San Bruno Pet Hospital 1111 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066
Phone: (650) 583-5039
Fax: (650) 763-8620

Hospital Hours
M-F: 7:30a-6p
Sat: 8a-5p
Appointment Hours
M-F 8:30a-5:30p
Sat: 8:30a-4:30p

After Hours Emergency
Emergency Clinic

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NOTE: These are offered
as general information
only and NOT a substitute
for a visit to your
veterinarian. If you feel
that your pet has a
problem that may require
urgent attention
call us at (650) 583-5039
immediately. If after hours,
contact the emergency
clinic (650) 348-2575.
What Does Your Rabbit or Guinea Pig's
Urine Color Mean?

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call San Bruno Pet -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

What does it mean when my rabbit's urine is orange?
At times, you may notice that your rabbit's urine appears orange, yellow, or red. This is usually pigment in the urine and not a medical problem. The color usually returns to normal within one to three days. Some rabbits get the red urine, some don’t, even when they eat the same food. No one really understands why, but some theories are that it is related to eating carrots, spinach or other veggies containing beta carotene.

My rabbit's urine really looks bloody. Is this a problem?
Blood in the urine, or hematuria, can occur due to disease anywhere in the urogenital system. An unspayed female rabbit might show a bloody discharge from her vulva, or drops of blood after urination, which could be confused with urine. Either of these occurrences could be a sign of uterine cancer. An unneutered male rabbit could have genital cancer or trauma which could cause blood to appear in his urine. And we always recommend having your bunny spayed or neutered.

If you think your bunny is straining to urinate or may have bloody urine, always make an appointment. A urine analysis, physical exam, and sometimes additional tests will tell us the cause and treatment. 

My rabbit or guinea pig's urine appears white. Is this a problem?
The answer is yes, this is a problem. This happens when there is an excess of calcium in the diet relative to the water intake. Increased calcium will lead to sludge or stones in the bladder, pain, and straining to urinate. And this can also cause kidney failure. This is serious and preventable with diet change.

How should you change the diet to prevent this?
Alfalfa hay is extremely high in calcium and should be replaced with lower calcium hays such as timothy or oat hay. Fruits are low in calcium but high in sugar and should make up a very small part of the diet. Give as treats only. Root vegetables such as carrots and radishes are low in calcium. Most greens are comparatively high in calcium but they are also a very important component of a healthy rabbit diet and should not be eliminated. Broccoli flowers and stem, cilantro, dark leaf lettuce, watercress, Brussels sprouts, celery leaves, cabbage, and endive are good choices. Turnip greens, broccoli leaves, mustard greens, kale, and collards greens should be restricted or eliminated depending on the severity of the problem. And ALWAYS give fresh veggies dripping wet, to increase the water intake.

What does it mean when the urine is dark?
Dark urine is usually due to heat stress or dehydration and may require fluid therapy. Bring your bunny in for an exam if you see this. 

How can I tell if my bunny or guinea pig is straining to urinate?
Straining is the most common sign of urinary bladder disease. A rabbit straining to urinate assumes an unusual stance. He or she sits for an unusually long period of time on the tip toes of the back feet, with the tail very high in the air. Immediately change the litter box so you will be able to determine if he or she is producing urine. He may only produce a drop or two of urine at a time because of the frequency with which he is attempting to urinate, but if you see urine, you might be able to wait until your regular veterinarian is available. If you do not see any urine, there may be a blockage and it’s time to see your emergency veterinarian.

In the case of difficult urination, a urinalysis is in order. If hematuria occurs along with straining, disease of the urinary bladder is likely and additional tests may be necessary; for instance, X rays, urine culture or blood tests. Interpretation of findings must be based on knowledge of anatomical and biochemical variations of rabbits from other small animal patients.

It is not necessary to take your rabbit to the veterinarian for the condition of red (pigmented) urine. But when should you go to your veterinarian? If you see a red or pink color in the urine (orange is OK) and there are no other symptoms, you could wait until normal office hours and ask your veterinarian to test the urine for blood. If you see your rabbit straining to urinate, but there is no urine, go to a veterinarian as soon as possible. An emergency veterinarian should be able to determine if your rabbit is blocked and unable to urinate. If he is not blocked you could wait until the following day so that your regular veterinarian can decide if further tests or a  procedure is necessary.

By Dr Elaine Salinger
VMD, Medical Director