When your guinea pig dies you may have to decide on a burial or cremation, deal with any emotions this may involve for you and your family, particularly children, look out for signs of depression in the guinea pigs who have lost their friend plus find ways in which you can remember your beloved guinea pig.
Although this can be an extremely sad time, it is inevitable that your guinea pig will pass away one day so in this article we’ve tried to answer as many questions as we can on what to do when your guinea pig dies.
Like humans, guinea pigs can behave and react in different ways after the death of a friend. Whether your deceased guinea pig had just one companion or several, they are very likely to feel some kind of bereavement after their friend has passed away.
Some guinea pigs are badly affected by the loss of their friend. This may be even more pronounced if they were in a pair rather than a group. When a guinea pig dies, it is important that the remaining guinea pigs are able to say their goodbyes.
Leave your deceased guinea pig in the cage (or put them back if they died outside of the cage) so that your remaining guinea pigs can see him. They may ignore him or trundle up and lick him. Give them half an hour with their friend before you remove him from the cage.
It is a good idea to put a piece of fleece or a soft toy (make sure it is a safe toy) in the cage as the scent of their friend can be a comfort for them and can help them cope with the loss.
It is important to give a grieving guinea pig plenty of love, attention and cuddles to compensate for their loss.
No matter what you do to help relieve their pain, it is common for a guinea pig who is mourning to be quieter than usual or to go off their food. You should monitor any remaining guinea pigs closely to make sure they are coping. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on their weight, what they are eating and their day to day movements to see if anything has changed and if it improves or deteriorates.
Some guinea pigs can become quite ill after the death of a partner or lifelong friend so if you think your guinea pig is suffering badly or if you are at all concerned, ask your vet for advice.
As guinea pigs are social animals, they thrive being with others. If you are left with a solitary piggy who is pining for their lost friend it would be a good idea to consider adopting another guinea pig to give them company. For a guinea pig that is in deep mourning for the loss of their friend, this may be the best option for them.
We always recommend adopting from a rescue centre so that guinea pigs in need of love can have a caring home. In this way you are not only helping your remaining guinea pig but another one too.
After your pet has died you will need to make a decision as to whether you would like to have them cremated or if you’d prefer to bury them in your backyard.
It is a good idea to check the laws in the state or country you live to check whether you are allowed by law to bury your pet at the home. In some countries or states, you may not be allowed to bury a pet in the backyard or garden of rented accommodation, so it is worth checking with your landlord before you do this and ask his or her permission. If you do decide to bury your guinea pig it is important to make sure that it is not near to any water sources.
If you guinea pig has been euthanized or had some treatment using controlled drugs before their death, you may not be allowed to bring him home for burial. This is because the chemicals involved can be a health hazard but ask your vet for full information about this and they will be able to advise and explain fully as to whether or not you can bring your guinea pig back home.
If you have a backyard, or at least some patch of earth, a home burial would be a good option for you. You can bury your pet in a small cardboard box, but you could alternatively opt for something more special.
You can buy pet biodegradable and eco-friendly coffins which would be a lovely way to lay your guinea pig to rest, especially if the guinea pig belonged to a child who would benefit from a bit of ceremony at the burial.
A memorial statue can be placed as a marker for your guinea pig’s resting place but (if it’s large enough) can also help prevent another animal such as a fox or a cat digging around your pet’s grave. You could also place a large stone or slab over the grave to protect it from being dug up. Alternatively, a heavy pot with an attractive plant to mark the spot would do a similar job. Remember to make sure you bury your pet as deep as you can.
If you don’t have a backyard but you have a bit of outdoor space such as a slabbed patio or a balcony you could buy a very large garden pot and bury your guinea pig in the pot with a lovely plant as a lasting memorial. This can also include an engraved plaque or memorial stake and/or a small memorial stone. The advantage of this is that if you move house you can take the pot with you.
Do bear in mind it is not a good idea to bury your guinea pig in an indoor plant pot because of the decomposition process that will occur after burial.
If you don’t have anywhere to bury your beloved pet or you want to keep the ashes in some kind of keepsake such as jewelry or an urn, cremation is the best option.
Your vet may offer a cremation service but ask them about what this entails as you also have the option of going to a specialist pet crematorium. This might be a more personal service than you would receive from a veterinary practice but check out the pros and cons of each including prices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as this is an important decision for you so they should be sympathetic and understand.
There are generally 2 different types of cremation:
Prices will vary, depending on the country or state in which you live. Search online for “pet cremation services” in your area and contact two or three as well as your vet to see what they charge. Bear in mind that an individual cremation will be more costly than a communal cremation. And if you want the ashes returned to you this will also be an extra cost.
If you are having an individual cremation and would like to keep the ashes, there are several different ways of doing so including a special small pet cremation urn or keepsake box or even an item of jewelry.
It doesn’t matter how big or small a pet is or how old you are – if you have formed a special bond with your guinea pig it can cause an outpouring of grief when that pet dies. It is important to find a way to deal with the grief so that you can move on with your life without that heavy sad feeling.
Children can become very attached to their pets and it is important to help them come to terms with the loss of their guinea pig. Your approach will of course depend on their age as very young children of 3 or 4 will react in a very different way to a teenager.
It is helpful to be able to talk about how you feel with someone who cares. Involving someone who has been through a similar bereavement can be especially supportive during this difficult time.
If your child is grieving, talk to them about the fun times they had with their guinea pig and how happy they were. A child might find it helpful to draw pictures or create a scrapbook of their pet to keep for precious memories.
Finding a fitting memorial you can treasure to remember your pet guinea pig (possibly with the ashes inside too) may help you or your child still feel close to them during the coming weeks and months.
Holding a special funeral ceremony for your pet with those who are close to you can be a way of saying goodbye, just as it is with humans. You can buy special small pet coffins, memorial stones and engraved grave markers to mark the place where you lay your guinea pig to rest.
A child who has lost their guinea pig, may appreciate the formality of a “proper” funeral for their pet. If they were close to their guinea pig, a properly organized funeral ceremony can be comforting and gives them a way to say goodbye in their own way.
They might like to write their own little funeral poem or a few words about their guinea pig and organize the proceedings. Even if it feels a little strange, it is good to go along with their plans, attend the funeral and say goodbye with them if they want you to attend. However, all children are different and handle grief in different ways so it should be their final decision to do this rather than yours.
If you or your child struggle to come to terms with this loss after a period of time and it is affecting day to day life then it is advisable to seek professional help.
It is important for many people to keep their guinea pig’s memory alive as pets can play an important part in our lives and create memories that we will treasure forever. We have compiled a list of lovely memorial ideas for your guinea pig from a coffin or engraved plaques and stones you can place on your pet’s grave to jewelry in which to keep the ashes.