Guinea Pigs/eye


QUESTION: hi,  my guinea pig cannot close her left eye. She has watering sometimes. Her pupilary reflexes are normal. She has a slight head tilt. She had ear infection a week ago but is ok now. She was  prescribed eardrops. I feel she sees with her normal eyes. Kindly advice.

ANSWER: Her head tilt is being caused by the ear infection.  She may have gotten over the critical part of the infection, but it has left damage in her eardrum causing her to lose balance.   

Inside the eardrum there is fluid and a little bone that helps us to maintain our balance. The earth is spinning around continually. If we have damage to that part of the ear we lose our balance and would fall over. Gravity keeps us on the ground, but that important component in the ear keeps us upright.

The eyes, nose and ears are all closely connected. That's why sometimes when you have runny eyes, your nose runs too. She may or may not recover from the head tilt. If the fluid part of the ear is not functioning correctly she may never recover from it completely.

When you put water in a glass, then tip it to one side, the water will always stay at level. That's how a water level works when building something, hanging a picture, etc. The water in the little bubble will center itself when you are holding it to level.

At this point her little 'level' is damaged. The head tilt gives her the sense of being upright and level. If you pick her up it may get worse. So you need to handle her very slowly to give her a chance to "get her head straight" so to speak.  If you just grab her and lift suddenly what she feels is the room spinning. When you put her down she may fall to one side because she feels off balance.  

As I said, this may or may not correct itself. But it won't affect her as far as being able to compensate for it. Ask your vet about using eye drops if her eye appears dry.  You're correct, she has no vision problem. Give her a little more time and see if the head tilt corrects itself.

I would recommend handling her no more than necessary until she's able to hold her head in a correct position.  

I hope this helps you understand what it going on with her.  It's not an unusual condition. At this point time will tell how she will do. But there is no danger to her life if her head tilt doesn't go away. It simply means making some compensation on your part when you handle her.

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her eyes
her eyes  
QUESTION: thank you so much for explaining the head tilt. My other concern for her is that she cannot close her eyes. She cannot move her lids. If i try to touch her lids just below she closes her normal eyes. Which is not the case in the diseased eye.The blink reflex is not there. There is no discharge. She moves her eyeballs normally and as i mentioned her pupillary reflexes are normal. Please help me understand why it is so and how can i make it less uncomfortable for her. I really appreciate your advise of not handling her more.
Thank u

The eye issue is related to the ear infection. The eye appears from the picture to be wet, and that's a good thing. If it's dry there is a little breeder trick we've used for many years, Vit A.  

Buy Vit A capsules, the gel kind with the liquid inside. Using a pin or even scissors to clip the tip of the capsule, you then squeeze a couple of drops of the oil inside the capsule, directly on the eye.

It's not the vitamin effect that helps, it's the oily substance that hydrates the eyeball.  When you drop the liquid on the eye, use your finger to softly close the eye, gently rub the closed lid to spread the liquid.

I can't tell if the moisture around the eye is from tears or from the drops that went into the ear. Do the Vit A treatment twice a day.  At this point there isn't anything else medically you can do. The goal is to keep that eye moist and hope it heals itself. It may take some time, perhaps two or more weeks, but you should start seeing improvement by then.

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Pat VanAllen


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.


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.

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.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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