View Full Version : Infection Head tilt

01-01-15, 03:33 am
Hello, my piggie, Mocha, approximately four years, ten months old, has a head tilt. I just noticed the tilt about thirty minutes ago. I'm not sure exactly when it started, but it was wasn't before late afternoon. I took her out and I saw her head was tilted and also turned to one side. It seemed at first as though something was wrong with her back (like, stiff from sleeping on her side, or being picked up oddly, which I don't think was the case), but that's likely not the case. When she moves around, it doesn't bother her and she can move her head however she wants. Both my guinea pigs actually popcorned today and the two days previous, which they haven't done for a really long time. I was so delighted! She seems fine as far as appetite and activity goes.

So is there anything I can do for her without going to the vet immediately? My dad says that it's normal and just how it's most comfortable for her to hold her head (kind of like sleeping on their side) because when she walks, you can't see the tilt, really, so he won't want to go to the vet until I can show him that she's still doing that for a day or two. Will she be alright for a few more days (maybe two)? Also we're tight on money right now because my grandmother is sick and my mom wants to go visit her (in Europe) so we're not in the best situation right now. I could use my own money but it may not be enough for everything. We try to save as much money as we can since we need two college funds and my brother had braces and I have braces, so that's a lot for a family that's not at its best.

Also, we've never had to go to the vet before so we don't know which one is best. How do I choose? There are always good reviews and bad reviews, and it's hard to find reviews about treating small animals. Could anybody tell me their experience going to the vet with a guinea pig with head tilt? What are they going to do to see what's causing it (most likely an ear infection, right?) and what is normal/regular/usual treatment? I don't want the vet (if it isn't really the best) trying to get us to pay for a bunch of unnecessary, costly treatments that ultimately won't help. I'm aware that cost depends on where you go, but approximately how much will treatment cost of it's an ear infection? I've heard that if we get antibiotics that we should get probiotics as well. How much more will that cost? Should I get probiotics immediately or wait and see if she stops eating first? Also I hear that yogurt can be used as probiotic? And when I take Mocha to the vet, should I bring my other guinea pig for comfort, or will it just stress her out as well? And this is most likely not contagious, right? Since its most likely a bacterial infection and not viral. So separating them would just be stressful.

What's the most likely thing and what's the worst thing that can happen without immediate treatment? I'm aware that she should be taken to the vet as soon as possible, but it's difficult. It's such a shame that so many younger guinea pig (and other pet) owners must rely a lot on their parents for things like this. Not everyone has parents that care a lot about their small pets (not as much as larger family pets) and a lot of the time they're just not in a good financial situation.

Wow, I wrote a lot! Sorry for so many questions, but I would REALLY appreciate if you could answer all, most or even a few of them. I really want what's best for my girls, I love them so much. Thank you so much to people who reply!

P.S. Happy New Year!

01-01-15, 06:56 am
It is most likely an ear infection, the longer you leave it the worse it will get and in some cases head tilt becomes permanent if not treated promptly. If it is left to get too bad then more then one course of antibiotics/a combination of antibiotics might be necessary (meaning multiple vet trips). Guinea pigs are prey animals so they are very good at hiding symptoms, if it is most comfortable for her to hold her head tilted then there is something causing her to feel uncomfortable when holding it upright.

Even if it were contagious your other guinea pig has already been thoroughly exposed so no don't separate them. As for finding a vet, what you need to look for is a vet who treats exotics, small animal vets are not trained in the treatment of much past cats and dogs. No do not give yoghurt, guinea pigs are lactose intolerant and there are other ways to give them a pro-biotic (more info in a link below). Personally I give a pro-biotic an hour after every dose of the anti-biotic from the very start of treatment.

Make sure you have a read of these

Now down to cost, in my experience the cost for treatment for an ear infection was consultation fee (varies vet-to-vet but for me this was $50) plus one course of antibiotics (once again this can vary but I paid $25, so overall $75), you are best off calling the vet before you take her and ask roughly how much it would cost.

In my case my boy was also acting normal except for a head tilt, he also was scratching his ear very frequently and he absolutely did not want me to touch his ear at all (this last symptom is uncommon though). When I noticed this I got him into the vet the next day, they looked into his ear and took a wax sample. My boy showed discomfort when his ear was touched so the vet couldn't get a good look into it but was convinced it was an outer ear infection, she prescribed ear drops (which for reference would have no affect on an inner ear infection for which you would need an oral anti-biotic). I had to put the drops in three times a day for two weeks, but as the anti-biotic was not oral I did not give a pro-biotic. He absolutely hated it and held a grudge for well over a month after treatment stopped, he made a full recovery and finally let me pat his ears again after winning back his heart with copious amounts of bribery.

01-01-15, 09:36 am
The quicker she sees the vet, the more likely it is that the head tilt can be corrected. It's a classic sign of an ear infection, and the more well-established the infection becomes, the harder it is to clear up.

01-01-15, 03:59 pm
So today I took a look at Mocha and her head tilt is gone. No tilting or turning at all. The only thing is that during floor time she was doing a little hop back occasionally. It wasn't very often, but she's never done this before. It was kind of like when two guinea pigs face-off and raise they're heads and open they're mouths a bit (you know how they sometimes jump back a little?). There wasn't anything in front of her and there were no sudden or loud noises that would've made her jump (if anything it would've made my other guinea pig jump). It seemed as though there were something on her whiskers or something. Any idea what this is? Also why did her head tilt go away? Could it have possibly been a stiff neck? I'll still be watching her today and if something shows up again I hope we can get her to the vet tomorrow (closed on New Years).

01-01-15, 08:44 pm

01-01-15, 09:04 pm
As I said before guinea pigs are prey animals so they are good at hiding symptoms. Just keep a close eye on her.

01-02-15, 08:44 pm
Mocha's head tilt was gone today as well. She's still her normal self. Still eating, drinking, pooping, running around, chasing my other pig from hideys. So is it possible ​that there's nothing to worry about anymore? I'll still be watching her and everything.

I have to say, I was expecting more than just one good answer from this site...

01-02-15, 09:16 pm
My best advice is to watch her for a couple of days, and read reviews and such about your other small vets in your area. Maybe get a vet appointment for her in the next couple of days.

01-03-15, 03:24 pm
I agree. Find an exotics veterinarian in your area.

It's possible there was something lodged in her mouth/throat. At any rate, any time a pet acts in a manner not normal for them is a time for concern.

01-03-15, 04:15 pm
The thing is, she only had a head tilt for a few hours (when I couldn't get her to a vet), so unless I can show my dad that something is wrong, then I don't think we'll be going to a vet, especially when we don't have money to spare right now.

01-03-15, 05:16 pm
I'd start saving up right now. Because maybe not this time, but there might be sometime that you will have to take her to the vet. If you have money saved up just for that purpose, you are halfway there.