Bladder or Kidney Stones
Bladder or less commonly kidney stones both cause enormous pain to guinea pigs, and this can result in death if not treated. Often the presentation of this pain can be confused with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and a vet needs to establish if it is this or stones that is causing the pain, possibly blood loss or more. The vet will need to ascertain which it is to then treat appropriately.
There are a number of treatments that can be used but more commonly is surgical removal which is also a life threatening operation. In many instances, the stones often recur again within a few months of the initial surgery.
This means surgery by an experienced vet is required. The surgery is intrusive and the guinea pig will need care right through the recovering days after as well as pain management medication. Usually stones are only confirmed by an ultrasound or X-ray.
It is also worth mentioning Bladder sludge which is a pre cursor to bladder stones could be a problem. This can be just as painful to a guinea pig as stones, but it has more of a chance to be removed from their system naturally.
Typically female guinea pigs have a higher success rate of passing stones as they have a wider tubular area for them to pass through, but this really is dependent on the stones.
There are herbal supplements that can be given to guinea pigs that will assist with this, as well as other medications like Cartrophen and Urical that may be prescribed.
In the past it was recommended that reduce calcium in your guinea pigs diet with hay such as Lucerne not being consumed past about 6 months of age. It was believed this was linked to formation of stones and sludge.
However I have found through rescue in many sibling groups where one will have stones and not the other and yet both have had the same dietary exposure. The current thinking is based around solicylates and their impact on calcium uptake in the diet. When the levels are too high, then calcium is not processed in the normal way.