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Urine crystals

Rachel14980

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Hi everyone, my 4 year old guinea pig has been losing weight lately (usually around 1kg but is 800g currently) and she is uncomfortable when urinating and being picked up.
I’m a vet nurse so tested her urine at work and there is blood in it. I sent a sample off to the lab and it has come back as ammonium urate crystals. She is already on metacam for pain relief and I am looking at starting cystopro. Has anyone else had this problem and what did you use to treat it? Thank you :)
 

Freya1234

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I don’t have any experience of urine crystals but I hope your guinea pig gets better soon❤
 

PigglePuggle

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I think that crystals in the urine can be a sign of too much calcium and perhaps not enough water in the diet, this wont be fixed overnight but you might consider feeding more wet leafy low calcium veg like lettuce and cucumber and coriander and peppers, filtering the water, and feeding less pellets?
I think the general consensus here on the forum from the many discussions we've had on the topic is that most commercial pellets contain far more calcium than is healthy for the kidneys, so generally many of us feed only a tablespoon or even less of pellets a day, and mostly feed plentiful unlimited hay and a good amount of wet and varied veg.
Check out the feeding guides and discussions, and the other threads about urine and kidneys and bladder stones, to get more info :)
 

Rachel14980

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I think that crystals in the urine can be a sign of too much calcium and perhaps not enough water in the diet, this wont be fixed overnight but you might consider feeding more wet leafy low calcium veg like lettuce and cucumber and coriander and peppers, filtering the water, and feeding less pellets?
I think the general consensus here on the forum from the many discussions we've had on the topic is that most commercial pellets contain far more calcium than is healthy for the kidneys, so generally many of us feed only a tablespoon or even less of pellets a day, and mostly feed plentiful unlimited hay and a good amount of wet and varied veg.
Check out the feeding guides and discussions, and the other threads about urine and kidneys and bladder stones, to get more info :)
Thank you, she’s already on plenty of veg and minimal pellets etc. Was after people’s experiences on treatments to dissolve crystals. Will have a search for other posts on here :)
 

Wiebke

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Thank you, she’s already on plenty of veg and minimal pellets etc. Was after people’s experiences on treatments to dissolve crystals. Will have a search for other posts on here :)
Please make sure you filter the water; that is where especially in the UK most calcium in a diet comes from. It has made all the difference in my own piggies - no bladder stones anymore since I made the switch about 7-8 years ago.

The cystopro contains Glucosamine to support the natural glucosamine coating of the urinary trace walls, which can become irritated by the crystals banging against them.

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
 

Rachel14980

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Please make sure you filter the water; that is where especially in the UK most calcium in a diet comes from. It has made all the difference in my own piggies - no bladder stones anymore since I made the switch about 7-8 years ago.

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
Yes already filtering the water. But after something that will treat the problem now as the above changes will prevent but not dissolve crystals or stones.
 

Wiebke

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Yes already filtering the water. But after something that will treat the problem now as the above changes will prevent but not dissolve crystals or stones.
We have yet to find an medication that can dissolve stones and crystals unfortunately. all you can do is try your best to get the existing ones flushed out as much as possible and prevent the build-up of new ones. If there was, you can be assured that vets would be ever so keen to prescribe it!

There are no quick fix solutions unfortunately, apart from a bladder flush, which needs to be very carefully done as it can kill in the wrong hands and long term dietary changes with take time to work through.

Please accept that the calcium absorpion process is a complex one; there are a number of factors that play into it and not all are ones that you can control or influence; nor is it yet well researched (sadly the case for far too many areas when it comes to guinea pigs). :(

I have had a piggy that despite all known measures still continued to produce bladder sludge (although no more stones) and needed bladder flushes every few weeks and then at slowly increasing intervals every few months until she became too frail for them about two years later.
 

Rachel14980

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We have yet to find an medication that can dissolve stones and crystals unfortunately. all you can do is try your best to get the existing ones flushed out as much as possible and prevent the build-up of new ones. If there was, you can be assured that vets would be ever so keen to prescribe it!

There are no quick fix solutions unfortunately, apart from a bladder flush, which needs to be very carefully done as it can kill in the wrong hands and long term dietary changes with take time to work through.

Please accept that the calcium absorpion process is a complex one; there are a number of factors that play into it and not all are ones that you can control or influence; nor is it yet well researched (sadly the case for far too many areas when it comes to guinea pigs). :(

I have had a piggy that despite all known measures still continued to produce bladder sludge (although no more stones) and needed bladder flushes every few weeks and then at slowly increasing intervals every few months until she became too frail for them about two years later.
Exotic vets have suggested cystapro to dissolve the crystals. So I will give that a go and then ultrasound her after she’s been on it a week or so. Surprised no one on here has tried cystapro before?! 🤔
 

PigglePuggle

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Yes @Wiebke is correct of course and has many years experience with this in many, many piggies! Bladder sludge might be dislodged naturally by a wet diet to help piggy pee more and flush the crystals out, or by a semi-surgical veterinary bladder flush where the vet squirts in water to wash out the bladder may be considered if the vet is confident with that procedure. Stone removal is always a tricky surgical procedure. Cystopro may reduce bladder inflammation, I believe many forum members have used this or similar products in piggies with chronic non-bacterial cystitis issues. However it will not dislodge or dissolve bladder sludge or stones, or prevent the formation of crystals in urine, just ease the discomfort and inflammation associated with this perhaps.
 

Wiebke

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Exotic vets have suggested cystapro to dissolve the crystals. So I will give that a go and then ultrasound her after she’s been on it a week or so. Surprised no one on here has tried cystapro before?! 🤔
Comparable products have been tried but have not managed to make a real difference in guinea pigs. Believe me, if we had something that really worked, we would be the first to recommend it!
 

PigglePuggle

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Comparable products have been tried but have not managed to make a real difference.
It contains cranberry extracts, probiotics and glucosamine I believe? So is a dietary supplement not a medicine as such. It may help ease symptoms and is probably harmless, but is not really a treatment for stones or sludge...
 

Wiebke

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It contains cranberry extracts, probiotics and glucosamine I believe? So is a dietary supplement not a medicine as such. It may help ease symptoms and is probably harmless, but is not really a treatment for stones or sludge...
I looked it up and yes, I have come to the same conclusion as you that it is basically an enhanced glucosamine product that is classed as a food supplement but not as a medication. The key in it is the glucosamine. But it won't dissolve any crystals.
 

piggieminder

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I was told by an exotics vet that nothing would dissolve stones or crystals, it would dissolve the internal organs as well! Some substances can possibly help to stop crystals clumping together to form stones by altering the conditions in the kidneys/bladder but these have side effects and can cause other health problems.
 

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It contains cranberry extracts, probiotics and glucosamine I believe? So is a dietary supplement not a medicine as such. It may help ease symptoms and is probably harmless, but is not really a treatment for stones or sludge...
My specialist exotic vet offered Cystapro to me after Ruby's bladder sludge + crystalline urine episode, although she also said it was probably a bit over priced and over hyped given it doesn't actually have any proven results in guinea pigs. She also offered cytease which she felt offered a simialr benefit at a reduced cost, and reminded me that both were simply 'supplements' and amounted to the same as taking a mutlti vitamin - fine to use, but no replacement for a good and balanced diet.
 

Freela

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Bladder issues are unfortunately complex, often long-term, and not terribly well understood in guinea pigs. Cystapro/Cystease may aid inflammation but don't actually dissolve stones/sludge in guinea pigs. Hydration is important to keep urine more dilute (though it can be hard to make pigs drink, I would give my bladder piggie water-high treats and would also wet down all her veggies in order to get more moisture into her.) Many stones that guinea pigs are prone to are a result of excess calcium in the urine... there is a recommended diet that is intended to help to reduce stone formation that is worth trying (I believe there is a sticky at the top of the page for it.) It helps some pigs, others still continue to form stones/sludge in spite of it. Fingers crossed the Cystapro at least reduces the blood and makes your piggie more comfortable in terms of passing some of the sludge!
 

VickiA

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I agree here, there is nothing in cystapro that will dissolve crystals. I have a bladder piggy who used to have recurrent issued with non bacterial cystitis. She has been managed successfully for some time with a combination of grain free pellets, low calcium veggies, filtered water, (and wetting the veggies to increase water intake) and finally by using cystease to help her bladder.
 

Rachel14980

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Thank you for everyone’s comments. I have spoken to the exotic vet at piddle valley again and apparently ammonium urate crystals are normal in guinea pigs and not formed by excess calcium. So I think this is just an incidental finding and I’m looking at other problems she may have at work.
 
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