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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 20689
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My guinea pig has a tilted head, he is 1 year old, is eating

Customer Question

My guinea pig has a tilted head, he is 1 year old, is eating but seems lethargic and has stopped squeaking does he have an ear infection?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Casper's head tilt, lethargy and not squeaking as usual. I am very glad to hear that he is eating. Guinea pigs that do not eat become very sick, very quickly.In young guinea pigs getting ill is often secondary to not getting enough vitamin C in their diet, poor or improper diet or very dirty or dusty bedding.Given his head tilt and quiet demeanor I do believe he may have a respiratory infection which may have affected his inner ear, and thus his balance system leading to a head tilt. He is likely feeling off balance, thus his reluctance to move much. A poor diet will weaken his immune system which allows secondary infections to become a problem. Casper should be eating mostly timothy hay and grass hay. That will keep his intestines moving normally, which is a big concern in a sick guinea pig. He should be fed a small amount of guinea pig pellets (not rabbit) twice daily. Are you supplementing vitamin C? Guinea pigs require that and if not done that predisposes to a weak immune system as well as joint problems. I recommend 50mg to 100mg per day per pig. Ideally bedding would be low irritant. Do not use any wood chips as they carry bacterial and fungal spores and are irritating if they get in the eye. I recommend newspapers or recycled paper pulp bedding. Bedding should be changed as often as possible, you can spot remove dirty bedding but it all should be changed completely once or twice weekly. Ideally he would see a veterinarian to have a physical examination and possibly prescribe some ear antibiotic drops and oral antibiotics. Guinea pigs are a prey species and as such hide their illnesses well until they are quite sick. If you can tell he is slower than usual and see symptoms he is likely much sicker than he seems. If you cannot have him seen today then keep him eating and quiet. Put him in the bathroom so when someone runs a hot shower or bath he can breathe the steamy air which will soothe his airways If he is't eating you will need to force feed him. The best diet to use for force feeding is Oxbow critical care. If you cannot find that in a pinch you can syringe feed him vegetable baby foods. He should be force fed every couple of hours. And have him looked at as soon as possible. If you don't have a veterinarian for him here is a link to help find one: Here is an excellent link to a site that will give you tons of information to keep him healthy: me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
He is an indoor guinea pig fed on Timothy hay, guinea pig pellets, fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs all guinea pig friendly. He is on care fresh bedding and pellets on newspaper and is cleaned out 3 times per week. I will get him to a vet tomorrow as suggested but wondered if there was anything else I could do. Thank you for the steam suggestion. Many thanks Bev
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
It sounds like he has an excellent life! If he were a bit older and not eating well or drooling we would need to worry about tooth problems too, over grown molars or cracked/abscessed teeth, as tooth pain can lead to a head tilt too, but he's a bit young for tooth trouble. Please let me know how his veterinary visit goes.