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Question
Hello there,

For the past 3 days my 5 month old guinea pig has been unwell. I first noticed he wasn't chirping away as usual so picked him up and he seemed very still and was almost falling to one side, when I put him on a pillow he seems to keep laying on this side. He is eating small amounts and is still drinking. He also makes a strange noise like there is something in his nose or chest.He is still able to walk and even climbed on his house yesterday, but he seems clumsy.

I took him to the vet who said it could be stress, the heat, chest infection or even a minor stroke and has given him antibiotics and said to see how he is in a few days

I have moved his hutch into the house away from the sun, I personally dont think he could be stressed as he has a friend, we give him a lot of time and he has a run, one day he was chirpy and happy, the next he was sick.

I am so worried about him and will be absolutely gutted if we lose him.

He is 5 months old and is black with a bit of white and brown.

Thank you for taking the time to help.

Lisa Storey, and little Patrick

Answer
Although guinea pigs can handle very cold weather they are extremely susceptible to heat. They get heat stressed very quickly if exposed to the hot sun for more than a very short time. If it's over 80 degrees outside and he's unable to get out of the direct sun he would die withink 20 minutes. The vet may have been speaking of heat stress (or heat stroke) rather than being stressed emotionally.

Sadly they succumb to heat exposure very quickly. The fact that he didn't want to move is a bad sign that he may be suffering from heat stroke. The kidneys shut down quickly and the poor creatures usually die within hours.

At this point antibiotics will probably have no impact. The sound in the chest may have been fluid in the lungs from his body systems shutting down.

I know this isn't what you want to hear and I hope he does snap out of this. My fear is that by the time you get this message he may well be gone. I'm so sorry to hear he is ill.

Guinea Pigs

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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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