Once your small pet has been diagnosed with bladder sludge, there are some treatment options, but you will need to make some lifestyle changes for your pet to decrease chances for recurrence.
Bladder sludge can usually be treated medically (as opposed to surgically) if no stones are present.
The veterinarian may want to hospitalize your pet for several days of fluids and antibiotics, and the veterinarian may need to help your pet expel the urine from their bladder. Pain medication may be required to control spasms of the bladder and urethra.
After your pet is discharged from the veterinary hospital, he or she will likely have at least another week to ten days of antibiotic therapy
Dietary changes are also critical to help prevent your pet from having a recurrence of bladder disease. Pets over six months of age with a history of urinary tract problems should not be fed alfalfa hay or pellets; timothy or grass hay should always be available, and timothy pellets should be offered.
Pets should of course still have fresh vegetables daily but none high in calcium (such as kale). Providing good-quality grass hay, dark leafy greens, and fresh vegetables will ensure adequate vitamin intake without causing excess calcium buildup.
Pets should be encouraged to exercise at least an hour twice daily. Playing chase, rolling a ball to your pet to toss back to you, playing hide-and-seek – whatever your pet enjoys. Providing exercise helps keep the bladder healthy: when the bunny moves, the bladder contents also move (imagine shaking up a bottle of sandy water to distribute the sand throughout the water) and it is then much easier for the bunny to excrete the excess calcium.
After antibiotic therapy is completed, your pet should have another urinalysis and urine culture to make sure the infection has been resolved. Even with diet changes and other prescribed lifestyle changes, your pet may still have recurring bladder sludge; for this reason, checkups twice a year (or as prescribed by your veterinarian) with xray are important.
If caught early by an observant person, bladder sludge should be controllable and should not cause any permanent damage to the rabbit’s health or life-span.
In addition to dietary changes and increased exercise, increased fluid consumption is important in management of pets with chronic hypercalciuria. Your veterinarian may prescribe subcutaneous fluids (fluids given just under the pet’s skin, where it will then absorb). Your veterinarian can teach you how to administer these fluids at home. Encouraging your pet to drink more by flavoring their water with a few drops of fruit juice can also help, although you will need to change the water several times daily to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Helping your pet void by manually expressing the bladder can sometimes help eliminate accumulated calcium crystals; if your veterinarian prescribes this treatment, s/he can teach you how to gently do this at home.
If caught early, oftentimes appropriate medical treatment and ongoing prevention methods can prevent bladder sludge from developing into stones, thereby eliminating the necessity of surgical intervention.
Doogie (pictured) is a little Netherland Dwarf, cute as a bug’s ear and suitable for spoiling by a grown-up. Doogie’s small size and the calcium deposits on his feet (from being housed on a wire mesh floor which damaged his feet) necessitate a forever home with no small children or dogs. Doogie is a Dayton Area Rabbit Network rabbit, currently in foster care. He is as sweet as he can be and would make a lovely lap pet for the right person.
Bladder sludge in small pets: symptoms and diagnosis
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