Distress Signs in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are prey animals, which means their distress signs are different from those of other pets. You should observe your guinea pigs for these signs and make the appropriate changes to help your guinea pigs thrive.

Remember, professional veterinarians are a resource, and there’s no shame in asking for their help when it comes to your guinea pigs.


Even domesticated guinea pigs are still prey animals, and many things can cause them stress. Anything from the dog coming by too often to a change in food is suspect for them. If you observe the following, your piggle may be simply stressed out.

One of the big distress signs for guinea pigs in stress is aggression. Teeth chattering, head tossing, and other territorial behaviors mean the guinea pig does not feel secure in its space.

Hiding is another sign of stress. If your guinea pig is always in its box or hiding in the back corner of the cage, that’s a big sign of distress. Additionally, these guinea pigs don’t like being removed from the hidey-hole for handling.

Like many animals, hair loss in guinea pigs is also a distress sign. In the case of stress, your guinea pig is most likely losing hair to overgrooming. However, there are times when the stress is so much that it falls out too.

Close up of a guinea pig

Depression in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs can experience depression as well, and it looks similar to human depression. Generally, listlessness is the primary sign. A guinea pig who is not interested in running around or playing with its toys is depressed.

The cause can be a little difficult to pinpoint. Guinea pigs are social animals, so lack of a cage companion can do it. Additionally, guinea pigs need stimulation. You can try adding a new toy, habitat piece, or additional cuddle time.

Pair of guinea pigs on grass

Illness Signs of Distress

Illness in guinea pigs is relatively distinct and should be seen by a veterinarian when you notice the signs. An exotic vet is typically more familiar with guinea pigs, but a general vet will do too. There are many potential distress signs of illness in guinea pigs.

Perhaps the most straightforward changes to recognize are in the guinea pig’s behavior. Lethargy, posture changes, trouble breathing, and loss of balance are all serious issues. Additionally, some conditions mean the guinea pig will refuse food and water.

Guinea pigs are also unique in that their eyes can also reveal quite a bit. Crusty eyes, dull ones, or eyes that appear to be receding into the head are all indicators something is wrong. Generally, guinea pigs clean their eyes several times a day, so it being noticeable is a big sign.

Additionally, a sick guinea pig may also experience changes in excretions. Watery diarrhea, blood in the urine, increased or decreased frequency, etc., all indicate your piggle is not feeling well.

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