AJ Cavies

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When a companion animal dies it is perfectly natural to feel upset and emotional. This animal has probably been part of your life for quite a few years and you have looked after it, fed it, loved it and above all enjoyed its company. Give yourself time to get over the loss. Some people may feel better after a few weeks, but others find that remembering their pet's death still makes them upset even after several years.


Talk about your animal's death, especially to friends and relatives who have had a similar experience. Some people also find it helpful to write their thoughts and feelings down in a diary or even a poem.

In memory

Hold a special ceremony in remembrance of your pet - perhaps bury a memento or a tree or shrub in a favourite part of the garden. This can be a good way of showing your pet the respect it deserves and also provides a good opportunity to let out some emotions.

Not guilty

Don't blame yourself for your pet's death. If you gave it care and attention during its life and took it to your
veterinary surgeon when it was ill you did all you could. Try not to blame other people either. Vets cannot always save an animal's life. If your pet died as a result of an accident there was probably nothing you could have done to prevent this.

Letting go

If your pet is very ill and unlikely to recover, your vet may suggest that it is put to sleep. This can be a very difficult decision to make, but it is one of the kindest things that an owner can do for a suffering animal. Don't be afraid to show how upset you are in front of the vet. A sympathetic vet will understand your feelings.

Missing them

You won't be able to help thinking about how much you miss your pet. But remember the good times too. Think about your pet's funny habits and what you loved most about it. It's quite normal to feel angry when a pet dies or to feel that its death was unfair particularly if the animal had a serious disease or was involved in an accident. These emotions are part of the process of coming to terms with your loss.

Looking forward

When to get a new companion animal is something that only you can decide. Listen to your own feelings. You may feel that no other pet can take your old pet's place. But if you feel that the time is right to get a new pet, that's fine too. Allow yourself plenty of time to make your decision.

YOUR BEREAVED GUINEA PIG (when one is left behind)

Signs of grief in your Guinea Pig

Some guinea pigs grieve when they lose their cage companion and because they are fairly sensitive creatures this needs to be handled carefully. Guinea pigs who have spent a lifetime together especially may feel the loss quite badly.

You can identify grief by the following ways:

Loss of appetite

A guinea pig may pick at their food or even stop eating completely. This must be dealt with quickly to prevent weight loss and hamper their recovery. Encouraging new tasty fresh treats may help.

Decline in activity

"Gazing into space", less physically active i.e. less running around exploring and being unusually quiet. He/she may even spend time huddled in a corner of the hutch or in a provided hideout. It has also been observed that some guinea pigs will look for their lost companion.

What you can do

Here are some things you can do to make the loss of a companion easier for your guinea pig. For anti-social, or elderly guinea pigs of both genders you may not succeed in finding them a new companion. Boars can also sometimes be difficult to put into pairs due to their territorial nature.

Bring your pet indoors

A bereaved guinea pig will benefit from your company, so bringing him/her into the house for a week would be a good idea.

Bathing your guinea pig

As soon as possible, give your guinea pig a bath to eradicate any scent of the deceased companion and spend extra time making a fuss of your guinea pig pet while drying him/her off.

Clean out the hutch or cage

Give the hutch a thorough clean out using hutch cleaner or disinfectant to remove all traces of the deceased companion. Please remember to include all toys, bottles and bowls they shared.
Spend time with your guinea pig

It would be a great idea to Cuddle and stroke or even brush your guinea pig while watching TV. Talk to him/her while you go about your business around the house. Visit him regularly while he/she is indoors with you. Offer him/her vegetable treats and make a fuss of him/her.

Finding a new companion

Some guinea pigs will accept a new companion after the loss of an old one. Sometimes it's a necessity for the remaining animal to have another guinea pig for company, something which you will learn depending on how your pet is grieving. It is often successful to introduce a baby Guinea pig as the older Guinea pig will not feel the need to exercise dominance or if you have a lone female try a neutered male Guinea pig.