When your guinea pig dies you may have to decide on a burial or cremation, deal with any emotions this may involve for you and your family, particularly children, look out for signs of depression in the guinea pigs who have lost their friend plus find ways in which you can remember your beloved guinea pig.
Although this can be an extremely sad time, it is inevitable that your guinea pig will pass away one day so in this article we've tried to answer as many questions as we can on what to do when your guinea pig dies.
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My guinea pig died - will the other one be okay?
Like humans, guinea pigs can behave and react in different ways after the death of a friend. Whether your deceased guinea pig had just one companion or several, they are very likely to feel some kind of bereavement after their friend has passed away.
Some guinea pigs are badly affected by the loss of their friend. This may be even more pronounced if they were in a pair rather than a group. When a guinea pig dies, it is important that the remaining guinea pigs are able to say their goodbyes.
What you can do to help the remaining guinea pigs
Leave your deceased guinea pig in the cage (or put them back if they died outside of the cage) so that your remaining guinea pigs can see him. They may ignore him or trundle up and lick him. Give them half an hour with their friend before you remove him from the cage.
It is a good idea to put a piece of fleece or a soft toy (make sure it is a safe toy) in the cage as the scent of their friend can be a comfort for them and can help them cope with the loss.
Signs your guinea pig needs help
It is important to give a grieving guinea pig plenty of love, attention and cuddles to compensate for their loss.
No matter what you do to help relieve their pain, it is common for a guinea pig who is mourning to be quieter than usual or to go off their food. You should monitor any remaining guinea pigs closely to make sure they are coping. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on their weight, what they are eating and their day to day movements to see if anything has changed and if it improves or deteriorates.
Some guinea pigs can become quite ill after the death of a partner or lifelong friend so if you think your guinea pig is suffering badly or if you are at all concerned, ask your vet for advice.
Should I get another guinea pig?
As guinea pigs are social animals, they thrive being with others. If you are left with a solitary piggy who is pining for their lost friend it would be a good idea to consider adopting another one to give them company. For a guinea pig that is in deep mourning for the loss of their friend, this may be the best option for them.
We always recommend adopting from a rescue centre so that guinea pigs in need of love can have a caring home. In this way you are not only helping your remaining guinea pig but another one too.
Should I have my guinea pig buried or cremated?
After your pet has died you will need to make a decision as to whether you would like to have them cremated or if you'd prefer to bury them in your garden.
Burying your guinea pig
Pet burial laws
UK law states that you can bury your pet at the home where it lived providing you own that house. That means if you rent a house, you may not be allowed to bury your pet in the garden so it is worth checking with your landlord before you do this and ask his permission. If you do decide to bury your guinea pig it is important to make sure that it is not near to any water sources.
If you guinea pig has been euthanised or had some treatment using controlled drugs before their death, you may not be allowed to bring him home for burial. This is because the chemicals involved can be a health hazard but ask your vet for full information about this and they will be able to advise and explain fully.
Burying your guinea pig In your garden
If you have a garden or at least some patch of earth a home burial would be a good option for you. You can bury your pet in a small cardboard box but you could go for something more special too. You can buy pet biodegradable and eco-friendly coffins which would be a lovely way to lay your guinea pig to rest, especially if the guinea pig belonged to a child who would benefit from a bit of ceremony at the burial.
A memorial statue can be placed as a marker for your guinea pig’s resting place but (if it's large enough) can also help prevent another animal such as a fox or a cat digging around your pet's grave. You could also place a large stone or slab over the grave to protect it from being dug up. Alternatively, a heavy pot with an attractive plant to mark the spot would do a similar job. Remember to make sure you bury your pet as deep as you can.
Burying your guinea pig In a plant pot
If you don’t have a garden but you have a bit of outdoor space such as a slabbed patio or a balcony you could buy a very large garden pot and bury your guinea pig in the pot with a lovely plant as a lasting memorial. This can also include an engraved plaque or memorial stake and/or a small memorial stone. The advantage of this is that if you move house you can take the pot with you.
Do bear in mind it is not a good idea to bury your guinea pig in an indoor plant pot because of the decomposition process that will occur after burial.
Having your guinea pig cremated
If you don’t have anywhere to bury your beloved pet or you want to keep the ashes in some kind of keepsake such as jewellery or an urn, cremation is the best option. Your vet may offer a cremation service but ask them about what this entails as you also have the option of going to a specialist pet crematorium. This might be a more personal service than you would receive from a veterinary practice but check out the pros and cons of each including prices. Don't be afraid to ask questions as this is an important decision for you so they should be sympathetic and understand.
Types of cremation
There are generally 2 different types of cremation:
- Communal Cremation - Other pets are cremated at the same time so you won’t be able to keep the ashes
- Individual Cremation - Just your pet will be cremated and you may have the option of either having the cremains (ashes) sent to you or having them placed in the memorial garden at the pet crematorium.
How much does a small pet cremation cost?
Prices will vary around the country so search for “pet cremation services” in your area and contact two or three as well as your vet to see what they charge. As a very rough guide it may be somewhere around £70 to £150 for an individual cremation (with it being at the higher end of the scale if you want the ashes to be returned to you) or £30 to £50 for a communal cremation.
What to do with the ashes
If you are having an individual cremation and would like to keep the ashes, there are several different ways of doing so:
We have more options at the bottom of the page under "Memorials and where to buy them online"...
How to cope with the grief of losing your pet
It doesn't matter how big or small a pet is or how old you are - if you have formed a special bond with your guinea pig it can cause an outpouring of grief when that pet dies. It is important to find a way to deal with the grief so that you can move on with your life without that heavy sad feeling.
Children can become very attached to their pets and it is important to help them come to terms with the loss of their guinea pig. Your approach will of course depend on their age as very young children of 3 or 4 will react in a very different way to a teenager.
It is helpful to be able to talk about how you feel with someone who cares. Involving someone who has been through a similar bereavement can be especially supportive during this difficult time. If your child is grieving, talk to them about the fun times they had with their guinea pig and how happy they were. A child might find it helpful to draw pictures or create a scrapbook of their pet to keep for precious memories.
Finding a fitting memorial you can treasure to remember your pet guinea pig (possibly with the ashes inside too) may help you or your child still feel close to them during the coming weeks and months.
A guinea pig funeral or memorial service
Holding a special funeral ceremony for your pet with those who are close to you can be a way of saying goodbye, just as it is with humans. You can buy special small pet coffins, memorial stones and engraved grave markers to mark the place where you lay your guinea pig to rest.
A child who has lost their guinea pig, may appreciate the formality of a "proper" funeral for their pet. If they were close to their guinea pig, a properly organised funeral ceremony can be comforting and gives them a way to say goodbye in their own way.
They might like to write their own little funeral poem or a few words about their guinea pig and organise the proceedings. Even if it feels a little strange, it is good to go along with their plans, attend the funeral and say goodbye with them if they want you to attend. However, all children are different and handle grief in different ways so it should be their final decision to do this rather than yours.
If you or your child struggle to come to terms with this loss after a period of time and it is affecting day to day life then it is advisable to seek professional help.
Pet memorial and burial ideas
It is important for many people to keep their guinea pig's memory alive as pets can play an important part in our lives and create memories that we will treasure forever. We have compiled a list of lovely memorial ideas for your guinea pig from engraved plaques or stones you can place on your pet's grave to jewellery in which to keep the ashes. We have also included pet coffins so you can bury them in dignity.
Personalised Memorial Statues, Plaques and Grave Markers
- Hand carved memory stone - personalised with your guinea pig's name.
- Memorial plaque - a personalised grave marker (stake) which can be engraved with your guinea pig's name, dates of birth and death and a message.
- Personalised wooden memorial plaque and photo frame - A lovely memorial to hang in your home that can be personalised with the name of your guinea pig. The words on the plaque read “If love alone could have kept you here you would have lived forever. In loving memory of [your guinea pig’s name goes here]”
- Small guinea pig memorial statue - the statue can be personalised with your own message and the name of your guinea pig. Perfect for marking your guinea pig’s burial place or just as a reminder of your precious pet that you can place in a special part of your garden.
- Memory bottle for ashes or pet hair - a small corked bottle with a short chain of coloured beads and a charm that can be personalised with your guinea pig’s name. The urn comes in a box with a poem that reads “You may have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge but you’ll never be far from my mind. I treasure the memories of wonderful times when you were still here by my side. Until we meet again.”
- Guinea pig shaped urn - this handcrafted ornament in the shape of a guinea pig has a cavity which will hold your guinea pig’s ashes and you can choose to have it finished in pewter, bronze or black.
- Memorial teddy bear - this special cuddly toy has a pouch at the back for placing a token of your guinea pig’s ashes. This is a lovely way to keep your guinea pig’s ashes as you can give the bear a comforting hug.
- Wooden cremation box - you can keep your beloved pet’s ashes in this Rosewood box which has solid brass paws inlaid into the lid.
Coffins and Caskets
- Cardboard coffin: Affordable and eco-friendly biodegradable cardboard coffin with a matching photograph frame and a temporary grave marker which can be used if you are waiting for a more permanent plaque or stake. Because of its natural materials (100% corrugated cardboard), this coffin is ideal for burial or cremation.
- Wicker willow coffin - This environmentally friendly handmade coffin for small pets is beautifully lined and comes with a soft pillow. This casket has been designed with thought and care - a wonderful way to bury your beloved guinea pig with dignity.
Memorial Jewellery for Ashes
- Stunning ashes heart necklace with crystals of Swarovski® - the locket can be used to hold either a token of your pet’s ashes or hair.
- Stainless steel paw prints memorial necklace - this pendant can take a token of your pet’s ashes as a keepsake.
- Heart shaped cremation urn necklace in sterling silver - an excellent quality locket in which you can store a small amount of your pet’s ashes to carry around with you forever. You can choose the wording you would like on the front and back of the pendant.
- Bangle with charms - a hand stamped guinea pig charm that can include angel wings, plus additional charms that can be stamped with the name/s of your guinea pigs and decorated with coloured beads.
- Engraved heart pendant - Keep a token of your pet’s ashes in the locket. The inscription on the heart says "No longer by my side... but forever in my heart"