Guinea Pig Dying? Complete Step By Step Guide to Processing their 5 Final Stages

A guinea pig dying of old age and illnesses like renal, respiratory, or cardiac failure is not uncommon. Death may be sudden or sometimes take about three days. This article covers the guinea pig death process and the five transitioning stages involved.

The guinea pig death process begins when a dying piggy withdraws from the rest of the other companions. He identifies a quiet spot in the cage where he will go and remain standing. A dying piggy experiences a series of electric shocks, usually released by the central nervous system. 

It’s painful and traumatic to experience your beloved guinea pig die. But that’s part of the life of a pet parent. Read on to understand the guinea pig death process. You’ll know how piggies transition from one stage to another while dying and how to ensure decent conditions for the animal. 

5 Transitioning Stages of The Guinea Pig Death Process

Guinea pig death process

Generally, during your guinea pig death process, he displays specific signs. However, some deaths occur abruptly when you never even expected. Let’s look at five transitioning stages of the guinea pig death process. 

1. Illness or Decline Phase

During the illness stage, your guinea pig shows a considerable decline in health. The most common guinea pig end of life signs are;

  • Lethargy and limited movement
  • Severe weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Guinea pigs unable to swallow food 
  • Too cold or too hot skin coat 
  • Watery diarrhea and blood in urine and stool
  • A small amount of feces
  • Poor coat condition; usually dull and rough

Common diseases that cause death in guinea pigs include:

  • Pneumonia 
  • Cancers and 
  • Conjunctivitis. 

Besides illness, your guinea pig could be dying of old age. You can see the veterinarian for the next course of action when he is ailing. However, note that a dying guinea pig cannot be brought back, whatever the interventions you try to provide. 

But it doesn’t hurt to try bringing him back if the disease has not advanced. With proper medication by an experienced vet, you may see your pet recover from the impending illness. 

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2. Palliative Care Stage

Palliative care involves eliminating excessive pain and distress. Once you discover that your guinea pig will not recover from the condition he’s suffering from, you should provide high-quality palliative care. 

You want to ensure the best conditions for the comfort and peace of your furry friend. Remember, that’s the best thing you can do before the piggy exits the world stage. 

Based on the prevailing circumstances, keep your ailing guinea pig near his companions. He might feel comforted in the sight of other mates. However, you should assess whether or not to separate the guinea pig from the rest of his friends in the cage. 

If you think leaving the dying guinea pig could further distress him because of the other companions roughing with him, it’s better to separate and have him rest in a unique space.  

Also, wrap the guinea pig in a soft cloth or lightweight blanket. This keeps him warm and more comfortable. A dying guinea pig is pretty sensitive to cold, so keeping him warm could improve his last days of living.  

Since he cannot eat or drink by himself, you want to help him with feeding and drinking. He’s probably frail for such activities. Use a syringe to give water. Feed him a smoothie mix of hay, water, and ground pellets. If he refuses, don’t force.  

3. Weakening And Immobility Stage

With the illness progressing, the guinea pig becomes more frail. At this stage, he doesn’t want to eat or drink anything. 

Usually, the piggy doesn’t have the energy to move from one point to another. So, he always remains in the same position unless you change him. 

4. Terminal Stage

At this stage, the body functions of your guinea pig begins shutting down. You may notice the following symptoms: 

  • Labored breathing or difficulty in breathing 
  • Less responsive to touch 
  • The Guinea pig lies on his side
  • The guinea pig experiences ‘electric’ shocks in his body
  • Rapid leg movement 

The terminal phase may confuse most people to think the guinea pig could be suffering from a treatable condition. However, when it happens, there’s no need for alarm – the animal is in the terminal stage of the death process, and that’s normal

The death process is not a smooth experience for all guinea pig parents. Some people find this process quite distressful. So, they seek veterinary help to euthanize the animal and reduce pain. 

5. The Passing-On Stage

The passing-on stage marks the last phase in the guinea pig death process. This is the moment when the fur baby takes his last breath. At this point in life, the animal’s heart stops beating.

The body becomes limp. It also cools down gradually because the internal functions have stopped running. Generally, you can know your guinea pig is dead by pointing a light source in the eyes

If the eye’s iris doesn’t shrink but remains wide open, your dear little guinea pig is gone forever. He cannot feel anything, even when touched. He is dead.

Watching your pet pass through the entire circle of the guinea pig death process can be painful. If you are not strong-hearted, it can end in trauma. You may grieve for some time, and that’s okay—you could do nothing to keep him alive. 

It’s advisable to leave the carcass in the cage for one or two hours to allow his friends to grieve their loss. Then remove the carcass and bury it. 

How Long Does It Take for a Guinea Pig to Pass Away? 

Sick guinea pig

A guinea pig takes about one to three days (24-72 hours) to pass away. Just before the guinea pig dies, you’ll notice abnormal behavior and changes in his physical outlook. For instance, the piggy loses his appetite entirely, and there’s a general frailty. 

Monitoring a dying guinea pig is essential during this time. However, you don’t need to commit to handling the piggy if you don’t find it necessary. 

In rare cases, the guinea pig can revert from the abnormal behavior and live a healthy two or six months if you provide the best living conditions in his last days. The owner should have worked extremely hard to hand-feed the animal for this to happen. 

Also, you need a bit of luck because it’s nearly impossible to bring back an already-dying guinea pig. Yet, you may not want to see your pet suffer for the next few days under your watch. If that’s your situation, visit the vet to help you put him out through euthanasia. 

Helping the piggy pass out does not cause any pain. The animal is generally unconscious and unaware of what’s happening around him. Hence, euthanizing causes no pain but helps fasten the death process. 

That said, some guinea pigs may die suddenly without prior warning signs. They will eat and drink just fine. 

Guinea Pig Not Moving But Breathing

If your guinea pig is not moving but breathing, even to the touch, you must contact your veterinarian immediately. This is an emergency, and it should be attended to right away. 

Some pet parents are tempted to provide home remedies or supplements alone. This is not recommended as you are unsure what has happened to your guinea pig to render him motionless. Frankly speaking, you risk losing your piggy. 

The following are the reasons your guinea pig may not be moving but breathing:

Heat Stress

Guinea pigs do not do well in hot temperatures exceeding 30℃ (86℉)

If you leave him in a hot environment, the animal will likely suffer from heat stress. He may become unresponsive to the touch and not move. 

Even though you know it’s heat stress, make sure you first contact the vet. Then, place a damp cloth on him while you rush to the vet for treatment. Keep changing the side of the cloth to ensure the cooling is even. 

Once you arrive at the vet, he may administer some fluids through a needle. The fluids will aid the cooling process since guinea pigs lack an elaborate internal body cooling mechanism. They depend on the provided environment. 

Heat stress is a medical emergency. Do not slack seeking vet help. Many guinea pigs succumb to heat stress even after the attention of vets. 

Heart Attack or Stroke

Guinea pigs also experience strokes or heart attacks. In the event of this, rush him to the vet clinic for emergency treatment. Only an expert can help with prognosis and treatment. 

A common condition in old piggies, stroke makes the piggy unresponsive while still breathing. You may find him dead if you don’t come in time. 

With a heart attack, other symptoms can also accompany it. For instance, twitching, flickering eyes that indicate brain damage and unconsciousness. 

Respiratory Illness

Pneumonia and upper respiratory infection are common problems in guinea pigs. 

Besides causing difficulty in breathing, respiratory infections can make your little friend unable to move. 

You will see him labor to breathe, which indicates the two respiratory infections. Don’t hesitate to visit your vet for a medical emergency when you see this. 

Signs Guinea Pig Is Dying of Old Age

Guinea pig

The most common signs your guinea pig is dying of old age include cataracts, loss of hearing, reduced mobility, weight loss, fur color changes, lack of grooming, lack of appetite, sleeping a lot, and arthritis. 

Guinea pig lifespan is 4-8 years. These signs will start appearing when your guinea pig approaches the eighth year. Thus, you should prepare for him to exit the stage in the best way possible.

The following are the main signs your guinea pig is dying of old age

  • Cataracts: When guinea pigs grow older, they start having vision problems. Their eyes usually become cloudy, dull, and sunken. Cataracts impair your piggy from seeing well. 
  • Arthritis: Stiff joints are common in older guinea pigs. This condition is called arthritis and makes your guinea pig hobble while walking. Since it can cause injury to your pet, make sure to visit the vet once you notice arthritis. 
  • Poor or reduced mobility: Generally, you may notice reduced mobility in old guinea pigs. Because of age, the guinea pig rests more than it’s active. This usually leads to a sedentary lifestyle that predisposes your piggy to other life-threatening conditions, such as obesity. 
  • Anorexia: This is a severe condition in old-aged guinea pigs. Generally, they lose interest in eating, defecate less, and experience abrupt weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, dental disease, and abdominal distension. 

There are several other signs of a guinea pig dying of old age that you should look out for. All said, aim to provide the best care for your ailing piggy. Treat him well as a show of love and respect even as he prepares to leave the world soon. 

What Happens When a Guinea Pig Dies?

You can bury your guinea pig right after he dies. But also, you have the cremation process. Usually, cremation is done by a professional, and you can get the ashes for disposal or preservation. 

Whether you want to bury or cremate, ensure you consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

The vet can also advise you about the local regulations regarding the burial of pets. Once everything is clear, you may bury the carcass in the backyard for easy access by family members any time they wish to. 

When your cute little friend dies, you will always grieve. This is because you already got attached to him, and there is nothing distressful as losing your beloved pet. Grieving is normal for companions in the cage as well as the owner. 

Reflecting on the colorful memories you had together can be an excellent way of remembering your departed piggy. You can also create a small memorial to get the memories rolling. Don’t forget to keep a photo album to help you with reflections. 

For some pet parents, acquiring a new guinea pig to replace the departed one works fine. 

As much as this was a small pet, you can always seek special counsel from your vet to avoid the trauma and distress the whole process of death subjected you to. 

Main Causes of Guinea Pig Death

The leading causes of death in guinea pigs include:

  • Trauma and old age: Since the lifespan of guinea pigs is between 5 and 7 years, there is nothing you can do when they attain this age. Your old guinea pig will become highly susceptible to diseases which will cause trauma and eventually death.
  • Infections: Like any other animal, guinea pigs are susceptible to illnesses that eventually cause death. The most common death-causing illnesses among guinea pigs include Urinary Calculi, Bacterial Pneumonia, Urogenital Diseases, Pulmonary Neoplasia, and Renal Parasitism.
  • Improper care: Guinea pigs are highly vulnerable creatures. Therefore, they require proper care at all times for safety. They must be protected from cold, draft, and other rodents.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the Guinea pig death process is a somber yet essential aspect of responsible pet ownership. 

By recognizing and familiarizing ourselves with the five transitioning stages that these beloved creatures undergo, and the guinea pig end of life signs we can provide them with the care and support they need during their final journey.

While the Guinea pig death process is undoubtedly a difficult topic to discuss, it’s crucial to approach it with compassion, empathy, and a commitment to ensuring the well-being of our furry companions until the very end.


Does guinea pig make dying noises?

During its final moments your dying guinea pig might make shreking or wimprinmg noises unwillingly. Comfort your pet in its last moments to make sure it is not scared or terrified.

What are the signs your guinea pig is dying of old age?

A few sigs that hint at your pets’s deathdue to old age are;

  • Cataracts 
  • Low appetite 
  • Immobility 

 What are some guinea pig end of life signs?

Watery stools, lack of appetite, lethargy and immobility are a few end of life signs ina guinea pig. If you observe any of these, contact your vet immediately.

1 thought on “Guinea Pig Dying? Complete Step By Step Guide to Processing their 5 Final Stages”

  1. My Skinny Pig,,is sleeping alot, eating less,,weight loss,burys himself under his blankie,,isnt drinking,,he is about 4 yeqars old,,his coat looks fine no hair loss,,Just wondering what is happening to him,,,,so sad


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