When our family envisions having a pet, we envision years of loving companionship, providing an exceptional environment, fairly problem-free togetherness followed by natural, peaceful death at home. We are scrupulous pet owners and provide the best of everything.
Our first guinea pig, was with us 4 - 5 years. Her demise was fluid surrounding her heart (heart not visible on X-ray). We were told it could be aspirated, but that it would return. This guinea pig was our Daughter’s pet living with us and - upon advice of Vet - our Daughter chose euthanasia. Piggie #2 suffered from dental malocclusion and underwent two instances of teeth reduction surgery. One morning this pet awoke and her back end was paralyzed and she was dragging her legs. This guinea pig was also our Daughter’s pet living with us and - upon advice of Vet - our Daughter chose euthanasia. Piggie #3 died hours after surgery to remove a bladder stone. Piggie #4 died following a sudden episode of stomach torsion. Piggies 3 and 4 were under the care of a well-experienced Exotics Veterinarian.
All of these pets had multiple problems and none just died a peaceful death from old age. Is this what guinea pig owners are to expect or did we just have a run of bad luck? I know that once these pets fall ill they usually don’t do well and that they don't often respond well to treatments and interventions. I am learning that they are easily stressed. I know it is important to get a healthy pig at the onset. Where to obtain? To me, what happened to our 4 piggies seems out of the norm. Perhaps, to you its not.
Knowing what we’ve already experienced, what our vision of pet ownership is, and how sensitive we are to loss, should we keep going with guinea pigs? The good times clearly do outshine the bad, but the bad have been such a punch in the gut to us. We are taking the remainder of the year to make a decision about future guinea pig ownership.
Many thanks to all for taking the time to read this.
For guinea pig #1, sometimes heart issues can be managed for years with proper medication.
For guinea pig #2, guinea pigs sometimes come out of the rear leg paralysis given time. It can be an injury that heals. On the other hand, malocclusion can be very difficult to manage, depending on the cause and the skill of the veterinarian. I do not know how paralysis and malocclusion would be related.
For guinea pig #3, I am sorry the surgery did not go well. Sometimes stones do return and a guinea pig prone to stone problems can have recurrent issues even with the best care we can provide.
All that said, I am sorry for your losses. I think many guinea pigs do have medical issues although you will find a few members here with guinea pigs that lived relatively long lives, only having complications near the end.
- Catie Cavy
- Supporter 2011-2018
Most of my guinea pigs have developed medical issues in their middle age and it has been very difficult dealing with them. Sometimes even with the best exotic medical care, we cannot help them. I've lost most of my guinea pigs before their time. One of my guinea pigs had stone surgery 4 weeks ago followed by a spay surgery 4 days ago. It’s been an emotional roller coaster depending on how she is doing each day. My husband keeps telling me not to get more guinea pigs every time one passes, by as you say, they also bring so much joy.
I lost my first boar to a mass in his abdomen at 6 years old. I think they are just so little that any illness or injury can be serious.
That said, I also had a large dog that we had to euthanize. I live in an area where small pets are constantly going missing because of coyote predation. I had a friend who lost a pet bird to a random respiratory infection.
I guess my point is that any pet can fall ill and suffer serious consequences. It does sound like you had a run of particularly bad luck, but if you love the cavies and are considering getting more, please don't let that stop you.
When I lost my Midnight, I was comforted by the knowledge that he had a fantastic life with me after retiring from my daughter's Kindergarten classroom. He was spoiled rotten and had the absolute best food, housing situation, and TLC every single day of his life. It looks to me as if you are your family are excellent caregivers, and there are so many piggies out there who need and deserve good homes!
It's also worth mentioning that, if you have experience with multiple pigs, sometimes you can adopt three or four who really need each other because they are already bonded. I would check with your local pet shelters and make sure they all have clean bills of health before bringing them home.
I first start keeping them decades ago, and they nearly always lived into their teens with no problems, my last deliberately acquired pair of sisters went at 10 and 11, then I broke my own rule and rehomed two girls, they only made it to approx 8 and 7 - not sure how old they were when I got them. Got two young boars and two young girls currently - and reading about all the health issues abounding I do wonder if these might be my last ones, as it gets harder and harder to find well bred and cared for youngstock to start with, and I won't patronize pet shops.
Plus reading all the issues that people have had has made me paranoid! Always used to assume mine would be healthy all their lives, now I panic everytime they go off one particular food - perhaps I should read less sad stories. I'm sure there are loads of happy healthy ones out there, somewhere!