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Rabbits/Urgent! Bladder Sludge?!


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Dear Lisa,

I bought a two months old bunny last Sunday.. I realized that she hasn't been peeing normally! Ever since i got her, she's been peeing 'yellowish mayonnaise' colored substance. Sometimes even a little darker (the color of mustard).. She pees that way around 3~5 times daily! But these two days, she pees rather frequently (around 7~8 times?).. But i've noticed that these two days she also pees normally(transparent)..

I bought her from a man selling tons of bunnies(It was a bazaar), she was caged alone in a small wire cage.. I bought her(one rabbit).. He gave us rabbit food pallets, and said this is what she eats! (It's in a plastic bag with no brand name).. I occasionally also feed her with small amount of carrot, and basil leaves.

I live in Laos (the vets here are not very experienced with bunnies)! I did go to three vets, but none of them had a clue what to do.. They just told me that she might have a urinary bladder infection, or kidney problems.. and told me to wait for another week to see if this continues.. I've already waited a week, and don't know what to do, because they just keep telling me to wait. (I don't think they are capable of performing surgeries on rabbits).. & they haven't asked for any blood test..
I've read so many articles about rabbit bladder sludge, and i'm starting to think she has it! It's really making me depressed and worried, because i have no clue what to do!
She now still lives in her small wire cage(indoors), but i occasionally take her outside to exercise and run around(like a balcony).. Knowing that she needs more exercise, i now leave her to run freely indoors, in one big corner of my house..
She's so adorable & healthy! she loves people, she eats and drinks fine, she poops a lot as well(normally).. BUT sometimes her poop can be bulky too.. just sometimes..

Does my Rabbit have bladder Sludge?? If so, can it be cured without surgery? Is there anything i can do, maybe change her food? or maybe feed her more greens? something in specific?
Please Please Help...  I just had her for a week, I'm not experienced with bunnies! I've heard that bladder sludge has no cure, and she will get worse and worse.. I don't want to lose her, or ever see her in pain..

I've attached pictures of her problem.. Please help!

Thank u so much for taking time to read this,

Hi Leila:

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.  It's less than a week before Christmas and I have family coming, including visitors from another country and it's hectic.

PLEASE be assured that if your message was urgent when I read it, I would have responded IMMEDIATELY.  However, the GOOD NEWS is that what you are seeing is perfectly normal ☺ and there is nothing wrong with your bunny!!!!

Rabbit urine can vary greatly.  It can range from thin and clear, to thick and yellow, to white sludge and even bright red that looks IDENTICAL to blood.  I get a huge number of emails of people panicking because their bunny is peeing "blood" - but in fact its not blood and is perfectly normal.

Many factors contribute to the color and thickness of rabbit urine.  It does change with season/temperature, however food amd water are the biggest factors.

The thick yellow/white sludge you are seeing is calcium; more specifically calcium carbonate.  When it dries, it will form a solid surface that will crumble just like a calcium supplement.  In fact, the sludge that is eliminated is identical to the calcium carbonate supplements sold in stores!

Rabbits have a unique way of of metabolizing the calcium in thie diet. Most animals will absorb only as calcium as they currently need from their food and the rest is eliminated through the digestive tract. Rabbits, however, will absorb all the calcium in their diet, regardless of what their body currently requires. They then excrete the excess through the kidneys. It is eliminated in the urine as calcium carbonate crystals, which make normal rabbit urine cloudy, thick and sludgy

As long as your rabbit is drinking, eating, and peeing regularly, regardless of the color and thickness, - she is healthy!!!!

In rare instances, a rabbit can develop a syndrome called hypercalcinuria otherwise known as “bladder sludge” – they have an overabundance of crystals in their urine and those crystals build up and block the urethral opening making it impossible for the rabbit to urinate. A diet too high in calcium can predispose a rabbit to sludgy urine but it is not the only factor involved. Other contributing factors may be genetics, decreased water intake, underlying urinary tract conditions, and less frequent urination. Anything that prevents a rabbit from posturing normally to urinate will likely result in longer retention of urine and larger amounts of crystal buildup. Although many owners provide a litterbox for their bunny to use, this is not natural for a rabbit and can lead to bladder infections and stones.  Rabbits prefer to urinate in an open corner of the cage; typically the back right or left corner.  Most rabbits pick a "pee corner" and use it each time.  You can place something such as a puppy wee-wee training pad under your rabbits pee corner to collect it easily.
Arthritis in the spine or hips, sore hocks, and obesity also cause poor posture which can lead to urine retention and blockage.

If you notice that your bunny is peeing 1 time per day or less, is not eating properly, or appears to be in pain then the normal sludge has turned to hypercalcinuria and needs medical attention.  Unfortunately the average vet is not capable of dealing with rabbit health issues.  It takes 6 years of veterinary college for a vet to become certified and in those 6 years, only 40 hours - or 1 week of 8 hour days is spent on rabbit care and health.  The reason is that rabbits are still classified as "exotic animals" which are not covered in standard veterinary training.  If your bunny should ever need to see a vet again, please find an exotic animal vet and inquire to make sure that he/she has experience treating rabbits.

Since your bunny is peeing frequently, and is drinking and eating, what you are seeing is normal and nothing that needs any attention or treatment.

Be sure that fresh, clean water is available at all times.  Water is the most critical component to rabbit health.  Also, you should change to a better feed - one which lists the ingredients, the nutrient levels and most specifically, the protein percentage, fiber percentage, and sodium percentage.

For a pet/house rabbit, an ideal pellet would be one that has 15% or 16% protein - avoid the 17% or 18% protein formulas.  It should have 15% or HIGHER fiber; the fiber should always be equal to or greater than the protein %; and a sodium level between 0.5% and 1.0%.  The main ingredient to the feed should be alfalfa hay and it should have no added sweeteners such as molasses, corn syrup, sugar, fructose, or any other forms of sugar.  Giving rabbits anything containing sugar can lead to health problems.

You should also provide your bunny with a daily ration of hay. A handful is enough.  Either timothy hay (first or second cut) or orchard grass.  Avoid feeding alfalfa hay.  Rabbit pellets are made of alfalfa hay because its high in protein, and they do need protein.  However, if you also give alfalfa hay as a supplement, it results in the rabbit getting too much protein which can cause kidney failure.  Timothy hay or orchard grass are high in fiber and low in protein and play an important role in your bunny's overall health.

Fiber is broken into two categories - short chain fiber and long chain fiber.  Your bunny needs both to be able to properly digest its food and extract all the nutrients from it.  Long chain fiber also helps eliminate some of the excess calcium from your bunnies digestive tract.
When rabbit pellets are made, the alfalfa hay is chopped into very tiny pieces - small enough to make the pellets.  The alfalfa hay used to make pellets is generally chopped into 1/8th inch lengths.  This is "short chain" fiber.  Your bunny needs "long chain" fiber which comes from having access to long pieces of timothy hay or alfalfa grass.  Please do not try and substitute long chain fiber by feeding grass clippings or excess greens - it does not provide the benefit of long chain fiber and can result in hind gut overload which can be fatal.

I hope this addressed your concern.  If you switch to a more nutrient dense pellet with the nutrient levels I listed above, add a daily ration of the correct type of hay and continue to keep fresh water available at all times, you and your bunny should have many more happy and hoppy years together.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please post a follow up.

Best wishes to you and your bunny and have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Lisa L.


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Lisa L.


I was introduced to meat rabbits at the age of 3. Began working with them on my own at the age of 8 and started my own large commercial rabbitry at the age of 20. I'm 46 now and for the past 26 years I have owned a large herd of meat rabbits and have become well known as the turn-to person whenever a problem arrises.

Member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Member of the Rabbit Industry Council. Member of the Yahoo - Meat Rabbits Group. Member of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy. Administrators of the FaceBook "Rabbit's as meat" group. Owner of Yahoo - Raising Meat Rabbit's for maximum yield group

Yahoo Meat Rabbits Group. American Council of Animal Naturopathy FaceBook "Rabbit's as meat" group. Owner of Yahoo - Raising Meat Rabbit's for maximum yield group

There is no formal training for raising rabbits; its all hands on. I have had a steady rabbit breeding operation for 24 years and have read every book there is on raising rabbits for meat. Additionally, I am a member of several rabbit groups and associations as listed below.

Awards and Honors
None - there are none in this field.

Past/Present Clients
I have helped countless people over the past several decades. These have been people I knew personally or those referred to me by one of the many rabbit organizations I belong to.

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