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Infection Head tilt - ear or eye?


Cavy Gazer
Jun 14, 2023
Hello! I have a male guinea pig named Chocolate whose almost a year old. During one of my checks a few weeks ago, I found a bunch of crusty stuff in his right ear. I gently cleaned it with olive oil and a Q-Tip (not down inside his ear) and it all came off but bled slightly. I've kept an eye on it and it's been fine. Then a couple days ago I noticed his head was tilted to the right. I checked his ear and its clean and he's eating, drinking, and running around but just a little quieter. Since it was weeks between when I cleaned his ear and the head tilt I wasn't sure if it would be an ear infection? I checked for abcesses, his mouth and any areas that could be tender. I kind of moved my hand quickly in front of his right eye to see if he would respond and he didn't but he could have just been chilling out lol. I do plan on seeing a vet, I was just seeing what others thought. Thank you in advance!
I'd bet on ear rather than eye. And the quicker you see the vet, the better. A head tilt due to an inner ear infection can be permanent.
Sounds like a possible ear infection, which would cause the head tilt. I just went through this with one of my boys, who had antibiotic ear drops prescribed. In your shoes, I would go sooner rather than later to a vet. Make sure its a qualified exotic vet, not a small animal vet.

Simon's ear infection cleared up fairly quickly, but he did develop a sinus infection shortly thereafter. He just finished his antibiotics a couple of days ago.
My Gidget had head tilt and chronic ear infections. Be sure you have a vet who can do imaging if needed, and who can sedate and flush the ears if it gets serious.

In my guinea pig’s situation, the antibiotic ear drops were a waste of time. They only treat the outer ear and don’t go deep enough. If the ears are causing head tilt, it’s more likely a middle or inner ear infection.

Each time they get an infection, scar tissue forms and makes them more susceptible to infections. So it’s important to get in to the vet ASAP. Good luck!
Thank you everyone for your input. I have an appt with our vet who has taken care of my other guinea pigs in the past. (Our vet office has like 3 vets and one specializes in guinea pigs) I had a syringe and I did a little flush hoping to help him feel better until the appt and when I did a big wad of black gunk came out. He seemed to be holding his head straighter today but I'm still keeping the appt. I will see what the vet comes up with!
Just an update on Chocolate. The vet appointment was over a week out and he took a turn for the worse so I contacted a vet right down the street. Luckily their small animal vet was there and after my situation was explained she agreed to fit me in. She said it was a middle ear infection. She wanted to sedate him and do x-rays but told me that if the infection was bad enough, they would recommend putting him down because of the pain. I know it may sound mean, but I opted for trying just the medication first. She gave him an oral antibiotic and something to help for pain. The first few days were iffy. I even took him to work with me. But soon he was up on all fours holding his head straight. I put him back in the cage with his 4 brothers and he didn't let them push him around. He was going up and down the ramps too. We had 5 more days of meds to go. Unfortunately, when I came home from work today, he had passed away while in his pigloo. It shocked me since he was doing so well but now he is out of pain and eating all the hay he wants! I'm just sad it had to happen this way.
I’m so sorry you lost him. I think you did the right thing trying the antibiotics and giving pain meds. Head tilt and ear infections are challenging to treat. He developed these problems at such a young age I can’t help but think there was something not right with his ear canals. That was the case with my little Gidget as well.

Take care and you have my condolences.
I am so sorry you lost him. Some pigs don't tolerate antibiotics well and they can really upset the stomach but it sounds like they were working. My most sincere condolences for your loss.
Thank you. The girls I work with have felt the loss too. I took him to work with me to make sure he was eating and drinking and to keep an eye on him. They all would go back in the break room and check on him and talk to him. They even asked of we could have a "pet day" every Sunday and if I could bring in a different guinea pig each time. Lol. I attached a picture of Chocolate. I love this picture because it's like he posed for it like "yeah. Look at me"


Awwww, what a beautiful boy. Very handsome devil. Losing a pig always hurts so much. Never gets easier.
I'm so sorry you lost him.

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