• UK storm warning - Danger of unseasonal high winds and falling trees! Please secure any hutches and sheds, and bring your guinea pigs and rabbits indoors if possible! Click Here for info
  • Discussions taking place within this forum are intended for the purpose of assisting you in discussing options with your vet. Any other use of advice given here is done so at your risk, is solely your responsibility and not that of this forum or its owner. Before posting it is your responsibility you abide by this Statement

Losing A Best Friend/pet Death Diagnosis

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mungojerrie05

New Born Pup
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Points
55
Hello everyone,

I'm pretty new here but today I have spent a large time reading different threads about your beautiful guineas. I'm really sad to say that today I lost one of the most gorgeous, kind natured animals I've ever had the privilege to own. Words cannot express the pain I feel at losing him earlier today. I came here because I wanted to share the last moments of my lovely Bramble. It's very hard because I was the only one with him at the end, and I don't want to upset those who knew him by discussing how he died. However I need to get it off my chest and I hope that some of you may have some advice as to why he was so ill so fast and what I can do to prevent the same thing happening with his partner Bilbo. Also any advice on how I should deal with a grieving guinea pig would be much appreciated.


So I'll start with my story, I'm sorry it will be pretty graphic so if that upsets you please click away now.


Bramble, was adopted about a year and a half ago alongside his brother Bilbo. At the time they were estimated as about 4 years old. They never suffered from any illness or had any special needs, they were however extremely shy at first and it took us a whole year before they found the voice to make that famous "weeking."


Yesterday evening at about 17.00 we noticed that Bramble was acting a little strange, he wasn't running to the edge of the cadge to collect his fresh veggies as usual and seemed a little blue. I whipped him up out of the cage and that was when I realised something was horribly wrong. Whilst he doesn't mind being petted he's always fussed a little at being picked up, and after a small amount of petting will go off for a wander around my lap or the sofa. Yesterday he sat very limp in my arms, and when we fed him veggies he appeared to be chewing on everything we tried but not eating. He spent a large proportion of that evening asleep in my arms. We phoned the vet however the earliest they could see him was 16.15 today, they did not seem too concerned about his condition over the phone.


Last night we separated him from his brother and I kept him very comfy in my room. I checked on him every couple of hours throughout the night and helped him drink from his bottle. At 5am he seemed to be getting weaker, by this point i could only get him to eat tiny 3mm cubes of yellow pepper from a stick (so as not get bitten fingers.) I wasn't sure he wasn't having dental problems which is why I kept the food so small. I called the vet again who still could not do an earlier appointment, I called around and no one could see him before that time. I let him rest for a few hours without pestering or poking him. When I went in to check on him at 13.30 he was having real difficulty walking, his legs were fully functional but his balance was off. I instinctively knew it was his time.


I wrapped him in a towel and kept him comfy, by this point he had lost all movement down his left side. I kept him cradled at close. He kept desperately trying to get up and move but his body was paralysed down one side. It was horrible, he kept whimpering and I kept trying to soothe him. Eventually he started breathing erratically and each time he breathed he made a massive gasp for air, opening his mouth wide like a yawn. Each time he would whimper very loudly. This went on for about 20 mins, each time he excreted a dark greenish fluid from his mouth. It wasn't like vomit, more like dark green drool leaking out. He had previously drooled green on my tshirt the night before whilst a tried giving him a little dandelion leaf but just assumed it was drool from him trying to chew on it. Do you think these two things where linked? The fact that he was chewing and drooling further pointed me to dental problems which is why I was so keen to keep his fluids and food up. The water I gave him contained a guinea pig vitamin solution as I thought that may help if he was having difficulty feeding. After what seemed like a lifetime of him crying in pain and gasping for air, eventually he took a very hard long breath however it was clear it hadn't reached his chest. The airway didn't seem clear as it just had a large amount of the green "drool" and then he died. Does anyone have a clue what was wrong with my piggie? We've cleaned all we can with guinea pig friendly disinfectant in case he had a bug, however Bilbo seems absolutely the peek of health.


I'm so heartbroken and it is unlike me to consistently cry over a pets death, I normally am the silent type who grieves in private. I'm finding it very hard to stay positive. Does anyone have any advice? I'm so sorry to come on here and be so sad, but I figured you guys wouldn't mind, you've all been so lovely to each other on here and I only wish I'd found you when Bramble was still alive. Lots of love to all of you. x
 

piggieminder

Forum Donator 2019/20
Joined
Apr 7, 2015
Messages
7,250
Reaction score
9,120
Points
1,625
Location
Bristol, UK
I am so sorry you are going through such a sad time. I can't help you with Bramble's symptoms but I am sure someone better qualified to comment will be along soon. I just want you to know I am thinking of you. We are here for you in the sad times as well as the happy ones, don't be sorry to come here now you are very welcome. Sending you hugs.
 

Mungojerrie05

New Born Pup
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Points
55
I am so sorry you are going through such a sad time. I can't help you with Bramble's symptoms but I am sure someone better qualified to comment will be along soon. I just want you to know I am thinking of you. We are here for you in the sad times as well as the happy ones, don't be sorry to come here now you are very welcome. Sending you hugs.
Thank you so much. It means the world. xx
 

tabelmabel

Forum Donator 2019/20
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
913
Reaction score
678
Points
550
Location
Perth Scotland
Hello, I'm afraid i can't help with the symptoms but i can certainly empathise with how you're feeling. I too lost a very special pig recently and, although the symptoms weren't the same as bramble's, my pig went down very rapidly on his last day. I was left with a huge hole and so many 'if onlys'

You will find lots of support and friendly folk on here who understand how you're feeling right now.

And I'm sure someone will be along to shine some light on what happened to bramble.

I think though you and i both can take comfort in the fact our pigs had happy lives and we cared for them very much.

It's very natural to keep going over things and part of your grieving process.

Take care x
 

Gem789

Forum Donator 2019/20
Joined
Feb 8, 2012
Messages
4,868
Reaction score
4,156
Points
1,225
Location
Daventry, Northamptonshire
I'm so sorry for your loss, I watched one of my old Guinea pigs die in my arms in pain and it's a horrible thing to experience and I had to have my beloved pig Sam put to sleep on Tuesday and I'm heartbroken so I know how you're feeling.I wish I could answer your question but I can't help there, someone should come along soon and offer some insight xx
 

Adelle

Forum Donator 2019/20
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Messages
3,181
Reaction score
8,346
Points
1,525
Hi there, firstly i'd like to say i am so sorry for your loss. I am also sorry that your vets didnt see him straight away, although its sounds like Bramble had an acute illness strike out of the blue.

The only way you would know for sure what happened, would be to have a post mortem carried out. This is expensive, and may or may not help you.

From what you have described, it sounds like Brambles heart had failed. The blue colouring is the lack of oxygen circulating the body due to the heart not pumping well. The green gunge could have been fluid from his lungs that started to leave the body as he became weaker. The paralysis could have been generally weakness as his heart started to give in. Obviously, we can only give suggestions on what happened to your little one based on what you've described. A post mortem would he your best chance at an answer, should you wish to pursue that option.

Guinea pigs are so well at hiding illness, and Bramble obviously was feeling fine until things changed suddenly- this can often be the case. He would have felt comfort by having you holding him and knowing you where there, although i know thats probably no consolation at the moment.

Here is the link to some info that may help you with bilbo in the meantime.

Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

So sorry for your loss xx
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
66,376
Reaction score
32,583
Points
3,456
Location
Coventry UK
BIG HUGS

We tend to have this image of death meaning passing away peacefully while asleep, but unfortunately that is often not the case. it can come as a terrible shock when you are not prepared. Death and dying has disappeared to a large extent out of our life, but that also means that we have lost the coping rituals that people in earlier generations had. Staying with a dying piggy is often our first experience with death. I am sorry that your vet could not see Bramble in time so that you had to bear the full brunt of it all on your own.

What your boy has died from sounds like acute heart failure leading to multiple organ failure to me - but all I can do is guess, based on my own experience with several piggies of mine dying out of the blue with the first sign being sudden apathy and from talking with a vet about it.
How smoothly (or in your case, how physically) this develops, very much depends on which organ goes first, how quickly it goes, in which order the others break down and how strong the others are. For a healthy, active guinea pig, it is usually not as smooth as for an older/frail piggy.
Sudden lethargy is in my own experience a sign of full gut stasis or acute heart failure; in either case a guinea pig would not have wanted to eat any food it could no longer process. The lack of oxygen can then have caused a stroke and all the rest; the heaving diaphragmic breathing is typical for heart failur. Sadly it can be painful and distressing. Having fluids coming our of orifices as the body is breaking down is actually not at all uncommon.
Towards the end, Bramble would have thankfully been mostly out of it. The last big breath you have discribed is usually a "letting go" breath.

Sudden acute heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, sudden organ failure, gut stasis and atypical pneumonia etc. can sadly hit right out of the blue at any age and time, irrespective how healthy and well a piggy is. :(

Try to take comfort that Bramble didn't suffer long and that you were with him, so he could leave for the Rainbow Bridge carried by the wings of your love. That is a huge gift you have made him.

Right now you have to deal with a big whammy of the sheer shock, the pain of the loss and the need to make sense of what has happened. That is hard to deal with for all of us. It is no less heart-breaking and painful when you can brace for it, but a sudden loss can really whack you, especially when it is not quite an easy passing.

Please take your time to grieve and to digest it all. The uncontrollable crying is your mind's and body's reaction to the enormous stress you have been under so unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent sudden acute heart failure or any other acute organ failure, but it is not catching. :(

Here are our tips on what you can do for Bilbo: Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

You are welcome to post a tribute to Bramble in our Rainbow Bridge section if or whenever it feels right for you. We all grieve differently and differently again with each piggy, depending on the bond and the circumstances, so there is no pressure and no time limit. But it is there for you if you would like to remember Bramble and the good bits at some point.
 

Mungojerrie05

New Born Pup
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Points
55
Hello, I'm afraid i can't help with the symptoms but i can certainly empathise with how you're feeling. I too lost a very special pig recently and, although the symptoms weren't the same as bramble's, my pig went down very rapidly on his last day. I was left with a huge hole and so many 'if onlys'

You will find lots of support and friendly folk on here who understand how you're feeling right now.

And I'm sure someone will be along to shine some light on what happened to bramble.

I think though you and i both can take comfort in the fact our pigs had happy lives and we cared for them very much.

It's very natural to keep going over things and part of your grieving process.

Take care x
Thank you, I'm happy that I cared for him so much that saying goodbye is this sad. I know it sounds odd but he didn't have a very nice start to the world so I'm glad to give him what I could give him a wonderful love filled end. Thanks for you resurance. xxxxxxxx
 

Mungojerrie05

New Born Pup
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Points
55
Hi there, firstly i'd like to say i am so sorry for your loss. I am also sorry that your vets didnt see him straight away, although its sounds like Bramble had an acute illness strike out of the blue.

The only way you would know for sure what happened, would be to have a post mortem carried out. This is expensive, and may or may not help you.

From what you have described, it sounds like Brambles heart had failed. The blue colouring is the lack of oxygen circulating the body due to the heart not pumping well. The green gunge could have been fluid from his lungs that started to leave the body as he became weaker. The paralysis could have been generally weakness as his heart started to give in. Obviously, we can only give suggestions on what happened to your little one based on what you've described. A post mortem would he your best chance at an answer, should you wish to pursue that option.

Guinea pigs are so well at hiding illness, and Bramble obviously was feeling fine until things changed suddenly- this can often be the case. He would have felt comfort by having you holding him and knowing you where there, although i know thats probably no consolation at the moment.

Here is the link to some info that may help you with bilbo in the meantime.

Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

So sorry for your loss xx
Thank you so much, sadly he's burried now so a post mortem is out the question. The fact that anyone can give me a suggestion is enough for me! Just a reason I can give that was out of my hands. I was so worried that it might be his teeth and that he might of starved to death which sounds so bad and would of made me feel so guilty that maybe i should of pushed harder for him to eat, I just didn't want to stress him out. Thanks for the link fo Bilbo, I love him too for completely different reasons, he's like the polar oposite but still equally as special. It's hard because sometimes all I want is my gentle Bramble, who used to nuzzle my face. Bilbo is much braver and stronger by far but I know i need to give him the proper care because he'll miss his brother as much as I do even if he doesn't show it. xxxxxxx
 

Mungojerrie05

New Born Pup
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Points
55
BIG HUGS

We tend to have this image of death meaning passing away peacefully while asleep, but unfortunately that is often not the case. it can come as a terrible shock when you are not prepared. Death and dying has disappeared to a large extent out of our life, but that also means that we have lost the coping rituals that people in earlier generations had. Staying with a dying piggy is often our first experience with death. I am sorry that your vet could not see Bramble in time so that you had to bear the full brunt of it all on your own.

What your boy has died from sounds like acute heart failure leading to multiple organ failure to me - but all I can do is guess, based on my own experience with several piggies of mine dying out of the blue with the first sign being sudden apathy and from talking with a vet about it.
How smoothly (or in your case, how physically) this develops, very much depends on which organ goes first, how quickly it goes, in which order the others break down and how strong the others are. For a healthy, active guinea pig, it is usually not as smooth as for an older/frail piggy.
Sudden lethargy is in my own experience a sign of full gut stasis or acute heart failure; in either case a guinea pig would not have wanted to eat any food it could no longer process. The lack of oxygen can then have caused a stroke and all the rest; sadly it can be painful and distressing. Having fluids coming our of orifices as the body is breaking down is actually not at all uncommon.
Towards the end, Bramble would have thankfully been mostly out of it. The last big breath you have discribed is usually a "letting go" breath.

Sudden acute heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, sudden organ failure, gut stasis and atypical pneumonia etc. can sadly hit right out of the blue at any age and time, irrespective how healthy and well a piggy is. :(

Try to take comfort that Bramble didn't suffer long and that you were with him, so he could leave for the Rainbow Bridge carried by the wings of your love. That is a huge gift you have made him.

Right now you have to deal with a big whammy of the sheer shock, the pain of the loss and the need to make sense of what has happened. That is hard to deal with for all of us. It is no less heart-breaking and painful when you can brace for it, but a sudden loss can really whack you, especially when it is not quite an easy passing.

Please take your time to grieve and to digest it all. The uncontrollable crying is your mind's and body's reaction to the enormous stress you have been under so unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent sudden acute heart failure or any other acute organ failure, but it is not catching. :(

Here are our tips on what you can do for Bilbo: Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

You are welcome to post a tribute to Bramble in our Rainbow Bridge section if or whenever it feels right for you. We all grieve differently and differently again with each piggy, depending on the bond and the circumstances, so there is no pressure and no time limit. But it is there for you if you would like to remember Bamble and the good bits at some point.
Thank you so much, your reply was SO helpful in understanding what was going on. It explains so much. Thanks as well for letting me know that he would of been out of it for the most part, its so heartbreaking to think he didn't die peacefully. I've taken a look on the Rainbow Bridge section and it looks like exactly what I need for my boy. I will post to it soon. It's why I came here really to find people who know what it's like that I can talk to. It's been a real shock as this is my first time going through the whole process. We had piggies when i was small but obviously that was a rather sheltered exisistance plus i was too small to really understand. I'm sure time will heal but it's lovely to have somewhere to go in the meantime. So much love and thanks your way! xxxxxxxxx
 

Freela

Adult Guinea Pig
Joined
Aug 15, 2010
Messages
4,782
Reaction score
3,348
Points
1,200
Location
Canada
I'm really sorry for your loss. His passing sounds a lot like what happened with one of my pigs, Linney, when she passed. I never had a firm diagnosis... the vet suspected cancer, as he could feel a mass in her abdomen. In her last day, it seemed that she went into heart failure, could not swallow food, though she would chew it somewhat, and finally went through the final stages of Cheynes-Stokes breathing (those gasping breaths punctuated by pauses) and died in my arms. From her seeming not quite right/lethargic to her passing took about 12 hours. She was 6 years and 2 months when she passed. It was devastating, as she was always my favorite and was such a sweet, wonderful pig... I still miss her 18 months later. Unfortunately the act of dying is a physical process, and what you describe sounds very much like the dying process at work. So often we don't see this anymore in our lives apart from pets. I was 'lucky' (I guess?) in that I knew what to expect, having been present at the deaths of my grandfather, having worked in a hospital setting and a palliative unit as a student, etc. It is still hard to watch. However, hopefully it can give you some comfort that you were there for him the whole time. I know it helps me to know that Linney passed away in my arms, she wasn't alone, and she knew she was loved.
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
66,376
Reaction score
32,583
Points
3,456
Location
Coventry UK
I'm really sorry for your loss. His passing sounds a lot like what happened with one of my pigs, Linney, when she passed. I never had a firm diagnosis... the vet suspected cancer, as he could feel a mass in her abdomen. In her last day, it seemed that she went into heart failure, could not swallow food, though she would chew it somewhat, and finally went through the final stages of Cheynes-Stokes breathing (those gasping breaths punctuated by pauses) and died in my arms. From her seeming not quite right/lethargic to her passing took about 12 hours. She was 6 years and 2 months when she passed. It was devastating, as she was always my favorite and was such a sweet, wonderful pig... I still miss her 18 months later. Unfortunately the act of dying is a physical process, and what you describe sounds very much like the dying process at work. So often we don't see this anymore in our lives apart from pets. I was 'lucky' (I guess?) in that I knew what to expect, having been present at the deaths of my grandfather, having worked in a hospital setting and a palliative unit as a student, etc. It is still hard to watch. However, hopefully it can give you some comfort that you were there for him the whole time. I know it helps me to know that Linney passed away in my arms, she wasn't alone, and she knew she was loved.
Unlike you, I have been grateful, as sad as it is, that the dying of some of my guinea pigs has helped me understand and cope when my mother-in-law passed away while I was keeping the bedside night watch at the hospital in rotation with my husband; it works both ways.

The first death we witness, whether it is beloved pet or family member, usually comes as a shock as it is a much more physical process than we imagine. It is important to know that the dying are aware of your presence and love, and that hearing is the last sense to go. :(

PS: As to guinea pigs - it is not necessary that they are in your arm, unless their companion(s) are keeping a distance and the dying piggy did remove itself from the group. If a companion is staying with his friend, please have him with you on the lap or just sit by the cage.
 

VickiA

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
18,895
Reaction score
21,739
Points
2,165
Location
Cheshire, England
I've seen your lovely tribute in the RB thread and feel your pain.
Looking for answers is a natural part of the grieving process and also the wondering whether you missed something or could have done more. You clearly loved your little man and he loved you. There would not have been anything more you could have done for him. You gave him a home where he was loved and cared for and you were there with him for the end. Not all piggies are blessed with this much love and care. Big hugs.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top