Kidney Stones in Dogs
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 29, 2010 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
What Are Kidney Stones?
Just like in humans, dogs get kidney stones, too. Also known as “renal calculi,” kidney stones are quite literally stones – calcified minerals, which grow over time.
Kidney stones can irritate the lining of the bladder, and can even plug the urinary tract. Your pet will find it difficult or painful to urinate – and in some cases, won’t be able to urinate at all. Infections can occur!
Kidney stones can be more common in female dogs than males, since the female anatomy has a shorter urinary tract. But the condition can occur in both males and females – and for your pet, it’s very uncomfortable.
Types Of Stones
Your dog can develop different kinds of stones. It’s important to know what kind your pet has, so that you and your vet can treat appropriately.
Struvite Stones form when an infection is present – like Staph. This is most common in female animals, given that urinary tract infections are most common to this sex. The stones are made up of Magnesium, Ammonium, and Phosphate.
Calcium Oxalate Stonesare rare in females, and have been linked to a hereditary condition with dogs that have defective nephrocalcin (the substance that normally breaks down calcium deposits). They are found in animals with overly-acidic urine.
Uric Acid Stones are almost only present in Dalmatians, since their livers cannot absorb uric acid.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
There can be different causes. In general, urinary tract or kidney infections can cause the stones, as can dietary factors.
In some cases, diet can have a major impact in dogs who develop calcium oxalate stones. In this case, dogs who have an acidic PH, or too much acid in their urine, stand a greater chance of having stones. Since diets high in proteins and salts can trigger an acidic PH, an almost exclusively vegetarian diet can help prevent this type.
Genetic defects like Cystinuria – an inherited condition, wherin the body can’t reabsorb cysteine, an amino acid. It then builds up in the urine, which eventually causes stones.
Some breeds, like Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos and Bichon Frises are also more susceptible than others.
What Are The Symptoms?
Symptoms can range from none, to ones that are mostly unmistakable:
Frequent urinary tract infections
Blood in the urine
If your pet is showing signs of stones or a urinary tract infection, make sure to see your vet right away!
Your vet can determine if your pet has kidney stones through various tests, including blood and urine tests and x-rays. Once they have determined that there are stones, treatment will begin.
Treatment for kidney stones will vary, depending on the severity of the case. If the urethra is partially or totally blocked, surgery can be required to empty the bladder.
Often, stones are left to pass on their own. This is accomplished through diet, with special dissolving agents designed to help the stones break up naturally.
Natural Treatment And Prevention
Of course, preventing stones is the best possible treatment. Making sure that the urine is PH balanced properly means taking care of pet’s diet:
Gluten-free foods: grains are high-glycemic, meaning they create a lot of sugar in the body. Plus, they’re really hard for your dog to digest! Choose a food with proteins and veggies, with limited grains.
Plenty of fresh water: dehydration can contribute to kidney stones, and urinary tract infections! Help your pet keep their urinary tract clean by encouraging them to drink plenty of clean water.
Supplements: Try a natural remedy to help fortify the kidney, and improve urinary flow.
Ultimately, you can help prevent painful stones from developing in your dog. With a healthy diet and plenty of water, as well as natural support, your dog will stay balance – and happy.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan