Guinea pigs are adorable little creatures. They’re small, furry, and they love to be cuddled! But guinea pigs also pee blood sometimes – so what’s the deal? Why do they do that?
Blood in the urine is referred to as haematuria – a medical problem where blood cells flow out of the urinary tract. There’s a number of reasons guinea pigs pee blood, and understanding the cause is key to determining how best to care for your guinea pig. Here’s a list of the most common reasons guinea pigs pee blood:
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Kidney or Bladder Stones
- Ovarian Cysts
- Tumors (Benign)
When it comes down to it, your piggie’s well-being is up to you.
So, let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons in a little more detail.
1. Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection (a.k.a UTI) is one of the most common reasons guinea pigs pee blood. They’re very painful. UTIs are caused by bacteria…usually from urine or dropping in their cages.
If you think your guinea pig might have a UTI, take them to the vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Untreated UTIs can lead to more serious health problems.
If your cavy has a UTI, you’ll probably notice clinical signs (symptoms) like:
- frequent urination
- squealing in pain when peeing
- loss of appetite
- and, of course, blood in urine
Since their legs are so short and low to the ground, they’re likelier to come in contact with urine, waste, and droppings that can lead to UTIs or even a bladder infection. Make sure to clean your little friends’ enclosures regularly to help prevent UTIs and other bacterial infections- because those suckers like to show up unexpectedly again and again.
When guinea pigs get a UTI, they usually need to take antibiotics for several weeks to clear the infection up (this won’t be fun for your little friend, but it’s necessary).
If you have a guinea pig that frequently has UTIs, you definitely need to take some steps to nip it in the bud. Try a few of the following to decrease the odds of your fur babies getting a UTI:
- Clean their cages more frequently. Dirty, wet cages are a breeding ground for bacteria.
- If you use fleece, make sure the fleece wicking the urine away from the surface of the cage – this will help keep your fuzz spuds dry.
- If your piggies have long hair, giving it a cut around their bum – bum area will help keep them dry. That way, they’re likelier to stay drier instead of walking around with their urine-soaked hair .
- If you use a lot of hay in your guinea pigs’ cage, make sure to change it often. The more humid and wet the bedding is, the more likely bacteria will grow. This can cause UTIs.
- Offer your piggie a little cranberry juice a couple of times a week. Make sure that it’s diluted with water, unsweetened, and (hopefully *fingers crossed*) organic. It should help reduce the UTIs.
- Make sure your guinea pigs are getting enough water. The hydration helps keep their urinary tract healthy and help prevent a bladder infection. Plus, a good water intake is good for their entire bodies really.
Sometimes guinea pigs can accidentally hurt themselves and pee blood as a result.
Trauma happens when guinea pigs get injured from something, like:
- falling off of furniture
- getting stepped on by accident (ouch)
- dropped from a height
- fighting with other guinea pigs
In most cases, the blood isn’t coming from the injury itself, but from another organ that’s been damaged.
If your guinea pig ends up with trauma to their bladder or kidneys, then they might start having bloody urine.
At any rate, a physical examination from the vet is sure to set your mind at ease. So, if you see blood in your little friends’ urine, PLEASE get them checked out.
3. Kidney Or Bladder Stones?
If your guinea pig is peeing blood and they don’t have a UTI, there’s a chance they might have kidney or bladder stones.
Uroliths (that’s the medical tern) are stones in your bladder or kidneys. Calcium is the main mineral that makes up these stones. They’re also very painful and cause blockages throughout a cavy’s urinary tract. And yes, that includes kidneys, bladder, urethra and penis in males.
Here’s a few things you need to know about them:
- These pesky little buggers form when minerals like calcium, magnesium, and oxalate crystallize in the bladder or kidneys (and those crystals look a lot like stones). Their little bodies can’t get rid of the stones.
- Minerals in your guinea pig’s diet and the pH of their urine often result in stones forming. The type of minerals (in veggies and fruits) that eat and the pH from their pee can cause some minerals to form crystals, too.
- They can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your little friends – not to mention blood in their pee.
- Some cavies seem to be likelier to get them than others. Some say that certain guinea pigs have genes that make it more likely for the stones to form (which is why it’s good to know – when possible – the family history of your guinea pigs).
- When the urine is alkaline (like with guinea pigs), it reacts with the excess calcium in cavy bodies and that’s another reason why piggies are likely to get bladder stones.
- Some common treatments include dietary changes, medications, and surgery (yikes).
- Left untreated, cavies can die from kidney and bladder stones:
Some guinea pigs have genes that make it more likely for them to get bladder stones.
Now here’s the thing:
The symptoms for UTIs and stones (either kidney or bladder) are VERY similar to each other. (Sometimes the signs will happen before you notice the blood in the urine.)
So, it can be really tough to tell the difference just by looking at symptoms.
But how can you tell the difference between them?
The only way to really know for sure if your furry potato has kidney or bladder stones is to take them to the vet for an x-ray. If they do have stones, the vet will be able to tell you what kind they are and recommend a treatment plan.
If you want to avoid stones like the plague (and I know you do, right?), then keep the following things in mind:
- Don’t overfeed high calcium produce like kale, mustard greens, and collard greens. Your piggies won’t be able to digest all that calcium and it’ll end up crystallizing in their kidneys or bladder.
- Always have water handy. Drinking water helps flush out the kidneys and bladder and keeps them healthy.
- Feed your little friends LOTS and LOTS of hay. Not only does it help with their digestion, but it also lowers your piggies’ odds of getting stones.
- Don’t overfeed pellets. It’s recommended that only a tablespoon or two of pellets be offered to your little friends each day. Stick with the amount or feed your piggies a little less.
- Consider feeding any bladder-stone prone piggies a low calcium diet. Don’t eliminate calcium from their diet completely – they need some in their diet to keep their bones healthy.
- Make sure your furry potatoes are getting enough exercise – this will help with blood flow (and peeing) all over their body.
4. Ovarian Cysts
Blood in your guinea pig’s pee can be a sign that your little friend is suffering from ovarian cysts (if she’s a female-that is).
So, what are these cysts?
And what clues will I see if guinea pig has ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cysts are non-cancerous masses that form on the ovaries. They’re fluid filled and can be pretty painful for your guinea pigs – just like a human would experience with ovarian cysts. In guinea pigs, it’s not unusual to have them
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on or inside the ovaries. They’re often caused by a hormone imbalance and can lead to infertility if not treated.
Piggies with ovarian cysts will often have symptoms like:
- extreme pain
- swelling in their abdomen
- loss of appetite (picky eating)
- loss of fur
- enlarged nipples
- and – you guessed it – blood in their pee.
You might even notice that piggies end up being extra aggressive and moody (which makes them a total joy to their cagemates- NOT ).
If your guinea pig is diagnosed with ovarian cysts, the vet will likely recommend surgery to remove them. If they’re left untreated, the cysts can grow and rupture, which’ll be fatal to your little friend.
However: If surgery isn’t an option, hormone treatments can be given to help shrink the cysts.
So how do you prevent your guinea pig from getting ovarian cysts in the first place?
The only sure-fire way to prevent ovarian cysts is to get your fur baby spayed. Spayed means sterilized, which prevents guinea pigs from going into heat and developing ovarian cysts.
If you’re uncomfortable or not interested in getting your little friend spayed, then make sure to keep a close eye on her as she ages. Older female guinea pigs are more likely to develop ovarian cysts.
A bacterial infection of the uterus, pyometra is another serious guinea pig health problem that can lead to blood in their pee.
Pyometra occurs when the uterine lining becomes inflamed and infected. The infection then causes pus to accumulate in the uterus. Symptoms of pyometra include:
- bloody urine
- loss of appetite (this alone is enough to kill your guinea pig)
The crazy thing about this condition is that you normally end up having to syringe feed your little friend, because she’s in so much pain that she can’t (or won’t) eat.
When it comes to pyometra (and a lot of other cavy illnesses), the sooner you catch it, the better.
(Which isn’t always easy, because piggies are notoriously good at hiding any kind of sickness or injury.)
The odds of your fur baby being okay through the emergency surgery increase if she has pyometra that’s still in the early stages. But it’ll be tougher on her if she already has advanced pyometra.
Either way, she’ll need to be spayed and have to go on antibiotics (and a probiotic, to). But, a good exotic vet doing the surgery also increases the chance of her life being saved.
This kind of surgery is riskier for female guinea pigs than for males. So, you need to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to go ahead with the surgery.
Some cancers can cause guinea pigs to pee blood. Typically, older guinea pigs end up with cancer, but it’s not unheard of for younger ones to get it too.
There are many types of cancer that can affect guinea pigs:
Lymphosarcoma is the most common.
It’s a type of cancer found in the lymphatic system. They lymphatic system is made up of organs, blood vessels, and lymph nodes (those little bean-shaped things that are scattered all over your piggies body and are a part of their immune system).
If the cancer isn’t caught early enough, it can spread to other parts of the body.
Signs that your guinea pig might have lymphosarcoma include:
- enlarged lymph nodes
- urine problems
- swelling in the face or neck
- lumps on the skin
- lack of appetite ( a piggie that doesn’t eat; doesn’t live)
- enlarged spleen or liver
- weight loss is also common
Over time, you’ll notice that your little friend will be in more and more pain.
There are different types of cancer in guinea pigs. Some vets can remove it surgically. But the prognosis is worse than in larger animals, because doctors have less experience with guinea pig cancer.
Let’s talk about tumors.
Tumors are caused by an out of control growth of cells in the body, resulting in a tumor or lump of tissue. Benign (harmless) tumors are growths that aren’t cancerous.
Just because a tumor is benign, doesn’t mean it’s not serious.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between benign tumors and cancerous ones. If that’s the case, then some sort of surgery is still going to be necessary, just so the vet can be sure.
And some benign tumors can make your little friends pee blood, too. This usually happens when the tumor is on (or near) the cavies’ reproductive organs or urinary tract.
So, the tumor itself isn’t cancerous, but the fact that it’s pushing on organs and stuff inside your piggies that can cause them to pee blood and – quite frankly – mess your little friend UP.
Are You Sure It’s Really Blood?
It’s common for owners to find blood in their guinea pig’s cage. It’s bound to happen to you at some point, especially if you have a female guinea pig.
Before you go into panic mode (and I don’t blame you if you do), it’s important to make sure that your guinea pig is really peeing blood and not just something that looks like it might be blood.
Sometimes what you think is blood is actually:
- urine that’s tinged red because you just fed your piggies beets, dandelion, or pink cabbage
- a nick or cut from a fight or a sharp edge in their enclosure that you didn’t notice
- stains from the remainder of their food that might have been sitting in their cage for a while (strawberries or cherries, maybe?)
So, how do you tell the difference?
Well, there’s a few ways that you can check to see if what you think is blood is ACTUALLY blood.
- Get a urine sample. Put your cavy on white towels or into a clean container and put your piggie in there. Then offer her watery veggies. *fingers crossed* She should go within 15 minutes or so.
- Look at the color of the stain. Blood normally dries as a brown color.
- Use hydrogen peroxide. Pour it on the stain. If it fizzes, it’s some form of blood.
If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to take your guinea pig to the vet. Better safe than sorry, right?
What Do I Do If My Guinea Pig Is Peeing Blood?
If you’re sure that your guinea pig is peeing blood, then it’s important that you get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. As mentioned above, guinea pigs don’t live very long with blood in their pee. And there’s a good chance that your guinea pig is really sick if you’re seeing blood at all.
Even if your guinea pig is only peeing blood on occasion – like once every couple of weeks or so – you should still take them to the vet. As guinea pigs age, they become more prone diseases that might lead to them to blood in their pee.
If your regular vet is closed, then it might be worth trying to get your piggie an emergency appointment with a different exotic vet.
It’s best to catch the problem as early as possible. You usually have a short window of opportunity to treat your little friend before their health starts to deteriorate, so much that they can’t be saved.
Different Types of Urine to Look Out For
As a good pet parent, you need to always keep an eye on your guinea pig’s urine color and output.
Along with weight loss or weight gain, noticing changes in the color and frequency of your guinea pig’s pee is important for monitoring their health.
When guinea pigs (or any other animal) gets sick, they might not always show symptoms right away. Sometimes it can take days or even weeks before you notice something wrong with them – and by then it’s sometimes too late (as in, you’re about to lose your little friend, too late).
Sometimes feeding guinea pigs certain types of foods (like bananas, carrots, beets, and strawberries) will make their pee turn a pinkish color.
And that’s why being proactive about noticing changes to their pee is so important. Here are a few types of urine that you should be on the lookout for:
- Light yellow or clear: Typically, guinea pig urine is either a light yellow or clear. Sometimes you’ll notice that your piggie’s urine is a little cloudy. That’s just excess calcium that they’re peeing out (and that’s perfectly normal).
- White and powdery (or gritty like sand): This color and texture of urine is usually bad news. It’s a warning that your little friend’s calcium intake is high. Way. Too. High. Reevaluate your piggie’s diet and make sure you cut out the high calcium veggies for a while.
- Brown or orange (especially when it’s dry): young guinea pigs often have orangish pee and sometimes younger male guinea pigs will have urine this color from time to time.
- Pinkish or dark pink: Have you been feeding your piggie carrots, tomatoes…or maybe some beets? Maybe you’ve been feeding a lot of them. Well, if so, then you can expect their urine to be a pinkish or dark pink color. But, don’t freak out. That’s normal. Just make sure your piggies have a good variety of vegetables in their diet
- Red to dark red : It’s serious, and you should visit a veterinarian right away. The color of red urine changes to brown as it dries, suggesting there may be blood in the urine and that an infection or stones might be to blame.
Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Have Blood In Their Urine Sometimes?
It’s not normal for guinea pigs to have blood in their urine. It’s always a sign there’s a health issue that needs to be addressed.
There are a number of reasons why guinea pigs might have blood in their urine, but the most common ones are Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Kidney or Bladder Stones, Ovarian Cysts, Pyometra, Cancer, Tumors (Benign), Trauma, and Cystitis.
If you see blood in your guinea pig’s urine, take them to the vet for a physical examination as soon as possible. Depending on the underlying cause of the blood, there might be medication or surgery that can help cure your guinea pig – but always remember that early detection is key!
Blood Urine Prevention For Guinea Pigs
If you want to keep your guinea pig from having blood in their urine, then you should always make sure they’re getting the right amount of water and give them a diet rich with hay (instead of pellets) to avoid bladder stones.
Here’s a few things you can try to keep your guinea pig’s urine healthy:
- Keep them hydrated by giving them fresh water and lots of it. Water helps flush bacteria out of their bladders and urinary tracts and helps keep their pee clear.
- Make sure they’re getting a good variety of vegetables in their diet – guinea pigs shouldn’t have more than a cup of veggies each day. Rotate which vegetables you give them, and make sure they’re getting a good mix of colors (and always leafy greens) to ensure they’re getting the right nutrients.
- Switch their diet to hay-based (grass) pellets instead of grains food pellets. Guinea pigs need fiber in their diet and hay is the best way to get it.
- Don’t overfeed high calcium veggies like kale, spinach, and mustard greens. High calcium greens are only nutritious for piggies when they’re fed in the correct amounts.
- Exercise is a great way for piggies to avoid health issues that cause them to pee blood. Make time for floor time and other activities each day.
You can’t always predict when guinea pigs will have blood in their urine. But at least you know some of the typical reasons why it happens:
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Kidney or Bladder Stones
- Ovarian Cysts
- Tumors (Benign)
While blood in guinea pig urine is never a good sign, early detection and treatment can often lead to a full recovery.
So always keep an eye out for any changes in your piggie’s behavior or peeing habits, and if you see blood – take them to the vet immediately!