If your guinea pig cannot pass any urine, then he may be faced with the painful diagnosis of a bladder stone.
2 x bladder stones removed from male guinea pig
Bladder stones are made up most often of calcium carbonate formed into hard, roundish pieces that can block his urethra or simply stay in his bladder.
Calcium carbonate is the same material egg shells are made from.
No matter where these are affecting your guinea pig, bladder stone removal is a must, one way or the other.
They seem to be more common in boars (boys) than sows (girls) but both sexes are susceptible to forming stones.
What Are the Symptoms?
How will you know if your guinea pig has one or more bladder stones?
If he is crying or squeaking when he passes urine or if you see blood in his urine, you should take him to an exotic vet to have him checked.
Likewise, if he seems lethargic or panting a bit as if in pain, it’s best to call for an immediate appointment.
Don’t panic, however, because the cause might be something much less bothersome such as a urinary tract infection, which can be cured easily with antibiotics.
What Your Vet Will Do
The vet will feel your pet’s abdomen in an attempt to tell if stones are present. Often they cannot be felt on palpation, and only an x-ray can tell for certain. If they are stones, the x-ray will reveal just how close they are to the urethral opening.
If they are close, then possibly your pet will pass them, although it’s more difficult for males to pass them because their urethral tubes are narrower.
Surgery to have bladder stones removed from your guinea pig can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000.
A vet who has extensive experience with guinea pig surgery is thoroughly recommended as it is a delicate operation.
If you can’t afford that, then try at the least to afford an x-ray, since that’s the only way to be certain of the diagnosis.
Ignoring the symptoms could be a death sentence for your pet.
What Causes Stones?
Experts believe that diet plays a huge role in the development of stones, but heredity plays a role as well.
Barry drinking water post guinea pig bladder stone surgery
Therefore it’s really impossible to predict if your pet will develop stones.
You also have to watch out for sludge, which is a gritty material made of up the same type of calcium material but not yet formed into a stone.
Prevent Guinea Pig Bladder Stones
Experts and pet owners argue about the best dietary combinations for your pet, but they all agree that too much calcium in the diet is a contributing factor.
You most likely have read that pigs beyond a year in age should not have alfalfa, and the calcium content is the primary reason.
Timothy pellets offer less calcium. Other options include diets rich in green, leafy vegetables, but here is where the arguing comes in.
Some experts insist that romaine lettuce is the best because of its lower calcium content, yet others insist that it doesn’t matter as long as the calcium to phosphorus ratio is satisfactory.
If you’re not going to play with the calcium to phosphorus ratio, you will at least be reducing the calcium intake.
Guinea pig bladder stones prevention is a whole lot easier than dealing with a formed stone.
You cannot eliminate calcium, because your pet needs it for his bones and teeth. It’s easiest to reduce calcium by making sure that most of your pet’s vegetables come from the leafy parts and not stems or seeds.
Vitamin D has proved to be an effective way to aid in your pet’s complete absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is an additive in many pellets, but ask your vet if you are not certain what your pet needs.
It’s also very important to give your pet plenty of fresh water.
Besides the dish of water you keep in his cage, you should spritz his vegetables with water so that even when he’s eating, he’s getting some fluid into his system.
If the Worst Happens…
If your pet does require surgery for bladder stone removal, don’t panic.
Hopefully when you chose your vet, you asked him if he had experience performing guinea pig surgeries.
RIP Barry – Barry survived bladder stone surgery but passed away from post surgery complications
If he does not, ask him if he can refer you to a vet who has operated on these little guys before.
Once your pet comes through the surgery, just follow your vet’s instructions, which will undoubtedly include giving an antibiotic for a couple weeks.
Oxbow critical is recommended during the first week or two after surgery as your pig may go off eating. It’s important to weigh daily after any guinea pig surgery.
You will also need to have your pet rechecked frequently in the first six months. If he is prone to stone formation, he could easily form another stone during this time period.
Your vet will want to perform urinalysis to check the amount of calcium in his urine, and follow-up x-rays will also put your mind at rest.
We hope this article has helped point you in the right direction regarding bladder stones and feel free to share your experiences below in the comments area.
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Guinea Pig Care