Is My Guinea Pig Dying? Know the Common Signs

Updated September 29, 2021
Sheltia Guinea pig

Like other small, furry pets, Guinea pigs can hide their illness symptoms and by the time you realize they are sick, they can be dying. Learning the signs of a Guinea pig dying is important for all Guinea pig owners in order to keep their pets safe.

What Are Signs a Guinea Pig Is Dying?

Regardless of the disease or medical condition, the signs a Guinea pig is sick and dying are common across many types of health concerns. If you see any of these signs with your Guinea pig, do not delay getting them to a veterinarian. A Guinea pig suffering from a serious medical condition can pass away within 24 to 72 hours, so being vigilant about your Guinea pig's behavior and habits and moving quickly is key to keeping your cavy healthy.

Lack of Appetite

Guinea pigs that are very ill will refuse to eat, and may show signs of weight loss if the appetite loss has persisted for some time. You may also see your Guinea pig avoid drinking water, which can quickly lead to serious dehydration. A good way to keep track of how much your Guinea pig is eating is to invest in a small animal scale or baby scale and weigh them weekly. With a pet as small as a Guinea pig, there doesn't need to be much weight loss to lead to serious health issues.

Bad Urine and Feces

Some common signs of serious illness and potential for death in Guinea pigs are watery diarrhea, and blood in their stool or urine. Straining to urinate or defecate are also signs your Guinea pig has a urinary or intestinal obstruction, or kidney disease, and needs medical care. Another common sign that is often missed is simply producing fewer feces than normal and in smaller sizes. In other words, your pig may still be defecating, but in smaller amounts, or the individual "pieces" of feces will look smaller than normal. If you notice a clear difference in how much waste your Guinea pig produces, talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible.


A Guinea pig with a fever is definitely seriously ill and needs attention to prevent them from dying. Fever is often a symptom of pneumonia, which has led to the death of a high percentage of Guinea pigs.

Frightened guinea pig is held up by for healthcare worker to examine

Respiratory Problems

Any type of breathing problem can be a sign of a serious problem with your Guinea pig. These include wheezing, panting, labored breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Difficulty breathing can also be a sign of pneumonia, which is one of the most common causes of death for Guinea pigs.

Eye Condition

A Guinea pig that's sick will develop a crusty substance around their eyes and sometimes their nasal passages, as well. Their eyes will also appear cloudy and dull, and may even seem sunken. You may also notice their eyes are inflamed and produce a discharge if your Guinea pig has conjunctivitis, which is a common illness in the species.

Poor Coat Condition

A sick and dying Guinea pig will have a very poor coat, which can look dull, show thinning, or appear to be rough. They may also have patches of hair loss and you may see inflamed areas of skin. You should also keep your eyes out for signs of parasites, such as ringworm, lice, and mites. Common areas for skin infestations are around the Guinea pig's head and anus.

Mobility Issues

If your Guinea pig has trouble moving and shows signs of pain, such as limping, or a lack of coordination, they may be very sick. If you notice that their posture seems "hunched over," this is another sign of pain and illness.

Woman holding guinea pig


If your Guinea pig's normal level of activity has dropped and they appear uninterested or unable to move about their cage, this indicates that a life-threatening condition may be present. You should also look out for slowness to respond to you or other stimuli added to the cage.

Behavior Changes

Any noticeable change in your Guinea pig's behavior can be a sign that they are sick and at risk of death. Some common problem behaviors include depression, hiding excessively, staring into corners, or avoiding handling. Keep in mind that if you have a Guinea pig who is normally shy, these are not necessarily a concern, as you are looking for differences in your individual pet's behavior from their normal routine.

Know the Signs of a Dying Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are a much-loved small family pet, but one of the drawbacks to owning them is how fragile they can be when ill. Never ignore any of the above symptoms as these can be a sign your Guinea pig is very ill and can die without immediate veterinary help. A smart Guinea pig owner will have already identified a cavy-savvy veterinarian they can call when their pet is sick. Don't delay in calling so you can spend a full Guinea pig lifetime with these adorable and cuddly pets.

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Is My Guinea Pig Dying? Know the Common Signs