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Struvite Crystals In Dogs And Guidelines For a Special Diet

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Dogs can develop stones just like humans. A large part of therapy for struvite crystals in dogs is the diet. Here we will talk about the best dog food for dogs with urinary crystals and the best treats you can give a dog that suffers from struvite crystals.

If your dog is suffering from urinary tract stones, this article explains in detail the basics of diet for dogs with struvite crystals and guidelines on the best feeding practices.

What are Struvite Crystals in Dogs?

Struvite stones, or urinary tract stones, are one of the several types of stones (urolithiasis) that can form in a dog's bladder.

They are formed from struvite crystals, which are a regular occurrence. However, when these crystals group and form large stones in the dog's urinary tract, problems occur.

Diet for Dogs with Struvite CrystalsFemale dogs are more susceptible to this problem. It's observed that only 15% of male dogs will suffer from urinary tract stones.

In most cases, struvite bladder stones are caused by a urinary tract infection.

However, a small percentage of less complicated cases have seen metabolic or sterile struvite stones, which aren't caused by an infection.

These stones tend to dissolve faster, but they are treated the same way as any other type of struvite crystals in dogs.

Struvite stones are formed in alkaline urine, and one of the things you will have to do to treat and prevent them in the future is to find ways to make your dog's urine more acidic.

This is where adjusting to a diet for dogs with struvite crystals will help. This article will not cover the condition, so if you want to learn more about this type of urinary crystals in dogs, see the Merck Vet Manual guide here.

Here's what a dog's bladder stone looks like:

Struvite Crystals in Dogs

Feeding Guideline for Dogs with Urinary Crystals

For the rest of the article, I'll discuss feeding guidelines and diet for dogs with struvite crystals and how you can improve your pet's condition. Make sure you consult with a vet before you make any dietary adjustments like these.

Low-Protein, Higher-Sodium Diet

One way to help with struvite crystals in dogs is through a low-protein diet because protein is very taxing on dogs' kidneys.

Be aware that feeding dogs low protein diets does not mean they will not develop urinary tract stones. However, a few studies with cats have shown that high protein diets may increase the risk of bladder stones.

While a low protein diet isn't meant to prevent stone formation, it may speed up their dissolution in theory. The low-protein diet should be accompanied by antibiotic treatment.

Most low protein dog foods have a protein content of around 25 percent, so look for foods that have at least two times less the amount of protein, about 10-15 percent.

If you are cooking for your dog, try to stick to this percentage as well (more on this below).

Drinking Plenty of Water is Recommended for Struvite Crystals in Dogs

Struvite crystals are formed in the alkaline urine. Thus drinking more water will help his urine get more diluted and acidic. One way to get your dog to drink more water is to increase his sodium intake.

Do not overdo on either water or sodium, however. Too much salt can be dangerous to dogs, and too much water may result in water intoxication. This is why it's essential to consult with a veterinarian to keep monitoring the dog's condition.

Furthermore, some dogs, especially those that have a history of kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure, should avoid the high sodium diet.

The diet is not good long-term. Use only for a brief amount of time until your dog's struvite crystals are dissolute, and then put him on a regular, well-balanced diet.

Minerals to Avoid for The Prevention of Urinary Crystals

Some minerals contribute to the formation of struvite crystals in dogs. Avoiding the below-mentioned minerals is suitable for both prevention and therapy of urinary tract stones.

Note that the minerals are essential to the overall health of the dog. Thus their restriction should only be temporary and closely monitored.

Phosphorus

Phosphorous is found in foods like eggs, milk, and fish in different amounts. Either track the quantities and adjust the diet as necessary or avoid these foods altogether.

Magnesium

Magnesium is mainly found in vegetables, especially in spinach and broccoli. It would help if you also avoided green beans and whole grains, at least while your dog is in therapy.

After that, include these things in moderation because they are suitable for your dog's digestion, and they will help him stay healthy. Seafood is also rich in magnesium.

Ammonia

Ammonia is naturally found in beef, as well as other animal proteins. It means that a low-protein diet will already decrease ammonia levels for your dog.

However, it would help if you also avoided cheeses of any kind and processed food. Don't feed your dog human food as well.

Best Dog Food for Dogs with Struvite Crystals

Water for Dogs with Struvite StonesRemember that even after your dog gets rid of struvite bladder stones, you may need to monitor the diet to avoid their reoccurrence and formation.

In addition to regularly checking the pH levels of his urine, you should also make a diet according to his needs.

If you're making homemade dog food for struvite bladder stones or treats for dogs with urinary crystals, the below foods are the best when dealing with this condition.

Foods to Include

Cranberries are good for urinary tract infection prevention, making them suitable for preventing the formation of struvite crystals in dogs.

They stop bacteria from adhering to the tissue that lines the urinary tract and bladder. You can also use fresh and natural cranberry juice or cranberry capsules.

Probiotics are suitable for your dog because they increase the number of good bacteria in his digestive tract. You can use probiotic supplements or use natural foods like yogurt.

Just add a few tablespoons of yogurt to your dog's meal. However, probiotic supplements will have higher concentrations and may benefit the dog more.

Carrots, apples, sweet potato, pumpkin, and other fruits and vegetables should be a part of your dog's diet. These foods are rich in Vitamin C, which has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Even though dogs produce their own vitamin C, the amount may not be enough to prevent the formation of bladder stones.

Feed these foods in moderation because they are also known to alkalize your dog's urine.

Use unrefined sea salt instead of refined table salt when you cook for your canine because this salt has more minerals and trace elements than fine salt.

Remember, a little salt is suitable for your dog because it makes him drink more water and urinate often; however, too much salt can be dangerous to dogs.

Include uva ursi in your dog's diet. Uva ursi is an herb that is widely used for bladder infections because it has strong antibacterial properties.

Be careful if you use this herb and follow the label directions carefully. Uva ursi should only be used for short periods because they can irritate the kidneys if you use them regularly.

Traditional bone broth is also a good thing to feed to your dog for preventing bladder stones.

Just simmer any bones, whether it is chicken or beef, in water for a day, and add some vegetables to improve the nutritional value, like carrots or potatoes.

Foods to Avoid 

Limit the intake of dairy products. Giving your dog milk or cheese in small amounts is fine, but if your dog is prone to struvite bladder stones formation, then you should try to keep dairy products to a minimum.

Try to stick to low-fat cheeses, like cottage cheese.

Avoid feeding your dog high-protein diets. You shouldn't keep your dog on a low-protein diet for a long time. Thus proper balance will be critical.

Feed your dog a low-protein diet with around 10-15 percent of daily protein intake when he has struvite bladder stones. You should keep his protein intake at approximately 20 percent (not higher) even after his bladder stones are diluted.

Grain foods, like wheat, rice, or corn, should also be limited if you haven't already done so. Some of these foods, such as rice, may be healthy and useful in the diet otherwise.

Homemade Dog Food for Struvite Crystals in Dogs

Cooking for a dog who has or had struvite bladder stones can be a bit of a challenge. Even though your dog's diet can't completely prevent the formation of struvite stones, it can certainly play a significant role in their occurrence.

This simple recipe of homemade dog food for struvite bladder stones is one of my favorites, but you can find more searching online, Top Dog Tips database of homemade dog foods, or creating one yourself.

Low-Protein Dog Cookies

These cookies are great for your dog because they are low in protein, contain some vegetables, and are full of nutrients.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of rice flour (you can also use white all-purpose bleached flour)
  • Six tablespoons of low-sodium and low-fat chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 1 cup cooked winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and zucchini, ground up

Preparation

Combine chicken broth, flour, and vegetables in a mixing bowl and pour cold water over it to form a dough.

Pat this dough until it is half-inch thick and cut it into any shape that you want.

Once cut, put these cookies on a non-stick sheet and put them into a preheated oven to bake them. Bake at 350 ºF for around 20 minutes.

Let the treats cool off and serve them to your dog. You can store them and use them later as well.

Structuring a diet for dogs with struvite crystals and feeding your ailing pet the right way can help deal with this condition and prevent it in the future.

Making your dog drink a lot of water is also vital because you need to make him urinate more. Constant urination will stop the formation of struvite crystals in dogs and help your pet dilute them faster.

Struvite Crystals in Dogs, Our Final Thoughts

Dogs can develop urinary crystals just like humans. A large part of dealing with struvite crystals in dogs is their diet.

Suppose your dog is suffering from urinary tract stones, or you want to avoid the development of urinary crystals. In that case, we suggest you follow these basic steps we've shared about the best dog food for dogs with urinary crystals, as well as the best treats you can give a dog that suffers from struvite crystals.