In order to find out if your gerbil is dying, look for signs of critical illness, such as lethargy, pain, abdominal swelling or an excessively wet tail. Other telltale signs of a serious health emergency are labored breathing, wheezing, blood in the stool, spittle or vomit.
A dying gerbil often displays a sudden change of behavior that is worrisome to its owners. Instead of being alert and active, it may have trouble moving or simply remain in one spot. If it staggers while trying to walk or collapses, the gerbil needs emergency treatment. Owners might have to perform life-saving measures if the gerbil begins having seizures. On the other hand, stiffness and limping with leg hair loss are symptoms of a condition known as sore hocks, which is less serious. Be aware that listlessness may be due to constipation, which is a common problem requiring a vet's attention.
Wet tail is a condition that is often fatal to gerbils. Owners can spot this by observing that the tail is unusually wet. This condition is accompanied by symptoms, such as dehydration, diarrhea and weight loss. Wet tail requires immediate medical attention. Also keep an eye out for suspicious lumps on the gerbil's body, which may turn out to be tumors.