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Guinea pig woes

BertandBella

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Last weekend was pretty much the same as usual since we got Bert and Bella two boar guinea pigs, our 10 year old daughter and myself cleaned their hutch out and played with them both. Everything seemed okay.

On Monday morning Bella didn’t take his cucumber as usual but I didn’t see this. With hindsight I should have taken him to the vet. When they came home later that afternoon, Bella was breathing fast and really struggling to move. Meanwhile his brother Bert was walking all over him. My partner went to phone the vet whilst my daughter lifted Bella out of the hutch. As they were on the phone Bella lurched to the side dragged themselves into the house on my daughters knee and died.

Bert seems to be his usual self if a bit subdued.. check over at the vet has confirmed that he is healthy but he springs into life when we put him into the seperate run with the wood shavings of Bellas scent.

How do we handle this? He is 3.5 years old.. we think a new friend would be good but how should we handle this? Also why did Bella die so quickly so we can avoid this situation again. I’m gutted I feel I let Bella down as an owner by not recognising that he was ill
 

Piggies&buns

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I’m sorry for your loss.

Sadly piggies can go downhill very quickly and it’s not possible to know exactly what happened without having a post mortem. Therefore, it’s not possible to prevent all situations - they can have sudden heart attacks etc and there’s nothing you can do. What you can do is weigh piggies weekly to check that they aren’t losing any weight as it can often be the first sign of an issue brewing.

Bert will be happier with a new friend. Character compatibility is essential when it comes to a successful bond so the best way to find a new friend is via boar dating at a rescue centre. That way, Bert can find his own new friend which will result in a good bond. If you were to buy a new piggy on spec then you don’t know if they will like each other and would need to prepare for a failure when they are introduced. They would then need to live in separate cages but as neighbours so they can interact through the bars.

Death, Dying, Terminal Illness, Grieving and Bereaved Companions: Information and Support for Owners and Their Children
 

Wiebke

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Last weekend was pretty much the same as usual since we got Bert and Bella two boar guinea pigs, our 10 year old daughter and myself cleaned their hutch out and played with them both. Everything seemed okay.

On Monday morning Bella didn’t take his cucumber as usual but I didn’t see this. With hindsight I should have taken him to the vet. When they came home later that afternoon, Bella was breathing fast and really struggling to move. Meanwhile his brother Bert was walking all over him. My partner went to phone the vet whilst my daughter lifted Bella out of the hutch. As they were on the phone Bella lurched to the side dragged themselves into the house on my daughters knee and died.

Bert seems to be his usual self if a bit subdued.. check over at the vet has confirmed that he is healthy but he springs into life when we put him into the seperate run with the wood shavings of Bellas scent.

How do we handle this? He is 3.5 years old.. we think a new friend would be good but how should we handle this? Also why did Bella die so quickly so we can avoid this situation again. I’m gutted I feel I let Bella down as an owner by not recognising that he was ill
Hi!

BIG HUGS

I am very sorry for your shock!

Guinea pigs can sadly go downhill extremely quickly out of the blue; without a post mortem at the vets it is impossible to say what exactly has gone wrong (if it has left enough traces) but it is usually not something connected with your level of care if it happens as fast like that. Whether it is a major organ suddenly packing in or a stroke etc. is not something you have control over or a vet can heal. Some guinea pigs sadly live with a genetic time bomb in their body that can go off at any time. :(

If you had picked up on it in the morning, it would have likely not changed much in the actual outcome apart from perhaps resulting in pts (putting to sleep) or some frantic and soul wrenching hours of trying to keep a piggy alive that was already dying. Once the body is closing down, it is unfortunately a one-way road with only one outcome. :(

With my own experiences with these kind of situations, Bella was most likely already dying and no longer able to process food in the morning. When you have never come across it, it is very easy to miss, so please do not beat yourself up on it. It would have ultimately not made much of a difference. It is one of those life lessons that you can only learn the hard way by running slap-bang into it. But it doesn't say anything about you as a loving owner - whereas your strong feelings of failure speak volumes of the kind of owner you are. You wouldn't have them or have them as badly if you didn't care deeply, believe me!

The last stages of the dying process can be very physical and can come as a bad shock when you have never come across it before. Dying is rarely the kind of gentle drifting away in one's sleep. Try to take consolation that Bella didn't have to suffer for long and was mostly already out of it and no longer fully with it by the time you lifted him up. Any healthy organs can put up a mighty struggle in the last stages of the body breaking down, which can be very upsetting to witness. :(

Please take the time to read the guides in the 'one stop' link below.
It contains a guide about dying, which may help you make sense of your encounter with the physical side of death, a human grieving guide (with a chapter with resources and tips for children) that will help you understand better your own feelings and the intense self-examination/feelings of guilt that are characteristic for the onset of the grieving process but that are stronger than normal in situations like these; and will also help you hopefully to support your daughter better.
Lastly, we have got a guide with practical tips on what you can do in the short and medium term for a bereaved guinea pig. Here is the link: Death, Dying, Terminal Illness, Grieving and Bereaved Companions: Information and Support for Owners and Their Children

The best rescue to contact in your area is Cavy Corner in Doncaster but you have of course see what is happening in your area re. Covid restrictions. This is unfortunately not a good year... But if Bert is still eating and drinking he will hold for a few weeks although he will be in deep mourning himself for a few days. :(
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Bill & Ted

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So sorry to hear you’ve lost Bella so suddenly, thry can go downhill so quickly, you weren’t to blame x Boar dating would be your best option so Bert can choose a new friend, Cavy Corner is not far from you, that might be the best option 😁
Sleep tight Bella 🌈
 

BertandBella

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Hi!

BIG HUGS

I am very sorry for your shock!

Guinea pigs can sadly go downhill extremely quickly out of the blue; without a post mortem at the vets it is impossible to say what exactly has gone wrong (if it has left enough traces) but it is usually not something connected with your level of care if it happens as fast like that. Whether it is a major organ suddenly packing in or a stroke etc. is not something you have control over or a vet can heal. Some guinea pigs sadly live with a genetic time bomb in their body that can go off at any time. :(

If you had picked up on it in the morning, it would have likely not changed much in the actual outcome apart from perhaps resulting in pts (putting to sleep) or some frantic and soul wrenching hours of trying to keep a piggy alive that was already dying. Once the body is closing down, it is unfortunately a one-way road with only one outcome. :(

With my own experiences with these kind of situations, Bella was most likely already dying and no longer able to process food in the morning. When you have never come across it, it is very easy to miss, so please do not beat yourself up on it. It would have ultimately not made much of a difference. It is one of those life lessons that you can only learn the hard way by running slap-bang into it. But it doesn't say anything about you as a loving owner - whereas your strong feelings of failure speak volumes of the kind of owner you are. You wouldn't have them or have them as badly if you didn't care deeply, believe me!

The last stages of the dying process can be very physical and can come as a bad shock when you have never come across it before. Dying is rarely the kind of gentle drifting away in one's sleep. Try to take consolation that Bella didn't have to suffer for long and was mostly already out of it and no longer fully with it by the time you lifted him up. Any healthy organs can put up a mighty struggle in the last stages of the body breaking down, which can be very upsetting to witness. :(

Please take the time to read the guides in the 'one stop' link below.
It contains a guide about dying, which may help you make sense of your encounter with the physical side of death, a human grieving guide (with a chapter with resources and tips for children) that will help you understand better your own feelings and the intense self-examination/feelings of guilt that are characteristic for the onset of the grieving process but that are stronger than normal in situations like these; and will also help you hopefully to support your daughter better.
Lastly, we have got a guide with practical tips on what you can do in the short and medium term for a bereaved guinea pig. Here is the link: Death, Dying, Terminal Illness, Grieving and Bereaved Companions: Information and Support for Owners and Their Children

The best rescue to contact in your area is Cavy Corner in Doncaster but you have of course see what is happening in your area re. Covid restrictions. This is unfortunately not a good year... But if Bert is still eating and drinking he will hold for a few weeks although he will be in deep mourning himself for a few days. :(
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What happens after a few weeks will he die?
 

Wiebke

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What happens after a few weeks will he die?
No, he won't die. He may become more depressed and understimulated over time. Companionship is important at any age; it can be truly life prolonging as I know myself from bereaved intakes of older piggies. Especially smaller rescue now often offer companionship options for people who do not want to continue with piggies after the death of their surviving piggy. You can talk about this with the rescue if that is an issue for you.

You can find the signs for that in the last chapter of our singles guide: Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities
 
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