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Question
My guinea pig, Brittney has been throwing her head back and keeps falling over to her right side. She also keeps running around in circles and then falling over. I was told that since she is a calico, she is more proned to have problems. Is that true? Do u think she had a stroke? She is eating and drinking, but she has a problem with her head keep being thrown back. I'm so worried about her. This one is my daughters birthday gift last year. We are very attached. What do I do? There are no good vets out here where I live and they don't know much about piggys. Any answer u can give me will be very much appreciated! Thankyou!

Answer
I'm not sure what a "calico" pig is but that's a coloring, not a breed.  There shouldn't be any genetic issues that could cause what you're describing. If I could see a picture of her I'd get a better idea of what you're trying to describe.

The running in circles and falling over seems to indicate pressure either in the inner ear or in her brain. Yes it's possible it could be some kind of stroke, although that kind of thing typically causes loss of motor function, not head tossing.

I've had pigs that got inner ear infections and it causes a loss of balance and a head tilt. The mechanism in the ear that's telling her which way is up gets injured or compromised by illness, much like humans get that terrible vertigo when they have an inner ear infection.

I've had some luck using Prednisolone on a couple of pigs that were affected like that, but it's not a permanent and total cure. At this point there really isn't much you can do but wait and see if she compensates for this on her own and learns to walk straight.  

I know you're hoping I can give you a definite answer, but I'm afraid I cannot. It's very difficult to treat these little guys for neurological issues, and just trying isn't inexpensive.  

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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