Guinea Pigs/Guinea Pig

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Question
Hello,
I have a male guinea pig around 3 years old and just recently started to look unsteady on his feet and keeps stopping to lay down. Whenever his head is lifted up it slowly starts drooping to the ground and he's not interested in his food. I've taken him to the vet and the lady said he looked healthy in terms of body temperature and physically she didn't feel anything abnormal apart from his stomach being empty. She gave him some fluid and an injection to help stimulate his digestive system. I was given some powered food to mix with water and force feed him every couple of hours, but other than that i'm not exactly sure what the problem is and the vet didn't really know either. It's the second day and he's nibbling on some cucumber and grass on his own now but still just laying around. I'm just curious whether you may have come across something like this and maybe know what it may be? He doesn't seem out of the woods just yet and the vet just said 'fingers crossed'.
Thank you in advance for your time in reading this and getting back to me :)

Answer
My first inclination is to wonder how old your little guy is.  When you say "around 3" I am wondering if perhaps he isn't a little older than that and what you are experiencing is the beginning of the end of his lifespan.

The typical age for a guinea pig is approximately 5 yrs.  However, I've had pigs that passed when they were just barely 4, and by contrast my oldest was 7 1/2 yrs.  As with people they age differently.

Given the fact that the vet could find no abnormality that could explain this, it seems that perhaps he has just reach as far as his life would take him. When they begin to fail they exhibit the symptoms you are describing. Assuming the vet did check his teeth, his empty stomach is another sign of his failing.

I'm sure this doesn't give you any comfort, and I'm so sorry I can't offer more help and good news for you. Our pets are never with us long enough no matter what their age. Please just take comfort in knowing he is not likely suffering or in pain. He's just reaching the end of his road.  

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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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