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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11455
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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Our guinea pig is mostly paralyzed and he is making suction/slurping

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Our guinea pig is mostly paralyzed and he is making suction/slurping noises. He can squirm a little but can't right himself. He just finished antibiotics last week as a precaution for the lethargy he had probably because we weren't good with giving him vitamin C. Tonight I gave him some sugar water and tried to give him orange slice to eat but he won't eat it. I think he may be unable to chew it. This happened in a matter of hours. The nearest vet is 45 minutes away. I am more concerned that the slurping means he is having trouble breathing. Any ideas?

Optional Information:
Type of Animal: guinea pig
Animal's Gender: Male
Animal's Age: 3
Name of Animal: Fuzzy
What have you tried so far?: Per my other entry - sugar water

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in small animal health, and over 30 years experience raising guinea pigs and rabbits. I'm sorry to hear of Fuzzy's problems. Some additional information will be helpful.

Are you still giving him vitamin C? How many milligrams?

Do you normally feed him guinea pig pellets and hay?

Is there any discharge from his eyes or nose?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Well we took it to the ER Tuesday night. It had some "vertigo" type issues. His eyes didn't respond and he kept turning to the right. He was in shock and his body temp was low. The doctor didn't see anything obvious but gave him fluids, C and antibiotics to stabilize him. One hour later he died.

I'm so sorry for your loss of Fuzzy. It's extra hard to lose a pet suddenly like this. From your description, it sounds like Fuzzy had vestibular disease, also called head tilt, torticollis, or wry neck. This is a complex and serious illness.

Vestibular disease can originate in either the ear or the brain stem. There are many things that can go wrong in these structures that will cause the symptoms you are seeing. There are protozoal infections, bacterial infections, a disease spread by raccoons, strokes, brain tumors, and injuries, to name a few. Since Fuzzy didn't survive long enough for treatment to work, he was probably affected by one of the more serious causes, such a tumor, infection of the brain, or stroke.

You did everything you could have. It was wise to go to a vet, but unfortunate that they couldn't help. If you have children, there are some things you can do with them to help them cope with losing their pet. Depending on their ages and what they're interested in, they could make a scrapbook about Fuzzy with any photos you have, perhaps poems they've written, pictures they have drawn, etc. I've found doing something like that helps many kids. They could also do any of those things individually if they don't want to do a whole scrapbook. If hands-on activities are more their style, a clay sculpture of Fuzzy might be good. If they likes to do things online, here's a site where they could leave a memorial:

If there's anything else I can do, let me know in a REPLY. Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much for the information both about his condition and the grieving process. My daughter is 11. We buried him in the yard (with a picture she drew) and the family said some nice words and then put a "grave marker".


There are 3 things that weigh on my mind. First we were not diligent in giving him Vitamin C daily and when we went to the vet about a month ago because he was lethargic she said it could be due to the low C and gave him some antibiotics. Could a C deficiency be the problem? Second, he had a cage made of corrugated plastic that he loved to chew (and ultimately eat). Could he have been poisoned by that? Third, do you think he suffered long with this illness or does it usually happen quickly?


Thank you again!

You're welcome. It sound s like you did a great job of helping your daughter. Concerning your questions:

Lack of vitamin C can cause many different symptoms, including paralysis. However, I have not heard of it causing a tilted head, dizziness, falling over, and turning in circles. I suspect something more was going on with fuzzy. If you get another guinea pig in the future, the best way to provide vitamin C is with lots of high vitamin C produce: sweet red peppers, strawberries, orange, tomatoes, etc. Adult guinea pigs need about one cup of produce per day. You'd want to introduce smaller amounts to a baby until it gets up to this amount.Introducing it too rapidly can lead to diarrhea. There is no vegetable or green that should be fed every day. Variety is very important. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, collards, bok choy, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts tend to produce too much gas, and shouldn't be fed often. Onions and garlic are not good, either. Tomatoes, red peppers, summer squash, and greens (no iceberg lettuce) are all good. Clover, dandelion, plantain, and grass from an UNSPRAYED lawn are excellent choices. Guinea pigs can also have fruits - strawberries, oranges, and kiwi are enjoyed. there's a lot of misinformation available online. The Guinealynx site is one of the most reliable guinea pig sites. This link will take you to their list of recommended produce:

Some substances in plastic can cause cancer, so if Fuzzy had a brain tumor, that could be a factor. Plastic wouldn't normally result in outright poisoning. The most common problem that results from eating plastic is an intestinal blockage. Fuzzy had no symptoms of that.

The length of time vestibular disorders go on depends on the underlying cause. But it usually causes discomfort more than pain. The constant dizziness and inability to move properly is disorienting and confusing, but not painful.

If you need anything else, don't hesitate to ask.


Anna and other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I did a response a few days ago but don't see it posted.


I did check out that link. It was very informative. Thanks for passing that along. The anorexia it discusses is very interesting because of his weight loss. I also forgot to mention he fell out of his cage (about a foot above tile). The fall was about a day or two before the incident. I wonder if the fall caused this. I just wish I knew what really happened to him. Thank you once again for your great feedback. I tried to give you a tip but the system didn't give me access. I'll try again. :-)

You're very welcome. The tip did com e through. Thank you very much.

Yes, an injury is one of the possible causes of a vestibular problem. For a guinea pig, it only takes a short fall to cause a spinal injury or brain trauma. Unfortunately, accidents do happen no matter how careful we are.