Is head tilt fatal in guinea pigs?
Head tilt in guinea pigs is not always a life-threatening problem. Some veterinarians believe that we are too ready to give up hope when a guinea pig exhibits a head tilt.
In spite of this, the situation is quite severe. Your guinea pig will have the best chance of survival if you do the following:
- If it is detected early: As it can turn to severe disease in a further stage. Sooner it gets discovered sooner your guinea pig will be healthy again.
- If guinea pigs usually function: Guinea pig has the best chance of survival if they are still able to eat, drink, and groom themselves.
- If a guinea pig is still breathing through its nose: Guinea pigs breathe through their nose, and if they are still breathing through their nose, then it is a good sign. But in case they breathe through their mouth in a condition of head tilt, then it is a medical emergency.
Depending on how extreme the head tilt is and how much agony your guinea pig is in, it may be necessary to put them down.
What is head tilt in guinea pigs?
Torticollis is the medical word for a head tilt, which is also referred to as wry neck in some circles. There are instances in which your guinea pig’s head tilts to the side or tilts upwards for various reasons.
Torticollis can be mild, moderate, or severe in severity. Others have an abnormal neck curvature, while others have a slight head tilt that is barely noticeable..
Guinea pigs suffering from torticollis have difficulty maintaining quiet, and they may also appear concerned or agitated in their behavior. In this case, it is because of pain. Not being able to maintain one’s head upright will cause one to experience difficulties when eating and drinking.
Even if your guinea pig lives a normal life after suffering from a head tilt, they should still be examined by a veterinarian because head tilt can develop into a life-threatening ailment at a later stage.
Why do guinea pigs tilt their head
A guinea pig’s head tilt can be caused by a number of different factors.
Cardiovascular problems, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections are all possibilities in this situation.
It is also possible for your guinea pig to suffer from trauma, tumor, or muscle spasms.
All of these things could be causing your guinea pig’s head to tilt. All of these topics will be discussed in further depth in the following sections.
What causes head tilt in guinea pigs?
Head tilt is an illness that can be caused by a variety of circumstances, some of which are listed below as some of the most prevalent causes of head tilt:
- Trauma: Head injury is not a significant reason for head tilt, but it is something you should be aware of.
- Tumor: In some of the cases, tumors in the ear, neck, or brain can be the reason for the head tilt.
- Muscle Spasms: The reason for this can be temporary stress, excitement, or other causes, Though muscle spasms too are temporary.
- Cardiovascular Disease: Guinea pig having heart disease may fling their head backward for taking in more air. Stroke can also be the reason for head tilt.
- Parasite Infections: Encephalitozoonosis is a hazardous parasitic infection that can cause a head tilt in guinea pigs.
- Bacterial Infections: Origin of such diseases are nose or windpipe. Moving such infection into the inner ear can result in causing head tilt.
Some of the causes are much more similar than others, so let’s dive deeper to explore the common causes of head tilt.
Table of Contents
Encephalitozoonosis and Head Tilt
The most prevalent cause of head tilt is encephalitozoonosis, which is an infection of the brain. The parasite encephalitozoon cuniculi is responsible for its development.
The cells of a guinea pig have been conquered by this parasite. It has the greatest impact on the cells of the eyes, kidneys, and central nervous system.
When your guinea pig becomes infected with encephalitozoonosis, it may take several weeks, or even months, for the head to tilt.
The following are the very first indicators of infection caused by this virus:
- Dragging of the feet
A parasite may have taken root in your guinea pig’s system if he or she has grown increasingly clumsy.
Why early treatment is crucial
It is crucial to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid the head tilt from becoming a serious condition.
Furthermore, head tilt is not simply the cause of the first treatment, as encephalitozoonosis can result in the following complications:
- Heart disease
- Eye disease
- Kidney disease
- Lung disease is rare, but it can lead to pneumonia.
How do guinea pigs get E. Cuniculi
This microscopic parasite can be seen in the urine and feces of the other animal, which indicates that it is present.
Guinea pigs can become infected if they come into contact with or even breathe in the spores from the fungus. The following are risk factors to consider:
- A guinea pig can get infected in case they are living with the other guinea pig who is affected by encephalitozoon cuniculi parasite.
- Cramped living conditions.
- Living in a dirty and unsanitary condition.
- Breeding with various other guinea pigs.
- Guinea pig is having contact with a wild animal.
- If a guinea pig is having E. cuniculi, anything which can weaken the immunity of a guinea pig can tremendously heighten it.
It is possible that the signs of a parasite will not be discovered for more than a year. As a result, anytime you get a guinea pig, make certain that the guinea pig has been subjected to an E. cuniculi screening test.
In addition, during the birthing process, this condition can be passed from a mother to a kid.
Other parasitic infection in guinea pigs
The disease Cuniculi is one of the most well-known examples of exploitative sickness, but there are others, and you should be aware of their existence. These four parasites can be acquired from a variety of sources, including pets, wild animals, and insects.
Cuterebriasis is a parasite infection that can cause severe head tilt in guinea pigs, as well as other life-threatening disorders in these animals. A species of fly known as Cuterebra is the subject of this article.
These fly land on the guinea pig’s fur and lay eggs in their skin, which they then eat. As the eggs make their way into the guinea pig’s inner neurological system, they will cause an imbalance in the system, wryneck, and various other ailments.
Toxoplasma Gondii Infection
From time to time, your guinea pig may be harmed by this sickness. Toxoplasma gondii is the pathogen that most commonly infects cats.
If you have both a cat and a guinea pig in your home, the likelihood of your guinea pig becoming sick increases dramatically as well.
Cat urine and excrement can be a source of infection for guinea pigs, and the bacteria can be passed to them.
Toxoplasma gondii infection results in a tilted and unbalanced head position. In some instances, it has the ability to develop into human beings.
Ear mites are yet another type of bacteria that can cause head tilt.
Ear mites can cause excessive scratching, groaning, and tremor in the head, among other signs and symptoms.
That is a type of roundworm that can be found in the guts of raccoons and skunks, among other animals.
This bacteria could be transmitted to guinea pigs if they are allowed to graze on grass outside. In addition, Baylisascaris spp. has been found in a number of different types of bedding.
After making their way into the guinea pigs’ inner nervous system, the eggs will begin to eat away at the tissue in the brain.
In the near term, this can result in a tilting of the head. Because once this bacteria has gained access to nerve cells in the brain tissue, it is almost certain to produce a life-threatening disease, prompt treatment is required.
Bacterial infection and guinea pigs head tilt
A bacterial infection is another type of infection that can result in a twisted neck.
The nose or throat of the guinea pig is the most common site of this type of bacterial illness. Because of this bacterial infection, it becomes increasingly harder for your guinea pig to breathe properly.
As a result, your guinea pigs will typically cock their heads to the side or upwards in order to breathe properly.
If bacterial infections are carried inside the nose or throat, this may result in a slight head tilting motion (and do not even move to the middle ears).
Here are some additional signs and symptoms:
- Coughing, sneezing, and puffing
- Slow or fast breathing
- unclear or cloudy release from the eyes and nose
- decreased in hunger
- Swelling of the noses
If the bacterial infection is not treated immediately, it will spread from the nose canal to the inner ears.
Guinea pig ear infection head tilt
An inner ear infection is one of the most common complications associated with head tilt. In most cases, an infection originates in the nose and subsequently spreads to the internal ears.
During the same time period, if the infection spreads to the inner ear, the head tilt will become quite evident.
Because of this infection, the majority of guinea pigs will not eat or drink anything for a long period of time. Because of the resulting rapid weight loss and gastrointestinal stasis, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.
Despite the fact that Pasteurella multocida is the most well-known example, there are numerous other forms of bacteria that can cause an infection in the guinea pig’s ear.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus sp., and Bordetella Bronchiseptica are examples of pathogens to watch out for.
Muscle Spasms and Head Tilt
Muscle spasms can be difficult to diagnose because they can be an indication of an illness in many instances. However, they are not always an indication of a medical condition or illness.
If you overstimulate your guinea pig, he or she may experience spasms on occasion. It is possible for guinea pigs to have brief head tilt due to these muscle spasms from time to time.
The fact that your guinea pig’s head tilts for a minute or two may not be cause for alarm, but it should be noted.
If your guinea pig’s head tilt occurs on a regular basis or for an extended period of time, it should be evaluated.
Heart disease and guinea pig head tilt
Guinea pigs suffering from heart disease will typically lean their heads back. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the guinea pigs are straining to breathe, and this state provides them with respite.
Because cardiac illness and parasite infections are so similar, it is difficult to tell the difference between the two conditions.
For example, both heart illness and parasite infection can result in trouble breathing, loss of taste, and a tilted head, among other symptoms.
Guinea pigs suffering from heart disease may experience swelling in their eyes, which is perhaps the most notable exception.
Furthermore, if the parasite infection is not treated in a timely manner, it can progress into cardiac disease. Additionally, encephalitozoonosis might progress to the point of causing cardiac disease.
Stroke and guinea pig head tilt
A stroke, another type of cardiovascular disease in guinea pigs, can also result in a tilting of the head in the animal.
Although it is uncommon in guinea pigs, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms.
The following are the signs and symptoms of a stroke in guinea pigs:
- Paralysis in the hind legs.
- Facial weakness
- Side to side-eye movements
Stroke manifests itself with obvious symptoms that cannot be confused with other medical problems.
Trauma and wry neck
A wry neck is caused by a traumatic brain injury. Guinea pigs are subjected to head impacts for a wide variety of reasons.
For example, if your guinea pig is abruptly stunned by other animals, it is possible that they will accidently strike their head while fleeing.
Guinea pigs are notoriously clumsy, and as a result, all of these mishaps are prevalent among them.
In the event of a severe injury, guinea pigs are given pain relievers in order for them to be able to eat, walk, and groom themselves.
Tumors and head tilt
Tumors in the neck, face, or back of your guinea pig may be the cause of his or her head tilting. No matter if the tumor is benign or malignant, it is caused by abnormal tissue growth that is not normal.
It is possible that the lump contains water, fat, blood, or malignancy. If your guinea pig develops a tumor, it is rare that it is malignant in nature. Cancer in the guinea pig is a very unusual occurrence.
Benign tumors should be thoroughly evaluated because they might cause a very painful head tilt if left untreated.
Is head tilt in guinea pig contagious?
If your guinea pig is infected with a bacterial or parasite condition, there is a risk to the health of other guinea pigs as well. It is usually communicable to dogs, cats, and other animals, as well as to humans.
Some examples include Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is contagious in both dogs and cats, and Toxoplasma gondii, which is contagious in both cats and dogs. Some of the illnesses are even capable of being transmitted to people.
Treating head tilt in guinea pigs
Your veterinarian will provide the following treatment to your guinea pig after conducting a series of tests on him. The following are examples of these treatments:
- Fluid therapy: The fluid injection will be needed in case your guinea pig shows a struggle in drinking.
- Physical therapy: Gentle back and neck massage can be helpful for your guinea pig with a wry neck. Make sure you don’t try it at home as it’s a professional work and should be done by a professional.
- Nutritional therapy: If your guinea pig is not able to eat and drink properly, then the syringe will be helpful to feed until they get their strength back.
- Surgery: Surgery may be needed in only some rare cases.
- Pain Medication: Various types of painkillers and anti-inflammatories are there. Corticosteroids can be useful if they are used in small quantities. But, it can make things worse if taken in for too long.
- Head tilt medication: Many infections are treated with antibiotics. For example, Tetracyclines are used to treat for e. cuniculi. Different types of medicines are prescribed by the vet in case your guinea pig is suffering from cardiovascular illness.
Aftercare for guinea pig with head tilt
During the recuperation phase, your veterinarian will instruct you on how to care for your guinea pig.
You must adhere to your veterinarian’s recommendations since they will suit the needs of your guinea pig.
Some of the recommendations for your guinea pig’s aftercare include the following:
- Food and drink: Guinea pigs will have to eat and drink to prevent themselves from gastrointestinal stasis.
- You should feed them something tasty like herbs or leafy greens.
- You have to feed your guinea pig through a syringe if they cannot eat.
- Cleanliness: Your guinea pig suffering from such an issue will find it hard to clean themselves. Help your guinea pig by grooming them and wiping them with a damp cloth, as they will need your help.
- Take the use of a microfiber towel for drying them to make sure they don’t get cold.
- Also, make use of warm water and cotton wool for cleaning their eyes.
- Warmth: Guinea pigs need to stay warm when they are healing from an injury or illness. Get your guinea pig inside if they live outdoors until they get completely recovered.
Preventing head tilt in guinea pigs
Head tilt is a potentially dangerous and life-threatening disorder. As a result, we must do everything we can to avoid it in the first place.
The following are some suggestions for preventing head tilt in guinea pigs:
- Whenever you adopt a new guinea pig, make sure to have them screened for e. cuniculi.
- Make sure you arrange an enclosure big enough for the number of guinea pigs you have.
- Regularly clean your guinea pig enclosure to prevent infections.
- You should check your guinea pig fur regularly, to make sure that if there are any signs of urine scald and flystrike.
- Make sure that your guinea pig is not getting in contact with the wild animals.
- Ensure that other household pets like dogs and cats don’t come regularly in connection with your guinea pig.
- If you have any other household pets like cats, make sure that you usually provide flea treatment.
- Clean your cat poop immediately and disinfect the areas that have been infected with the cat urine or feces.
- Check your guinea pig regularly to know that if your pet is having any signs of illness.
Many of these disorders take a long time to manifest themselves as head tilt.
Light symptoms such as fast breathing, swaying, and tripping are experienced at the outset of the condition.
Detecting such an illness at an early stage will provide your guinea pig with the best chance of surviving the sickness.