Vestibular disease

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Dgorgo

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:09 pm


I am very new to guinea pigs. I recently adopted one from a local shelter. She has many problems(of which I did not know when I adopted her). She apparently has Vestibular Disease (according to my vet). She has dry eye - My vet suggested I give her artificial tears. She is no longer eating her hay and veggies. I have been feeding her Critical Care for about 2 1/2 weeks now. I am giving it to her several times throughout the day. She will only take it in a dish. She loves it and squeaks when she knows I am coming to feed her. Won't let me syringe feed her. It is really making a mess. She gets it all over herself and wasting a lot. I don't know if anyone on here has or have had a guinea pig with Vestibular disease. Need some advice.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:23 pm


First, what makes the vet think she has vestibular disease.

Second, "won't let me syringe feed her" is a non-starter at my house. The pig weighs three pounds, and I'm an adult human. I'm equipped to win this battle. See gl/handfeeding.html for information on how to do it, and post here if you've got any questions.

Third, why is she not eating hay and veggies? Can she pick the food up with her front teeth but just not chew it, or will she not eat it at all?

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:14 pm


Ditto bpatters. Are you weighing daily?

Dgorgo

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:57 pm


In response, I live alone and it is very difficult to hold the guinea pig still (even wrapped in a towel) She slithers out. I am concerned that she will aspirate the food. It seems as though I am upsetting her more than helping. She is squealing and sqeeking.

Secondly, the vet (who cares for exotics) thinks she has vestibular disease because she stumbles around at times when she walks. He first thought it was an ear infection and gave me an oral antibiotic to give to her for 14 days. He checked her front teeth and they seemed to be okay. He was not willing, at this point, to check her molars because he would have to anesthesize her and because she is not eating as she should be and she is so tiny as it is (she was 1 1/2 pounds when I adopted her 2 months ago and weighs a tiny bit more at this time) We don't know what she went through where she lived before and we really don't even know how old she is -- only that she is adult. When he checked her the second visit, he said that one side of her face seemed paralyzed and that is why she is probably not able to use her mouth enough to eat hay and veggies. Everyone tells me to take her back to the shelter, but I just cannot do that. Any suggestions or advice would be helpful. If you can ask any of your vets if they think this could be vestibular disease, it would be appreciated.

ClemmyOddieIndy

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:24 pm


I don't have any experience with vestibular disease, but I wanted to applaud you for your choice to keep her even with her illness. I've worked at a shelter and a pet store, and I was always shocked at the number of people who could open their home to an animal and the first sign of illness they were over that animal.

Is she losing weight? If she's eating the CC fine in a dish, and not losing weight, I would not worry about force feeding her. Is it just to save on the CC that she's wasting? What veggies have you tried? Have you tried mixing in some other types of veggies? Have you tried a different type of grass hay than what you are offering?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:41 pm


I'm not a vet, but if one side of her face is paralyzed, I'd think the problem would much more likely be a stroke than vestibular disease.

If you want her to gain weight, you'll have to force feed her. Here's what works best for me:

Sit a table that's comfortable for you to put one arm on it. Put your non-dominant arm on the table, and put a small towel over it. Put the pig on the towel, and burrito it so it can't back out of the towel.

With that hand, hold the pig's head FIRMLY between your thumb and forefinger, behind the jaw. Take a look at a picture of a guinea pig skeleton so you can have an idea how far back the jaw is. You'll have to hold firmly enough to keep her from jerking her head away.

With the other hand, insert the syringe behind the front teeth and in front of the back teeth. Turn it toward the back of the pig's throat, and give about 1/4 - 1/3 of a cc at a time. If the pig spits it out, you don't have the syringe far enough back in the mouth. If the pig is chewing, it's swallowing and eating.

If the pig is uncooperative, then the 1 cc syringes in that link I gave you work best. Pull the plungers out and use a large syringe (available free at any pharmacy if you tell them it's to feed a sick pet) to load the small syringes.

If the pig cooperates, then you can feed directly from the large syringe. Make the CC mixture pretty loose, and you'll have to add liquid as you go, as it keeps thickening up.

But do weigh her daily. That's the only way you'll know whether she's getting enough food.

Dgorgo

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:43 pm


In response to Clemmy - She is eating the CC from a dish very readily. When she hears me coming, she makes a lot of noise and runs around. Sometimes, she falls over. Don't know if that is caused by the vestibular problem. She can't wait until I place the dish in her pen. She does, however, take a long time to eat the mixture - apparently, because she is having a difficult time grabbing the food. That is why she stopped eating her hay and veggies. She cannot grasp the food. She is always hungry. I tried giving her different veggies and different hay, but nothing seems to work. I am wondering if she will be on CC the rest of her life. I feel so bad for her. As long as she is eating from the dish, I cannot see any reason to upset her more by trying to force feed. When she stops eating from a dish, then I will have no choice. She is eating the CC several times a day. Never turns it down.

Dgorgo

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:51 pm


In response to bpatters. I will have to ask my vet about the possibility of the problem being due to a stroke. If she stops eating the CC from a dish, I will try your method of feeding her. As I said before, it is difficult for one person trying to hold and feed at the same time. I just don't want her to aspirate the food. I have had to syringe feed bunnies over the years, but they were a little easier for some reason. Perhaps, because they weren't so small.

Also, I am going out tomorrow to purchase a scale. I guess a regular kitchen scale will work? Thanks

ClemmyOddieIndy

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:54 pm


I adopted my Indiana four years ago after she survived a nasty ear infection. She was not treated quickly, and as a result she had a head tilt and neurological problems. They were syringing her water and food when I adopted her, and they told me they thought she'd only survive a few months at most. She would run around in circles and fall over, she would do what I call "climbing the invisible ladder" where she's wave her feet in the air until she fell over backwards. She did a lot of other strange things, but over time they became less frequent. When she gets scared, nervous or excited she begins to display these odd neurological symptoms, but 99% of the time she's "normal". She does suffer from scared pig episodes, but that's a whole different story and had only happened a handful of times. Luckily for me, Indiana never stopped eating hay or food. She struggled to figure out the water bottle with her head sideways at first, but she figured it out. Her head is no longer tilted too. She still struggles with veggies, and seems to choke on them when she eats them. This happens every time she gets veggies.

Good luck. Hopefully she ends up getting better over time like Indiana did. They thought she'd like a few months, and four years later she's still alive and healthy.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:24 pm


I'd want a dental exam. They don't have to give much anesthetic at all to do a thorough exam -- just a whiff or so of inhalant gas so they can open the mouth and look carefully.

If she does need a tooth trimming, then she'd have to be under longer. But you can't ignore dental work that needs to be done for very long -- it drastically impacts the pig's quality of life, as well as the possibility of not surviving.

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Kimera

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:18 pm


Head tilt, and particularly, running in circles and falling down, are typical symptoms of neurologic damage. They may be a result of a stroke, but also E. cuniculi infection. I assume that whatever was the reason, the piggie is healthy now, and the only problem lies in helping her to live with her neurologic symptoms. The brain is a wonderful organ; it does not regenerate, but is able to delegate functions to its undamaged parts.
The neurological symptoms do recede with time, but the piggie needs to live a quiet life without stress. Stress will cause her to run in circles and even seize. There is not much that can be done, except for ensuring that she eats, drinks and is comfortable.

Dgorgo

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:12 pm


In response to Kimera - how does one know if the problem is a result of a stroke or E cuniculi? I would imagine my vet should be able to determine this?? You said you assume the "piggy is healthy now". Sadly, she is not. She seemed to be fine when I brought her home from the shelter. Then about 1 1/2 months after, she stopped eating. I am still giving her Critical Care, but in a dish. Can E cuniculi be cured? Also, I have 2 house bunnies, but they are not near the piggy. Is E cuniculi contagious? I will call my vet on their next business day (7/5) I have no other option but to wait. He is the only vet who deals with exotics anywhere close to me.

Dgorgo

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:21 pm


In response to bpatters - As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I asked for an exam of her molars, but he is reluctant to do it because she is so tiny. I know we have to find out if the problem with her eating is her molars, but my vet does not think it is. I am going to purchase a kitchen scale and begin weighing her. He said to give her 6 - 12 cc of Critical Care every 8 hours. But, she seems to always want it so I am giving her more. Will this do any harm?

BTW, thank you all for your input. It really helps me to deal with things since I am a first time guinea pig "parent". Of course, I would have to adopt a piggy with many problems, but I want to keep her. If it is neurological, as Kimera said, all I can do is feed her and make her comfortable. She does seem to like sitting on my lap at night.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:29 pm


I'd say give her all she'll willingly take. The best thing you can do for a sick pig, no matter what it has, is to keep food moving through the gut.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:34 pm


It might be worth looking for an experienced veterinary dentist that has worked with lots of guinea pigs. Normally an xray is done to get a more clear idea of what is going on. Xrays of the skull can also show things like ear infections.

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Kimera

Post   » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:15 am


There is a blood or urine test which can tell you if the animal is infected with Encephalitozoon cuniculi. It is an infectious parasitic disease, and unfortunately a lot of rabbits are asymptomatic carriers - it is called "cuniculi" for a reason. Guinea pigs can get this disease from rabbits, it's one of the most important reasons those species shouldn't be housed together.
If the test is positive, a guinea pig or a bunny should be treated as soon as possible. E.cuniculi is a protozoan infection, not easy to get rid of.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encephalitozoon_cuniculi

Dgorgo

Post   » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:38 pm


In response to Kimera - I have two bunnies but they are not housed with the guinea pig. They have their own pens. Because of the long holiday weekend, I was not able to contact my vet and there are no emergency vets anywhere near where I live who care for exotics. My problem is now I have run out of critical care already. Just bought it last week, but that is all she will eat. I tried making a mash out of the guinea pig pellets and mixing some banana baby food (since the cc I use is apple/banana flavor) and she will not eat it. Now, I don't know what to do until tomorrow. You can't buy cc anywhere except through a vet. Also, she is not running around and squeaking and squeeling today as she has been. I offered her veggies, hay-she wants nothing. I cannot wait until tomorrow to call my vet. I hope she makes it through the night because she has fallen over a few times in her pen and had a hard time getting up. I had to help her. Any suggestions Do you think I should syringe feed her mashed pellets. Anyone have any other ideas to try and get her to eat?? This things always happen to me over a long weekend.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:15 pm


Look over this thread. It's linked to from the hand feeding page which has lots of info:

http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?t=56986

gl/handfeeding.html

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:13 pm


Petco and Petsmart usually carry Critical Care. It's not a prescription item. It's also available on Amazon.

amyco9

Post   » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:59 am


Our little Tatum has signs of vestibular disease as well. We got her from Petco & we noticed a couple of days later that she was showing signs of an upper respiratory infection & falling over, disoriented, etc. Our vet put her on two antibiotics (she was also afraid of possible meningitis). She seems to be over the upper respiratory issues now, and has never had trouble eating. We took her to the vet for a re-check about a week later and she'd lost about 40 grams. Vet put her on CC & she's been steadily gaining weight daily. As far as feeding her, this is what has worked for Tatum: she likes to lie on her back in my lap and be fed her CC like a baby, LOL. I just slowly release the syringe a little at a time, and she licks/eats it. Obviously, I take care to make sure she doesn't choke. But with the vestibular/neurological problems she is having, she tends to stretch her head backward anyway (???). It seems silly, I know but it's been working--she went from 170g to 207g in the last 5 days. We won't purchase any more piggies from pet stores--from now on, rescues only. But I'm glad we were the ones who got Tatum--I think anyone else would have just returned her to the pet store & given up on her. She's our little sweetie pie...I know this post was in 2016, but I hope your piggie is still well. Tatum is only a few months old, so we are still on the road to recovery.

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