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Diet bladder stone prevention

kiwipig

Member
Cavy Gazer
Joined
Nov 11, 2023
Messages
5
hi all. my 4 year old female guinea pig has had a problem with sludge in her urine for about four months now but we were able to get rid of it with fluid injections. since then, I have only been giving her bottled water, have switched to a low calcium pellet (1 tbsp a day), only give escarole lettuce, cucumber, and bell pepper each day (with the occasional carrot or apple). she also gets unlimited timothy hay. for the past few months i have been giving her Sherwood Urinary Support tablets (1 in morning & 1 at night) because i have heard they are good to get rid of sludge and stones. apparently it didn’t work.. i thought we were doing so well because i haven’t seen much sludge in the last month but we just found out she has a bladder stone and her surgery was scheduled for monday. however about an hour ago she passed what looks like the stone (i added a picture of it)!! i am still going to the vet on monday to get her looked at to make sure we are all clear but is there anything i can do differently to make sure she doesn’t get another stone? i am going to lessen her pellets a little and i will cut back on the lettuce a little but other than that i dont know what else to do. she was in so much pain i don’t want to see her like that again :(
 

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The bad news is that there's really no sure-fire way to prevent stones. There are several factors involved, and the interaction is not well understood.

For one thing, there can be a strong genetic component. Some pigs will develop stones no matter what kind of no-stone diet is fed. Others will never get one no matter how bad their diet. I once pig-sat for an eight year old pig who ate all sorts of high calcium foods and never had an issue with stones in his life. Another friend's pig had surgery for bladder stones, and within three weeks the pig had more large stones.

Second, IMO, the "science" behind Sherwood pellets is bogus. There's no evidence that they do what is claimed for them. Your pigs are better off with a low-calcium pellet that doesn't have calcium carbonate (limestone) as the calcium source. In the US, Oxbow is the only manufacturer that I know that makes such a pellet.

Third, most stones start with a tiny nidus of infection in the bladder, so keeping the cage very clean is important. Pigs tend to pee and poop the most where they eat and sleep. It may help to make pee pads out of fleece over some absorbent material and change them frequently.

Exercise is also important. Active pigs keep the sludge in the bladder "stirred up," and it can more easily be excreted. In inactive pigs, the sludge settles into the bottom of the bladder and coalesces into stones. But pigs are like people -- some are active and some are not. Maybe you can poke yours with a stick several times a day to get her to move a little more. (Just kidding. Sort of.) Or get another pig. Maybe they'll chase each other around the cage.

You should check the calcium content of the water. Most county health departments can tell you where to get that done. In areas where there's a lot of limestone, the water can be the mail culprit. But even though you've switched to bottled water, see if you can find out what the calcium content.

Some people use reverse osmosis water, usually available in grocery stores. Just don't give distilled water, as it leaches minerals out of the body and can make a stone problem worse.

Good luck! Keep us posted on how you get along.
 
@bpatters wow that was so informative, thank you!

i’m going to ask the vet to test the stone to see if it was calcium carbonate or oxalate. i don’t feed her any high oxalate veggies though so i’m not sure how it would be that.

i used to feed kiwi romaine lettuce and use tap water (did this for 3 years) and she never had an issue. it’s weird that out of no where it’s now happening when i’ve only taken measures to prevent it.

i actually don’t use sherwood pellets, just their urinary support tablet (it has cranberry among other ingredients in it). i think the brand of pellets i use is natural select that has 0.4% calcium if i'm remembering correctly.

i do a pretty good job of keeping her cage cleaned but i will make a better effort to change her liner more frequently, i didn’t know that this issue starts out with a small infection.

she does run around each day but i will be sure to increase her activity.

i did reach out to the water bottle company and they said that the calcium content ranges from 0-20 mg/l. i think if it is below 40 mg/l that is good.
 

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