Guinea Pigs/Guinea Pigs

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QUESTION: My daughter got tired of her guinea pigs and I inherited them.
One of them had an upper-respiratory infection almost from the day we got her and then I had to separate her from her cage-mate.
The vet (who claimed to be proficient in small animal care) made me come in every time for an exam before she would prescribe medication and that was the only time the guinea pig seemed to be in fair health.  They boarded her because I felt like she would not eat anything but fresh food and fresh timothy hay and they still did not notice anything was wrong with her.  She died at 3-4 years old.  The other one lived to be 6-7 and I just figured she was old, but toward the end of her life her back legs were paralyzed and then she laid on her side and could not get up, but I felt like a new, local vet really did not know what she claimed to and seemed not to be around when I really needed her.  I wonder if there was anything I could have done.  Now that they are gone, I wonder if I can trust anyone to have as much knowledge as they claim to.  This last vet cut the guinea pig's nails but would not let me in the room while the guinea pig was screeching and I suspect that contributed to her spinal problem, or whatever it was.  Are there diseases that exist like what I am describing?  I know for guinea pigs, a cold is really like pneumonia.

ANSWER: well yes there are several, paralysis can be caused by something called head tilt, it is reasonably common and almost always fatal, a sad but true condition that rabbit and guinea pigs get.
age wise 6-7 is an acceptable "old age" generally 5 years onwards is old.
the vet not letting you in though is unusual, i clip my own pigs nails and I dont know why you wouldnt be allowed in the room. I am not saying that the spinal injury was caused by this, but it does make me wonder why on earth they would do that.
as for the respitory problem other than removing dusty sawdust and hay and keeping the pig in a warm dry enviroment there is not much you can do about it, though generally speaking what i described plus a treatment of baytril or ivmec (common antibiotics) tends to fix them up.
a picky eater to the extent of starving themselves could suggest internal problems such as ulcers, infections or even anal impaction.

on the whole i would, should you ever have other pigs use a different pet and rest safe in the knowledge that you were a good owner
all the best

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The sickly guinea pig was fine on antibiotics but she made me come in each time.  The guinea pig that died after.6-7 years...the vet who is supposedly informed and qualified said  
She had never heard of that.  What is head tilt.and.what causes it?

Answer
head tilt is an infection most commonly pest related, the mites get into the ear of a rabbit or guinea pig and cause vertigo, the mites get too deep into the ear either through the guinea pig or owner messing with the ear, or else gradually over time. its basically a death sentence and is treatable only in the early stages which ironically you dont spot it, by the time you do see whats wrong its too late, have a look on peter gurney's website, he is the guinea pig guru and knows more than anyone ever will on them, you should find it by a google search. as for the vet i cannot believe he has not heard of head tilt, unless he knows it by an official medical term but even so it is known amongst breeders and rescue centres as head tilt.
hope this helps

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Sam Amison

Expertise

I can answer most questions on breeding rearing and housing, though I would like to stress now that unless someone is wishing to keep all the offspring produced I do not support breeding. I have reasonable experience with illnesses and can offer a few remedies. I have a high level of knowledge on handling, social habits, herding and dietry requirements, as well as being able to deliver a crash course in their natural habitat if people wish to know.

Experience

I have owned guinea pigs for several years and was formerly a fosterer for a rescue home and as such have experience with common illnesses, pairing, constructing and managing housing and of course handling (also having just moved I am going to resume a rescue role shortly) and have in the past bred them.

Organizations
I am a member of the Cavy Club website.

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None relavent to this topic.

Education/Credentials
I do not possess any credentials in this area other than charitable work, but I have worked with what must be hundreds of guinea pigs in the past and as such have learned a lot about the little blighters!

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