Did I kill my guinea pig? Common Causes of Death

  • MickAdmin
  • March 6, 2023

Guinea pigs are a popular pet choice but can be tricky to care for. If you’re worried that something you did may have caused your guinea pig to die, there are some simple things you can do to check if your guinea pig is still alive. Read on to learn what signs to look for and how to tell if your guinea pig is alive.


Did I kill my guinea pig?


Guineas pigs are delicate creatures with particular needs like frequent access to fresh food and water, ample exercise time outside the cage, and a frequently cleaned living space.

Unfortunately, they can become very ill quickly if those needs are not met. If the guinea pig had any typical signs of illness, such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, or lethargy, before its death, it is almost certain these factors were contributory.

However, without an autopsy and lab work performed, there will always be some doubt about your beloved pet’s exact cause of death.


The First Step: Check for Breathing


Before panic takes hold, the first step is determining if your guinea pig is still alive.

Check for vital signs such as breathing and a heartbeat.

Place your hand on its chest and monitor for any movement.

There may be some indication of life, a gentle rise, and fall of its chest or a faint pulse in its neck.

If unsure whether it is still alive, you can listen closely to its nose and mouth for any breathing sounds.

If there is no sign of life, check the environment to ensure they haven’t been placed in an unsafe spot away from the heat or water.

Some small animals have prolonged heart rates and metabolism, so their vital signs may be difficult to detect. If there is still no evidence of life, speak with a veterinarian immediately, as they can provide advice and help.


The Second Step is: Monitor Their Activity Level


As with any pet, monitoring your guinea pig’s activity level is essential to know when something is wrong.

Some common signs of illness or pain can include a decrease in overall movement, a reluctance to move, or even a change in the pig’s normal behaviors.

If your guinea pig is not doing what it usually does, look for more signs of potential issues.

Keeping an eye on their activity level from day to day is vital to quickly catching anything out of the ordinary, which will help ensure your little loved one stays happy and healthy.

Alternatively, if the guinea pig appears normal but doesn’t seem interested in food or water, this could also indicate health problems. In either case, it’s always best to monitor them closely and watch for any strange behavior so that you can act quickly if necessary.


Common causes of death in Guinea pigs


1. Respiratory Infections


Respiratory infections are among the most common causes of death in Guinea pigs. These infections can be caused by various bacteria, viruses, and fungi and can often be fatal if not treated promptly. Symptoms of respiratory infections include sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.


2. Gastrointestinal Problems


Gastrointestinal problems are another common cause of death in Guinea pigs. These problems range from stomach upsets to more severe conditions such as gastrointestinal parasites or cancer. Symptoms of gastrointestinal problems include diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.


3. Kidney Disease


Kidney disease is a common health problem in Guinea pigs and can often be fatal if not treated properly. Various factors, including dehydration, infection, and certain medications, can cause kidney disease. Symptoms of kidney disease include increased thirst, urination, and appetite.


4. Cancer


Cancer is a relatively common cause of death in Guinea pigs, with some studies estimating that up to 20% of all deaths in the species are due to this disease.

Cancer can affect any body part, but the most common types seen in Guinea pigs are skin and ovarian cancer. Cancer symptoms vary depending on the type and location of the tumor but may include weight loss, lethargy, and abnormal growths.




While losing a pet can be a heartbreaking experience, understanding how to tell if your guinea pig is still alive can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty associated with the situation.

Taking a few moments to check for signs of life, such as breathing or activity level, it will give you peace of mind knowing whether or not your beloved pet is still alive—or it will prompt you to seek medical attention immediately should anything appear amiss.

Ultimately, being prepared and proactive about keeping an eye on your pet’s health is critical in ensuring their well-being long-term.

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