Incontinence in guinea pigs?

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:36 am

Hi, I could use some advice about my 4.5y/o piggle. Last week she was straining in pain to pee so took her to the vet. They made her pee and lots of calcium sludge came out and more showed up on ultrasound but no actual stones. She got fluid, antibiotics and we had her on pain meds for a couple of days.
Our other pig has had calcium problems in the past so I've always been trying to feed them a low calcium diet - could someone write what they feed theirs as a low calcium diet for me to compare to?-
Over a week later and she's still not peeing by herself, she's just been leaking pee and pooping seemingly uncontrollably. Ive been giving her extra water and there's a lot less calcium coming out but she's still not managing to pee properly. Ive been having to force her to pee and washing/drying her bum numerous times a day.
She also has diarrhea probably from the antibiotic injection (bad reactions in past to oral antibiotic) but surely that's out of her system now. I'm torn between giving lots of water and watery vegetables to help with calcium sludge but don't know whether this is making the diarrhea worse. She's back to having near constant stomach pain, what should I do?

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:14 am

I would take her back in. She could have a stone lodged in her urethra, which is forming a partial blockage. I'd ask for x-rays this time. X-rays are *generally* better at diagnosing stones than ultrasound, but keep in mind that, with a lot of sludge in the bladder, it's possible that any stones in the bladder can be missed.

Is this vet knowledgeable when it comes to exotics like rabbits and guinea pigs? Do you know what the drug was? Baytril? If he/she suspects a urinary tract infection, Bactrim is generally more effective in treating that type of bacteria, and better tolerated. It is given orally, typically for 10-14 days.

Diarrhea is serious. I would suggest starting her on a probiotic ASAP to start getting her gut flora repopulated. It's always a good idea to use probiotics whenever antibiotics are being used. See:

Sludge is a sign of too much calcium in the diet, and is very often a precursor to stones. What is your guinea pig's diet? You may find these links helpful:
General diet info -
Sortable chart that lists calcium content of various vegetables -


Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:25 am

Thank you very much for your reply.
She is peeing quite easily when I apply gentle pressure though and it doesn’t seem to be painful now there’s no sludge, I’d have thought that this would rule out partial blockage? I’ll try to get a new vets time for her. Vet is knowledgeable, unfortunately means getting quick treatment is a bit harder but I ’ll work on it. Vet only gave antibiotics as we didn’t suspect UTI, there’s been no blood at all throughout.
Don’t worry she’s been on a probiotic the whole time. She’s also eating normally, we’ve had to change pellets and hay as per vets recommendation (I wouldn’t have done this while her stomach is so sensitive.) due to calcium concerns. This is probably in part contributing to her diarrhea. Right now I’m just trying to feed her whatever hay she wants and syringe feeding water but it seems a bit counterproductive...

Lettuce (in English called curled lettuce -Latin name: lactuca sativa var. crispa)
Carrot intermittently
Bell pepper, colours varied, red/orange for especially low calcium
Celery stalk + leaves
Parsnip or turnip (stopped during low calcium times)

Other intermittent when they’re healthy
Chinese cabbage
Fruit: banana, grapes, pear babyfood
(Our other pig has problems with all types of cabbage/broccoli/zucchini etc after a bad reaction to antibiotics she never recovered from so we don’t tend to give these things)
Any insights to where the hell this calcium is coming from would be so appreciated. Other pig is showing slight signs of calcium sludge too.

Other: This guinea pig hardly ever drinks from the bottle but we’ve started trying to filter the water just in case it’s that. The hay we get isn’t very well labeled, but we’re fairly sure it’s mostly grass / Timothy mix, and both pigs mainly eat the grassy bits. This pig has had an open abscess wound for the last year, I am wondering whether this might be making her more susceptible to infections such as uti.

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:35 am

I'm a little confused, as you said she wasn't peeing on her own. Do you mean that the only time she pees normally is when you apply pressure to the bladder? That most definitely is not normal. With a partial blockage, small amounts of urine can be passed but the bladder cannot empty fully.

Why did the vet give an antibiotic if no urinary tract infection was suspected?

Many of the foods you are feeding are higher in calcium. You can check the chart I linked to and check the amounts. It is sortable. Things like dill and parsley are on the high side. You are also feeding a lot of fruit (baby food pear?), and that can very easily upset the digestion and cause diarrhea because guinea pigs cannot easily process the sugars. My personal feeling is that fruit should be a treat (if at all) and not part of the regular diet.

What brand of pellets are you feeding?

The more urgent concern for now, though, should be whether or not she has a blockage somewhere along the urinary tract if she's not voiding completely.


Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:21 am

Correct, she’s just leaking pee a lot, but when I intervene and press she pees perfectly normally, no signs of an obstruction, and it empties her bladder completely, as far as I can feel. Could she still have a stone despite this?
Just in case it developed into one I guess. With the abscess too it made sense to try and kill two birds with 1 stone and see if we could finally heal that too.

To be clear, parsley, dill, fruit etc are fed very rarely. This guinea pig has possibly been getting a little too much in way of treats because we have to clean her abscess twice a day and she often gets a treat afterwards (dill is her favourite, and my boyfriend often gives the treats...I’ve had words.). I cut this out since she got ill though. (And diluted pear babyfood we only use to encourage drinking/give extra vit c when needed/for post anesthesia care etc - for these things I highly recommend it!)

Is there any food not on my list that I could be giving them, that’s both low-calcium and won’t make them gassy? I seem to be cutting so much out of their diet and struggling to find enough fresh to feed them.

Pellet wise we’ve just switched to Burgess excel from a very plain brandless commercial pellet, would you recommend a different type? (I tried them on Genesis, Bunny and Complete Cavia but our other pig is extraordinarily fussy) (I tried them on a million others before all this too, but as far as I can see those 4 are the best re.calcium?)

Thanks again for helping me out with this, I’ve had a 14 month long battle keeping this little munchkin alive, to say she means a lot to me is an understatement.

—The commercial pellet they’ve been eating most of their life is called Altromin. I can’t count the amount of people I’ve asked about this pellet, but looking it up now, it has alfalfa in. Calcium 0.8% which is lower than actual alfalfa and a good ca:P ratio but still, I may have found the culprit. Stupid ass shops that don’t label their stuff properly...

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:58 am

Ditto Sef on all counts. Read over: (I think you should be giving bactrim in case there is an infection - it is also well tolerated)

I imagine it is the maintenance diet you are feeding of the Altromin:
Maintenance diet for guinea pigs
The 3020 formula is a cereal- (soy, wheat, corn) and alfalfa-based fixed formula which is free of fish/animal meal and deficient in nitrosamines. This maintenance diet was designed as complete feedingstuff for guinea pigs from an age of 10 weeks. Addition of hay is recommended.
A product that adult guinea pigs eat here in the states is a timothy based pellet by Oxbow with a range of 0.35% min to 0.75% max of calcium. That would put your .8% on the higher end and perhaps contributing to the problem. They do not list ingredients so it is not possible to know what form of calcium is in the product. Here is the nutrition pdf:

Sef feels some forms of calcium in pellets are not as good.

How much do you feed?


Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:22 am

Thanks. Yes that seems to be it. I had talked to the 2 best vets in my country about pellets ages ago and they both seemed to think that this kind of non-brand pellet was probably better, but as it’s so hard to find accurate information about it... They’re not big pellet eaters, this pig eats approx 1 tablespoon a day, I fill their bowl up with 2tbsp when it’s empty but it varies a bit. Is Burgess excel better in your opinion?
Thanks for all the links.
Quick question, I’m syringe feeding her filtered water to flush out the sludge, how much should I be giving her per day/and how much in 1 go?

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:18 pm

This page seems to indicate the calcium content to be 0.9%, if I'm reading this correctly:

If that's the case, that's quite high.


Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:24 pm

We’re not sure whether it was 3023 or 3123 altromin. Either way, they’re off the menu. I’m shocked a commercial company would use alfalfa based pellets.

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:46 pm

Do you have access to Oxbow products?

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Post   » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:11 pm

Ah, yes, it seems I wrote it down wrong. Does seem to be 0.9% calcium.

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