Guinea Pigs/Grieving?

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Question
I lost one of my little buddies on Thursday.(respiratory infection) For me it was extra sad because our vet thought he might make it.

His bunk buddy has seemed to be extra sad. Low interest in favorite foods, staying inside his twigloo almost all of the time, and he's listless. From my reading I had understood that within a short period of time any grieving would pass.

My questions are as follows: a)after what period of time should I be concerned if he doesn't perk up a bit b)is there anything I can do as far as extra playtime or anything else to get a little bounce back in his step and c)is there a consensus on getting him a new roommate?

He's about 13 months old and they were brought home together.

Thank you in advance very kindly for your help.

Answer
Most pigs will bounce back after a day or two. I would worry more about whether the remaining buddy is also ill rather than listless from grieving. Animals don't spend the kind of time we humans do when there is a loss.  This is probably more an instinct of nature than a lack of feelings.

In the wild when a herd member dies the remaining herd must go forward or they become susceptible to predators who would take advantage of their lack of attention to their surroundings. Even mother guinea pigs do not display signs of grief over a lost pup. They concentrate their efforts on the live babies and quickly put the death aside.

As humans we can't help but try to assign human emotions such as grief on our pets. The reality is that they don't share our deeper and longer lasting emotions such as grief or sorrow. Neither to they feel sorry for themselves when they're faced with a disability. They simply accept life as it is given to them and they move forward. That's a survival mechanism.

Holding the little guy and playing with him more often will certainly do both of you more good. Extra little goodies such as melons or parsley are always appreciated. But as far as him remaining unwilling to eat I more strongly suspect this might be something other than a grieving buddy.

Trying to find the reason for sudden illness or death in cavies is extremely difficult. They don't show signs of illness until it's almost too late. I share your concern and feeling of loss in losing a pet. It's a painful time and there just isn't any quick and easy way to deal with it. It's that part of life that we all hate but are helpless to prevent it.  

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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