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Injury Trouble with back legs


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Apr 14, 2004
When I went to feed my boys hay this morning I noticed Jet acting really strangely. Usually they both run away from me unless it’s greens time. Neither of them particularly like cuddles or pets at all unless it’s a quick, single scritch to the top of the head. So it was pretty worrying that, instead of running away, Jet just sat there and let me stroke him. I could see he didn’t want to move. When I did get him to move he was walking awkwardly, like his hind legs were weak, especially the left one.

I have no idea what could have happened to him. They were fine at floor time last night. Their cage is 4x2 covered C&C with no ramps to fall from on or sharp corners for him to hurt himself. He’s more dominant and significantly bigger than his brother, so I doubt it’s a bite injury. Their nails are a bit on the long side, but not *that* long, and again the boys were running around the floor fine last night.

I was running late for work so I couldn’t properly assess his injury. I’ll book him a vet appointment if he’s no better this evening. In the meanwhile, can anyone suggest anything for the pain if he’s still hurting when I get home? Would applying heat or cold help? Any ideas what might be wrong with him? My mind keeps jumping to spinal injury, although I have no idea how he could have gotten one.
The only time I've experienced something similar in a guinea pig was when she had neurological problems. She had lesions on her brain and it caused her to have some problems on occasion with mobility and balance. They originally thought it was blood clots with her. If his feet feel cold or are discolored a blood clot is a possibility. When I first experienced it I researched and found there are many things that can cause problems like these.
They can sometimes popcorn, land wrong, and injure themselves. Or he could have had a minor stroke, or it could be a number of other things.

First, I'd isolate him in a corner of the cage so he can't move around too much and injure himself further. Put hay, food and water close to him so he can reach them easily.

Second, what exactly do you feed him? What kind of pellets, and how many? What kind of hay, and how much? Which veggies, and how much of each?

Third, how old is he? And does he have really shiny hair? Satins are prone to osteodystrophy.
One of my pigs suffered a spinal injury and this happened. I found him trapped under a fiddle-sticks tunnel (after my then, four year old sister, dropped it on top of him). The poor thing.

What the vet told me to do was to isolate him to a very, very small portion of his cage. He literally only had 1 snuggle sac in it and his stuffed animal to snuggle with (you don't want anything that may make them excited/want to play/explore/etc). He had to move a very small amount to get his hay (which was on the floor, not in a rack) water bottle, pellets and vegetables. He was also put on Metacam 2x a day. After about a month or so, he was a healthy little piggy again.

If he didn't injure his spine or hurt his legs, the only thing I can think of is maybe he's a Satin? bpatters touched on this slightly and I'm sure she'll have much more information for you, if he is indeed one. All I really know is that sometimes this happens to Satins, I think it has to do with them not retaining calcium properly, but do not quote me on that one :3
Thanks for the feedback!

I don't know their exact ages, but they're roughly four years old. Jet just has regular hair fur which is about normal shininess, not the glossy sheen of a satin.

Usually they get their popcorning out of their systems during floor time, but it'll be a relief if he's just sprained himself with excess popcorning inside the cage.

For food, they get timothy hay, sometimes Oxbow and sometimes locally grown hay. They get romaine and cillantro regularly, and a rotating assortment of other veggies including cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, chopped celery, endive, zucchini, baby carrots (never more than 1 piece each), and others, as well as odds and ends from whatever I'm cooking that night, provided it's on the safe list. It amounts to roughly 2 cups between them every day. Some days a little less, some days more.

Lately things have been kind of tight, so the fresh veggie selection has been limited for both piggies and people. Mostly romaine, cillantro and zucchini with cherry tomatoes. Jet does't really like cherry tomatoes though, so Blaze eats most of them.

I'll separate him when I get home if he's not better. How small an area does he need? I have spare grids to build him a 2x2 area adjoining his cage. Would that be too small? Too big? I'm really hoping he does get better though. I hate the idea that he's in pain :(
Small, like 1.5x1.5 grids.

Do take him to the vet. I should have put that in my earlier post. He can give him some pain medication that will make him more comfortable.
None of those veggies seem to be particularly high in vitamin C. Do you supplement them with C?
That diet is low in vitamin C, so he may have scurvy. Pigs are like humans, they can't synthesize vitamin C, and must get it from their diets. You need to be feeding about 1/4 of a bell pepper per day (unless the pepper is really large), and/or supplementing with vitamin C drops or tablets. I'd go today to a pharmacy and get some plain human vitamin C tablets. The pig needs about 30 mg per day, so if the tablets are 100 mg, then crush it and sprinkle about a third on his greens.

I'd switch the romaine out for red or green leaf lettuce, in the interest of warding off any possible bladder stone problems. They need a minimum of a cup of veggies each per day, and a little more certainly wouldn't hurt.
To clarify, they are getting bell peppers too, but Jet hasn't been eating them the last few days. Sorry for the confusion. Last night he wouldn't eat anything but baby greens - not even baby carrots, his favorite.

Now that I've had a chance to examine him properly I'm really worried. It's not that his hind legs are weak, it seems to be the left hind leg, and the right is just fighting to keep up alone. Well, that was last night. This morning he seems just too tired to get up. When looking for veggies Jet's head sways crazily from side to side, like he's drunk. He has a bit of a tendency to fall over on his side. I wonder if he's having trouble with is balance? There's a white discharge from his eyes.

Should I move his away from his brother? I'm loathe to do so, because he seems to draw comfort from Blaze's presense. They only time he seems to relax is when they're sitting next to each other. Blaze, for his part, seems to know something is wrong, because he spends a let of time quietly standing guard over Jet.

For now, rather than separate him, I have restricted Jet's movements by putting him in a little kitty litter box inside the cage. It's too tall for him to climb out of in this state, but Blaze can easily hop in. It's a little over a grid long by less than a grid wide. The hay rack and water bottle are in there now, and I've hung fleece around the box to make it safe and hidden. He seems to like it in there.

We'll know more when we get him to the vet. I hope he can just hang on until then!
Sounds like a possible neurological problem. Do get him to the vet ASAP. And let us know how he gets along.

For future reference, failure to eat signifies a serious problem for a guinea pig. And pigs decline in a hurry when they're ill. It would have been a good idea to get him checked out when you first noticed that he wasn't eating properly. My general rule of thumb for a pig not eating is to watch very carefully for no more than 12 hours or so. If they start eating again, it was probably a temporary blip. If not, they need to see the vet ASAP, and need to be hand-fed unless they're showing signs of an intestinal blockage.
We got Jet to the vet this morning. She said that he had had a massive stroke. He had lost cotrol of most of his motor function. Even autonomic systems pupils changing size or going to the bathroom weren't working any more by today. He couldn't even lift is head. The vet said that there was nothing that could be done for him, and that hhe'd have no quality of life. In the end we decided to let him go to sleep.

We've been spending as much time as we can with Blaze today. Eventually he'll need another companion, but I don't think he or we are ready to move on yet. We're still greiving. 2014 has been a really bad year for our pets. First we lost a cat to a jaw tumor, a dog to old age, and now Jet. I hope we can make it the rest of the way through the year without any more losses.
@merrycat, I'm really sorry..... As hard as I'm sure it was, you did the right thing. I can tell you really cared about him and I'm sure he knew it.
I'm so sorry to hear that, it's always terrible to lose friends. Hugs from me and my family to you and yours.
That's very sad news. I'm so sorry for your loss, sometimes there's just nothing we can do to help other than release our beloved pet from their suffering. RIP little Jet.
I'm sorry. How old is Blaze? He may be just fine on his own. If he's still relatively young, though, you'll not want to wait too long.
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