Can A Guinea Pig Die From A UTI?
Unfortunately, urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are common in guinea pigs. If you get proper treatment for a UTI then it will not pose a serious threat to your guinea pig. But if a UTI is not treated it can spread to the kidneys and eventually cause them to fail which would be fatal. So yea a guinea pig can die from a UTI.
Your guinea pig is at risk from a UTI because their cage contains their urine and droppings. A guinea pig has short legs and it cannot avoid walking though the waste that it produces. If ever there was a reason to regularly clean your guinea pig cage the prevention of UTI’s is surely near to the top.
I wrote more on How to clean a guinea pig cage here.
Guinea pig waste can easily introduce bacteria to the urinary tract. Make sure that you spot clean your guinea pig cage daily and perform regular thorough cage cleaning. The more that you can keep their waste away from them, the less chance they will have of contracting a UTI.
Female guinea pigs are more likely to get a UTI than males because they have a shorter urethra. This certainly doesn’t mean that a male guinea pig will never get a UTI. If your guinea pig gets a UTI then there is a strong possibility that it will return. After treating the UTI monitor your guinea pig closely to check for signs of it returning.
A guinea pig UTI can return weeks, months or possibly even months after treatment of the initial UTI. You may not detect any blood but you may notice that your guinea pig squaks during urination or constantly has a wet belly or bottom.
Using the best fleece cage liner, it absorbs moisture away from the fleece layer to keep the fleece and guinea pig’s feet dry.
I wrote more on Best Fleece For Guinea Pig Cage here.
Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection in your Guinea Pig
Before you start to panic you need to confirm that your guinea pig actually has a UTI. There are a number of ways that you can diagnose urinary problems in guinea pigs so let’s take a look at some of these:
Check for Blood in the Urine of your Guinea Pig
Take a close look at the bedding in your guinea pigs cage and see if there is any dried blood. You can also lift up your guinea pig and check for dried blood on their bottom. Dried blood will not be bright red but more of a dark rust color.
Be careful with the color here. In younger guinea pigs their urine can have a brown tint to it. Quite often guinea pig urine turns orange after drying so this may cause you to think its blood too. If your guinea pig eats beets then this will taint the urine color to look a bit like blood. So be thorough with your checks here.
One of the easiest way to see if there is blood in your guinea pigs urine is to take them out of their cage and put them on a white towel. If you need to encourage them to urinate then feed them pieces of cucumber as it has a high water content.
To be absolutely sure that you have found blood add some hydrogen peroxide to the urine. If blood is present then the hydrogen peroxide should bubble. The thing is even if you discover blood in your guinea pigs urine it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a UTI.
Blood in a guinea pigs urine can signify other problems. Some guinea pigs suffer from a reproductive organ problem called pyometra which is a uterine infection. If your guinea pig seems to be experiencing painful urination and there is blood then this can be a sign of bladder stones.
Is your Guinea Pig Urinating as frequently as normal?
One sign of a UTI is infrequent urination so check the bedding again to see if there are any spots that seem overly dry. It may not be easy for you to detect infrequent urination but it is certainly worth the effort to try and discover this.
Does your Guinea Pig Squeak when they urinate?
Keep an eye on your guinea pig cage and watch for your piggy urinating. When they are in the process of urinating do they emit a squeak? If they do then this can be an indication that urination is painful due to the fact that they have a UTI.
Is your Guinea Pigs Abdomen sore?
You will need to pick up your guinea pig and hold it for this test. Place your hand on their abdomen and see how they react. A healthy guinea pig should not have any real reaction to this. If they have a UTI then they may try and scratch or bite you because their bladder is very tender.
Get your Guinea Pig to the Vet
Any of the above symptoms could indicate that your guinea pig has a UTI. The only way to be completely sure is to take your guinea pig to the vet. Your vet can do a number of things such as conduct a physical examination, take a urine sample by using a needle and use an X-ray to see if your guinea pig has bladder stones.
It is unlikely that your guinea pig will be thrilled at the prospect of being at the vet’s office. So to help the vet perform the examination and diagnosis you should do everything you can to calm your guinea pig down. You will probably already know the best way to do this either through stroking or talking to your pet in a calm voice.
Cause of a Urinary Tract Infection
The most common cause of a UTI in a guinea pig is contact with their own waste. If you allow a guinea pig cage to get dirty then this is going to put your piggy at even more risk. Contact with their own urine is often a problem so why not use fleece bedding instead of your current bedding?
The advantage of fleece bedding is that the urine will drain through it and then absorbed by a towel or whatever you are using as a layer. This means that the surface of the fleece is relative free of urine. With other bedding materials the urine will always be around and is more of a risk for your guinea pig.
Another thing that you can do is to install a safe plastic grid floor in your guinea pig cage. Please note that this is not the same as using a wire floor. The plastic grid will prevent your guinea pig from coming into direct contact with their urine.
We have already mentioned this but we will say it again. If you want to do everything that you can to prevent your guinea pig from contracting a UTI then clean the cage regularly. You can do simple spot cleaning every day and then clean the cage thoroughly each week. If bedding is badly soiled then replace it (add new disposable bedding or add a clean fleece etc).
A good way to try and prevent the onset of a UTI is to give your guinea pig some cranberry juice that is unsweetened. There have been a lot of tests that show the drinking of cranberry juice has a significant effect on reducing UTI’s in guinea pigs.
Your guinea pig might not like the taste of unsweetened cranberry juice as it is bitter. If your piggy doesn’t want to drink it then dilute it a little with some water. Some guinea pigs love drinking cranberry juice so be careful not to overdo it. More than one cup a day could cause a stomach upset.
How To Cure Urinary Tract Infections in Guinea Pigs
Your vet is likely to prescribe antibiotics for your guinea pig if they have a UTI. You must ensure that your guinea pig takes the entire course of antibiotics. It doesn’t matter if your guinea pig appears to be a lot better – finish the course anyway.
Quite often a course of medication for a guinea pig with a UTI will be around two weeks in length. If you find that your guinea pig has a bad reaction to the prescribed medication such as vomiting or a sudden loss of appetite then contact your vet as soon as possible.
Always check with your vet to see if any of the prescribed medications could interact with the treats and everyday food that you give your guinea pig. Also ask if your guinea pig needs to take the medication with food or not.
Monitor how well the treatment is working for your guinea pigs UTI. If after a few days of taking the medication you notice no improvement then quickly call your vet. Your vet may need to perform other tests to see if there are any other issues such as the dreaded bladder stones.
Guinea Pig UTI Home Treatment
This product has many ingredients (Cranberry, Microcrystaline Cellulose, Marshmallow Root, Astragalus Root, Ginseng, Ethylcellulose Coated Vitamin C), which is great because it help keep urinary to lower ph and flush the urinary tract and it soft for my pigs to chew it.
I really appreciate that features and this might be a good choice for your guinea pigs.
The Urinary Support (100 Tablets – 60 Grams)
Diuretic properties to help flush the urinary tract and dissolve urinary sludge and stones.
Check your Guinea Pig after Treatment
We have told you before that a UTI in your guinea pig can return at any time. This means that you need to check your guinea pig for symptoms of the UTI returning such as squeaking during urination or blood in the urine. If you spot any symptoms then contact your vet again.
As part of your post treatment checks look to see if your guinea pig is urinating as much as they usually do. When you clean their cage you can check for evidence of this. If you suspect that there is less urination then usual then this could be an indication that the UTI is back.
When your guinea pig is undergoing treatment for a UTI do not handle them or pick them up. Your guinea pig will need a lot of rest so don’t disturb them. There will be plenty of time to handle and snuggle with your guinea pig when their UTI has gone.
During the treatment your guinea pig may not want to eat much because the medication is causing nausea. You may have to force feed your piggy in this situation. Talk to your vet for advice if you experience this problem.