Our thanks to Sandra (Sef) for her review of this book.
A Colour Handbook of Urinary Stones in Small Animal MedicineAlbrecht Hesse
Publisher: Royal Canin and Manson Publishing, Ltd.
Distributed by Wiley and Sons (2009)
"The Colour Handbook deals with all aspects of urolithiasis in dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs-from aetiology and pathogenesis to diagnosis, treatment and the prevention of disease recurrence. The authors introduce the reader to treatment protocols developed from their own research and experience, and incorporate international state-of-the-art knowledge of the disease."Review:
The 4th and 5th chapters of A Colour Handbook of Urinary Stones in Small Animal Medicine are devoted to rabbits and guinea pigs, with a slightly more detailed discussion of rabbit calculi than guinea pigs. While not as comprehensive as the other sections (each of these two chapters is roughly three pages long), the information is valuable nonetheless.
Hesse and Neiger cite tests of 269 sample stones in rabbits in which the composition was identified as calcium carbonate/calcite in the majority (>90%) of the cases. Calcium oxalate or struvite were rarely found, and then only as minor components of the calcium carbonate-based stones. This is significant because it mirrors the findings by UC Davis in its 2008 bladder stone study, in which roughly 93% of the 125 stones evaluated were comprised of 100% calcium carbonate.
According to Hesse and Neiger, 16% of the rabbits with stones were classified as obese. 12% had suffered a recurrence. Average age of the specimen rabbits was 3.7 years, with males being affected slightly more often than females. In the 20 guinea pigs evaluated, the average age was 4.6 years, and females were affected predominately over males (3:1). In the male guinea pigs, all of the stones were located in the bladder; female stones were mostly located in the urethra. The book makes the interesting observation that "All of the urethral stones contained 30-60% struvite, which indicates an infection with urease-producing organisms."
The authors conclude that "a high pH value [7.5 pH-9.5] and high urinary calcium concentration are crucial for calcium carbonate crystallization in urine" in rabbits and guinea pigs, and describe the following as typical clinical signs of urinary calculi: haematuria; anorexia; apathy; bloated abdomen; bent back; pain on bladder palpation; frequent urination or other urinary disorders; abdominal gas/distention; urinary and fecal discomfort [tenesmus].
With regard to treatment, the book states: "All stones in rabbits were either removed instrumentally or surgically, and in a few rare cases they were spontaneously voided from the lower urinary tract. If the urethra is obstructed with stone material, quick action is required to ensure the animal's survival. Urohydropropulsion can be used in female animals."
Recommendations for preventing a recurrence include:
- Appropriate mineral supply
- Appropriate vitamin supply (with vitamin D not to exceed D 500-750 IU/kg food)
- Use of wet, green foods
- Do not feed dry (pellet) foods
- Increased fluid intake
- Regular ultrasound monitoring during the first few months after stone removal
It is suggested that the short-term use acidifying foods or drugs might also prove useful towards prevention, but will not dissolve existing calcium carbonate stones.
In conclusion, A Colour Handbook of Urinary Stones in Small Animal Medicine is a useful addition to the library of anyone who is looking for a better understanding of bladder stones in rabbits or guinea pigs. I give the book a 3 ½ star rating, though, primarily because of the cost factor (it retails at roughly $60.00) and because the text has a heavily scientific bent that can be a little challenging for laypeople like me to understand.
Hesse & Neiger: A Colour Handbook of Urinary Stones in Small Animal
Medicine, ISBN 978-1-84076-128-3, 2009.
Copyright: Royal Canin and Manson Publishing.