What’s Normal and What’s Not
Strange smelling or looking urination from your guinea pig can be pretty scary. You are probably trying to figure out what’s going on with your furry friend. Understanding what is considered ‘normal’ for your animals is crucial to preventing and treating diseases and illnesses. Through this guide, you’ll understand what is normal, concerning, and the potential causes for your pig’s unusual urination. (We have Guinea Pig Poop Chart too. Take a look at the guinea pig poop chart and see what it means for their health!)
Majority of the time, Guinea pig urine is nontoxic and normal! Guinea pigs can have a variety of urine colors and consistencies based on their diet and the chemical compounds in their urine. Understanding the difference between typical colors and consistencies will help you know if you need to relax, panic, or take immediate action for your guinea pig’s health. Normal guinea pig urine should be a smooth liquid rather than having a texture such as grit or urine crystals.
Clear/ Light Yellow
This type of urine is the most normal, indicating no health problems or reasons for concern. It is typical for the urine of this color to be milky or cloudy in appearance since guinea pigs expel excess calcium carbonate and ammonium phosphate crystals through their urine.
Sometimes your guinea pig’s urine can appear orange after exposure to the air. Orange urine is not uncommon in guinea pigs and should not be a reason for concern. It is most common in young male guinea pigs due to the chemicals that help make hemoglobin called porphyrins in the urine.
You have nothing to worry about if your guinea pig’s urine is a light pink or red once dry. Foods such as tomatoes, beetroot, red cabbage, dandelion, and even carrots can cause your guinea pig’s urine to be pale pink or red. To ensure there are no underlying health problems, take note of the color of your guinea pig’s urine for the next few days.
Something is wrong if your guinea pig’s urine appears cloudy or milky and leaves a white powder or grit when dry. Gritty urine can damage the pig’s bladder, cause inflammation and infection, and eventually cause bladder stones. It is often an indicator that the pig’s diet contains too much calcium and should be altered to create a better balance.
If the urine is dark red when wet and dark brown when dry, it signals there is internal bleeding. Urinary stones, an infection, kidney disease, and other health conditions can all cause this type of bleeding. Because it can be difficult to speculate on the exact cause, it is crucial to promptly take your cavy to the veterinarian.
Diseases and Illnesses
Your veterinarian must see your guinea pig for evaluation and necessary testing to make a proper diagnosis and receive efficient treatment. Understanding your pet’s symptoms is essential for recognizing what’s wrong and ensuring their issue is cured or resolved. Although other potential health conditions could cause abnormal urine in guinea pigs, the ones listed below are some of the most common.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI):
Urinary tract infections are a type of bladder infection caused by bacteria from the skin, fur, or anus entering the urethra and beginning to multiply. Some symptoms can include difficulty and pain during urination, blood in the urine, lack of appetite, weight loss, fever, and lethargy. Your guinea pig’s veterinarian may run a urinalysis and get an x-ray to diagnose and begin treatment properly. Reoccurring infections are common and can lead to more severe symptoms and permanent damage to the urinary tract.
More commonly referred to as urinary stones, this calculus is primarily made of calcium carbonate, though several other salts and minerals can also form them. These urinary stones, if left untreated, can cause severe pain and discomfort, infections, blockages, and permanent damage to the urinary tract. The cause of this condition is not well understood but is associated with genetic predisposition and high calcium diets. These ‘stones’ are sometimes dissolved with medication or removed with a non-surgical procedure, but larger stones may require surgery.
Also known as renal disease, this condition is characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. It is most common in older cavies and can cause severe thirst, dehydration, weight loss, excess urination, depression, and even sudden death. The causes of kidney disease are not clear, but vascular disease, autoimmune disease, chronically triggered immune responses, infectious agents, and ingestion of plants containing oxalate are all contributors.
Poorly Balanced Diet
We already know that some fruits and vegetables turn urine orange and that excess calcium can make urine white and gritty, but your guinea pig’s diet is more important than the appearance of the urine alone. The nutritional balance of your pig’s diet determines their overall health. Guinea pigs may have abnormal droppings, weight loss or gain, change in appetite, dehydration, and loss of energy when eating a poorly balanced diet. Additionally, pigs who do not get enough vitamin C through their diet can develop scurvy. (To find out more about scurvy in guinea pigs and how to prevent it, click here!)
What to Expect for Treatment
The best treatment for your cavy will depend mainly on your veterinarian’s findings and your pet’s official diagnosis. Some issues, such as a urinary tract infection or a poorly balanced diet, are relatively easy to correct or cure.
Your veterinarian can help ensure your guinea pig gets enough vitamin C and just enough calcium to fix a poorly balanced diet. (Check out our GuineaDad Rosehip here that contains a lot of vitamin C needed by guinea pigs!)
A urinalysis can determine the type of bacteria causing issues in the urinary tract so that the proper antibiotics are prescribed. Health conditions such as urinary calculi and kidney disease are more serious, difficult to treat or manage, and detrimental to your cavy’s quality of life.
Urinary calculi, or uroliths, can cause painful blockages along the urinary tract, often requiring removal through surgery. Because kidney disease can occur in treatable and non-treatable forms, management such as a balanced diet, fluid therapy, nutritional support, and medication are necessary.
If you notice abnormal urine from your guinea pig, especially if it contains blood, you should promptly contact your veterinarian for advice and treatment for your furry friend !