'Morning Yesterday I had to put my 21 month old guinea pig to sleep. She became ill while I was away last week. My family were taking care of her while I was on a four-day business trip. It had become customary of her to get stressed when I'm away so when I was told she was not eating I did not give it too much thought. However, when I got back home on Friday evening I noticed that her bedding was intact - no pee and no droppings - clean as I had left it on Tuesday morning. Moreover she was not squeaking when I went to her cage and gave her fresh lettuce. Something was wrong. I took her to the vet there and then and was told she had a cold. The vet gave her a couple of shots - an antibiotic and a vitamin supplement. I was told to take her back on Saturday afternoon for a second doze of antibiotics. On Saturday morning I tried helping her drink water with a pipette every hour. At 15.00 I took her for her vet appointment. He examined her again and told me she had a lung infection. Her notrils were dirty. I noticed she had no strength in her hind legs and the vet gave her a shot of glucose over and above the antibiotic and vitamins. He asked me to make her a 'soup' made up of broccoli and carrots. I did and tried to force feed her the liquidised veg through Saturday afternoon. Yesterday morning at 6.30 she was lying for dead on her bedding. I rushed her to the veterinary clinc but the vet said there was no hope. Her heart beat was very faint and she was having trouble breathing. She was kind of wheezing. It was suggested to me she's put down to end her suffering. I am distraught... she was only 21 months! Where did I go wrong. How could she become so ill in four days? I would like to get another guinea pig but I'm afraid they will die in a matter or months. I have been thinking on an alternative pet (I also have a tortoise but she's not as affectionate as the guinea pig) however with a very busy lifestyle - I'm out of the house for 12 hours a day, apart from the occasional business trip or vacation - I suspect I cannot have anything else other than a rodent. Can you please let me have your thoughts? Thanks and regards XXXXX
Type of Animal: guinea pig
Pet's Gender: female
Pet's Age: 21 months
Yesterday I had to put my 21 month old guinea pig to sleep.
She became ill while I was away last week. My family were taking care of her while I was on a four-day business trip. It had become customary of her to get stressed when I'm away so when I was told she was not eating I did not give it too much thought. However, when I got back home on Friday evening I noticed that her bedding was intact - no pee and no droppings - clean as I had left it on Tuesday morning. Moreover sh
I am sorry to hear about your sudden untimely loss of your wee guinea pig.I am afraid that this little guinea was suffering and this is the nature of your loss of such a young animal, rather then guineas themselves having a short lifespan (they can live up to 8 yrs of age without catastrophes of this nature). In regards XXXXX XXXXX nature of her illness, it is quite possible that stress (or something underlying you hadn't appreciated was lurking) could have precipitated her demise. Stress itself is a powerful entity causing the body to release stress hormone (cortisol) which does have the side effect of dampening the immune system (and thus can give any lurking bugs a chance to gain hold of the guinea pig). So, it is highly possible that stress lead her to go off her food (a huge problem in itself) and also gave a respiratory bug a chance to cause a pneumonia that pushed her over the edge.Now while there were signs of respiratory disease, it is worth noting (especially if you do have any future guineas or rabbits/chinchillas), that when she went off her food and stopped producing stools this was the big red flag that she was suffering from a very serious issue. Guinea pigs are designed to be eating all the time, as they have a gastrointestinal tract that is like conveyor belt and needs to be moving/digesting all the time. And if she doesn't (for whatever reason) then her gut may end up grinding to a halt, this can lead to serious consequences. Besides this serious halting of gut transit, the bacteria naturally in the system overgrow and release gas (painful!!) and toxins, which cause a pig to get even sicker and less keen to eat or drink. So, the wee pigs end up in a vicious cycle, unable to eat or pass feces and feeling worse and worse. This (as well as primary stress) would leave her at risk of a lung infection by an opportunist bacteria/mycoplasma.So, this was an unfortunate state of affairs for this little one and yourself. But you are right to be concerned about future pets. I am afraid that most mammals will be dependant enough to need quality time with their owners. As well, being away will cause stress in most of the pet speceies. I do appreciate that reptiles, and fish may not be cuddly options, but they can be more practical ones for your lifestyle. As well, you may wish to consider mice or rats as pets. They do have shorted lifespans but have similar requirements as guinea pigs (and are a bit more robust in the sense of GI disease of this nature).Again my sincere sympathies for your loss.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any further questions. If you have no further questions, I would be grateful if you would press the wee green accept.
General practice veterinary surgeon with a special interest in cats & fish.
Hello again,I see from your other open question that you mentioned that you might have had a follow up question for me. I think that there may be a glitch because there doesn't appear to be one listed. If you would like to ask it again, I am happy to address it.All the best,Dr. B.
Dear Dr B
Thank you for your email; if I had to keep a couple of female guinea pigs will they keep company to each other and get less stressed when I'm away? If so, what size of cage will they require. Albeit Pixie had a fairly large cage, from research I've been doing it seems they require even more space. I would like to keep them near me in the kitchen so that they feel part of it all, but my kitchen is not that big.
What do you think?
Thanks and regards
You are very welcome.Guinea pigs are very social animals and do prefer a little herd type lifestyle. Therefore, it is possible that having a group of guinea pigs will allow them to form a stable social structure that will remain intact when you are away, as a single guinea pig wouldn't have been unable to do with you (with your busy schedule). That said, we would also have to keep in mind that there will be a factor of the pigs individual personalities (since we can't say a stressy pig wouldn't have the same troubles). So, we may find this as a loophole but do have to keep in mind that there could still be risk of recurrance of this sad epsiode.In regards XX XXXXX required, 10.5sq feet is a minimum figure for two guinea pigs. Still I would like to refer you to the Cavy Cages website on this matter since they have a very nice and informational website (with lots of photos) of set ups for guinea pigs (LINK)Dr. B.
Thank you, contents of your email have been noted.
You are welcome.Take care, Dr. B.