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Death of a Guinea Pig

Faithmay

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I just lost my first guinea pig a couple of hours ago. I had him for 6 years, but it seemed kind of sudden. He's always been the more calm one, and even in his old age he never looked it. He didn't lose hair (was was a long haired piggie), never got cataracts. He seemed healthy. He had a "brother" I bought about a year after him. I'm worried about how he might react to his friends death. But he seems to be doing ok. I found my piggie when I went to change out the water, and the other one ran to the water as soon as I put the fresh water in. He wasn't reacting to his dead friend at all. I put a stuffed animal in the cage that smells like his friend just in case. I gave him a chew to stay occupied, and he's eating it. Is there a delay that I should watch for? Like will he seem ok until it sets in like some humans do? I don't want to buy him another friend because he's kind of a bully. My long haired piggy was bigger than him by quite a bit, but when I first got him even as a young guy he picked on my full grown long haired piggy. The only reason nothing happened was because I think my first one was more "submissive?". I believe they were friends but they would bicker every now and then. No one ever got hurt, but I don't want to subject a smaller young piggy to battery, because even though he's old (5yr), he still appears to be at full strength.
 

Piggies&buns

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I'm sorry for your loss.

I'll add in a guide below on how to care for a bereaved piggy.
As he has seen the body, he will have processed what had happened. Its important you switch from the routine weight checks to weighing him daily for a while just to be sure that his hay intake doesn't drop in response to the death.
The most serious, but rare, occurrence is they go into acute pining. This means a piggy can stop eating and become poorly themselves through grief and loneliness. This is rare though, most piggies will continue to get on with life as their survival instinct will kick in.

Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Your piggy will need a new friend though. He could have another few years of life left, and being alone for that long won't be good for him.
He isn't a bully, he is simply a dominant piggy, and needs a submissive friend to be able to form a relationship. This is why he got on with his cage mate - they were compatible and they were friends. Dominance isn't bickering - its a normal behaviour and well bonded boars will still display dominance such as mounting, chasing, rumbling.
He would not hurt a smaller piggy but if they aren't compatible then they won't bond. If possible, taking him dating at a rescue centre is the best way to find a compatible friend and ensure a good compatible relationship.
If you feel you wish to end your piggy cycle, then there are ways to go about that while ensuring your piggy still has the companionship he desperately needs.
 

Faithmay

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I'm sorry for your loss.

I'll add in a guide below on how to care for a bereaved piggy.
As he has seen the body, he will have processed what had happened. Its important you switch from the routine weight checks to weighing him daily for a while just to be sure that his hay intake doesn't drop in response to the death.
The most serious, but rare, occurrence is they go into acute pining. This means a piggy can stop eating and become poorly themselves through grief and loneliness. This is rare though, most piggies will continue to get on with life as their survival instinct will kick in.

Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Your piggy will need a new friend though. He could have another few years of life left, and being alone for that long won't be good for him.
He isn't a bully though. He is simply a dominant piggy, and needs a submissive friend to be able to form a relationship. This is why he got on with his cage mate - they were compatible and they were friends. Dominance isn't bickering - its normal behaviour. He would not hurt a smaller piggy but if they aren't compatible then they won't bond. If possible, taking him dating at a rescue centre is the best way to find a compatible friend and ensure a good compatible relationship.
I don't know why I didn't think of a rescue! That's a really good idea, thank you! I've read into their behavior, but there's so many different things they put online. This was my first set of piggies so it was all new to me. I guess I got lucky with the compatibility.
 

Piggies&buns

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This is our guide on boars. A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars

You'll have to see what is on offer in your area and regarding any covid restrictions that you may be under.
The benefit of dating is that your piggy can choose his own new friend and if they've chosen each other, then they will bond. Buying another piggy from a pet shop is a risk - they will often accept a youngster initially, but once that youngster hits his teens, then it can go wrong if the youngster also wants to be dominant - but if you were to have to go down this route, then it would be important to have a plan B in mind in case a bonding failed.
This guide explains how to carry out a bonding between two piggies. Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics

In the meantime, and while you are looking into your options, keep an eye on your bereaved piggy. He is likely to be fine for a few weeks by himself while you make arrangements but ensure he has enrichment opportunities to keep himself occupied Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome

I am very sorry for your loss. 6 years is slap-bang in the middle of the average life expectancy for a healthy piggy, so you have not failed your boy in any way and can be sad but do not have to feel bad about losing him.

Give your companion time to grieve unless he stops eating and drinking and is giving up on life (which is thankfully rare); use that time to do your research. You have ideally between about one week to a month time, depending on how well your boy can cope with being on his lonesome. If necessary, you can also wait a bit longer for an adoption meet or as the result of a neutering operation because the long term advantages by far outweigh the short-term disadvantages; especially with in the current unpredictable sitution.

Be kind to yourself and take the time to grieve. You have to grieve as much as you have loved, and there are no shortcuts.
Especially if this your first brush with death and dying, then you may find the information and practical advice via this link here helpful in making sense of what has happened and all the strong and not always expected feelings you are going to experience over the coming days and weeks, including all the soul searching and feelings of guilt/failure that are normal for the onset of the grieving process and that are more pronounced when the loss has happened very suddenly: Death, Dying, Terminal Illness, Grieving and Bereaved Companions: Information and Support for Owners and Their Children
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum and I am so sorry for your loss.
6 is a good age for a piggy - a tribute to love and care you gave him.
Be gentle with yourself as you grieve.
Please feel free to post a tribute to your boy on the Rainbow Bridge thread.
 

Freela

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I'm sorry for your loss. :( Unfortunately a lot of pigs tend to pass suddenly. At six, he was a good age for a pig. Pigs do take note when a companion has died and will often spend some time with the body before they voluntarily move off... yours probably had an opportunity to do this before you found him. It's good for them to have that experience, it helps them process what has happened. They do grieve, sometimes more obviously than others, but keep an eye out to make sure he's eating, drinking, and behaving relatively normally.

Pigs are happier in pairs of groups, so I would really encourage you to look for another companion for him. What you're describing doesn't sound like bullying... guinea pigs have a hierarchy. Each pig understands where they rank in the hierarchy and this is positive and reassuring for them. Dominance behaviors reinforce this hierarchy and keep things in order and are actually helping to keep bonds intact. It's not always the oldest or largest pig who is the boss- it's very much down to personality. So I wouldn't rule out a friend for him based on him being the dominant pig in the partnership... that's very normal. Someone's going to be the dominant pig in every pair/group, and as long as they can figure out who it is, they're happy.
 

Faithmay

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Thank you for all the advice, it's really helpful! He seems to be drinking. I'll keep an eye on his food and weight. I'm glad to know that he was able to make peace with his friend passing before I found him. I was worried it might have hurt him being in there with his body.
 

Bill & Ted

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So sorry you’ve lost your first piggie, sending you hugs x
Sleep tight little man 🌈

A rescue may offer boar bonding, so your remaining piggie can choose a friend he likes 😀
 

David Piggie Lover

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Hello. Welcome in sad circumstances . .
For a piggie to die suddenly is sad but for piggie can be best.
Hope other piggie ok. . . Some carry on some need little help. .
Asking on her for advise etc is Brill. . .
Sorry About your piggie what was he called.
 

Faithmay

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Hello. Welcome in sad circumstances . .
For a piggie to die suddenly is sad but for piggie can be best.
Hope other piggie ok. . . Some carry on some need little help. .
Asking on her for advise etc is Brill. . .
Sorry About your piggie what was he called.
His name was Oatie. My other piggie, Chewy, seems to be moving on ok. Drinking his water as I type this. I took the day off work to watch him.
 
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