HELP! My guinea pig has red urine!
Have you noticed some pink or red coloured wee in your guinea pig cage? Is it blood? Is the guinea pig ok? Does this warrant a vet visit? Let’s go into a deep dive to learn more!
The normal colour and consistency of guinea pig urine is extremely variable, ranging from a clear to pale yellow colour, to orange, pink, and even light red. The reason why all of these colours can be considered ‘normal’ is due to the wide variety of pigmented fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs love, where the pigments are then excreted out of the body through the urine. Sometimes however, guinea pigs can have blood in their urine which creates concern for a more serious underlying issue – so how do we tell the difference between pigment and blood? And what can this mean for our furry friends?
There are several different fruits and vegetables that contain dark pigments, which pass through the guinea pigs body system and are excreted through the urine. Some common plant pigments that can cause red urine include beetroot, tomatoes, capsicum, dandelion, carrots, and red cabbage. You can trial eliminating dark pigmented foods from your guinea pigs diet for 2-3 days to see if the red discolouration resolves, however if your piggy appears unwell, seems painful, is urinating small droplets, has a hunched posture, is losing weight, teeth grinding or is not eating appropriately, veterinary care should be sought. If your guinea pig is straining with no urine production, this is an emergency and should be assessed by a vet ASAP!
BLOOD IN THE URINE (haematuria)
There are several reasons why your guinea pig may have blood in their urine, some of which are very painful and can be life threatening. If blood is present, further testing should be performed by your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and identify where the bleeding is coming from. It is also important to note, female guinea pigs do not ‘menstruate’ or go into ‘heat’ like many other mammals, so any sign of blood is a concern.
Some common causes include:
- Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
- Urinary tract infections
- Uroliths (urinary stones)
- Reproductive or urinary tract tumours
I SUSPECT MY GUINEA PIG HAS BLOOD IN THEIR URINE – WHAT TO DO NEXT?
- Book a consultation with your cavy savvy veterinarian
- Collect a urine sample to take with you to your appointment. See our video here for tips on collecting urine samples at home. Please note a sample collected via voiding will not be a sterile sample, and may contain bacteria from the environment, not necessarily indicating a true UTI. Your veterinarian however will still be able to perform numerous other tests with this sample to figure out what is going on, and if a UTI is suspected, a sterile sample can be collected using alternate collection methods.
3. Photos and videos! It may not be the most flattering picture to have on your phone camera role, but veterinarians love photos and videos of any abnormalities your pets are displaying at home to get a better understanding of what could be going on. Guinea pigs will often be quite fearful out of their normal environment, and therefore try to hide any signs of illness at the vet, so having video or photographic footage of these behaviours will help provide a more accurate assessment.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MY VET APPOINTMENT
Your veterinarian will likely start the consult by gathering a comprehensive history of your pet, including their age, desexing status, housing situation, diet and any recent changes in your pets environment, as well as what the issue is that has brought you in today.
Your vet will then perform a physical exam on your pet, gathering information on their physical health condition and vital signs.
If you brought a urine sample with you, your vet will be able to perform a urinalysis, which provides a lot of information about your pets urinary health. The first thing to determine is whether the red colour of the urine is from plant pigments or blood, which can be determined by spinning down the urine in a special machine that separates any red blood cells. They will also assess the urine for signs of crystals which may indicate the presence of urinary stones, bacteria indicating a UTI, different types of cells indicating the presence of tumours or inflammation, the concentration indicating kidney function, and more!
Your vet may recommend additional diagnostic tests to gather more information, including blood tests, radiographs or ultrasound.
Burgess Nap and Nest is a great product to help you monitor your guinea pigs urine colour – it is a light coloured, soft and absorbent litter made from recycled materials.