Urinary tract crystals
Struvite crystals are the most common type of canine urinary tract crystals. Dog struvite stones or crystals are frequently associated with dogs who suffer from urinary tract infections and result from bacteria and mineral deposits that accumulate in the urinary tract.
While some studies suggest that as many as half of all dogs may have a small number of crystals in their urinary tract, most will never show symptoms. They will remain healthy and their crystals undiscovered unless their presence is revealed by a urinalysis.
As already mentioned, many dogs never display any symptoms of having struvite stones. They are often only discovered during routine physical examinations relating to other health conditions.
Symptoms where they do occur include:
- Blood in the urine
- Straining to urinate
- Clear discomfort when urinating
- Increased urination involving small amounts of urine
About dog struvite stones
In more than 98% of cases, struvite stones are caused by a bladder infection. Instead of being expelled in the urine, salt collects around bacteria that create a high alkaline pH in the bladder. This forms struvite stones or crystals. With the passage of time, these gradually increase in size and can ultimately form stones.
Certain breeds of dog would appears to have a greater disposition towards developing struvite crystals than other breeds. These include the Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer and the Shih Tzu. However, recent studies show that currently some 25% of cases involve mixed breed dogs.
At greater risk would appear to be female dogs, puppies and senior dogs who are in any case more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections. Some 85% of cases of struvite stones affect female dogs.
Treatment of struvite stones
As already mentioned, struvite stones are generally caused by urinary tract infections. They can invariably be treated without surgery and normally without dietary adjustment.
Acidic urine helps prevent bladder infections. Since meat is the best and most natural producer of acidic urine, a homemade diet is likely to help prevent struvite stones ever forming even if your pet does develop another UTI.
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. This is considered key to preventing further dog struvite stones. Encourage your dog to drink as much as possible by including a flavour enhancer in his or her water bowl if necessary.
Incidentally, it is recommended that you use only distilled (steam-distilled) water in order to prevent extra mineral intake.
If you would like to consult with me on your pet’s dog struvite stones, please book a consultation. I will work with you to create a bespoke diet and feeding guide for your best friend.