When your guinea pigs are turning aged or falling ill, you might get worried, assuming that they are going to die. From the very beginning, you have cared for your guinea pigs by looking after them, and you understand their usual behavior well. But how will you know if its something serious? What are the signs that your guinea pig is dying?
Signs indicating that your guinea pig is going to pass away anytime soon include not showing interest in eating, lethargy, breathing issues, frequent changes in body temperature, pulse rate, and other essential life functions. Skin infection and flystrike can also be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
The life span of guinea pigs generally lies between 5-8 years. An average body temperature of guinea pigs should be between 102 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the heart rate should be in the middle of 240-250 beats per minute. Irregularities in these is a sign that shouldn’t be ignored.
Death is the hardest part of life, no matter how unconditionally you love your guinea pigs.
You should understand these signs, which indicate that your guinea pig will don’t have much time left. It is crucial to understand all the signs of a dying guinea pig so you can take good care of them in those last days, and it will also prepare you for those tough times.
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How to know if your guinea pig is dying?
Domesticated guinea pigs can live appropriately up to 8-10 years if they are kept inside of the house well confined.
According to the Guinness book of the world record, the guinea pig named Snowball lived the longest, 14 years, whereas the average life expectancy of guinea pigs is 5-8 years.
However, if your guinea pig is leading towards their end of life you will start noticing some signs beforehand.
You will observe some changes in the body of your guinea pigs that will tell you about their death is near. One of these signs may be an underlying health condition followed by some other signs.
Though, if your guinea pigs have health issues and sickness, accompanied by the below-mentioned signs then that means their life will come to an end soon.
The sooner you will know about the signs of death in your guinea pigs, the better you will manage the last few days of your guinea pigs’ life.
Before you check out these signs there are some common health issues you must be aware of. Learn more: 25 Health issues in guinea pigs.
So, let’s get right into what these signs are:
Your guinea pigs have stopped eating
The most common and straightforward clue to know something is wrong is your guinea pig is refusing to eat. All guinea pigs require a sufficient amount of food like hay, fresh veggies, and fruits. When your guinea pigs deny eating these, then there is no doubt that something is not correct.
As per studies, elder guinea pigs show less interest in eating than younger guinea pigs. Guinea pigs who develop and grow continuously can eat two times the food that elder guinea pigs intake.
There is nothing to worry about when your elder guinea pigs do not eat much like they used to eat when they were young.
Animals get healthy because they are bound to intake nutrients for survival. Similarly, guinea pigs also fulfill their health requirements by eating as much they want when they get the right food, so you are not required to force them to eat.
Still, if your guinea pigs do not feel hungry for food, this might be the hint of experiencing illness or facing death.
Mental and physical factors can be the cause of decreased hunger in guinea pigs. Take your guinea pigs to a vet and consult them about the issues which make you worried about your pets.
Learn more: Why is my guinea pig not eating?
They are getting more and more lethargic
By nature, guinea pigs are physically very energetic. No doubt, there are differences in the energy levels of every guinea pig. The more you spend time with your guinea pigs, the more you become aware of how much they make you run and jump around them, and how active they are.
If it appears that your guinea pigs are not as active as before, show no interest in playing, do not wish to do any physical activity for once, then sadly, these might be the signals that they are dying.
Unexpected laziness in your pets may be the hints of distress. A way to know that if this laziness is considerable or not is that you can take your guinea pigs to a noise-free, pleasing environment, and if they seem more lively there, then all this laziness occurred due to stress in them.
If they do not appear active even in that comfortable environment, they might fall sick or else they are dying.
Covering guinea pig in a soft blanket and feeding water in small quantities with the help of a syringe to your guinea pigs is what you may do, but do not force them to drink when they deny. You do not want your guinea pigs to struggle for air in their hard times.
Also read: Why is my guinea pig not moving?
Your guinea pig has stopped grooming themselves
Guinea pigs are good at grooming themselves. Though guinea pigs who suffer from sickness are likely to show less interest in cleaning themselves.
Those guinea pigs who are healthy have smooth, tidy fur and skin, whereas ill guinea pigs have matted and greasy fur. This less attention to clean fur is the initial hints of skin issues.
Guinea pigs can quickly come in contact with physical diseases, such as parasitic and fungal infections or skin tumors, etc. and few of these diseases cause death.
These diseases have their characteristics like bald spots on the skin, dandruff, or formation of scales and peeling of skin in thin pieces.
So, it is crucial that your guinea pigs must take care of their grooming.
Flies can be seen all around the cage
One possible deadly skin infection that can attack guinea pigs is named myiasis, also known as flystrike.
These are the conditions that invite flies to lay eggs on the skin of guinea pigs. And this state occurs when the body of guinea pigs is dirty due to urine and their discharged waste.
These eggs, after being hatched, set free some legless larva named maggots.
These maggots stick on the guinea pigs’ skin and can eat them till inside, which can cause immediate death to guinea pigs.
Also, the presence of moisture, urine, and waste on your guinea pigs’ skin is deadly signals. Easily seen maggots on the skin of guinea pigs are the signs that they are approaching death.
So if you see maggots on the body of your guinea pigs, immediately take them to a professional vet. Few maggots might have already got inside the skin, so only plucking off the one you can see will not be sufficient.
Antibiotics are the treatment for myiasis. Though, if this infection is not treated early in its primary stages, then no further treatment can heal them, and they may die.
Frequent change in body vitals
When guinea pigs approach their last hours, they experience some unusual changes in their vital signs. A living creature’s body vitals includes heart rate and body temperature. Some usual signals of a guinea pig’s body vitals are:
- The temperature of the body. Between 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heart rate. Between 200-250 beats per minute.
- Respiratory rate. Between 42-105 breaths per minute.
- Capillary refill time. Between 1-2 seconds.
The body temperature of guinea pigs can be checked through a thermometer, and you can examine their heart and respiratory rate by setting a timer and counting.
And to observe the capillary refill time of guinea pigs, what you can do is open their mouth and gently press it against gums around teeth, as you press it with slight force the light color will be noticed.
After releasing pressure, how much time the gums are taking to get back to the natural color will tell you the capillary refill time.
If these body vitals start changing their degrees from average or show frequent changes day by day, it is the time to call a vet.
Learn more: Guinea pig normal breathing
Your guinea pigs have a hard time catching a breath
Guinea pigs who are fit and healthy do not make noises while breathing, as they only breathe from noses, not by their mouths.
That means making stifling noises is a bad health signal. If your guinea pigs make noises like they are having a cold, then they might be showing hints of sickness and that sickness, which can cause death. Clues to recognizing breathing issue are:
Guinea pigs can also breathe heavily due to cold or stress. Guinea pigs might be stressed because of hearing loud sounds, being in a congested environment, fear of predators, and being held in hands uncomfortably.
Attempt to remove all those possible things that cause your guinea pigs to be in stress and then observe if your guinea pigs turn back to be happy and in comfort. If not, then there are serious health issues.
Their gut movement have stopped
Keep your guinea pigs under the observation of how often they pee, poop, and the texture of the waste they discharged.
Any kind of abnormal change in urine and waste of guinea pigs can also be the reason for their death. Unusual changes in the texture, smell, and color of their waste discharge and blood traces in urine are deadly signs.
When your guinea pigs do not pass out waste discharge, they have gastrointestinal stasis issues. This condition is the signal of adverse health and sickness. And it occurs when guinea pigs start avoiding food, which leads to slowing down of digestion.
Guinea pigs are refusing to eat might be because their food is lacking sufficient amounts of nutrients. Guinea pigs require healthy functioning digestion for living.
Suppose you found that your guinea pigs have not excreted and not passed out urine from 6 hours. Quickly take them to the veterinarian for treatment.
Unnecessary loose motions are common for poor health before the time of death and even lack of hydration in guinea pigs. It is observed that before dying, guinea pigs eliminates excessively.
Your guinea pig is making some unusual noises
If you hear your guinea pigs making abnormal sounds, it must be the sign that they are not feeling well.
When guinea pigs die, mainly due to sickness, they might whimper or make a high pitched sound unwillingly.
Other sounds to hear actively are breathing sound, which includes sneezing, puffing, snorting, and wheezing.
They are drooling a lot
Before some days of dying, guinea pigs drop uncontrollable saliva from their mouths, or they drool.
They drop this saliva in such amounts, which are far from your expectations, mostly when they are not drinking enough water.
However, the fur of guinea pigs soaks some saliva, but still, it gets messy.
You might observe swollen faces or mouth of your guinea pigs, mainly caused by drooling.
And if you watch inside of their mouth where their gums appear yellow, white pale or blue, it clearly explains there is further sickness.
Your guinea pig is shivering
If guinea pigs appear to shake or shiver even when there is a warm environment in their surroundings, it is a sign that they are in a state of shock.
They also shiver because of the fear of death has frightened them. The terror can also be caused by some stress. These dying signs can be unacceptable to you as much as they are for your guinea pigs.
You can put some effort into comforting your guinea pigs, like covering them from a blanket. But do not just fix it around them. Provide a room and let them roam in it if they wish.