Forum

Sludge

23 Comments

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Hi David, I have a question for you... I have a sludge-y bunny, followed your protocol (withdrew all pellets, fed the Sherwood supplements) for clearing it -- with marvelous results. We had a good two months. However, in the last few days I'm seeing sludge in her area -- I'd say 1/2 a teaspoon is coming out at a time. This is not NEARLY as bad as it was a few months ago, she'd push out a tablespoon at a time quite frequently and become very still. Her appetite remains the same; robust. Poop is plentiful. So is this a "normal" amount of sludge, say... 1/2 teaspoon every 6-8 weeks? If not, what would be a "normal" amount? Thanks so much for all you do!

  • david_sherwood wrote

    Hi  that is great question... and a difficult one to answer. I'm happy to hear that she has improved so much! Can you post a picture of her and her sludge?

    Rabbits typically follow a daily pattern for when they pee. In the early evening (based on when their 'lights off' time is) their pee will have the least amount of sludge and be the largest volume. If you were to take a pH test strip and dip it in the fresh pee it will show the lowest pH Typically between 7.5 or 8 and as high as 11 depending on diet. The higher the pH the more sludge. Then throughout the night they will be every few hours and each time the urine volume will decrease and the amount of sludge will increase and so will the pH. In the early morning you'll see the largest amount of sludge and the highest urine pH. Please take pictures if you can to show others.

  • david_sherwood wrote

      Have you also tried the hay fast?

    You can transition your rabbit onto a grass hay only diet for 3 days and they will drink tons more water and flush their bladder. You can try it a few times a year.

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Interesting about the timing, it's always in the morning between 6-9 that I see that small, curry-colored "pile" I dread seeing. And I know it's uncomfortable because it's rarely in her box, where she normally eliminates. I'll definitely do the hay fast if I see an increase or she continues to pass sludge in the next couple of days. She's a great hay eater, as well as getting lots of fresh forage from our own hay field, so that may be inhibiting her drinking. One more question - forage is pretty calcium heavy, between mint, dandelion, goldenrod, etc. -- is it your belief dietary calcium doesn't necessarily contribute to bladder sludge? 

    I'm washing her bedding now, when she pushes more out I'll shoot a pic and post it.

  • david_sherwood wrote

      Have you read the 'lessons' at the Sherwood University (https://community.sherwoodpethealth.com/stepboard/view_stepboard/6/Healthier-Diet-for-Rabbits)? They explain why we don't recommend feeding large amounts of fresh salads and herbs. They definitely increase sludge and decrease urine volume.... both things you don't want to do for a bunny struggling with sludge.

    For bunnies who are sensitive we recommend a very tightly regulated balanced diet of just grass hay (1st or 2nd cut but not 3rd because it is too rich and has caused urinary sludge issues with many bunnies) and Sherwood pellets and water - salads and all other items are only fed as a treat and not a meal.

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Thank you, I will look now!

  • david_sherwood wrote

     how did the hay fast and dietary change work out for your sludgy bunny?

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Thank you for touching base, she is doing so good! I didn't withdraw all forage, but I cut it but a good 50%. There is occassionally just a tiny bit in her box, but her vet seems to think that is normal - as long as it's not collecting on her fur and/or she's not straining to pee or clearly uncomfortable. Xrays show her bladder is toned and normal sized. Again, thank you for checking in.

  • david_sherwood wrote

    Hi   Do you have a picture of her for others to see? How is she doing now?

    I also noticed that you sell hay. Do you have more information on your hay crop this year? I often get asked for good sources...

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Hi! She is doing SO good. I have not have any sludge to take a picture of. She's been a little ornery lately with her molt, and does some marking pee. The good news is when she pees on the wooden floor, I can really inspect it. It's pale yellow, the color of a well-hydrated rabbit. I still am not feeding her pellets, is this sustainable long term? I offered her a tablespoon a couple of months ago, she just wasn't interested. She is still a voracious hay and forage eater. 

    The hay crop is decent this year; farmers were delayed in cutting their fields due extremely hot weather, then lots of rain. What resulted is very good hay, but not super green. This can throw many bunny owners off, however the nutritional content is complete and our customer's rabbits still love it. If you'd like a sample box of our hays, let me know where to send it to. Also, if you would be interested in doing some cross-marketing, let me that as well. I also get questions on the best pellet to offer rabbits once they get onto a good hay habit. 

    PS, This is Jojo, and I've also attached her original Xray when she was diagnosed with sludge. This was when she was excreting it almost daily. The speckles apparently are staples from her spay, before she came to us.

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    So Jojo did excrete a little bit of sludge today, I would guess a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon worth. Again this is nothing compared to 6 months ago when she would push out a heaping tablespoon at a time. I added turquoise circles to differentiate the sludge from regular urine. Her pee has been quite pink lately from apple leaves and bark. For whatever reason, fleece is irresistible for her to urinate on, which is fine by me. Anything that urges her to mark and empty her bladder completely!

  • david_sherwood wrote

    That is a great picture that is easy to see. Can you keep a food journal? It would help identify what foods are upsetting the dietary balance that increases the amount of sludge she will make. To minimize daily sludge a diet of 1st or 2nd cut grass hay and Sherwood pellets will decrease the amount of sludge to 1/3 compared to the standard text-book diet of salads, hay, and pet store pellets.

  • kovacic29 wrote

    My bunny has been having a white chalky urine. I'm not sure if it's all of the time because she almost always pees in her litter box where I can't see it.  She has been on Sherwood pellets for about 6 months, she eats about 2 cups of greens a day, I have been cutting back with her greens. I recently switched to grass hay instead of her usual timothy. She gets plenty of exercise, isn't over weight and her poos are very healthy. I read that alfalfa should be removed from the diet and the pellets have alfalfa in them.She has less than less than 1 tablespoon of pellets twice a day. I have attached picture of her pee on cardboard. Thank you.

  • Sara_Hettle_CVT wrote

     thank you for the picture and I'm sorry your bunny is having sludge issues. Sherwood pellets and a grass hay such as timothy, offer all the nutrients they need so anything else is bonus (and can be too much of a good thing). I think cutting back even further to a treat size amount greens should definitely help clear that up. Do you feed her the regular adult food or Professional food? The regular food should be free-fed which will help ensure she gets all nutrients as well as great things like chloride which will help balance her pH and also help rid her of sludge. Cutting down on green should also help to get her drinking more water which will help clear sludge as well. Have you gone through the little, short "Sherwood University" courses? They will help explain why alfalfa is great in pellets and should not be feared (I used to as well so I completely understand this) and more of the science behind the food. Definitely let us know if we can help further and we'd love to get updates on her.

  • chalstead wrote

    I adopted a 6-year old male spotted lop mix bunny and it wasn't revealed to us that he had urinary issues, but it was obvious right away that something was wrong. It ended up that his bladder was very misshapen and full of sludge. We aggressively did the sub-q fluid route along with antibiotics and pain killers but that did not yield the results we were hoping for plus it was still super painful for our bunny. The doctor felt his life was in danger and performed surgery – literally cut his bladder open, to remove the sludge. We had asked about surgical flushing and the all hay diet, but the doctor said the bunny was past that point.

    So now I have a bunny that has trouble peeing on his own and he is one of those bunnies who is biologically prone to sludge (my 2 girl bunnies are fine). I read your comment about bunnies having the most urine build up at night and the most sludge in the morning. I have been expressing his bladder nightly right before he goes to bed, but am now wondering if it’s better to express his bladder in the morning since that is when there is the most sludge buildup. Thoughts? I’m trying to find a good balance and don’t want to over express him.

    The vet did say there is medication to help a bunny pee, but it makes them miserable and it’s better to manually express his bladder. He and my two girl bunnies do eat your food along with some veggies and unlimited hay. I had stopped using your food with my previous bunny because the adoption agency literally yelled at me about it being too high in calcium/alfalfa based and they made me feel like I was doing something horrible to my buns…

    Anyways, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts if it’s better to express a bunny in the morning or evening. Thank you.

  • david_sherwood wrote

    Manually expressing the bladder in the evening when it has the most volume will be best if you only do it once... but if you do it every day then expressing it in the morning will help the best.... just my gut feel. But that's not the best solution...

     it can be mentally/emotionally difficult feeding alfalfa to a bunny with sludge problems... especially when all the 'experts' say you shouldn't.  However, those same experts who have heard it from lectures at the house rabbit society conferences (I've been there) or from the most respected exotic veterinarians (I've been to those conferences too) admit that feeding a low calcium diet is only a precaution and not proven to work. 

    I'm going to share a short story about Doris, a female rabbit (just under 3 years old) that is also prone to urinary sludge... in fact she had it so bad that she also developed a stone stuck in ureter that was mostly blocking the flow of urine from the kidney into the bladder. Both kidneys were also highly calcified with stones. The x-rays were taken Friday and the surgery was scheduled for Monday... that's when I got the call. I spoke with her owner and the veterinarian which felt that the situation was life threatening so they kept the surgery scheduled.
    Over the weekend I had her change the diet (2nd cut grass hay and Sherwood pellets and urinary support tablets and nothing else). On Monday the pre-operation x-ray showed the ureter stone had dissolved and was gone and there was a clear decrease in the kidney stones. Surgery canceled!!!!
    I'll post the x-rays when I get high resolution photos of them (right now I just have the original report with tiny pictures). 

    For a clear explanation of how this diet changed worked (even with an increase in dietary calcium) please visit the Sherwood University. 
    https://community.sherwoodpethealth.com/stepboard/

  • chalstead wrote

    Thank you for your response. I do have your urinary supplements and a fresh box of 2nd cut timothy hay as well.  For a 6lb bunny, I should give him 3 tablets in the morning and 3 at night, correct?

  • Sara_Hettle_CVT wrote

     since he is experiencing issues right now I think that would be the best idea for him. If he begins doing really well you could potentially cut back to the maintenance dose which is half of that, but for now I think the full dose is a great idea.

  • david_sherwood wrote

     Sara is right. For now a full dose will help dissolve the preexisting sludge. Cleaning up the diet will prevent new sludge from forming and becoming a problem. The University lessons will outline what to do with the diet.

  • cindympearson wrote

    This question could be classified under both Digestive Health or Urinary Health.... Piper (8 mo. Holland Lop neutered male) has been on Sherwood Adult Pellets, unlimited Timothy Hay and Orchard Grass, and water after transitioning from Sherwood Baby Pellets at 6 months. He started on the Sherwood diet, Digestive  and Urinary Supplements at 4 months to address bladder sludge. We have also implemented a couple of hay fasts during that time. When restricted to hay and water, his urine is clear and poop in like nice Coco Puffs. As soon as pellets are added back, his urine becomes clouded and poop size reduces. I have limited his pellets minimize this effect, but he seems to be losing weight. Suggestion?

  • david_sherwood wrote


    How 'cloudy' is Piper's urine? What time of day do you notice it?

  • cindympearson wrote

    I notice the cloudiness when I change his litter box in the morning; so it occurs overnight. Urine volume is quite good, and the cloudiness is light as long as I limit his pellets.

  • Sara_Hettle_CVT wrote

     I'm sorry you guys are seeing that. Your Piper sounds a lot like my mini rex, Buns. She is pretty sensitive and when I was free-feeding her the pellets along with husbun Alister, she would get sludge sometimes. Granted she was also a pretty big over-eater, and still got some greens in the morning, but my other 9 rabbits did great and did not have this issue. They are all such individuals! Is she a pretty good hay eater? You could try switching to the Pro or just continue to limit the pellets to a smaller amount like you have found works. Dr Sherwood will give his thoughts as soon as he can jump on. I have really been tweaking and changing foods around with my guys. I have an even split between buns on Pro and those on the Regular if you have any questions about that.

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