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Guinea Pigs/guinea pig not using front legs properly



Earlier in the week, my guinea Nugget was taken to the vet as she had some dry disharge around her nose. The vet found a laceration inside her mouth, which had some blood and pus, so he has given us some anti biotics that she needs to have daily to help with the wound. She has been fine until this morning she wasnt moving properly and was trying to hide. We took her straight to the vet, he said her posture was abnormal, but she definitely is not paralyzed and she responded to the touching and squeezing of her legs and abdomen. He believes it could be a toxin in her body and hopes it will pass. Since coming home, we have kept her separate from the other guinea pigs, and have been hand feeding her. she has been doing smaller poos than usual, and has still been urinating. she is still finding it difficult to move, like she doesnt know how to use her front legs and has been spending her time lying down. She has still been drinking a little bit of water too.
i did buy a new brand of timothy hay from the pet store, the vet said to stop giving her that. (althought the other guineas have been completely fine)

do you have any ideas as to what it could be? any help would be appreciated as we do not want her to get any worse :(

ANSWER: This is one of those things that is more than just difficult to diagnose.  The blood in the mouth makes me wonder if there was possibly something in the Timothy such as a foreign body that may have caused the injury. Timothy has is a premium hay and guinea pigs typically love it.

That doesn't mean there could not have been something in it that didn't belong. This sounds like a neurological issue, i.e. a brain tissue problem or possibly a spinal issue. If there was a history of trauma such as a fall or having been picked up by the neck, there could have been damage to the spinal cord. One would expect that there be some paralysis if there was a trauma to the spine.

The fact that she is still eating and drinking is good. The problem you face right now is keeping her hydrated.

If she will eat lettuce I would suggest giving her handfuls that have been washed so there is extra fluid on it. She needs nutrition, and if she cannot stand at her bowl to eat you could substitute some Critical Care liquid. It is equivalent to Ensure in that it has all the nutrients her body tissues need.

I realize this is not a definitive answer and I wish I had a magic cure. Your vet is probably correct, this is likely a toxin that she's ingested. As to whether or not she can get through it, I can't say. The best measure of a guinea pig's health is the appetite. When they are failing they simply quit eating and drinking.

You don't say what kind of antibiotic the vet gave her. They do not tolerate most antibiotics but Baytril and Bactrim are generally the treatment of choice when they are needed.

I wish I had a more positive answer for you but unfortunately I do not. At this point she is at a wait and see status. Let's pray that she overcomes it on her own.  If she does not however, you may want to ask for a necropsy to see if the cause can be found.  I wish you and her the very best.  Please keep me informed.  

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

QUESTION: Good news! she seems to be back to her normal self, 2 days later. she is mobile again, showing more noticable interest in food and water and not just sleeping all day/wanting to hide.
So happy! we kept her alone for a few days, warm and made sure she kept up her food and water intake. No idea what it was but i hope it doesnt happen again as we were very worried!
Still been giving her the anti biotics for the laceration in her mouth (im quite certain it is baytril after looking up the name on the internet) and other than the initial dislike for the meds, shes a happy little camper again :)

thank you for your kind words and positive vibes x

Thank you so much for the update. Without knowing for sure, it does sound like your vet was right, this was likely caused by ingesting some kind of toxin. Thankfully she survived it.

You may never know what she ate, or if she was exposed to any kind of spray that started this. But whatever it is she has survived the odds.  Thank you again for touching base with me.  

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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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