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Question
Hello!
Our 3-year-old guinea pig has recently been squeaking in pain while urinating and/or passing fecal matter.  She has been evaluated twice by an exotic-pet vet who has not only taken urine and fecal samples but has also given her an ultrasound to rule out stones.  All tests came back negative.  There is a trace amount of blood in the urine, but, again, her tests came back negative for a UTI or stones.  He has given her a pain killer in the interim, and I am supposed to followup with him tomorrow regarding the trial of pain killers. He suggested it may be musculoskeletal when she squats to go to the bathroom.  She eats, drinks and still purrs and seems to, otherwise, be in good spirits. I am out of answers and so is he.  Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

Answer
Bladder stone
Bladder stone  
I have to say my first impression was also stones, but if they've done an ultrasound that rules that out. Trace blood in the urine indicates either an infection or just what your vet has already ruled out..... stones.

Three years of age is not an old pig. My experience has been that it's the older ones who seem to develop the stones. That would seem to lead to your vet's inclination that this may indeed be musculoskeletal. Obviously the vet has dug deep and hard to find an answer so it's doubtful that he's overlooked anything.

I've attached a picture of a stone that was removed from an old sow of mine at necropsy. It was wedged in so tight right at the opening of the urethra that it was impossible to remove. This is the largest stone I've ever seen and I can't imagine how much suffering she did just feeing that rock move as far as it did.

The only other consideration is whether or not she passed tiny stones before the ultrasound was done. That would certainly be one answer as to why they didn't see any. Bladder stones are as much a mystery in humans as it is in animals. The general theory, and it's only a theory, is that it may be caused by the water we drink. If it is heavily alkaline the urine would also be alkaline creating the right conditions for stones.  

Even the  smallest of stones can cause pain. A tiny piece of sand or foreign body causes pain in the eye, so for a jagged shred of calcified stone to try to pass through the very smallest of openings in the urethra it's understandably painful.

I think the pain management is the best thing. At least it might make her more comfortable. And if it is musculoskeletal it will ease that too. In the meantime you might start using distilled water for her to drink. Don't confuse distilled with bottled water as distilled has no minerals in it at all, while bottled drinking water has some but not all of the chemicals removed, primarily chlorine.  

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

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Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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