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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11461
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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I have a guinea pig who is laying on her side and cant get

Customer Question

I have a guinea pig who is laying on her side and can't get up, she has been walking very unsteadily before this. Her appetite was ok, but now isn;t eating or drinking. I had taken her to a vet and they gave her a vitamin C shot, since then we've been giving her vit c consistently, what could be wrong with her?? Please help!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

Is your guinea pig passing any droppings? If you're not sure, put her in a box lined with white paper towels for about 30 minutes. check to see if there are droppings there. Let me know if she is or isn't passing any, and the consistency (runny, small and dry, normal, etc.).

When did she last eat anything?

What do you usually feed her?

What type of vitamin C are you giving her?

Is her head tilted to one side?

Is there any discharge from her eyes or nose?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
There seem to be little clusters of poop in her cage, that are from recently. She isn't takeing any food or water from me, the last time she ate was probably a day ago. we usually feed pellots, and put vit c in her water, and we have also been trying to give her bell peppers and other vitc produce. when i lay her on her down, she tries to scoot her lower body around, has labored breathing, i tried unplugging nostrils they seem to be a little plugged, her eyes are ok, not much discharge i can see, she just now stood up her own......
Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. Loss of appetite in guinea pigs is extremely serious, regardless of what caused it in the first place. It is called anorexia. If they go for 24 hours without eating, a condition called ketosis develops and the guinea pig cannot recover. If the vet you saw wasn't a guinea pig/rabbit specialist, I recommend that you see one who is. Here is where you can find a guinea pig/rabbit vet:

You can read more about anorexia at these two sites:

If there is nothing that will entice your guinea pig to eat, you can feed her from a syringe. You must make sure that she is passing stools before doing this because if she has a blockage, it's dangerous to force food into her system. Since you've seen recent droppings, make a slurry of crushed pellets, water, and pureed vegetables. This can be more difficult than it sounds, so I'm giving you a page that describes it in great detail, including variations on what to feed, and how often to feed:

There is a product called Oxbow Critical Care, available in larger pet stores, that would be even better than the homemade slurry. It would also be good to give your guinea pig some Pedialyte (made for human infants), which you can buy in drug stores, discount stores, and many supermarkets. Put the syringe in the side of her mouth, not straight down her throat. Give her Pedialyte once per hour.

The vitamin C that you put in the water isn't effective for several reasons. It makes the water taste bad, and the guinea pig is unlikely to drink enough. That leads to dehydration and an even greater vitamin C deficiency. In addition, the vitamin C quickly deteriorates in water. It also is low-quality to begin with, and often sets on the shelves, the stockroom, and in the warehouse for extended periods of time, leading to deterioration. If your vet diagnosed scurvy, it's imperative to get vitamin C intoyour guinea pig's body. I recommend liquid vitamin C that you can buy in human health food stores. Use a syringe to put it directly into the side of her mouth. She needs 50 mgs. a day while she's ill. It works faster if you divide that dose into more than one time, for example 25 mgs. twice a day, or 10 mgs. five times a day. If your guinea pig has scurvy, you should see improvement in about a week. Here's a site where you can read more about scurvy:

My first recommendation to you is to see an experienced guinea pig vet, but if you can't do that, the above steps may help. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your guinea pig will reach a full recovery.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ok, thank you... also, I forgot to include that I noticed little black flakes that rubbed off her hair onto my skin, could that be lice? and would that have anything to do with her symptoms?
Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.
Little black flakes most often indicate parasites, such as mites. A heavy mite infestation can cause seizures. You'd need a vet to determine exactly what kind of parasites are present and to prescribe the proper treatment. Don't be tempted to use the over-the-counter remedies sold in pet stores. most of them are ineffective, and with your guinea pig's weakened state, they could even be dangerous.