Crystals in Dog’s Urine

crystals in dog urine caused by bladder infection

We aren’t the only ones who get kidney and bladder stones. Our dogs develop these painful and dangerous conditions, too. But much of what is stated and done about canine urinary tract stone disease (also called bladder stones, urolithiasis, urinary stones, ureteral stones, urinary calculi, ureteral calculi, or urinary calculus disease), including its causes and treatment, is either inaccurate, ineffective, or potentially damaging. Here’s the details you require in order to make educated decisions on behalf of your 4-legged friend.

Uderstanding Types of Crystals in Dog Urine

Keeping track of the pH of your dog’s urine can inform you to a reoccurrence of a urinary tract infection. Gathering a sample to test is not difficult; use a tidy paper cup and a set of tongs or a “get” tool. Or, simply move a clean meal under your dog as she urinates! You have to capture just a couple of drops to test.

A lot of canine uroliths, or bladder stones, fall into six categories, depending on their mineral composition:

– Magnesium ammonium phosphate (also called struvites).
– Calcium oxalate.
– Ammonium urate or uric acid.
– Cystine.
– Calcium phosphate.
– Silica.

There are also compound or blended stones including a core mineral surrounded by smaller amounts of another mineral, a lot of commonly a struvite core surrounded by calcium phosphate. In veterinary reports, the terms stone, urolith, and calculus (its plural is calculi) are used synonymously.

Due to the fact that various stones need totally different treatment – and frequently completely opposite treatment -it’s critical to recognize the type of stone precisely. Without removing a stone there is no way to know for sure, but an excellent guess can be made based upon urinary pH; the dog’s age, breed, and sex; type of crystals, if present; radiographic density (how well the stones can be seen on x-ray); whether infection is present; and certain blood test abnormalities.

Risk Factors According Dog Breeds and Sexes

Veterinary research studies carried out all over the world on millions of urinary stones reveal similar demographics. Although kidney and bladder stones can affect dogs of both sexes, all breeds, and all ages, those at biggest danger are small, female, in between the ages of 4 and 8, and vulnerable to bladder infections. Although male dogs develop less stones, the condition is more hazardous to them since of their anatomy. Stones are most likely to trigger clogs in the male’s longer, narrower urethra.

In 1981, 78 percent of all uroliths tested at the Minnesota Urolith Center were struvites and only 5 percent were calcium oxalate stones, but by 2006 the struvite event had been up to 39 percent while the occurrence of calcium oxalate stones increased to 41 percent. Researchers examining the pattern have actually not found a factor for the modification however are checking out market risk elements such as breed, age, gender anatomy, and hereditary predisposition together with ecological threat factors such as sources of food, water, exposure to specific drugs, and living conditions.

Bladder Stones in Dogs

When bladder stones form, their minerals precipitate out in the urine as microscopic crystals. If the crystals unite, they form small grains of sand-like material. Once grains establish, additional rainfall can lead the crystals to adhere together, producing stones. Some stones measure up to 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Problems establish when stones interfere with urination.


Some dogs with stones never ever establish symptoms and their stones are never ever identified or are discovered during regular physical examinations when the abdomen is palpated. X-rays, which can be used to confirm the diagnosis, reveal stones as obvious white circles unless they are radiolucent (unnoticeable to X-rays), where case a dye injected into the bladder makes them noticeable.

Symptoms of stones can include blood in the urine (hematuria), the frequent death of small amounts of urine, straining to produce urine while holding the position much longer than normal, licking the genital area more than normal, painful urination (the dog yelps from pain), cloudy and foul-smelling urine that might consist of blood or pus, inflammation in the bladder area, pain in the lower back, fever, and sleepiness. If a stone obstructs the flow of urine, its issues can be fatal.

Surgery In Case of Crystals in Dog’s Bladder

When surgery is necessary, uroliths are gotten rid of by a cystotomy, a treatment that opens the bladder. Stones lodged in the urethra can be flushed into the bladder and eliminated. Stones that are small adequate to pass in the urine can be gotten rid of in a nonsurgical procedure called urohydropropulsion. A catheter is used to fill the sedated dog’s bladder with a saline option and the bladder is squeezed to expel the stones through the urethra. Other treatments are utilized for more complicated cases.

Prevention Tips

All dogs who have formed a urolith are considered at increased danger for a reoccurrence. Water may be the most essential nutrient to prevent recurrence of uroliths. Increased water intake is the foundation of treatment for urolithiasis in both human and veterinary medication. Increasing water consumption to water down urine and boost frequency of urination is a fundamental part of treatment. Reducing the concentration of possible stone-forming minerals in urine and increasing the frequency of voiding are the key elements of therapy to minimize the risk of formation of a new urolith.

It’s easy to interest most dogs in drinking more fluids by ensuring that plain water is available at all times, adding broth and other flavor enhancers to water in an additional bowl, and adding water or broth to food. Simply as essential is the chance to urinate numerous times a day. Stones and crystals form in supersaturated urine, which can occur when dogs have to hold their urine for long periods.

Urinary tract infections that cause struvite crystals to end up being uroliths can raise urinary pH to 8.0 or 8.5. Contact your vet if your dog’s urinary pH jumps from acid to alkaline.

This month, we’ll discuss struvite uroliths. Calcium oxalate uroliths will be discussed in the next concern.

Cristal Stones in Dogs

Struvite uroliths (cristals) come from the magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP) category. Struvites are likewise called triple phosphate uroliths, a term dating from an old, inaccurate assumption that the struvite crystal’s phosphate ion was bound to three favorable ions instead of just magnesium and ammonium. Although struvites can establish in the kidneys, where they are called nephroliths, the large bulk are bladder stones. About 85 percent of all struvite stones are discovered in female dogs and just 15 percent are discovered in males.

Struvite stones usually form when large amounts of crystals are present in mix with a urinary tract infection from urease-producing germs such as Staphylococcus or Proteus. Urease is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea, forming ammonia and carbon dioxide. It contributes to struvite stone formation along with alkaline (high-pH) urine.

Caregivers and veterinarians obviously wish to prevent and treat struvites as successfully as possible. But what works and what does not is a subject of confusion.

Struvite Stone (Cristals) Facts or Fiction?

All of the following declarations are believed by many veterinarians and their clients. Yet none hold true. Which have you heard prior to?

1. Urinary struvite crystals represent disease and require treatment.
2. Struvite crystals require a modification in diet, typically to a prescription diet like c/d, u/d, or s/d.
3. Dogs vulnerable to forming struvite stones need to be continued an unique diet for life.
4. The most important treatment for dogs with a history of struvite stones is a low-protein diet.

Here’s why these common beliefs are misunderstandings:

1. The presence of urinary struvite crystals alone does not represent disease and does not need treatment. These crystals can be found in the urine of an estimated 40 to 44 percent of all healthy dogs and are not a cause for issue unless accompanied by signs of a urinary tract infection. Inning accordance with the Merck Veterinary Manual (2005 ), “Struvite crystals are commonly observed in canine and feline urine. Struvite crystalluria in dogs is not an issue unless there is a concurrent bacterial urinary tract infection with a urease-producing microorganism. Without an infection, struvite crystals in dogs will not be related to struvite urolith formation.”( Our focus.).

Whether your struvite-crystal dog has a urinary tract infection is the essential concern. Researchers approximate that more than 98 percent of all struvite stones are connected with infection. Cannot eliminate the original infection and prevent new bacterial infections is the primary reason struvite uroliths repeat. A reoccurrence rate of 21 percent was taped in one study, but the threat can be considerably lowered through increased surveillance and appropriate antimicrobial treatment. In one study, dogs were infected with a speculative Staphylococcal urinary tract infection, and their infection-induced struvites grew big enough to be seen on X-rays within two to eight weeks.

2. Struvite crystals do not require a change in diet. Due to the fact that struvite crystals do not position an issue unless the dog has a urinary tract infection, there is no required treatment for crystals, including dietary modifications. If the dog does have a urinary tract infection, a prescription dog food will not treat it.

If your veterinarian discovers struvite crystals in the urine and suggests a diet modification, you ‘d be well encouraged to find a new vet. You need to wonder how many other things he or she is misinformed about. It isn’t really just a case of not keeping up with newer research; this recommendation is simply plain incorrect.

3. Dogs susceptible to forming struvite stones ought to not be continued an unique diet for life. Struvites almost always form since of infections, for which dogs with a history of stones ought to be carefully monitored and effectively treated. No long-term dietary modification is needed, nor will an unique diet avoid the formation of infection-induced struvites. However, short-term modifications may help speed the dissolution of stones.

4. Low-protein diet plans do not prevent stone formation. A low-protein diet can speed the dissolution of struvite stones -when accompanied by proper antibiotic treatment -however it is not necessary for the prevention of struvite development in dogs who are prone to this problem. For practically all dogs, managing infections will avoid more stones from forming.

” Sterile Struvites”

Not all struvite stones are caused by Staphylococcus, Proteus, or other bacteria. Between 1 and 2 percent of struvites are called sterile because they do not involve an infection. They are also called metabolic struvites.

These stones are dealt with in much the same method as infection-induced struvites, and they have the tendency to liquify faster. Urinary acidifiers can be utilized to help liquify sterile struvites, and feeding a low-protein diet may help speed their dissolution.

A number of reports in the veterinary literature describe the spontaneous dissolution of sterilized struvite uroliths within 2 to five months in dogs fed an upkeep diet, showing that these stones can vanish within a short time without using a calculolytic diet.

To prevent the formation of future sterile struvites, the most effective approaches seem urinary acidification and increased fluid consumption. The amino acid dl-methionine, which is readily available in tablet type, is typically utilized when had to keep the urine acidic. It will not help and must not be offered to dogs who form infection-induced struvites.

The standard recommendation for treatment and prevention of sterile struvites is to feed a diet with decreased phosphorus and magnesium material, however it’s doubtful whether that’s needed as long as the urine is kept somewhat acidic (at a pH below 7.0) and the dog is motivated to drink more and has sufficient opportunity to get rid of in order to avoid supersaturated urine.

Although a meat-based diet is high in phosphorus, meat has an acidifying result on the urine and may for that reason be useful for the prevention of sterile struvites in addition to offering more total nutrition in a type that the dog most delights in.

Dietary starch and fiber possibly stimulate the development of struvite crystals, so lowering dietary carbohydrates helps prevent struvite urolith development.

ammonium phosphate crystals in dog urine
Ammonium phosphate crystals in dog urine can be painful for your pet.

Low-Protein Diets for Dogs with Cristals in Urine

Numerous prescription dog foods are marketed as a treatment for struvite crystals and struvite stones. These are called calculolytic foods or diets, and nearly all of them are seriously protein-restricted, phosphate-restricted, magnesium-restricted, extremely acidifying, and supplemented with salt to increase the patient’s thirst and fluid usage.

While a low-protein diet is not required to liquify struvite stones, it can speed their dissolution (when accompanied by appropriate antibiotic treatment). Protein offers urea, which bacteria convert or “hydrolyze” into ammonia, among the struvite foundation. Nevertheless, this technique is not a long-term service and will not prevent the formation of infection-induced stones. Feeding a low-protein diet to an adult dog to help liquify stones is acceptable for short durations. Due to the fact that they are not nutritionally total, however, low-protein foods are harmful to adult dogs if utilized for more than a couple of months, and they should never ever be fed to puppies.

If stones are not present, there is no need to feed a low-protein diet. According to Dr. Chew, “No research studies exist to show that a particular diet is helpful for the avoidance of infection-related stone advancement.”.

In general, the benefits of a meat-based diet far surpass the dangers posed by protein’s ammonia generation. Plus, by feeding your dog a home-prepared diet of fresh ingredients, you can supply food that is greater in quality and a lot more to your dog’s taste than diets that come out of cans or plans.

Other prescription pet food strategies -such as keeping the diet low in fiber so that fluids are not lost through the intestinal tracts, utilizing highly absorbable components for the same factor, and increasing the dog’s fluid intake by adding salt to the diet -can be much better accomplished with a home-prepared diet and management methods that encourage the dog to drink more water. The more focused the urine, the more saturated it ends up being with minerals that can speed up out, so additional fluids, which dilute the urine, lower the risk.

Urinary acidifiers are not used to dissolve or prevent stones brought on by urinary tract infections, considering that acidification does not help while an infection is present.

Incontinence in a Dog Caused by Crystals in Urine

Acute dog urinary incontinence concern can be brought on by struvite crystals forming in the dogs urine. Struvite crystals irritate the urinary tract and trigger frequent urination. Crystals can become bladder stones and a chronic issue if not dealt with. While your veterinarian can deal with crystals, you can save money and treat the crystals yourself with an easy change to a high quality dog food (see below how-to).

Is Having Cristals in Urine Painful for Your Dog?

Answer is “yes, it is possible”. Struvite stones generally form due to the existence of a urinary tract infection, antibiotics together with dietary management and supplements to decrease urinary pH is done; dietary management and supplementation is normally done for life. You can provide to your dog some pain medications after talking about the problem with your veterinarian. Urinary tract infections can occur at anytime in a dog’s life, it is necessary to make sure that you monitor your dog’s urine regularly.

The Importance of Urinary Culture and Sensitivity Tests

It’s essential to know that urinalysis cannot always detect a bladder infection; urinalysis might appear normal as regularly as 20 percent of the time when a urinary tract infection exists.

For this reason, if your dog reveals possible signs of infection, you have to ask for a “urinary culture and level of sensitivity test.” This will verify the medical diagnosis (in many cases the problem is something besides an infection) and, if it is an infection, it will reveal which antibiotic will be most effective for treatment. Using an inefficient antibiotic not only hurts the client by delaying correct treatment, however likewise adds to the spread of drug-resistant germs. Antibiotic therapy must be continued as long as struvite stones exist, since the stones harbor bacteria that are released as the stones liquify.

Struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate or “triple phosphate”) crystals in polarized light (overall zoom 112x). Struvite crystals prevail in dogs and do not cause problems until they unite to form stones that interfere with urination; normally, this occurs only when the dog has a urinary tract infection.

Dogs who are vulnerable to regular infections might require longer antibiotic treatment -of a minimum of four to six weeks -to completely get rid of the infection. Some dogs need continuous or “pulsed” antibiotic therapy to prevent repeating infections. A few might need surgery to correct structural flaws that make them susceptible to infection, such as a recessed vulva. This condition usually fixes itself following first heat however may continue to trigger issues for women who are purified prior to their first heat.

Ureaplasma bacteria, which can cause struvite stones, will not show up on a regular urine culture, however you can request a special culture to search for this type of germs. This must be done prior to one presumes that the client’s struvites are sterile (see “Sterile Struvites,” page 13) rather than infection-induced.

Follow-up tests will show whether the therapy your dog got, such as antibiotics from a traditional vet or an alternative infection-fighting treatment from a holistic veterinarian, worked. You wish to be sure that the treatment worked which the infection isn’t coming back. For dogs with a history of forming struvite stones, or who struggle with numerous urinary tract infections, cultures must be repeated a couple of days after treatment ends then regularly, such as regular monthly for a while then at longer periods, to be sure the infection is completely cleared.

At-Home Urinary Tract Infection Prevention

To keep your dog healthy, it’s crucial to prevent the conditions -specifically, urinary tract infections -that can cause stone formation.

Monitoring your dog’s urinary pH in your home will signal you to any recurring bladder infection. The numbers describe acidity and alkalinity, with 7 considered neutral (neither acid nor alkaline). Numbers less than 7 indicate level of acidity, and the lower the number, the more acid the compound. Numbers greater than 7 show alkalinity, and the higher the number, the more alkaline the compound. The majority of healthy dogs have a neutral to somewhat acid urinary pH in between 5.5 and 7.0.

Since urinary pH differs throughout the day, test your dog’s urine at the very same time each day to identify her “normal” pH. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning, prior to she eats. Urine needs to be checked before it hits the ground. You can gather some in a paper cup or merely hold a pH test strip in the stream. An advantage to paper cup collection is that you can also examine the urine for blood, cloudiness, and other indicators of infection.

The urinary tract infections that trigger struvite crystals to become uroliths have an alkalizing result, raising urinary pH to as much as 8.0 or 8.5. If your dog’s urinary pH jumps from acid to alkaline, contact your vet.

Other preventive measures consist of offering your dog cranberry capsules, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and vitamin C.

Cranberry does not cure existing infections, however it mechanically prevents bacteria from sticking to the tissue that lines the bladder and urinary tract. Since they are continually rinsed of the system, bacteria don’t have a chance to create new infections. Cranberry capsules are easier to utilize and more effective than juice, because they are even more concentrated. On item labels, the terms cranberry, cranberry juice, cranberry extract, and cranberry focus tend to be utilized interchangeably.

If your cranberry pills are a veterinary product, follow label directions. If they’re designed for humans, adjust the dosage for your dog’s weight by presuming that the label dose applies to a human weighing 100-120 pounds. Offering cranberry in divided dosages, such as twice or three times during the day, will make this preventive treatment more efficient.

Probiotics are the body’s first line of defense against infection, and the more useful germs in your dog’s digestive tract, the much better. Probiotics are routinely used by a growing number of medical doctors and vets to treat urinary tract and vaginal infections in women and animals.

A number of brand names of probiotics are made specifically for dogs. Due to the fact that antibiotics damage helpful as well as damaging bacteria, the use of probiotic supplements after treatment with antibiotics helps bring back the body’s population of useful germs. (See “Probing Probiotics,” WDJ, August 2006 for more details.) Many vets advise vitamin C for dogs who are susceptible to bladder infections and struvite stones due to the fact that of its anti-inflammatory impacts. Dogs (unlike humans) make their own vitamin C, but the amount they produce might not satisfy their requirements if they are under stress or combating infection.

The ascorbate form of vitamin C is frequently advised for dogs, as it might be much better taken in and is less vulnerable to triggering gastrointestinal upset. Calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate are readily available in generic kinds as a powder, but the most popular type is a product called Ester-C, which contains calcium ascorbate and vitamin C metabolites.

Veterinary recommendations vary from 250 mg two times per day for every 15 to 30 pounds of body weight as much as an optimum of 1,000 mg two times a day for large dogs. Because vitamin C can trigger diarrhea, begin with little dosages and increase gradually. The optimum amount your dog can endure without the diarrhea side effect is called her “bowel tolerance” dose.

The herb uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is utilized in lots of natural blends for bladder infections because of its anti-bacterial properties. Uva ursi is best utilized for short durations rather than for months at a time as it can aggravate the kidneys. The dosage for this herb depends on the specific mix and how it was prepared. Follow label directions for products created for dogs; change the dosage of items indicated for humans by weight, assuming the human’s weight at 100 to 120 pounds.

While including salt to your dog’s food is a reliable way to motivate drinking more fluids for dogs who don’t have the tendency to drink enough, consider switching from improved table salt to unrefined sea salt, which is offered in healthy food markets and consists of lots of minerals and trace elements that are not present in refined salt.

Because many homemade diets are low in salt compared with industrial foods, the amount of salt to include will depend upon the diet you feed. Start by adding a pinch of salt (small for a lap dog, bigger for a big dog) to your dog’s food and watch to see if it makes her more thirsty. Increase the quantity by a pinch at a time until she is drinking more than typical.

Conventional broth or stock is easy to make in your home by simmering chicken, beef, or other bones in water over night or for 24 to 36 hours. If wanted, add carrots and other vegetables. Replace evaporating water as needed. The longer the simmer, the more nutritionally thick the broth and the more interesting it is likely to be to your dog. Broth can be used as a flavor enhancer when strained and added to food or given up addition to water. Make certain to provide plain drinking water at all times.

Struvite stones can make any dog miserable, but by comprehending how and why they take place and by taking the preventive measures described here, you can be sure that your dog lives a pleased, stone-free life.

Reyus Mammadli
Having engineering and medical education, in recent years actively engaged in the study of the development, reproduction of domestic animals. Special attention is paid to the treatment and prevention of diseases of Pets.
Pet Health
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  1. Dick

    In humans, similar problems can begin because of not very good water. And dogs on the street at all difficult control. They can drink from any puddle.