Why Do Guinea Pigs Die Suddenly? (10 Reasons & What To Do)

Share it with Your Friends!

Did your guinea pig die all of a sudden? This must have been strange especially when they didn’t show any warning signs at all. 

Now you’re worried and seek answers to why guinea pigs die suddenly.

Quick Answer – Guinea pigs can die suddenly if their digestive system stops working. Poor feeding, dental issues, and also vitamin C deficiencies contribute to a guinea pig’s sudden death.

Here are other reasons why a guinea pig dies suddenly:

  • Not enough space on the cage
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Very loud noises resulting to stress
  • Salmonella probles and other respirators infections

Now, let’s discuss in detail the reasons for sudden death in guinea pigs and how to prevent it…

1. Poor Feeding

Humans are fine even when they sometimes skip meals. However, guinea pigs are way different. 

A guinea pig’s digestive system is sensitive so food needs to move through it regularly. To skip meals can be a very bad idea. 

Staying without food for a while can stop their digestive system and then, they’ll die. Moreover, this kind of death comes with no sign.

What Can You Do: 

Always make sure your guinea pigs don’t lack hay in their cage. If there’s any food they should look for, it should be fruit and veggie treats. 

The best option for guinea pigs is Timothy hay. However, Alfalfa hay is best for pregnant or young guinea pigs. This is because they need more nutrients.

2. Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C is one of the major nutrients a guinea pig needs. lacking it can be very bad for your little pets.

Moreover, they can only get vitamin C from foods rich in it. This is because their bodies can’t create it.

You should also know that the right amount of vitamin C guinea pigs needs daily is about 10g to 50g every day.

What Can You Do: 

Offer them fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C. Leafy green veggies in particular have more vitamin C to offer.

Fruits Rich in Vitamin C for Guinea Pigs:

Veggies Rich in Vitamin C for Guinea Pigs:

Pro Tip: Swap the kind of fruits and veggies you feed to your cavy each day. This way, they won’t get bored or tired with the same veggie every day.

3. Wrong Breeding

Most people take their time to buy expensive pets like cats and dogs. They make sure they get them from good breeders.

However, many don’t even do the same for guinea pigs. People don’t take their time to find reliable breeders. This can turn out very bad! 

Interestingly, there are other purposes for breeding guinea pigs aside from being pets in homes. Some guinea pigs are for scientific experiments or food for reptiles. 

These kinds of guinea pigs don’t receive good care. If you’re not careful, you can end up getting an unhealthy guinea pig as a pet. 

Moreover, you won’t know the age of the guinea pig or health status. Don’t be surprised if they suddenly die soon after you get them.

What Can You Do: 

1). If you want to buy a new guinea pig, get them from trustworthy breeders or rescue centers. 

Good breeders can provide you with information about the guinea pig’s parents, age, preferred diet, health status, likes, and dislikes.

2). When you buy a new guinea pig as a pet, it’s advisable to take them to the vet for a checkup. This way you’ll be able to know if your guinea pig is doing fine or not.

4. Stress

As strange as it sounds, stress can affect the stomach. Most stressed people suffer a tummy issue where their intestines stop working well (Irritable Bowel Movement).

Moreover, this is just the same case with guinea pigs. Stressed guinea pigs can lose appetite for food and this can make their digestive systems stop working.

Imagine these creatures with a more sensitive stomach suffering such a condition. It can quickly kill them.

The question now is, what causes this stress in guinea pigs?

Let’s look at them below: 

  • Your guinea pig is alone. 
  • Your guinea pig has unfriendly cage-mates.
  • Your guinea pigs don’t have enough space to play.
  • There’s a high level of noise in your guinea pig’s cage.
  • There are too hot or too cold temperatures in your guinea pigs’s cage.

What Can You Do: 

1). Pair your guinea pigs with friendly ones.

2). Keep your guinea pigs’ temperature that’s not too hot or cold (about 65℉ to 75℉).

3). Make sure your guinea pig’s cages have enough space, about 7.5 square feet or more.

5. Gut Stasis

This is when a guinea pig’s digestive system stops working. This condition causes food not to move through the system causing them to starve and die. 

Moreover, this doesn’t have to do with whether your cavy is hungry or not. It’s how their system adjusts to the new foods they try out. 

As herbivores, they have very sensitive digestive systems. One that doesn’t react too well to changes in diet. 

Moreover, you should know that there are bacteria in guinea pigs’ tummies that help break down plant food. New foods will need the right bacteria to digest well. 

So, if a guinea pig doesn’t have a good amount of the bacteria needed, these foods can just remain trapped in their intestine. This is bad and can bring about many digestive issues.

The result is a guinea pig’s digestive system shutting down and then they’ll suddenly die.

What Can You Do: 

1). Stick to plant-based food. Avoid cooked foods too!

Check out this list of 21 foods you shouldn’t feed your guinea pig. 

2). Always give your cavy their primary food – hay. Nothing else should replace hay as the main food in their diet.

3). You should only offer fruits and veggies to your cavies as treats. Introduce them slowly and stick to the recommended serving sizes.

6. Salmonella Infection

Salmonella is a deadly bacteria guinea pigs can get from rats, mice, and infected guinea pigs. 

Moreover, they can still get it from unwashed vegetables. This is why hygiene is very important when it comes to feeding a guinea pig.

Salmonella infections come with different symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, rough coat, swollen gland, etc. 

A disease with all these symptoms is capable of killing a guinea pig unexpectedly.

What Can You Do: 

1). Keep guinea pigs safe from rats and mice, even if they are pets like guinea pigs.

2). Always keep your guinea pig’s cage clean. You can use mild vinegar that’s well diluted while cleaning to help get rid of bacteria in the cage.

3). It’s proper to visit the vet to check your guinea pigs and to know their health status. This way you can reduce the chances of an infected guinea pig affecting the others.

*Take Note: When you notice a guinea pig has symptoms of Salmonella, you should separate it from other cage mates immediately. 

This reduces the chances of affecting every other guinea pig in the cage. 

RECOMMENDED READING: Can Guinea Pigs and Rats Live Together?

7. Dental Issues

Guinea pigs can also suddenly die from dental issues. This might seem strange but dental issues send many guinea pigs to the vet very often.

It’s mostly common with guinea pigs that are about 3 years old. However, when guinea pigs suffer dental problems, they avoid food due to pain. They’ll find it hard to eat comfortably.

This in turn affects their digestive system and causes it to stop working. This way, your cavy can die.

What Can You Do: 

Visit the vet if you know your cavy is having teeth problems. They can help to treat it. however, here are a few ways to keep your cavy’s teeth healthy:

1). Offer them lots of hays regularly

2). Add roughages to their diet e.g. grass, fruits, and veggies.

3). Get some chew toys for your guinea pigs

*Take Note: Dental issues are hard to spot. So, you should watch your guinea pig from time to time. 

The main way you can tell if your cavy is having dental issues is if they eat less or don’t eat at all.

8. Heart Attacks

Guinea pigs can die suddenly from heart attacks. You won’t even expect it! 

Guinea pigs tend to have heart attacks at old ages. However, many things can make younger guinea pigs still suffer heart attacks.

Some of them are stress, fatty diets, lack of nutrients, and poor fitness.

What Can You Do: 

1). Reduces stress for your guinea pigs. Let their cages have enough space. Moreover, get them a housemate (another guinea pig) if they’re alone.

2). Make sure your guinea pig runs around and plays every day. It helps check their weight and keeps them fit.

3). Offer your cavy less fatty foods. You should instead make sure their diet is rich in many vitamins and minerals.

4). If you notice any symptoms, don’t hesitate to see your vet. They’ll test them and offer them the necessary treatments.

9. Pneumonia And URIs

Pneumonia, a Lower Respiratory Infection, is a major reason why many guinea pigs die suddenly. It’s more severe than Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs).

In addition, Streptococcal bacteria and Bordetella infection are the main cause of pneumonia in guinea pigs.

You should also know that Upper Respiratory Infections could develop into pneumonia if you don’t attend to them well.

Some common symptoms of pneumonia are:

  • Respiratory issues – disturbed breathing, sneezing, wheezing, etc.
  • Appetite loss
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Weight loss
  • Nasal discharges

What Can You Do: 

A weak immune system and infection from bacteria can make your cavy get pneumonia. So here are ways to prevent it:

1). Keep your guinea pigs in a clean environment. It should be dry and damp-free.

2). Offer them a quality diet with fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin c and other immunity-boosters.

If you notice your guinea pigs are showing signs of pneumonia, take them to the vet immediately.

10. Old Age

It’s not right if you don’t know the age of the guinea pig you bring to your home. Many pet owners make this mistake.

You might be wondering, how this can cause the sudden death of your little pet. It’s simple! Guinea pigs live very short lives.

So, if you’re not careful, you can get a very old guinea pig without you knowing. Moreover, after living just a little time with you, they’ll die suddenly. 

This can surprise you because if you don’t know the age of the guinea pigs you got. You probably thought they were still young.

A guinea is already old at an age of 4-5 years. Moreover, s not what you can tell from their physical appearances.

What Can You Do: 

You should know the age of the guinea pigs you’re buying. So, if you want a guinea pig that’ll live long, make sure you ask for a younger one.

Moreover, you should get your guinea pigs from reputable breeders. They will be sincere about the age of the guinea pigs you want to buy.

This way, you can know the expected time for your guinea pigs to die naturally.

Signs That Your Guinea Pigs  May Be Dying

  • Appetite loss
  • Respiratory issues
  • Eye disorders
  • Change in behavior
  • Fever
  • Poor coat condition
  • Lethargy and mobility issues
  • Bad urine and feces

What You Should Do:

All of these signs are problems you can’t just fix on your own. More especially, when it means your guinea pigs can die any moment.

Since you don’t know the main problems causing these signs, the best thing to do is to see a vet.

A veterinarian can give your guinea pig a proper checkup. 

This way, you’ll know the problem and possibly treat it before it costs your guinea pig’s life. It’s equally important to do this immediately if you notice any of these signs. 

These are life-threatening signs so delay is dangerous.

How Do Guinea Pigs Die Naturally?

Guinea pigs die naturally from old age or diseases. Moreover, these natural death comes from only natural causes and not by accidents or any other active interventions. 

These kinds of diseases are those that happen inside their bodies. It could be that an organ stops working. Some common ones are heart diseases and lower respiratory infections, etc.

In addition, natural deaths are more common among aged guinea pigs. Their bodies become weak and tend to misbehave.

My Guinea Pig Died What Should I Do with the Body?

The best thing to do with their bodies is to bury them. It’s just up to you if you want to make it simple or arrange a funeral for them.

I wouldn’t suggest you dump your guinea pigs’ bodies in your trash can. Remember, your guinea pig was part of your family so you should bury them properly. 

Here are ways you can bury your dead guinea pig:

  • Bury in the ground
  • bury by cremation

It’s better to do this at a pet cemetery or pet crematorium if you can afford it. However, if a vet doesn’t own one, he can always guide you to one around you.

Take Note:

Do not dig graves for your cavy in someone else’s yard. Moreover, don’t burn your guinea pig body in areas that are restricted. 

Whichever type of burial you choose to do in your homes, make sure it’s allowed in the area you stay. 

Moreover, it shouldn’t disturb the environment. This is why pet cemeteries and crematoriums are the best.

Why Would Two Guinea Pigs Die At The Same Time?

  • Infections From Rodents: Deadly viruses from rats and mice can kill two guinea pigs living together.
  • Deadly Communicable Diseases: These kinds of diseases can easily spread, so they can kill two guinea pigs in one cage.
  • Toxic Foods: When two guinea pigs eat toxic foods like raw potatoes, onions, etc. it could kill them both.
  • Shock: Two guinea pigs can die at the same when they experience shock 

Do Guinea Pigs Die With Their Eyes Open?

Yes, guinea pigs do die with their eyes open. However, it’s not something that happens every time.

It happens to most humans too. The eyes remain open because the muscles meant to close them are dead already.

This is the same case with guinea pigs. So, it doesn’t mean they were in pain before death or they died in a bad way.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there are many reasons why guinea pigs die suddenly. However, It’s important you know these reasons and ways to prevent them.

It’s rare for guinea pigs to die naturally at the same time. It’s only when something bad affects the two guinea pigs.

You should also know it’s normal for guinea pigs to die with their eyes open. We also shared in this article a few signs to know if your guinea pig is dying.

However,  if your guinea pigs show any of these signs, you should take them to the vet immediately.

Read our full article about “guinea pig noises and what they mean” to fully understand what your furry friends are trying to tell or show you.

Share it with Your Friends!