Guinea pigs sometimes and unexpectedly seem to go very still and unresponsive, and this can be an extremely alarming occurrence for any guinea pig owner. It can leave you wondering whether your guinea pig is alive or too shocked to move, and unsure of what you should do next.
Unfortunately, shock can easily occur among guinea pigs. Like many small mammals, they take care to hide signs of illness or injury for as long as possible, and this can lead to them entering a state of shock without you ever realizing that anything is wrong with them. If your guinea pig has suddenly become unresponsive and seems to be lying motionless, you may be feeling panicked.
We are going to talk about how you can tell whether your guinea pig is still alive and simply shocked into unresponsiveness, or whether it has passed away. This should help you to maximize its chances of survival if it is not yet dead, or at least get through the period of uncertainty quickly so that you can begin grieving if it has died. Although this is a very difficult time, prompt action may help a shocked guinea pig to recover, so it is crucial that you do not freeze up yourself.
Is My Guinea Pig Dead Or In Shock?
Your guinea pig is dead if it is no longer breathing, it has no pulse, and it shows no signs of movement. If your guinea pig is still showing some small signs of movement, even just because its chest is rising and falling, it is still alive and you may be able to save it if you act fast. It is very important to check these things before you start trying to move the guinea pig, or you could hurt a shocked guinea pig and kill it.
You should put the tip of your finger gently against your guinea pig’s nostrils to see if you can detect any air movement from its breath. You can also touch its side around the rib area to check for signs of breathing, and then feel inside its armpit for a pulse. Hopefully, you will discover one of these signs; if you do, it is necessary to take prompt action to ensure that your guinea pig gets the help it needs immediately.
A video call with a veterinarian should be your next step, as soon as you can organize it. This may help you to get help faster than if you try to take your guinea pig to a physical vet’s office, and it prevents you from having to stress the guinea pig out by traveling with it. The vet should be able to offer guidance on what is wrong and what to do, using what they can see on the call to determine the cause of the problem.
Can Guinea Pigs Survive Shock?
Guinea pigs can survive being shocked, yes, but you should try and avoid sources of stress for them nonetheless. It is very possible for a guinea pig’s heart to simply give out if something stressful happens to it, so avoid shocking your guinea pig. Remember that it is a prey animal, and consequently may find loud noises, sudden movements, and large objects alarming.
Guinea pigs only die of shock when their hearts are overwhelmed by something, so your guinea pig may not die if it gets startled or stressed, but you should bear this in mind as a very real possibility. If your guinea pig is really frightened by something, it may simply not survive. Ensure that household members recognize this danger and do not shout at or grab guinea pigs suddenly.
If you are worried that your guinea pig has been shocked, put it in a quiet, familiar environment away from all other stress factors, and leave it alone. It is most likely to recover from the shock if it does not have any further sources of fear in its immediate environment, and being somewhere familiar will help with this. You may wish to drape a towel over the cage to make it dark and further help your guinea pig feel safe.
Why Is My Guinea Pig Alive But Not Moving?
The most likely cause for a guinea pig refusing to move is that it is sick. If your guinea pig is feeling very unwell, it is likely to lie on its side or stomach and not move, because it lacks the energy and motivation. Usually, a guinea pig that has reached this stage is very sick and needs to be seen by a vet immediately.
Guinea pigs may also lie on their sides if they are suffering from heatstroke, or if they are playing dead because something has alarmed them. In both cases, you should take action to get your guinea pig somewhere calm, cool, and safe so that it can recover. A guinea pig that has suffered from heatstroke will likely need to see a vet, but keep it cool in the meantime.
Don’t ignore your guinea pig lying motionless on its side; this is a bad sign and could mean it is very sick. Get in touch with your vet and see if you can determine any obvious issues that have caused the situation. In most circumstances, you should relocate the guinea pig to its cage while waiting to get it to the vet, as this is where the guinea pig will feel safest and most comfortable.
If you think your guinea pig may be dead, you should immediately check its vital signs by feeling for its breath and putting your finger in its armpit to search for a pulse. If you can find these signs, your guinea pig is not dead, but it does need immediate care from a vet, because it is probably extremely sick. Take your guinea pig to a vet or set up a video conference with a vet as soon as you are able to, and in the meantime, keep the guinea pig in a quiet, dark, familiar environment so that it feels safe.