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Guinea Pigs/lonely guinea pig

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Question
Hi there,

5 days ago one of the two family guinea pigs passed away and i'm now worried about Cookie, the guinea pig left behind. She seems to be eating/drinking as normal, she has been bought new toys (including a soft toy) and get's more attention. However, as everyone at one works I am worried if this is 1) just a front when we are all at home and 2) how lonely does she get. I've heard Guinea pigs hide illness until it is too late a majority of the time and i'm worried that if the normality she is showing in front us doesn't happen when we are work that she might become really unwell due to lonliness. The last thing I want is to not be able to spot any of this.

After caring for guinea pigs for so long, my mum wants to take a break and not get stuck in a cycle so another guinea pig is not an option.

Is there any advice you can give me on how to spot any illness, and making sure she isn't lonely so this can be prevented?

Thank you so much for your help

Sian x

Answer
I'm sorry to hear you lost Cookie's cage mate. It's always hard when we lose a pet, even when another is left behind.

Although guinea pigs are herding animals and enjoy having other pigs around, they can, just like pack animals such as dogs, be happy by themselves. Yes, guinea pigs cover illness well but it is not likely Cookie will become ill over the loss of her friend.

You're doing all you can to make up for her loss, but don't worry that she will grieve herself sick. Animals do feel loss of their friends. But unlike humans, they learn to cope much more quickly than we do. They do not take the time to feel sorry for themselves. They simply adjust and move on.

I understand your concern for her well being, but I also understand your mum's wish to have a break for awhile.  Perhaps you can wait for a time and see how Cookie gets along. If she shows any sign of being lonely perhaps mum will compromise and you can renegotiate the issue. But please don't worry that Cookie will not be well without a friend.

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

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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