10 Common Signs a Guinea Pig is Dying

While guinea pigs have a longer life expectancy of between 4-8 years compared to other small pets, sometimes they may leave us when we least expect it.

Unfortunately, first-time guinea pig owners may not tell when the pet is coming to the end of its life. This is partly because there are no outright signs a guinea pig is dying. Instead, you have to combine several symptoms that may mean that your pet may leave soon.

In this article, we are going to focus on major signs of a dying guinea pig, evaluate the chances of saving the guinea pig, how to comfort it, and how to deal with the loss.

Common Signs a Guinea Pig is Dying

Signs of a dying guinea pig

Major symptoms when a guinea pig is dying include fever, breathing problems, isolation, and loss of appetite. We will discuss these among other signs that mean your pet is in a critical condition; 

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is a common sign that a guinea pig may be nearing their demise. This symptom can be easily identified since the pet owner is responsible for feeding the guinea pig. 

If you are feeding the guinea pig a common diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and hay in the same environment, the appetite should remain constant. 

A drop in appetite will translate to an illness or a digestive problem. If the guinea pig stays a few days without food and water, their liver may be damaged and risk losing its life.

Weight loss

Sometimes you may not realize that your guinea pig is consuming less food than normal. However, you will eventually notice that your pet has lost some weight.

A mature and healthy guinea pig will weigh anywhere between 500g-1500g. If your guinea pig loses 50g in a few days then there is a risk it may die.

You may reduce the rate at which the guinea pig loses weight by manually feeding it.

Diarrhea & blood in stool

Diarrhea and blood in guinea pig urine are signs of severe illness that may lead to death.

Watery and loose stool can cause dehydration and loss of nutrients. When you notice your guinea pig has a swollen belly, smelly stool, and fecal staining near the anus, you should contact your vet.

Blood in the urine of a guinea pig means something serious is affecting your pet. This may be a sign of tumors, cancer, urinary tract infections (UTIs), or kidney problems.

A combination of diarrhea and blood in urine is a clear sign a guinea pig is dying.

Lack of activity

Guinea pigs are known for displaying joy and happiness. Most of the time you will find them running and jumping around while making noises.

When you see a different behavior from this, it may mean that your guinea pig is going through difficulties.

Lack of activity may not always mean that your cavy is on their deathbed. Sometimes they are less active due to weight gain, pregnancy, stress, or changes in the environment.


If you have more than one piggie, it will be easier for you to notice this sign. Usually, guinea pigs will play around with each other energetically.

When a guinea pig separates itself from the rest combined with a lack of activity, this is a sign your guinea pig may die.

Generally, most pets do not want to surround themselves with other animals when they are nearing their death. In the case of guinea pigs, they will lie flat on their stomach with their head down in a lonely corner.

Unresponsive to touch

This sign adds to isolation and inactivity. When a cavy is too calm and does not respond to your touch or when other pets provoke it, this is a sign of a dying guinea pig.

Guinea pigs not responding may be because they are not sensitive to touch. Some of the internal organs are already not functioning. This may mean that your piggy is suffering a stroke or kidney problems. 

This calls for an emergency check by a veterinarian or you risk losing your beloved pet.

Respiratory problems

When a guinea pig is having difficulty breathing it may be a clear sign that the pet may die soon. Normally, a guinea pig should effortlessly breathe in and out when they are resting.

You can identify respiratory problems in a guinea pig when they are panting, have rapid breathing, sneezing, and have mucus near the nostrils.

Breathing problems may cause shock in a guinea pig leading to death.


Too high or too low body temperature in your guinea pig is a sign that your piggie is in critical condition.

Healthy guinea pigs have a body temperature between 38-40 degrees Celsius. When the reading is too low or too high from this range then there is a possibility that your cavy will die.

Low body temperature means the body organs are not functioning well or the pet is infected with pneumonia. Either way, this is a dangerous sign and you should seek veterinary assistance.

Poor fur condition

Poor fur condition in a guinea pig is a sign of poor health. The coat will have patches due to fur loss, the coating may also look dull and with signs of thinning. The piggy’s fur texture will also be rough when it’s nearing its death.

Guinea pigs’ fur condition can be used to determine when the pet is lacking nutrients, has metabolism problems, and has parasite infestations. 

Cloudy eyes

A cavy developing cloudy eyes is a sign that the guinea pig is dying. In most cases, this sign comes with old age in guinea pigs. In other cases, cloudy, dull, and sunken eyes are a sign that the piggy is suffering from a serious illness.

In addition, you may notice watery eyes in a guinea pig which is a sign of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is a common bacterial infection among guinea pigs that causes inflammation on the outermost layer of the eyes. This leads to discharge from the eyes.

How to comfort a dying guinea pig

When you notice the signs that your guinea pig is dying, you should not just ignore it and let it die. There are a few things you can do to make a guinea pig have a peaceful death.

These include;

Visiting a vet

Before you come to the conclusion that your piggy will die, I would recommend you visit a veterinarian. The vet will assess your guinea pig and give you a report on the status of your pet. He will also give you customized guidelines on how to take care of your dying guinea pig.

Pet your guinea pig more

You should show extra affection to your guinea pig when it’s nearing its death. This can be achieved by talking to the cavy in a soothing voice, cuddling it, or holding it with a soft towel.

However, you should look out for signs of discomfort since a dying guinea pig will sometimes prefer to be left alone.

Syringe feed your guinea pig

When a guinea pig is almost dying, they do not have the energy to even feed itself. That is when you make an extra effort to feed them using a syringe or just a spoon.

Follow these steps to successfully syringe feed your guinea pig;

  • Blend your guinea pig’s favorite diet. An alternative would be powder food where you just add water.
  • Fill a syringe with the blended meal
  • Gently insert the syringe (without needle) on either side of the mouth
  • Gently push the plunger to release food 
  • Repeat the process when the guinea pig swallows the food.

Create a peaceful environment

In relation to guinea pigs isolating themselves, sometimes the best care is to leave them unbothered.

In creating a peaceful environment you can go as far as keeping a dying guinea pig in a separate cage from other pets. 

Make the cage comfortable with balanced lighting and warmth. You can also introduce white noise to help the piggy relax.

How to deal with the loss of a guinea pig

Every pet owner will confess that it is not easy to overcome the grief of a dead pet. After spending a long time with a guinea pig you will develop an emotional connection that is not easy to let go of. It’s even more difficult if it is the first time that you are going through the experience.

There are some tips you can apply to overcome the loss of a guinea pig;

  • Hold a proper burial

After your piggies pass on, you definitely do not want to hold on to the dead body. Some pet owners prefer cremation so that they can preserve the remains. However, those who fear emotional triggers just bury the body.

It is important to take precautions when you opt to go for the second option. For instance, it is hazardous to bury a guinea pig near a water body, on someone else’s land, or if there is a health risk to humans.

  • Look for a temporary hobby

If you have been spending all your free time with the guinea pig, it is high time you look for another activity to fill up that time. You can go for a nature walk, go to the movies or socialize with other people.

  • Know That it is Normal To Grief

Whenever you lose something or someone you are emotionally attached to, it is always a good idea to feel their loss. It is only by accepting this fact that you will heal and move on.