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Specialist Odd Behavior After Ear Infection

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RugratsRUs

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We recently brought home two young guinea pigs. A few weeks the smaller guinea pig, Storm, (my daughter fell in love with it due to being the 'runt') became suddenly lethargic with a head tilt. Within the hour we were at the vet and he did not sound very hopeful. He gave him a steroid and antibiotic shot. We expected the worst because he would not eat nor drink the whole evening. We woke up to a much happier Storm. We saw the vet a few more times and was told to continue the antibiotics for 7-10 days. About 4 or 5 days into the antibiotics, Storm started to act odd, turning his head this way and that in circles, almost like he had vertigo. Otherwise, he seems fine. Eating much better and acting normal.

The vertigo-like behavior has not left though. Has anyone seen this and have any thoughts on what it might be?

Thanks!
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome

It sounds like the balance centre in the inner ear has been affected by the infection. Good that you have had your boy seen promptly by a vet.

Could you please add the age, weight and the medication dose he is on to your details. How long has he been on medication and how long have you had him for? More background information will help us to make any appropriate recommendations.

You can also help us a lot by adding your country, state or (for the UK) your county to your details. We have got members from all over the world. Please click on your username on the top bar, then go to personal details and scroll down to location. Thanks!
 

Pebble

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It sounds like the abx are not working against the infection properly - this is not surprising as there are a lot of bugs that have developed resistance to the normal abx used for guinea pigs. You need tp find a decent cavy-savvy vet and go back for an ear swab/microbial culture/antibiotic sensitivity testing.

Can you please tell us
) the current abx/concentration.dose/weight of your guinea pig
b) your location
c) where you got your piggie from
to enable us to point you in the right direction
x
 

RugratsRUs

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He is around 5-6 months old but unfortunately I do not recall his weight. I do know he is on the small side though. Our vet gave him two shots of antibiotics and steroids, 24 hours apart. I assume the antibiotic is the same as he gave us to give orally for the next 5-8 days (we gave it to him for 8 days, ending about 3 days ago). The antibiotics is Baytril oral 2.5%, .2ml once daily.

I will update my profile with location info.
 

Anya

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I saw pigs with same symptoms on different forum and in both cases it was E. cuniculi virus
 

RugratsRUs

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I should also add he mostly moves his head in circles and such when he is looking for something, such as trying to eat from his bowl or drink water. When he is just hanging about he does not exhibit much of the head movement.
 

Elwickcavies

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E. canniculi is a parasite, most commonly found in rabbits, athough it can affect guineas too. One of the symptoms is a severe head tilt, but if it was that type of infection, it wouldn't respond to antibiotics as this appears to have, at least in part. Baytril is not always the best antibiotic for an ear infection, Zithromax may work better. I think a return trip to the vet is probably needed.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for adding your location! We have got a piggy savvy vet locator on the top bar if you wish to get a second opinion. https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/pages/guinea-pig-vet-locator/

I agree that it is likely that your little boy needs a stronger antibiotic and that you need to have him seen by a vet tomorrow, ideal as soon as possible.

Please weigh any ill guinea pig daily at the same point in the feeding cycle, instead of the weekly weigh-in that we recommend for healthy guinea pigs. That helps you monitor the actual food intake and enables you to step in with hand feeding whenever necessary and also notice any loss of appetite/deterioration more quickly. Strong antibiotics can be appetite dampeners, so we recommend to give a pinch of probiotics about 1-2 hours after an antibiotic in order to support the guts. You can also up the vitamin C in order to boost the immune system.
You can find all information for support care in this thread here: https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/forums/caring-for-an-ill-guinea-pig.53/
 

RugratsRUs

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I put Storm on my kitchen scale and he came out at 321 grams. I believe when we took him to the vet he was somewhere in the 200s. I will keep weighing him every day. He appears to be eating normally and a good amount. We already give them a vitamin C supplement in their water. Should that be enough?

In addition to hay and muesli/pellet guinea pig food mix, we usually give the guinea pig and our rats a treat once a day - either spinach, grapes (which the guinea pigs do not like) or cucumber.
 

RugratsRUs

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Thank you for adding your location! We have got a piggy savvy vet locator on the top bar if you wish to get a second opinion. https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/pages/guinea-pig-vet-locator/

I agree that it is likely that your little boy needs a stronger antibiotic and that you need to have him seen by a vet tomorrow, ideal as soon as possible.
Thanks for the info about the vet locator. Unfortunately, there are none anywhere near us. Our vet seemed pretty good and caring towards Storm. They got us in within an hour of us calling and saw him 3 times before all was said and done. We will give them a call tomorrow.

If it is possibly the balance center of the ear affected by the infection, will it eventually correct itself once the infection is fully gone (assuming we get some stronger antibiotics) or could it eventually be permanent? Something to ask the vet but thought I would also ask here
 

MerryPip

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It is possible that if the inner ear has been damaged, it may not recover and he will always have some head tilt but equally it may recover in time. It really is a case of time will tell.

Probiotics are different from vitamins and can be bought online. They help keep the guts 'good' bacteria going when on antibiotics. Antibiotics can make them feel pretty grotty and lose appetite so it can help them keep going if probiotics are used.

You are doing the right things, just keep weighing him to monitor and if you are at all worried, then head back to the vet. I agree with some of the others that a change of antiobiotic might help. Baytril is a broad spectrum antibiotic and the first choice for many vets for guinea pigs but isn't the best for some bugs. Infections are all different and respond differently to different antibiotics.

Good luck!
 

RugratsRUs

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Thanks for all the advice and wisdom everyone. I am somewhat hesitant on taking him to the vet if only because of the stress of a visit and any effects from antibiotics (which may end up being unnecessary). Other than the 'head action' he has going on, he appears to be fine. He is eating and drinking well, moving around and is definitely no longer lethargic. He interacts well with our other guinea pig, Samwise, and does not hesitate to make his displeasure with Samwise known.

We also wonder if he has gone blind. The main reason the thought emerged is because years ago we had a cat who went blind after he technically died on the operating table and was brought back after a few moments. Afterwards we noticed he was running into walls and was blind. His eyesight came back after a few weeks though. This is just a thought on our part.

I have uploaded a video to youtube to show how he is acting. It is hard to describe but he appears to move his head a lot more, appearing disoriented, when he is out of his cage on the empty floor than when he is in the cage; hence our wondering if he is blind. There is not a head tilt going on (at least the head tilt we are now familiar with after we saw it originally when we took him to the vet.) We are going to keep a close eye on him and begin weighing him every day at the same time to ensure he is gaining a bit of weight.


Thanks again! Everyone has been so very helpful.
 

RugratsRUs

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Quick update. Storm is doing well. He is steadily gaining weight. He is still doing the odd head thing like the above video (anyone seen this before?) He is active and not acting ill anymore. He is not overly enjoying the, umm, attentions of our other male guinea pig. ;)

Looking at his vitamin supplement, I realized it was a probiotic with vitamin c so we are good to go there.

We will keep weighing Storm every day (and weighing our other guinea pig weekly) to ensure he does not lose too much weight (that he does not have!)

Thanks again!
 

Wiebke

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It looks very much like still has got some discomfort/irritation in his ear. If it doesn't go away, your vet may want to have another thorough look at the ear again re. ear mites or another irritation, which should be able to treat with some ear drops.
 
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