Hypercalciuria

In the rabbit

Hypercalciuria in the rabbit

Hypercalciuria in rabbits refers to the precipitation of calcium (Ca) salts in the urine, which appears as cloudy, sludgy, gritty urine

Rabbits absorb just about all the calcium they are offered in their diet. Excess calcium is excreted in the urine. If the concentration of calcium in the urine is high, it will precipitate out as sludge. The sludge is heavy and unlike in humans (who stand vertically) the sludge slowly accumulates. A combination of excess Ca in the diet, reduced fluid intake and inactivity combine to make this a problem in the domestic rabbit. It can be painful, and is sometimes related to infection and does need treating

There are a number of husbandry factors you can pursue to minimise the risks in your rabbit

Avoid lucerne based diets

Offer wetted greens, timothy hay based blocks / pellets

Offer multiple water bowls / water feeders

Experiment with fruit juices to encourage drinking - eg if your rabbit likes full strength pineapple juice then give it diluted pineapple juice

Urine can burn the skin. Watch for urinary scalding and if seen apply vaseline to protect the skin

Allow increased activity to encourage voiding. The sedentary nature of many domesticated rabbits makes thing worse

Things a vet might do to help include

A vet may consider using metacam, a pain reliever, twice daily until they see improvement. Pain can lead to anorexia in rabbits