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What to do when a Guinea Pig is Dying?

Reviewed by Carol Dunham

Seasoned Pet owner and enthusiast, Content Reviewer at

As an ardent pet lover with over 20 years of experience caring for dogs, cats, small mammals, and more, I’ve learned to cherish each moment with our furry companions. When faced with the prospect of saying goodbye, I believe in making those final memories as beautiful as possible. In this article, my goal is to answer the question “What to do when a Guinea Pig is Dying?“. I’ll share insider tips on making your pet’s last days comfortable when you suspect the end may be nearing.

You’ll discover how to keep them content, administer any prescribed medication, know when to call the vet, and deal with the grieving process. My goal is to empower pet parents with the knowledge to gently guide their animals through their final chapter. I hope these insights bring you comfort when the time comes to say farewell to a beloved friend. Stay with me for a peaceful passing to cherish your pet until the very end.

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Recognizing When A Guinea Pig is Dying

brown and white guinea pig

Guinea pigs are prey animals, meaning they instinctively hide any signs of weakness. This makes it difficult to recognize when they are ill or dying. However, there are some subtle behavioral changes to look out for:

  • Lethargy: Guinea pigs are naturally active creatures. If your pig seems less energetic or unwilling to play or run around, it could signal failing health.
  • Loss of appetite: A healthy guinea pig has a hearty appetite. Refusing food or treats is very concerning.
  • Labored breathing: This is a telltale sign of respiratory distress, which is common in older or sick guinea pigs. Look for rapid, shallow breathing and wheezing.
  • Incontinence: Guinea pigs naturally keep themselves very clean. Soiling themselves regularly can indicate the muscles are weakening near the end of life.
  • Hiding: Guinea pigs instinctively hide when sick or injured to protect themselves in the wild. Excessive hiding in burrows or shelters is a red flag.

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially loss of appetite or labored breathing, schedule a vet visit immediately for evaluation. Catching issues early greatly improves the odds of recovery.

You can also estimate age as an indicator. The average lifespan of a guinea pig is 5-8 years. Over 5 years old, look for signs of aging like cataracts, tumors, stiff joints, and twisted paw pads. These signal organ failure may be imminent.

I recommend establishing care with an exotic vet before you need it. In an emergency, they can provide guidance on whether euthanasia may be necessary to prevent suffering.

Making a Guinea Pig Comfortable Near End of Life

Guinea Pig Comfortable

Once you’ve consulted your vet and understood your guinea pig’s prognosis, your focus shifts to keeping them as comfortable as possible in their final days. Here are my top tips as a veteran piggy owner and vet tech:

Keep Them Near Companions Guinea pigs are extremely social and get anxious when separated. Keep bonded pairs or groups together if the pigs seem comforted by each other’s presence. However, remove bullying cagemates who stress out the sick pig.

Offer Soft Bedding and Blankets Place fleece liners, towels, or blankets in their living space to snuggle in. Guinea pigs lose body heat as they decline, so the extra warmth and softness helps them relax. Check often and replace soiled bedding to prevent sores.

Assist with Eating and Drinking Use a syringe to provide water and critical care formula made of ground pellets and hay. You can also mash up favorite veggies. Getting nutrients sustains their strength for longer. But don’t force it if they refuse.

Give Prescribed Medications Pain relievers like buprenorphine prescribed by your vet can greatly improve comfort. Administer oral medication in sweet syrup or with soft fruits to make it easier to take. Follow the dosage instructions precisely. what to do when a guinea pig is dying

Show Plenty of Affection

guinea pig affection

Gently pet, hold, and hand-feed your ailing guinea pig. The comfort of your touch calms them. Speak softly and reassuringly as well. Avoid over handling fragile pigs.

Keep the Environment Tranquil – Guinea pigs feel safest in calm, quiet spaces. Maintain a serene atmosphere with low lighting, soft music, and minimal noise or disruption to aid relaxation.

Continue Cleaning the Cage – Spot clean, soiled bedding promptly. Guinea pigs are tidy creatures and benefit from clean surroundings, even when declining. Ammonia from urine builds up fast otherwise.

Provide Space – When the end seems very near, lay the pig in a softly lined, separate enclosure and simply sit nearby calmly. Don’t crowd or stimulate them excessively in their final moments. Check on them, but allow sick or dying guinea pigs to pass away naturally.

These measures focus on keeping guinea pigs soothed, nourished, and as content as realistically possible at the end of their precious little lives. It is our last act of devotion as guinea pig parents.

Administering Medication to a Dying Guinea Pig

If the vet prescribes medication to ease pain or infection, proper administration is crucial for your guinea pig’s comfort. Here are some dosing tips:

Use a needle-less syringe to draw up liquid medication in a 1 mL or 3 mL syringe without the needle attached. Remove the plunger first when drawing to allow air to escape.

Aim for the cheek pouch and gently open your pig’s mouth. Place the syringe tip inside their cheek pouch—the space between teeth and cheek. Slowly depress the plunger and allow them to swallow.

Go slowly and avoid choking; give medication gradually to prevent choking, especially if weakened. Keep the head tilted up. Massage the throat to encourage swallowing if needed.

Follow the exact instructions closely and adhere to the prescribed dosages and timing instructions. Overdosing is dangerous. Under dosing makes medication ineffective.

Make it Tasty

Mix the medication with a little maple or fruit syrup to make it more palatable if your piggy resists the taste.

These steps minimize stress and ensure your guinea pig receives the full benefits of the medication. Don’t hesitate to call your vet with any questions or concerns about proper dosing. Proper pain management greatly improves their quality of life.

Coping with the Loss of a Guinea Pig

Consider a New Guinea Pig

Losing a beloved guinea pig companion is incredibly hard, but remember that you provided them with a wonderful life. Grieve the loss fully; your feelings are real and valid. Here are some healthy coping tips:

  • Create a Memorial – Hold a small burial ceremony, plant a commemorative flower or tree, compile a photo album, or have a solemn farewell photo shoot to honor their memory.
  • Spend Time With Companion Pigs – If you have other guinea pigs, give them extra affection and lap time for reassurance. Let them view the deceased pig’s body to understand that their friend has passed.
  • Talk About Your Memories – Share stories and laughter about your pig’s quirky personality with family and friends. Remember the joy they brought you.
  • Consider a New Guinea Pig – Adopting again when ready provides a meaningful opportunity to show another piggy a good home, while loving memory of the passed pig lives on.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Make sure to eat well, stay hydrated, and get adequate rest during the grieving period. Feel your feelings fully. The sadness fades to fond remembrance.

The loss of a guinea pig leaves an ache in our hearts. But it helps to know we can make their final chapter as gentle as possible. Take care, and feel free to reach out if you need support getting through this difficult time as a guinea pig parent.

When to Ask a Guinea Pig Vet

Ask A Guinea Pig Vet Online

At the first signs of lethargy or illness, asking a veterinarian for guidance is always the best course of action. Exotic vets have specialized training to promptly diagnose and treat guinea pig health issues. Early intervention is key to recovery. Your vet can prescribe pain medication to keep a dying guinea pig comfortable and advise if euthanasia is needed to prevent suffering.

I highly recommend using Easy Vet Answers to get 24/7 advice from verified exotic vets online. Their experienced guinea pig veterinarians can answer any urgent questions about recognizing signs of decline or caring for a dying pig from the comfort of your own home. They can also follow up with you throughout your pig’s end-of-life journey with compassionate, real-time support. It provides great peace of mind knowing an exotics vet expert is always available at your fingertips.

Saying farewell to a beloved guinea pig is never easy, but hopefully the information I’ve shared here aids you in navigating the process with compassion. Take each moment as it comes, focus on maximizing their comfort, and hold onto the joyful memories. With time, your heart will heal.

What to do when a Guinea Pig is Dying FAQs

Why is my guinea pig slowly dying?

There are a few common reasons a guinea pig may start declining slowly, including old age, cancer, organ failure, and certain contagious diseases. In older guinea pigs over 5 years old, the body simply becomes frail over time. Cancer is unfortunately prevalent in guinea pigs and leads to waste. Organ failure from heart or liver disease causes weakness. Contagious bacteria like salmonella also cause gradual deterioration. Get a vet exam to determine the cause and options for palliative care.

Can you help a dying guinea pig?

Yes, there are many things you can do to help a dying guinea pig pass more comfortably. Keep them warm with soft bedding. Hand-feed critical care formula and water. Give the prescribed pain medication. Provide companionship and affection. Maintain a peaceful environment. Spot clean soiled bedding. And allow them calm space when the end seems very near. Your gentle care means the world to your pig in their last days.

How can I help my sick guinea pig at home?

Start by calling your exotics vet for guidance. Offer extra soft foods and fluids with a syringe. Keep their cage very clean. Watch for worsening symptoms. Weigh daily to track appetite changes. Provide supervised playtime if they can manage it. Limit stress. Add vitamin C to water for an immune boost. Tempt eating with favorite treats. Use a humidifier for respiratory issues. Monitor closely and follow vet instructions for any medications or ongoing care.

How do you comfort a sad guinea pig?

Give sad or grieving guinea pigs more affection and lap time for reassurance. Let them snuggle in a soft blanket or fleece. Hand-feed treats gently. Spend extra play time together. Give new chew toys for distraction. Sit by their cage, talking calmly. Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender. Consider adopting a companion if mourning a cage mate. Guinea pigs feel safer with increased comfort and companionship when sad.

How can I help my guinea pig pass peacefully?

Make their final days peaceful by keeping them warm in soft bedding, offering water or critical care via syringe, administering prescribed pain medicine, holding or petting them gently, maintaining a calm, quiet environment, cleaning soiled bedding promptly, and simply sitting nearby calmly when the end is imminent. Allow them to pass naturally without excessive handling or stimulation in their last moments, if possible. Your supportive care helps them transition gracefully.

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