How to Prevent Bladder Stones in Guinea Pigs

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Keep your guinea pig on clean, dry bedding.,
Feed your guinea pig a low or reduced calcium diet.,
Give your pig a variety of reduced calcium foods.,
Encourage your guinea pig to drink plenty of water.,
Check if your guinea pig has parents with a history of bladder stones.,
Pay attention to your guinea pig’s urine for any blood.,
Notice if your pig squeals when he tries to pee or spends a lot of time squatting.,
Check to see if you guinea pig has stopped eating or has lost weight.,
Change your guinea pig’s diet.,
Get your pig’s urine checked for a urinary tract infection.Typical guinea pig urine is alkaline with a pH of 8.5, but if the pH of their urine changes, this can lead to the deposition of certain minerals.,
Consider surgical removal of the stones.,
Make the difficult decision to euthanize your guinea pig.

Wet bedding discourages the pig from emptying his bladder and is a breeding ground for bacteria. These bacteria can then track up the urethra and into the bladder, causing an infection., The majority of guinea pig bladder stones are calcium based (calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate). If the guinea pig is feed a high calcium diet then his body becomes saturated with calcium and is more likely to form deposits in his urine. So, feed your pig well balanced pellet foods that are calcium controlled, like the Oxbow range of herbivore foods, as well as Cavy cuisine and Bunny Basics.Avoid foods high in calcium like alfalfa hay, spinach, celery, parsley, and strawberries. Exclude these items from your pig’s diet or limit them as a once a week treat.

, As any food is likely to be higher in certain minerals than others, vary up the types of foods you give your pig. For example, carrots are high in oxalate, a buildup of which can cause bladder stones. If you feed your pig carrots everyday there is a risk of inducing oxalate bladder stones. Alternating or varying up how often you give your pig carrots gives the oxalate time to wash out of your guinea pig’s system rather than build up.Never give your pig the same food two days running to allow the system to cleanse itself in between eating times.

, This will help to keep his urinary tract flushed through and healthy.To do this, place multiple drinkers in the run and hutch. This is especially important for a group of guinea pigs housed together, because the head pig may dominate a lone drinker and prevent others from having access to water.

, It is not entirely clear why some guinea pigs suffer from bladder stones though they still maintain the same diet as guinea pigs who do not have stones. One theory is that there is a genetic component that influences the way your guinea pig processes the minerals in food. If these minerals are not processed properly, they are deposited as a sludge or crystals in the bladder and may then stick together to form stones.

, You may notice your guinea pig has darker colored pee containing the occasional blood clot on his sawdust. Blood in his urine is caused by the bladder stones rubbing the bladder lining and causing inflammation.If you can’t tell what your pig’s pee looks like against the sawdust, replace the sawdust with newspaper as it is easier to see any red-tinged discoloration on the paper.

, If the stone moves from the bladder into the urethra, then the condition can become more serious and more painful for your pig. Unable to pass water, your guinea pig will become distressed, and may be vocal or squeal, as well as squat.Untreated, your pig will continue to strain to pass urine, but to no avail. The urine builds up in the bladder and refluxes back up into the kidney. The guinea pig then becomes toxic. If you notice your pig displaying symptoms like extreme lethargy, stupor, or lapsing into unconsciousness, take him to your vet for medical care immediately.

, Some guinea pigs become so pre-occupied by trying to urinate that their food intake is reduced and they lose weight., Once the stones have formed in your pig’s bladder, there is no diet that will cause the stones to dissolve. Guinea pigs differ from cats and dogs, as certain stones in their bodies can dissolve with a special prescription diet. But a change in your pig’s diet will lessen the build up of more stones or a recurrence of stones in your pig’s bladder., Urinary tract infections can lead to the formation of bladder stones because this infection causes your guinea pig’s urine to become more acidic, thereby encouraging stone formation in his bladder.A guinea pig with stones should either have urine sent for culture, or be treated with a course of antibiotics on the assumption that a urinary tract infection is present.

, Removing the stones through surgery is a viable option but surgery without preventative measures may only benefit the animal for a relatively short period of time, likely 3-4 weeks.It is sad but true that despite a successful surgery, guinea pigs are associated with a high recurrence rate of stones, perhaps even despite your best efforts to reduce that likelihood.

, If it is not possible for you to take preventative measures like changing your pig’s diet and consistently checking their urine for infection, you may need to consider euthanizing your guinea pig rather than taking him to get surgery. Because of guinea pigs’ high recurrence rate of stones and the high risk of your pig being ill with bladder stones on a frequent basis, euthanizing your pig may be a possible solution to ensuring he does not experience any more pain.

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