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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16696
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello My guinea pig scruffy for the past few weeks has become

Customer Question

Hello
My guinea pig scruffy for the past few weeks has become very sensitive to touch on her back end. It is not every time but 90% of the time she freaks out and starts jumping wildly away and runs away to sit on her own. She is fine in every other way, playing, eating, drinking, going to the toilet etc she seems herself but when we touch her she seems super sensitive and sometimes when i pick her up she squeals like she is in pain. I have seen her scratch a couple of times but I cant say it's all the time and I can't see any hair loss or scabs etc for it to be mites but I have read that these can be painful and may explain the symptoms. can you tell me what would cause her to act in this way?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Scruffy's discomfort when touched near her rear end.

Though skin mites and lice can cause pain and an itchy, uncomfortable feeling along with them come noticeable dander, loss of hair, crusty skin and often sores from scratching. That doesn't sound like the case with your little one

Trauma is another cause of discomfort. Guinea pigs that fall or are dropped can easily sustain spinal cord trauma.

If there's no possible way she sustained trauma then another possibility is related to diet. Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C and require it in their diet daily. Most guinea pig diets are vitamin C fortified, but vitamin C degrades easily if exposed to heat and light, thus I recommend supplementing vitamin C with fresh dietary sources (strawberries, orange or yellow peppers, citrus fruits) or a vitamin C supplement. If guinea pigs don't get enough vitamin C they experience painful joint swelling and bleeding (scurvy) which can lead to paralysis.

Poorly balanced diets with high levels of phosphorus and low levels of calcium can lead to poor bone density and fractures with just normal movement.

There is a coat type (the satin) the is associated with a disease process called Osteodystrophy (OD), in which even with proper dietary levels of calcium the bones become porous and weak. These little ones appear to be unable to digest and absorb calcium properly. Depending upon how severely a guinea pig is affected you may see mild or severe signs. Symptoms include pain, or a wobbly way of moving because of the hind legs or spine being affected. The jaw can also be affected causing problems eating. Eventually severely affected guinea pigs will be in too much pain to eat a normal diet and/or may become paralyzed in the rear end as the spine or hip bones collapse. There isn't any good treatment for these little ones, we try to control pain with drugs like Rimadyl (carprofen) or buprenorphine and supplement calcium.

Finally a tumor or infection of the vertebral bones or spinal cord are possible causes of what you are seeing. Much less likely at her young age, but possible.

Your little one needs to see a veterinarian very experienced with guinea pigs. They will want to examine her, take radiographs and discuss diet with you to achieve a diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.
In the meantime keep her closely confined, just in case there is some sort of spinal cord pressure. Make sure she is eating and drinking and receiving vitamin C supplementation, at least 200mg daily now and 50mg to 100mg daily long term.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.