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Examination of urolithiasis in guinea pigs
Zsobrák Kitti - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Exotic Animal and Wildlife Medicine
Supervisors: Dr. János Gál, Dr. Zoltán Vincze, Dr. Orsolya Torda

Abstract:

The guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) is one of the most common species kept as exotic pet, and among their diseases, urolithiasis is exceptionally important. During our academic research, we investigated the causes of the formation of urinary stones, paying particular attention to nutrition and water intake. Our research can be divided into two parts. First part of the survey is a questionnaire consisting of 42 inquiries about topics of the animals’ housing and feeding conditions, as well as their involvement with urolithiasis. The types of hay and vegetables fed were grouped according to their calcium content, since high calcium intake is considered a predisposing factor for urolithiasis. Another part of the research was the collection of 62 urine samples during exotic animal treatments at the University of Veterinary Medicine, where the pH level was measured with special indicator paper. Based on our surveys, we recorded a high incidence rate of urolithiasis, which raises concerns of husbandry and feeding behaviors, as well as genetic predisposition within the domestic population.

During our statistical analysis, we found no significant correlation between the frequency of urolithiasis and the animals' amount of food fed, consumption of vegetables and calcium content of the vegetables, and the pH of the urine. Animals without a diagnosis of the disease measurably, but not significantly, consumed more water.

However, we found significant correlations between the frequency of urolithiasis and the age of the animals, the method of water intake and the calcium content of the hay. Based on our results, the type of hay is less related to the emergence of urolithiasis since uroliths did not develop in the studied population when feeding with a high calcium content hay. On the other hand, high number of patients developed uroliths when feeding hay with a low calcium content. There was a higher chance of developing urolithiasis among animals that received water only from a bowl, compared to guinea pigs equipped with water dispenser devices. The highest water intake occurred when both water dispenser and a bowl were available. Those who were only offered a water dispenser consumed less liquid. The animals that only had a bowl consumed roughly half as much water compared to those that had both a bowl and water dispenser. Based on our results, we recommend providing water availability from both water dispenser and also from bowl to the guinea pigs in order to prevent urolithiasis as well as taking advantage of the environmental enrichment of the dispenser devices.



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