Calcium Surplus Question - Help

lholly9

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Jul 1, 2021
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Hi everyone,

Just recently I had one of my babies (2 y/o, male) put to sleep due to a bladder stone that became stuck in his urethra - he went downhill very quickly over the course of 3 days and there was nothing that could be done.

Over the last few months I had noticed a chalky residue in his dried pee that I found out was calcium excess when I researched it.

When I first noticed this I spoke to my exotic vet for her advice and she suggested cutting down the calcium in his diet - I didn't know how to do this because he was being fed Supreme Science Selective kibble and Burgess Excel Timothy Hay with Marigold and Dandelion (I'm in the UK). While I know Science Selective kibble is alfalfa based almost all chinchilla kibbles are and it is a high quality balanced food - I was giving him the recommended amount of 2-ish tablespoons but I still cut it down slightly to be safe.
The only snacks he had was raw oats occasionally, so nothing there that would have created a surplus.

I really don't understand how this could have happened, however he was very fussy about hay and would tend to eat more kibble than hay no matter how much I tried to encourage him otherwise (I believe this was due to his start in life as he was fed bad quality hay and guinea pig food with lots of treats mixed in with his previous owner).

I have another chinchilla (older 6 y/o, male - lives in a separate cage) who has started having some calcium residue in his pee as well and I don't know how much is normal and when to worry now - he has always eaten lots of timothy hay and a small amount of kibble so they are different in that aspect.

I am aware that some is normal because its the only way they can get rid of extra but how often do you all see calcium in your chinchillas pee?

I'm just completely devastated and confused and want to make sure this doesn't happen to my 6 y/o as well.

Sorry for the long post
- L
 

Amethyst

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One thing issue I can see right away is the treats in the hay, specifically dandelion which is high in calcium. Although dandelion is ok as a treat it should be limited to no more then about a small piece of leaf worth per week. Marigold is another treat (though not high in calcium) and should also only be given about 2-3 times a week. Would it be possible for you to remove the treats from the hay? or get hay that is only timothy?

Peeing out excess calcium is normal, but the pee should look like pee (yellow to reddish orange in color) when wet, once dry it's common to notice a white residue. If it's cloudy or milky/white colored that is a sign there is too much excess calcium.
 

lholly9

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Jul 1, 2021
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5
One thing issue I can see right away is the treats in the hay, specifically dandelion which is high in calcium. Although dandelion is ok as a treat it should be limited to no more then about a small piece of leaf worth per week. Marigold is another treat (though not high in calcium) and should also only be given about 2-3 times a week. Would it be possible for you to remove the treats from the hay? or get hay that is only timothy?

Peeing out excess calcium is normal, but the pee should look like pee (yellow to reddish orange in color) when wet, once dry it's common to notice a white residue. If it's cloudy or milky/white colored that is a sign there is too much excess calcium.
Thank you for your reply.

Burgess is a good quality brand here so I'm really shocked that they are selling a hay that is unsuitable for daily feeding.
The amount of dandelion and marigold is only 2% out of the whole bag and when feeding them they would only occasionally get a handful that had some in it.
Because of that I'm not sure if it could have caused the stone my 2 y/o had - I have seen that some chinchillas are just more prone to getting them than others. The horrible thing is that I'll never know for sure what caused it.

Even so, I didn't realise dandelion was so high in calcium and I didn't think to research it because I trusted Burgess.
I'll definitely look at getting some plain timothy hay for my 6 y/o.

Thanks again so much for your reply and advice!
- L
 

Lucretia

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Sep 1, 2020
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As well as being high in calcium, dandelion is also very high in oxalates, oxalates work like a magnet to calcium preventing it from being properly absorbed by the body and causing crystals to build up in the kidneys, eventually leading to kidney stones and crystalines in the uretha. Burgess is very popular here in the uk, however have you ever read the ingredient list, its effectivly full of crap, its primary ingredient is not hay, but wheat and soy bean and its derivatives..neither which are suitable or healthy for chins. Alternatives are limited unfortunately, im currently working with a few groups to change legistlation with regard safe, suitable, species specific ingredients in the pet food industry, but its an uphill battle. One alternative (though not cheap) is a lovely lady called Mel Nyx who produces an organic, chinchilla food and a version of CC. She can be found on fb Little fluffy crowds chinchilla. Im so sorry for your loss, its devestating when this happens. 💛
 

lholly9

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Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
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As well as being high in calcium, dandelion is also very high in oxalates, oxalates work like a magnet to calcium preventing it from being properly absorbed by the body and causing crystals to build up in the kidneys, eventually leading to kidney stones and crystalines in the uretha. Burgess is very popular here in the uk, however have you ever read the ingredient list, its effectivly full of crap, its primary ingredient is not hay, but wheat and soy bean and its derivatives..neither which are suitable or healthy for chins. Alternatives are limited unfortunately, im currently working with a few groups to change legistlation with regard safe, suitable, species specific ingredients in the pet food industry, but its an uphill battle. One alternative (though not cheap) is a lovely lady called Mel Nyx who produces an organic, chinchilla food and a version of CC. She can be found on fb Little fluffy crowds chinchilla. Im so sorry for your loss, its devestating when this happens. 💛
Hi!
Thanks so much for your reply.

I've moved my 6 y/o onto Oxbow Timothy Hay (which he absolutely loves) that I found for a really good price in my local farmshop.

I won't be buying Burgess products anymore thanks to your message as well - and I hope that other people will come across this post and do the same. I'll make sure to look into all ingredients in the future rather than just trust the brand..

Also thanks for your recommendation! It's really, really good to hear you're doing work to change legislation as it's clearly needed. I wish you luck with it!

Finally, thank you for your condolences.. I still spend nights crying and I think the guilt I feel will last forever but thanks to you and Amethyst I know what mistakes I made and I won't make them again.

- Lauren.
 

Lucretia

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Sep 1, 2020
Messages
23
Hi!
Thanks so much for your reply.

I've moved my 6 y/o onto Oxbow Timothy Hay (which he absolutely loves) that I found for a really good price in my local farmshop.

I won't be buying Burgess products anymore thanks to your message as well - and I hope that other people will come across this post and do the same. I'll make sure to look into all ingredients in the future rather than just trust the brand..

Also thanks for your recommendation! It's really, really good to hear you're doing work to change legislation as it's clearly needed. I wish you luck with it!

Finally, thank you for your condolences.. I still spend nights crying and I think the guilt I feel will last forever but thanks to you and Amethyst I know what mistakes I made and I won't make them again.

- Lauren.
Honestly Lauren you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about sweetie and youve certainly made no mistakes 💛. some chins, like us are more predisposed and we rely on the information available to us which at best is limited and contradictory. We also rely on and trust the manufacturers to produce safe, species suitable food. Pellets arent always necessary, theyre only really to ensure the chins are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need, but to be honest this can be achieved with plain timothy hay, chins digestive system is designed to extract all the nutrients they need from simple grasses, and the added nutrients in pellets arent quite what we assume them to be...they are all synthetic (i wont go into how the synthetic nutrients are made...thats a whole different nightmare but if you are interested i did upload a article ive written "How healthy are your chinchilla's pellets?" in this topic section recently, researching it certainly opened my eyes), but it takes 5 times more synthetic nutrients to produce an equal amount of natural nutrients. So really if they just made pellets with extruded hay theyd be no need to add the synthetic nutrients...but it boils down to cost and profit with manufactures...its cheaper to use unsuitable bulking ingredients and synthetic nutrients than to use the extra hay. Chins are little floofs with big personalities who steal a big part of our hearts, eventually the tears will subside and youll start to smile at the cherished memories youll forever hold, you did absolutely nothing wrong sweet 💛 xx Lu
 

Amethyst

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Messages
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Honestly Lauren you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about sweetie and youve certainly made no mistakes 💛. some chins, like us are more predisposed and we rely on the information available to us which at best is limited and contradictory. We also rely on and trust the manufacturers to produce safe, species suitable food. Pellets arent always necessary, theyre only really to ensure the chins are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need, but to be honest this can be achieved with plain timothy hay, chins digestive system is designed to extract all the nutrients they need from simple grasses, and the added nutrients in pellets arent quite what we assume them to be...they are all synthetic (i wont go into how the synthetic nutrients are made...thats a whole different nightmare but if you are interested i did upload a article ive written "How healthy are your chinchilla's pellets?" in this topic section recently, researching it certainly opened my eyes), but it takes 5 times more synthetic nutrients to produce an equal amount of natural nutrients. So really if they just made pellets with extruded hay theyd be no need to add the synthetic nutrients...but it boils down to cost and profit with manufactures...its cheaper to use unsuitable bulking ingredients and synthetic nutrients than to use the extra hay. Chins are little floofs with big personalities who steal a big part of our hearts, eventually the tears will subside and youll start to smile at the cherished memories youll forever hold, you did absolutely nothing wrong sweet 💛 xx Lu
Although I agree they can survive on hay alone, people that have actually tried it have found that the poops are great, but overall they don't thrive on it. I also don't agree that a pellet only diet is good, they need loose hay as well. The biggest issue with hay alone is it's very inconsistent, there are way too many variable like nutrients in the soil, soil quality, amount of sunlight, amount of rain, when it's harvested, just to name a few. So yes it would be insanely expensive to test every bale single of hay to make sure it has the correct amount of nutrients and discard any hay that is not. The pellets, like Oxbow, Mazuri, and several others have the nutrients chins need added into them, so if given the right amount (in addition to hay) it takes the guess work out of if your chin is getting the right nutrients or not.
 
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