Is Your Guinea Pig In Pain? (11 Ways To Find Out Now)

If you’ve got a guinea pigs, chances are that you’re very close with them. Guinea pigs may be small and cute, but they still experience pain just like humans do!

Because guinea pigs can’t tell us when they’re in pain, it’s up to us to learn how to spot the signs.

  • flinching
  • screaming or squealing
  • grinding teeth
  • lack of grooming
  • posture changes
  • bar biting
  • quick breathing
  • weight loss
  • lack of movement
  • focusing on the sore area
  • grumpiness

In this blog post we’ll go over some of the most common symptoms of guinea pig pain in detail. That way, you can identify whether your piggie is suffering. If you know what to look for, then it is easier to spot these symptoms and take appropriate action.

But, before we dive into the signs of pain for your pet guinea pig, let’s first discuss…

Why Guinea Pigs Hide Their Pain (Or Injuries)

how to tell if your guinea pig is in pain

Most of us like to think we could spot if our pet was in pain. But sometimes, piggies are amazing at hiding their discomfort from the people who care about them. And this is something that’s often missed by their pet parent.

Guinea Pigs are prey animals, so they instinctively hide signs of pain and illness to avoid attracting attention

They’re also herd animals whose chance of survival increases when they’re in groups.  In the wild, showing pain or weakness would get them being picked out and hunted by predators.

Your fur babies sense and process pain similarly to humans, but they still hide it from you even though they know you’re a safe haven.

But, if you know what to look for, it’s a lot easier to spot these symptoms and take appropriate action.

The first question you should ask is, do they usually exhibit any of these symptoms?

The more signs your guinea pig is displaying, the higher the probability that he or she is in pain.

One or two signs may not be cause for alarm right away, but if your pet displays a majority of these symptoms then it’s time to take them to the vet.

So, here’s how you can tell when your guinea pigs might be in pain:

1. Flinching

One of the signs of guinea pig pain is if they flinch when you touch them or pick them up.

Flinching is their body’s way to protect themselves from any pain they may be feeling, no matter how small the sensation might seem to us humans.  All they’re trying to do is avoid you touching their sensitive spot.

Take note. Sometimes piggies will flinch and run away when you try to pick them up because they just…don’t want to be picked up. So, flinching isn’t the only indicator of guinea pig pain.

If you want tips on how to keep your guinea pig safe and how to read their behavior, check out these posts: Is Your Guinea Pig Safe From Cockroaches? (Find Out Now) and 9 Simple Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Stare (What You Need To Know)

2. Squealing Or Screaming

Guinea pigs express sudden pain in a way that is different from regular aches and soreness. The squealing (or shrieking) lasts a lot longer. And it’s reserved for sudden, extreme forms of pain.

For example, if your little friend has just fallen and squeals when he hits the ground, it’s probably a sign of acute pain.

This sound is different from the typical happy noises of wheeking from your little friends. When you hear the sound, you can almost sense that something bad has happened.


Guinea pigs have very poor eyesight. Their depth perception is especially bad, so they can’t tell a 3 inch drop from a 3 foot drop. Monitor your piggies closely when they’re up on couches – actually, better yet , don’t let them up there in the first place.

3. Grinding Teeth

This isn’t your piggie’s natural teeth – chattering. Normal teeth-chattering in your fur babies usually means that they’re agitated or upset about something. There’s a fair amount of sassiness (or attitude) in the sound.


to figure out if your furry friend is grinding their teeth in pain, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your piggie eating when the grinding sound is taking place? If so, it might simply be the sound your piggie makes when she’s eating.
  • Does your fur baby have good dental health? Occasionally, when a guinea pig’s teeth (or one tooth) have gotten too long, they’ll make a grinding sound when they chew. A trip to the vet is needed to file down your little friend’s teeth or to check for forms of dental disease.
  • Are you heading the sound during a bonding attempt between piggies? Instead of doing the regular teeth chattering, some piggies will grind their teeth when they’re trying to figure out “who’s in charge”

4. Lack of Grooming

You know what it’s like when you feel sick or are in pain. You don’t bother with taking a bath or fixing yourself up.

Guinea pigs are the same way. If they’re feeling sick or in pain, guinea pigs will stop grooming themselves. They’re in a lot of pain. Or they don’t have enough energy.

But, don’t assume that a stinky piggie means that guinea pigs are in pain.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a bad-smelling cavy, such as:

Try to make sure that you don’t confuse a guinea pig’s lack of grooming for being in pain. Always assess other guinea pigs’ behavior to figure out if they seem sick or in pain.

5. Posture Changes

If you look closely, changing in how your cavies lay and stand can be a sign that they are in pain. How a guinea pig stands or carries herself can depend on the pain they are experiencing. It’s usually helpful to look for those behavior changes when assessing if your guinea pig may be in pain.

  • Stomach issues (e.g. bloat, gi stasis) show themselves through arched, hunched over backs. Quite often this makes their hair spiky. This is a different from keeping their heads up and alert when they’re well and healthy.
  • Soreness, strains, or pulled muscles may make guinea pigs walk with a limp or walk stiffly and slowly.
  • Typically, piggies keep their back legs tucked under them. But, not when their legs (or other body parts) are sore. They’ll lay with their legs shifted to the side or splayed out behind them in a more comfortable position. (But, some healthy piggies will relax in this position, too. You have to know what’s normal for your piggie and what’s not.)
  • You might notice that your piggies have trouble standing up or sitting up. If they can’t get up, it might be a sign of pain.

6. Bar Biting

There’s few things that are as stressful as being sick or in pain. This stress sometimes leads guinea pigs to bite on the bars of their cage.

This behavior isn’t normal. And if it happens suddenly (without warning) then it’s a sign that your guinea pig might be in pain.

Other than pain, biting on the bars of their cage can be a sign that your guinea pig is experiencing:

  • anxiety, stress, or fear (e.g. from being in an unfamiliar environment and not responding to care, a bullying cagemate)
  • boredom because they’re alone too often or are offered inadequate enrichment or entertainment opportunities

Bar biting might stop once you find its underlying cause – so don’t delay in trying some detective work for this one. But even if left alone these seemingly innocent nibbles will turn into guinea pig tooth decay.

7. Quick Breathing

Shallow, rapid breathing or panting can be a sign that guinea pig is in pain – especially if the pain is particularly intense.

Quick breathing can also be a sign of an upper respiratory infection. If you notice that the rapid breathing is accompanied by a runny nose or sneezing be sure to consult your guinea pig’s veterinarian if you notice this symptom.

8. Weight Loss

This is usually a long term sign of pain or illness in a guinea pig. When you’re sick, it’s not uncommon to lose your appetite. This is true for your little friends.

When they don’t eat, they lose weight. And that’s not good.

Piggies can’t go for very long without food (especially hay) or water. Their digestive system has to always be moving. Instinctively, healthy and well piggies graze their food all day. So, a loss of appetite is a clear sign that something is wrong.

What’s worse is that if you have a lot of piggies, then you won’t be able to watch them all at once. And you may not notice if one in particular isn’t eating.

If you only have one or two guinea pigs, just observe the food bowl. A normal guinea pigs usually eats messily. So, if it doesn’t look like food has been spilled around the bowl, it’s probably a sign that your piggie is eating less than she should.

???? Tips & Tricks:

This is the reason why it’s so important to give your guinea pig weekly health checks and to provide a balanced diet with Vitamin C. Since piggies are so good at hiding illnesses and injuries, the only hint that we get as pet parents that something is wrong is weight fluctuations.

9. Lack of Movement

Seriously, if you’re in pain, then you’re not going to moving around. And neither is your guinea pig.

In fact, unwillingness to move or stiff, slow movements are a pretty big sign that your guinea pig is in pain.  This is common when your guinea pig is going through a recovery from surgery.

But, always consider other factors:

Sometimes a lack of energy happens because your pet has taken medication that makes them sleepy (e.g. painkiller or anesthetics). Check with your vet about side effects of your piggie’s meds when in doubt.

Other times, your piggie might be feeling lazy because of the weather or – in piggie fashion – might just be lounging sort of mood.

As always, listen to your guinea pig’s body language signs and trust your intuition about their behaviors!

10. Focusing on the Sore Area

Guinea pigs may exhibit a number of behaviors which indicate discomfort. Focusing on the part of their body that’s causing them pain is one of them. It’s also one of the most visibly self – destructive signs that your guinea pig is in pain.

Piggies might groom or gnaw at an area of their body if it’s painful – as long as they can reach it. This causes hair loss and bruised skin. Or they might just turn and look at the sore area.

For example, in the case of a mange mite infestations in guinea pigs or ringworm, guinea pigs have been known to chew on their legs and scratch themselves bloody in an effort to ease the itches and the pain.

If you spot your guinea pig grooming excessively or gnawing at a particular area of their body, it’s worth taking them for a vet appointment.

11. Grumpiness

There’s nothing like being in pain or being really sick to put a person (or a guinea pig) in a bad mood.

Big personality changes can be a big sign of guinea pig pain. For example:

  • Female guinea pigs have been known to become “absolute terrors” because of pain from ovarian cysts.
  • Bladder and kidney stones can also cause guinea pigs to become very moody and aggressive, chewing at their fur or snipping at their cage mates.

Just because your piggie is in a bad mood one day, doesn’t mean it’s in pain. But if your guinea pig becomes noticeably grumpy on a regular basis, it might be time to take them to the vet.

Basic Questions To Ask Yourself

Consider the following questions to help determine whether your guinea pig is in pain. If you answer “yes” to a combination any of these, then it’s probably time for a vet visit:

  • Is my guinea pigs’ behavior different than normal? Are they more aggressive or grump?
  • Is your guinea pig lethargic (not moving), sleeping more than usual, or not eating as much as normal?
  • Do they flinch when you touch their stomachs or back or other body part?
  • Are there any injuries that could have been caused by trauma (e.g., a fall)?
  • Have they lost weight (an ounce or more) since the last time you weighed them? Have you noticed that they’re not eating or drinking water?  What’s their Vitamin C intake like?
  • Has anything changed in their environment that may have contributed to this behavior change (e.g., new cage mates, new food type)?

Remember: When you see obvious signs of sickness in your guinea pig, they’ve probably been sick for a while. Make sure you get your fur baby seen by a vet as soon as possible.


It can be hard to detect pain in guinea pigs.  They often show no visible signs that they’re miserable.

So, pet parents have to rely on guinea pigs’ behaviors to indicate that they’re in pain.

If you notice something is off with your pet, don’t delay. Guinea pigs can experience serious illnesses very rapidly. Mostly because they’re so good at hiding when their sick.

No worries.  You have the tips from this blog to help you stay on top of the situation.

Having regular, exams with an experienced exotic vet.  Also, perform weekly health checks on your piggie to  make sure that your guinea pig is healthy and pain-free.

And remember, if you have serious concerns about your guinea pig’s health, call your vet for an appointment.

Lastly, there are always pain options for guinea pigs that can help ease your piggie’s suffering – if that’s necessary.  That way, your piggie doesn’t have to be miserable while they heal up.

Good luck!

Cystic ovarian disease in Guinea pigs. (2020, April 17). Scarsdale Vets.

Guinea lynx :: Pain. (n.d.). Guinea Lynx :: A Medical and Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig.

What do I need to know about my Guinea pigs’ health? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions.

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