Or­ange aid

My nine-month-old guinea pig’s pee is dark or­ange—al­most red—but the vet says there is no blood in his urine. I’ve heard that guinea pigs can have strongly dis­coloured urine but see­ing it al­ways wor­ries me. Is this nor­mal?

Pets (Singapore) - - Ask The Expert -

It is true that guinea pigs, like most her­bi­vores, can have very dark urine. This is likely due to their di­ges­tive sys­tem pro­duc­ing a pig­ment called por­phyrin— it is a de­riv­a­tive of the break­down of pro­tein in their diet within their liver. High pro­tein and cal­cium in their diet can re­sult in in­creased por­phyrin in the di­ges­tive sys­tem, and hence lead to in­creased in­tense yel­low, or­ange, or even red pig­ments in the urine. The pig­ments get darker when the urine ox­i­dises due to ex­po­sure to air.

Al­though your vet con­firmed there’s no blood in your guinea pig’s urine, I do un­der­stand your con­cern upon see­ing such in­tensely coloured urine. It is good to en­sure suf­fi­cient wa­ter in­take, at least 50 to 100ml daily per guinea pig. With in­creased wa­ter in­take, it can help with hy­dra­tion and also di­lute the urine pig­ments of por­phyrin. Also en­sure that you give a good sup­ply of green leafy vegeta­bles and vi­ta­min C daily. Try to choose vegeta­bles and pel­lets that are not too high in pro­tein and cal­cium. Do not give too many treats that main con­tain colour­ing and preser­va­tives. There should be a healthy range of fresh vegeta­bles, hay and pel­lets to en­sure good di­ges­tive func­tion. Ti­mothy hay is best, as it’s low in pro­tein and cal­cium as well; orchard grass and botan­i­cal hay are also ac­cept­able. Please avoid al­falfa hay and oat hay, es­pe­cially af­ter your pig has reached adult­hood at 10 to 12 months.

There are cases of se­nior guinea pigs with weak liver func­tion de­vel­op­ing heav­ily stained and pig­mented urine. In such cases, the se­nior pigs will need to have com­pre­hen­sive blood tests and x-rays to in­ves­ti­gate both liver and kid­ney func­tions. Re­peated urine tests should be done to keep track of pos­si­ble sec­ondary uri­nary tract in­fec­tion in th­ese old pigs. Such pa­tients will re­quire fluid ther­apy and long-term sup­ple­ments to keep them com­fort­able and pain-free.

EX­PERT: DR GRACE HENG Vet­eri­nary Sur­geon B. V (Syd­ney) Res­i­dent Vet­eri­nar­ian at The Joy­ous Vet

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