Friday, October 31, 2014

Email query on guinea pig's vocalisation and urinary stones

My husband and I have two male guinea pigs – Fred (2 ½ years old) and Alvin (1 ½ years old). About a week and a half ago, we noticed that Alvin (who is usually a very quiet piggy) started to become very vocal. Although there was nothing alarming about the noises he was making, we picked-up on the fact that Alvin was making the noises while he was going to the bathroom (usually while peeing).  Again, there was nothing concerning about the noises -  in fact, he makes the same noises when cuddling with us or while romping around the cage.  
Just to be safe, we decided to bring him to our local vet.  After examining Alvin, the Vet said he was likely suffering from a Urinary Tract Infection and gave us a 14 day supply of Baytril SA.  After being on the Baytril for 48 hours, we noticed that Alvin was making less noises while peeing.  We assumed the Baytril was working, but just to be sure, we brought a urine sample to the Vet (about 48 hours after Alvin started on the Baytril).
The urine results showed: a PH of 8.5, Blood at 3+; Calcium Carbonate Crystals at 11-20; and Amorphous Phosphate Crystal at 4-10.   I've attached a copy of the full urine analysis.
At first, we were told that the results had to be “re-run,” because the Vet’s staff entered in the wrong species and the lab could not properly test the urine.  Despite being told this, the Vet himself said that the results would be the same no matter what. 
The Vet concluded that Alvin did not have a Urinary Tract Infection, but instead had stones and would require surgery.  He called a specialist and made us an appointment for the very next morning.  It’s bewildering to me how he could come to such a conclusion, since he himself did not feel any stones and Alvin, to our knowledge, was actually doing much better.  It also begs to question why Alvin would respond to the Baytril altogether if he in fact did not even have a Urinary Tract Infection to begin with. 
The last three days specifically, Alvin has been 100% back to normal – he eats well, urinates without noises, poops without any problems and plays with his brother as usual.  There are no unusual urine smells (or color) and the urine itself does not feel gritty.  
Rather than immediately having him undergo more tests unnecessarily, we've decided to monitor him closely (my husband works from home and can watch him throughout the day).  Alvin (and Fred) are currently on a diet of Oxbow Pellets, Timothy Hay and leafy green veggies.  Admittedly, prior to this ordeal, I was feeding them far too many baby carrots (approximately 8 each – 16 total - for the entire day).  I know now those amounts were far too much and have now eliminated carrots altogether for the time being (despite having two very angry piggies on my hands).    Coincidentally, Alvin’s improvement seems to have happened at the same time as the elimination of carrots from his diet, in addition to an increase in the amount of Vitamin C he's fed. 
Although Alvin’s health is our top priority, and we will move mountains to ensure he is taken care of, I do not want to create any undue stress on him.  In addition to finding some fault in how the Vet handled the situation from the beginning, I also have very little faith in him, or anyone he recommends, at this point.  I have spoken with two Specialists (one of which the Vet referred us to) and they will not give us any information, let alone review the prior urine analysis, unless we pay $100+ for re-exams, plus the cost of another Urine Analysis and the cost of x-rays (that’s in addition to the $200 we've already spent going nowhere). 
Based on this information and the urine test results, what would you recommend is the best route to take at this time?  Any help you could provide would be so greatly appreciated. 


Nov 1, 2014

I am Dr Sing Kong Yuen from Toa Payoh Vets. 
Are you from Singapore?
Each vet has his or her own way of diagnosis and treatment. However, diagnosis of urinary stones are best done on X-rays and/or ultrasound. Some urinary stones can be seen on X-rays. Were there any X-rays done by your vet who recommends surgery? If the guinea pig is "normal" now, it is best to wait and see. 

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