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10 Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Dying

10 Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Dying

When your guinea pigs are turning aged or falling ill, you might get worried, assuming that they will 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 it’s something serious? What are the signs that your guinea pig is dying?

Signs indicating that your guinea pig will pass away anytime soon include loss of appetite, 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. The 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 are a sign that you shouldn’t ignore.

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 not 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.

How to tell if your guinea pig is dying?

Domesticated guinea pigs can live appropriately up to 8-10 years if kept inside 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 leads 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 that 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 know about the signs of death in your guinea pigs, the better you will manage the last few days of your guinea pigs’ life.

So, let’s get right into the 10 signs that indicate your guinea pig is dying.

1. Your guinea pigs have stopped eating

Why Is My Guinea Pig Not 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:

2. They are getting more and more lethargic

How do I know if my guinea pig is sleeping?

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 maybe the hint 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, 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 pigs 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?

3. Your guinea pig has stopped grooming themselves

Sick Guinea pig

Guinea pigs are good at grooming themselves. Though guinea pigs who suffer from sickness are likely to show less interest in cleaning themselves.

Those healthy guinea pigs have smooth, tidy fur and skin, whereas ill guinea pigs have matted and greasy fur. This less attention to clean fur is the initial hint of skin issues.

Guinea pigs can quickly contact 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.

Also Read: How To Get Rid Of Matted Guinea Pig Hair? (Causes and How-to guide)

4. Flies can be seen all around the cage

Do guinea pigs attract flies

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 a deadly signal. 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. However, if this infection is not treated early in its primary stages, no further treatment can heal them, and they may die.

Also read: How flies are attracted towards guinea pigs and what to do?

5. Frequent change in body vitals

Guinea Pigs vet

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.

You can check the body temperature of guinea pigs 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, you will notice the light color.

After releasing pressure, how much time the gums take 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 time to call a vet.

Learn more: Guinea pig normal breathing

6. 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, they might show hints of sickness and that sickness, which can cause death. Clues to recognizing breathing issues are:

  • Puffing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughs
  • Breathing through mouth
  • Breathing shortness
  • Nose flaring
  • Sneezes
  • Rhinorrhea

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 under stress and then observe if your guinea pigs turn back to be happy and in comfort. If not, then there are serious health issues. 

A guinea pig who appears to be dying soon will be upset and breathe noisily; even the breathing will be in short gaps.

7. Their gut movement have stopped

Urinary problems in guinea pigs

Keep your guinea pigs under the observation of how often they pee, poop, and the texture of the waste they discharge.

Any 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 digestion.

Guinea pigs are refusing to eat might be because their food lacks 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 for 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 eliminate excessively.

8. Your guinea pig is making some unusual noises

My guinea pig is limping

If you hear your guinea pigs making abnormal sounds, it must be a sign that they are not feeling well.

Uncomfortable guinea pigs make sounds like teeth grinding and screaming. If your guinea pigs feel troubled or if they are in pain, they will scream.

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 sounds, including sneezing, puffing, snorting, and wheezing.

9. 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 mouths 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 further sickness.

10. Your guinea pig is shivering

Guinea pig pain medication

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 the fear of death has frightened them. Some stress can also cause terror. 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.

Source: Health issues in Guinea PigsDisorders and Diseases of Guinea PigsDisease Problems of Guinea PigsBiology and Diseases of Guinea Pigs.

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Saturday 6th of January 2024

I'd like to know how to make it better for them, make it easier, if there is something that can be done?


Sunday 14th of April 2024

@Aiko, if they're really suffering and struggling sadly one of the most human things to do is to put them down so their suffering stops