little.
Will just keep on doing my nursing and see.

Not sure about the poo. Will check his bed as other guinea pig not been in there since he's been I'll and hogging it.

mercibucket Sat 29-Dec-12 13:02:14

Awwww poor piggy. Get those ivermectin drops today. You can also buy mite drops at pets at home but they're quite expensive for one dose and you need enough for 3 doses overall. Hope he's ok.

mercibucket Sat 29-Dec-12 13:02:14

Awwww poor piggy. Get those ivermectin drops today. You can also buy mite drops at pets at home but they're quite expensive for one dose and you need enough for 3 doses overall. Hope he's ok.

guineapiglet Sat 29-Dec-12 13:32:40

It sounds like you are working very hard for him - and very positive to hear he is coming out to see you - keep going with the fluids and chopped up pellets, they contain vitamins so these will help. You could try a handful of fresh grass if you have any, as they can be tempted by this to start eating again - the magic food for mine was always cucumber, spinach and banana skins (!), I hope he is picking up a bit.( Might be a good idea to keep Nibbles completely separate for a while if you can, if it is a viral thing he might pick it up as well). Sounds like you are doing everything you can do. X

YY to grass guineapiglet.
Mine aren't going onto the lawn (haven't grazed since Hallowe'en time).
I cut them a handful of fresh grass and they swoop on it.
Even the parsley gets put on the back burner for fresh grass.

Worth a try MisstressMiggins ?

I have ground parsley with a little water and fed him green goo. Seemed to like it. Will go and get grass. He didn't eat the green pepper but I think he has pooed.

DD (8) coming back from her dads today. Decided not to tell her until tomorrow as think he still needs quietness and not smothering.

Thanks ladies x you've been a real help.

guineapiglet Sun 30-Dec-12 11:16:53

Hi just thought would check in to see how the patient is doing today - hope he had a better night and is starting to eat again? Let us know how he is doing. X

I am still feeding him including probiotics. He came out his bed several times yesterday (sun) and attempted to eat some greens.

Not sure what to do. Don't have confidence in the vet at all.

Have got more advice from this thread and the guinea pig forum re looking after him. As I said he's better but still nowhere near his usual self.

guineapiglet Mon 31-Dec-12 13:14:25

You are doing well to keep going with this, the probiotics will be slowly getting to work. Has he eaten anything at all? Did you try the grass option, which may tempt him further. If you feel he is improving, that is a good sign, may take a bit of time before he feels right - is there another vet you could try if you have no confidence in this one? Try local rescue centres who may be able to recommend one who is more guinea aware than the one you have tried. It is hard when the professional you relied on does not inspire confidence in you - glad some of the help and info on here is useful, but you ideally need a vet you can trust..... in the meantime, more of the same I'm afraid, intensive care therapy. It is a very good sign that he is up and about and trying - he is young and strong and this is definitely in his favour... all the best, hope he is getting stronger by the day.

guineapiglet Mon 31-Dec-12 13:16:33

PS I know you didnt want to distress your daughter, but she is a good age to be involved as a 'nurse' in a way, my daughter was the same age when we got our first batch of girls, and it is good for them to be involved, if you feel it wouldnt upset her too much, just see how he is doing.

I told my daughter yesterday and she has been helping me feed him. I cut the end off one syringe to feed him mashed up pellets so he is eating but only if I nurse him.

I've just taken dog for a walk and picked dandelion leaves to tempt him. Yes I tried the grass but to no avail. He tried the dandelion for a couple of minutes but has gone back to bed.

Going to try to find a different vet. Realistically though how far can I travel with sick guinea pig? I think there might be a small animal vet 20miles away.

FernieB Mon 31-Dec-12 16:28:30

Good luck with Steve - hope you manage to find a good vet. Makes me realise how lucky I am with ours.

One of my boys (Smoothpig) had an ear infection as a youngster which gave him a head tilt. That's the reason he (and Scruffy) were left at a local animal rescue. Smooth was treated by their vets and then him and Scruffy were put in rehoming section of P@H which is where we saw them. When I first saw them he still had a head tilt, but within 3 weeks of adoption this was gone. Just thought I'd let you know it can end well. Hopefully this will be the case with Steve.

Re the vets- it's a bit worrying when they say they "don't know how much to give them"
All drugs have a dose per weight, so even if they'd said "I'll look it up online and weigh your pig to work out the dose" that would give you more confidence.
I wouldn't expect a vet to know all the doseages for every medicine for every animal they could treat. But I would expect them to check.

When I was looking for a vet for our hogs, I went online and they give a list of their clinics and their vets specialities.
There is one much nearer to the vet I go to that has a GP fan vet. But he's also one of three vets who specialises in Opthalmic Surgery. So knowing my luck he'd be out of town when I needed him.

I found one that runs GP clinics. It's a bit of a trek, but I know that my boars will be seen by a Cavy Savvy vet.

Progress grin
steve's head is almost upright and he is currently in the run eating some grass. Not a lot but massive step on from last few days.
I did give him mite cream as suggested too.
Still feeding him myself with syringe as I guess he is still weak.

Just wanted to say big thank you for support and advice.

grin Good News.
You probably won't find out what was wrong with your pig but keep a check on his ears to see if there's anything leaking out (if it was an abscess there might be some crusting or oozing if it burst. Not to mention the smell) But hopefully the antibiotics will have done their work.

I routinely worm and treat my boys for mites as a preventitive.
Mine go out on the lawn and you don't know what has wandered about and poohed there.
Mites can come from hay too, so IMHO it's best to keep them protected.

You can get Ivermectin online (I use Xeno 450 drops on their necks).

And if you can, get yourself a Guinea-Pig First Aid Box (I did a post about this ages ago, if you scan back)

Critical Care Fine Grind
Syringes to feed
Mite treatment
Nail clippers
Tweezers-because my GP1 gets grass stuck between his teeth and goes all narky hmm
Blunt end scissors to trim fur
Salt (for salt water solution) and non-fluffy sterile gauze to bathe wounds

I've got Gorgeous Guinea shampoo , a hairdryer and some Vit C tablets in mine too (just checked the contents)

Keep a check on use by dates, and you're prepared! smile

Good News for 2013 that your boar is feeling better.

Thanks 70
I have most of the things you've suggested but will get the rest.

To top it all, just had my other guinea pig out for a cuddle and he has been licking my chin. Funniest feeling out grin

mercibucket Tue 01-Jan-13 22:16:40

great news


guineapiglet Wed 02-Jan-13 11:27:38

Really pleased to hear he is doing so much better, keep on with the feeding and hydration and hopefully he will be back to 100% in a few days - sounds as if you have done a good job with him, hes a lucky little chap.

guineapiglet Wed 02-Jan-13 11:28:34

PS guineas do like to get salt from human skin, it is a weird sensation, but quite inoffensive, unless they have sprout breathsmile !

Steve died 2 hours ago. Went to him this morning and he had laboured breathing and was on his side. Died 30mins later sad
DD is devastated as you can imagine as he was doing so well yesterday.

Thanks for all your help.

Bit worried about other one now but seems very healthy. He was sitting by steve when he died.

KRITIQ Thu 03-Jan-13 11:35:15

Oh no, I am so, so sorry to hear about Steve. You tried so very hard and did absolutely everything you could for the little fella. Pigs can decline so very quickly, even when you are watching closely. RIP Steve and hugs big time for you and DD.

Do keep an eye on your other pig and perhaps scope out a cavy savvy fet from the GP Forum or the internet to take them for a wee check over. I agree with 70 - it seems so very wrong that a vet will say, "I don't know the dosage for a small animal," as that hardly gives you confidence in them. The information is out there for vets who genuinely want to learn (but sadly, I think there are alot who genuinely don't care, and don't see small furries as enough of a "money spinner" to be worth their while.)

I know it's early days, but if you are thinking of finding a new companion for your pig, perhaps a local rescue might help and might also be able to recommend a good vet. You take care.

DD is swapping from crying to asking about a new companion.
I am going to try to find a rescue place nearby. I have found a place that looks after guinea pigs while on holiday so am going to ring her.
I was thinking myself about getting other one looked over. He seems perfectly fine.

guineapiglet Thu 03-Jan-13 13:15:48

Oh Mistress, I am so sorry to hear about Steve, really thought he would pull through, bless him, but you did your best. Some guineas have congenital problems, and just go on the decline and we never really know what was wrong with them - but he had lots of care and attention til the end, - but still very sad for you and yours. Do consider a companion from a rescue, sounds like you have a good contact, and hope they can find someone suitable for Nibbles, who will also be bewildered and sad. Rotten for you all. Integrating a new companion may take some time tho', you will have to keep them separate for a while until they get used to each other. Try freecycle or gumtree for spare cage/run etc whilst you do this. Sending you all kind thoughts.

PS you are right to keep your eye on his friend, but he may be perfectly well, so give it a few days before you decide on a new companion to join him. X

oh sad just read this.
They can go as quick as that, and it's heartbreaking when they pull out all the stops and seem to improve- then take a turn for the worse.
Impossible to say what it was. If he had an infection that was deep seated, he might have gone into 'shock' (the laboured breathing would point to that too).

You did your best for him, you can at least take comfort from that.

Boars are hard to pair up when they've had a long term boar partner.
But if you contact a rescue they should be able to help you there. And their pigs will have had a check-up, so yes, you could find a new vet from them.

mercibucket Thu 03-Jan-13 20:02:42

sad sad
really thought he'd pull through
you did everything you could for him.

his buddy will like some company when you feel up to looking. a rescuebshould help match him up, or you could neuter him and get a female

Nibbles is a little jumpy. Is that expected? Have had him out for a cuddle but he is very jumpy.

Have emailed local person who has recommended vet and rescue place so will give them a go.

DD only just managed to go to sleep as crying so much sad Even DH seems little chocked by steve's demise....

mercibucket Thu 03-Jan-13 22:44:49

it's harder when you've been caring for them and nursing them for a while sad sad

his friend could well be quite depressed for a while - lots of cuddles

Your GP will be missing his cage mate (my GP1 gets very stressed if he's away from his little brother.I'd have thought it would be the little boy, but he's meh. GP1 really shrieks if I leave him in the run alone).
They are prey animals who like routine (like when's the next dinnertime)
It's all changed in the matter of hours, so he'll be stressed.
Keep an eye on him if he goes intoverted and quiet.He might not be fussed about eating, might hide away.

Lots of cuddle time while you're scouting out a new friend .

Nibbles has been doing this Dance and low growling at steve for last 10 days and wonder if he knew.... He Is not behaving as friendly as usual but have had him out for cuddles.

DD (8) told me no one is as upset as her....but I'm the one who has been feeding and nursing him for 10 days so I'm very sad.

Just want to do best for remaining one.

70 he has been hiding a lot today. Didn't have the opportunity last few days as steve was constantly in the bed but even so. Nibbles has been eating so that's a good thing. Dandelion leaves and parsley.

Muminwestlondon Thu 03-Jan-13 22:58:08

So sorry to hear about Steve. You did your absolute best for him, no one could have done more. x

Thanks muminwestlondon

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now