A common problem in Guinea pigs, due to high levels of calcium in the diet, which concentrate in urine. Frequently from lucerne hay or pellets.

Clinical signs
  • Hunched posture
  • Pain
  • Straining to urinate
  • Palpable hard bladder
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetance

Urolithiasis can become a problem in guinea pigs due to naturally alkaline urine (pH 8 ) and high excretion of calcium into urine with high calcium.

  • Urinalysis
  • Abdominal imaging – xray and ultrasound – focusing on bladder and kidneys (to detect nephroliths)

There are two components =
  1. Correct the high amount of calcium in diet
  2. Analgesia and antibiotics if required – +/-remove and crystals and stones – via surgery and cystotomy.
  3. Keep your guinea pig drinking! To naturally flush through urine and reduce sediment and crystals forming into uroliths.

With cystitis, antibiotics and analgesia could be indicated and resolve the problem. The most important thing is to reduce excess calcium in the diet (get rid of pellets, don’t feed lucerne hay to adults!) However the chance of correcting bladder stones without surgery is quite low, as calcium levels will still be very high in the diet, much like cats and dogs – dietary dissolution is unlikely.

Remember your surgical principles – haemostasis, asepsis, careful tissue handling and avoid skin sutures! And also remember to treat your guinea pigs like stars in hospital and whilst under an anaesthetic:

  1. Cystitis
With pain relief and diet change – good!
  1. Urolithiasis
With successful surgical removal of stones (or no stones) and diet change – the prognosis is good
Without surgery with uroliths present – your chances of destroying the calcium crystals and stones are low, and this will be a continuing source of pain and infection for your guinea pig.

The best prevention is an appropriate diet!

Popcorn to it!

Oglesbee, BL. Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal. 2nd Ed. 2011. Wiley-Blackwell.