Urinary calcium assessment and its relation with age, sex and Encephalitozoon cuniculi serological status in otherwise healthy pet rabbits

05 Nov 2019

Gallego, M.

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Urinary calcium excretion by rabbits is set proportionately higher than that of other species, giving the rabbit urine its characteristic cloudy appearance. During pregnancy, lactation and growth, or when metabolic disorders interfere in the renal excretion of calcium, it is reported that less calcium is excreted and the urine appears clear. The quantification of the calcium concentration in the urine of rabbits may be of importance in the management of diseases that affect calcium metabolism, especially in kidney disease; however, reference intervals for urinary calcium concentration (UC) are unreported in pet rabbits.


Prospective data from 63 healthy pet rabbits were evaluated. An inhouse modified Arsenazo III technique, without acidifying the urine, was used to determine the reference intervals for UC and UC:creatinine ratio. Urinary protein:creatinine ratio, UC, UC:creatinine ratio, urinary gamma-glutamyl transferase concentration (UG), UG:creatinine ratio, phosphorus, plasma total calcium, plasma creatinine, urea and ionised calcium were assessed according to age, sex, neutered status, urine collection method and Encephalitozoon cuniculi IgG status in healthy rabbits.


The reference intervals for UC and UC:creatinine ratio were 4.2–31.1 mg/dl (1.03–7.78 mmol/l) and less than 0.3, respectively. The results showed that none of these variables was influenced by the parameters evaluated, except for the phosphorus value, which was higher in pet rabbits aged up to 3 years compared with those over 3 years, suggesting that published reference values for plasma phosphorus in rabbits should be adjusted according to age.


The modified Arsenazo III technique described in the present work and the established reference values for UC and UCC in pet rabbits could be useful in the management of kidney disease in rabbits. The results showed that E cuniculi IgG seropositivity has no influence on the variables of renal interest in otherwise healthy rabbits.