The loss of an animal is very disheartening to many owners. The most painful part is when the animal dies without prior signs or warning. This frequently occurs with rodents; they will seem fine a day and turn out dead the next day. So, it is of utmost importance to know what can cause guinea pigs’ death.
Some of the causes of guinea pig death are parasitic infestation, diarrhea, urinary problems, stress, vitamin C deficiency, salmonella, tumors and cancer, bloating, anorexia, pneumonia, dental diseases, dystocia, pregnancy toxemia, ovarian cysts, ear and eye disorders, abscesses, and pododermatitis.
As surprising as this might sound, guinea pigs are popular pets worldwide; although they are not as fragile as other pets, they still require basic attention, devotion, and care to remain healthy.
Why Do My Guinea Pigs Keep Dying?
Many factors could be responsible for the sudden death of a guinea pig. Lack of proper care and nutrition could be a valid reason. Sometimes, the cause of sudden death could be health-related. However, regardless of the cause, it is usually important to always pay attention to any form of sudden changes in our pets.
Sometimes, some signs show that an animal is ill, which can result in death if ignored. If your guinea pigs keep dying, you must call a vet. The vet could perform a necropsy to properly understand the cause and avoid the same death for other pets. We will be explaining some reasons responsible for guinea pigs’ death below.
Guinea pigs are very fragile animals. Any form of stress can cause their health to deteriorate. When a guinea pig becomes overstressed and feels pain, it will stop eating. The effect of the lack of food is that it could lead to an imbalance in the animal’s gastrointestinal tracts, which then causes stasis.
In addition, stress could also cause a decrease in gut motility, leading to the decomposition of food in your guinea pig stomach. Common causes of stress in guinea pigs result from overcrowding in a cage, moving from one cage to another, and incompatible cages.
Also, loud noises from the environment or even changes in temperature, perhaps too hot or cold, could lead to death. So, if your guinea pigs have recently undergone any form of stress and begin to die, you must talk to your vet about it. Understanding the actual cause of the stress would help you prevent the future death of others.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency is also known as scurvy. Just like humans, guinea pigs and some other animals cannot produce vitamin C independently. So, they need to feed on certain foods rich in this vitamin. Failure to get enough vitamins from diets would result in vitamin deficiencies in their bodies and some health issues.
Common symptoms of scurvy in guinea pigs include weight loss, decreased appetite, diarrhea, difficulty in walking, bleeding gums, rough hair, feeling sick and sudden death. So, to avoid this, you must ensure your guinea pig feeds on foods rich in vitamin C. Strawberries, parsley, orange, red cabbage, kale, and asparagus are fruits, and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and are great for your guinea pig’s consumption.
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Salmonella is another medical condition that leads to sudden death in guinea pigs. Salmonella is a bacteria that could infect a guinea pig when it comes in contact with mice, rats, or another infected guinea pig.
The common symptoms of this condition include fever, lethargy, inflammation of the eye, lack of appetite, swollen glands, and liver enlargement. When a guinea pig is infected by salmonella, it is usually challenging to treat, as the use of antibiotics could lead to further health complications in guinea pigs.
So, instead, the best thing is to ensure you avoid your guinea pig from getting infected. Some preventive measures include regular washing of hands, avoiding contact with the bacteria carriers, and ensuring your pet cage is always clean.
Diarrhea is another potential cause that could be responsible for the sudden death of your guinea pigs. Diarrhea is usually caused by parasites, viruses, bacteria, and improper diet and could lead to an upset of the gastrointestinal tracts. Common symptoms of diarrhea include weight loss, reduced appetite, dehydration, reduced energy, abdominal pains, loose stool, and reduced body temperature.
When a guinea pig is down with diarrhea and not adequately treated, dehydration could set in and result in death. So, whenever you notice any signs of diarrhea in your pet, you are advised to get your pet examined and treated by a vet immediately. Increasing the fiber content in your guinea pigs’ diet can curb diarrhea.
Gut Stasis (Ileus)
Another cause of death in guinea pigs is ileus, which is caused by the build-up of gas in the pig’s small and large intestines. The major cause of this can be metabolism-related diseases, dental diseases, reactions to antibiotics, environmental changes, improper diet, and reactions to drugs.
A pig with gut stasis lacks interest in eating and will not poop; one of the signs of a healthy gut is defecation. So, when the guinea pig doesn’t poop, that is a sign that it is in a life-threatening situation. Gut stasis causes a lot of discomfort and pain to the guinea pig; this often results in strained and fast breathing.
Infections in the urinary tract like urinary calculi can cause stones in the kidney, bladder, and ureter, another cause of death in guinea pigs. Urinary calculi is the accumulation of calcium sediments in the urine, forming cystitis in the bladder. The stones formed block the tube that passes, resulting in difficulty urinating.
Urinary calculi is more common in female guinea pigs than in males. The signs that show that your guinea pig has urinary issues include blood in urine, hunched posture, urinating in small quantities, strained urination, and weight loss. You need to take the pig to a veterinarian for a thorough examination.
Do Guinea Pigs Hide When They Are Dying?
There is a common misconception that guinea pigs prefer to hide when dying, but this is not true. When guinea pigs are about to die, they become less social and will not spend time with other guinea pigs. This has been misinterpreted as them hiding when they are dying.
When guinea pigs are close to death, they lose energy, so they prefer to remain in a location instead of running around like the other pigs. They also refuse to eat treats; if this occurs, the pig is ill or dying because guinea pigs are known for loving treats.
As a result of being weak and close to death, guinea pigs cannot control their bowel movement, so you will see them peeing and pooping in unusual places. They are also slow to respond and react to anything.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Water Before Dying?
Many people wonder how long a guinea pig can survive without water before dying; well, healthy guinea pigs can survive for about 24 hours without water. However, if the guinea pig is sick, old, pregnant, exposed to extreme temperatures, or nursing, the time will be reduced.
You should know that after 24 hours, the guinea pig becomes dehydrated and will die within a short time. This is because guinea pigs are susceptible to becoming dehydrated, and the effects of dehydration are intestinal impaction, urinary tract infections, and kidney and bladder stones.
Guinea pigs are susceptible to various health issues, and if you own one or plan to purchase one, it is imperative to know these issues. With this knowledge, it is easy for you to prevent the issues, keep your guinea pig healthy, as well as prevent a death that could be avoided.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.