Looking for dog food for bladder stones? Does your dog suffer from uroliths? If your dog does suffer from bladder stones, as a canine nutritionist I’d recommend a fresh food diet. Fresh food for dogs does the same as fresh food does for humans. Gives us and them the very best shot at a long and healthy life. Read on to learn more about how to make your dog’s bladder stones a thing of the past!
About Bladder Stones
Bladder stones or uroliths are an increasingly common occurrence in domestic animals such as cats and dogs. Rock-like collections of minerals that form in the urinary bladder in varying sizes and numbers, they can occur as a number of large stones or as collections of smaller stones or crystals.
Many dogs never show any symptoms of having bladder stones. Frequently in such cases, the stones are only ever discovered during routine physical examinations relating to the abdomen or to examinations relating to other health conditions.
Symptoms where they do occur include:
- Blood in the urine (caused by the stones irritating or damaging the lining of the bladder)
- Straining to urinate (caused by a blockage in the urinary tract)
- Obvious discomfort (pain) when urinating
- Increased urination involving small amounts of urine each time
Other symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and lack of appetite.
Types of bladder stone
There are in fact several types of stones. Struvite (generally caused by infection), calcium oxalate, urate, silicate, cystine and calcium phosphate. All of these are caused by metabolic abnormalities such as liver disease, dietary nutrient imbalances or genetic (hereditary) conditions. Struvite and calcium oxalate are the most common types of stones.
About struvite stones
In more than 98% of cases, struvite stones are caused by bladder infection. Instead of being passed in the urine, salt collects around the bacteria in the bladder forming crystals. As time goes by, these become larger and larger and can ultimately form stones.
Certain dog breeds seem to have a greater disposition towards developing struvite stones than many breeds of dog. These include the Miniature Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu and the Cocker Spaniel.
That having been said, according to a study carried out by the University of Michigan’s College of Veterinary Medicine between 1981 and 2007, some 25% of cases involved mixed breed dogs.
At greater risk would appear to be small female, dogs between the ages of 4 and 8 who are prone to bladder infections. (Some 85% of cases of struvite stones affect female dogs, and only 15% affect male dogs).
Treatment of struvite stones
Struvite stones are generally caused by urinary tract infections. They can invariably be treated without veterinary intervention (without surgery) and normally without dietary adjustment.
They most certainly do not need a long-term commercial urinary prescription diet. Such diets have a number of potential side-effects including heart, kidney or liver failure, high blood pressure (hypertension) and pancreatitis.
Acidic urine helps prevent bladder infections. Since meat is the best and most natural producer of acidic urine, a homemade meat diet (as opposed to a dry commercial diet), might help prevent struvite stones ever forming. Even if your dog does develop another urinary infection!
Of course a raw diet will also have the same effect. That having been said, since in the vast majority of cases struvite stones are caused by infection, a change of diet is not necessary, but controlling future infections is!
Once any dog has developed struvite stones, it is considered at high risk of a recurrence. Water is considered an important if not the most important nutrient in avoiding this.
You should encourage your dog to drink more water. By ensuring that a bowl of clean fresh water is always available, and by adding a dilute solution of the likes of chicken bone broth to another water bowl as a flavour enhancer to encourage he or she to drink all the more. This same diluted bone broth solution can also be added to food to further encourage your dog to drink as much as possible.
Incidentally, it is recommended that you use only distilled (steam-distilled) water in order to prevent extra mineral intake. And avoid shop-bought chicken bone broth which frequently contains high amounts of sodium. Chicken bone broth is simplicity itself to make.
About calcium oxalate stones
Calcium oxalate stones, which, unlike struvite stones, can occur in both the bladder and the kidneys, are the second most common type of stone. While struvite stones are more prevalent in small female dogs, calcium oxalate stones are more common in small male dogs.
Bladder infections cause most struvite stones. But calcium oxalate stones are more likely to occur in overweight, under exercised, neutered or spayed dogs fed on dry commercial food.
It is believed that small dogs fed dry dog food are more susceptible because dry dog food naturally contains less beneficial moisture and thus produces more concentrated urine. And small dogs drink less water relative to their size than do large dogs.
Certain prescription drugs are also believed to contribute to the incidence of calcium oxalate stones. Cortisone-type drugs prescribed for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, skin conditions and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be contributory. As can certain diuretic drugs prescribed for conditions such as congestive heart failure.
Some synthetic nutritional supplements such as vitamins C and D are also believed to be contributory factors, as is a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease which is also known as hyperadrenocorticism.
Breed predisposition is another contributory factory in the incidence of calcium oxalate stones. Breeds particularly prone include Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, West Highland White Terriers, Bichon Frises, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Toy Poodles, Miniature Poodles, Pomeranians, Papillons, Parson Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Cain Terriers and Maltese.
There is also a higher than normal incidence of calcium oxalate stones in mixed breeds, probably because small breeds dogs are more prone, and many small breed dogs, including a large number of those listed above, are used in forming today’s mixed breed dogs.
Treatment of calcium oxalate stones
Traditionally, calcium oxalate stones have been considered irreversible and treatable only by surgery. Conventional wisdom had it that such stones could not be affected by either food or other medical treatment so surgery was the only option. But in addition to requiring surgery to remove such stones, in some 60% of cases, calcium oxalate stones would recur within 3 years, necessitating yet further surgery.
Modern research however has shown that calcium oxalate stones can in fact be treated effectively in many cases purely by dietary means. Not by the use of commercial urinary diets, I might add. But by feeding your dog with fresh wholefood ingredients. Homemade dog food for bladder stones!
My Bladder Stones Feeding Guide will help you formulate a healthy homemade diet. Healthy dog food for bladder stones. But if you need further dog nutritionist advice, do please contact me for a consultation.