Guinea Pigs/? sick

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Question
hi and thank u for your time so much. my daughter guinea pig seems to be sick. he didn't want to move his back legs this morning and seemed to only be chewing out of one side of his mouth. we lost power and heat for a while last night with all this cold but ive brought him downstairs and hv made sure he is warmer now. he seems to be moving and eating a little but im not sure what else to do. he was a neglected pet I couldn't stand the thought of living like that so we saved him but I am out of work with abroken back and don't really hav the money for a vet right now. hav u heard of this happening and could u give me any advice. my kids mean the world to me and I just want the little guy to feel better. again thank u so much for taking ur time. I hope u uguys r all very happy. thanks

Answer
I'm so sorry to hear about your little pig. It's heart sickening when something happens to a pet. Let me assure you this isn't a result of the cold. They actually do quite well with cold, it's heat that is their danger.

Yes, I have heard of this happening and is usually a result of spinal injury which causes pressure on the spine. The chewing from just one side of the mouth may be something unrelated. Are you sure he's only chewing on one side? If there is no evidence of facial or eye drooping it's not likely it's a stroke related type thing.

I certainly understand and empathize about the cost of the vet. Sadly most vets know little or nothing about guinea pigs. Not because they didn't learn or study small animals while in school, but there is little funding for research on cavies. Rabbits are much bigger industry and have the privilege of lots of literature and studies about their needs. But with guinea pigs not so much. Few vets ever see one actually come into the office for health care, so the lack of experience and opportunity prevent those clinics from gaining the experience needed.

If the injury was recent there is a chance that as the spinal swelling goes down he will regain some strength and movement. If there was a spinal injury sufficient to cause damage to the cord he will remain paralyzed.  In other words it's a wait and see situation. In any event even a trip to the vet and $$ spent would probably not give him any more than what he is getting now.  

I'd suggest that when you daughter holds him she wraps him in a blanket or towel so the back legs are supported. Girls like to do that anyway as it's a maternal thing so if you tell her that's how she had to hold him she probably won't mind.

I know this isn't a great deal of diagnostic help but I hope it gives you some comfort knowing that money is not going to solve this problem. Only time will tell. Remarkably, animals with handicaps don't stop to feel sorry for themselves. They just go forward and learn to live with their disabilities.  

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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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