What is canine Urolithiasis, and why do good dogs get it?
Urolithiasis (a.k.a. Urinary Tract Infection, henceforth called UTI) is just your vet’s fancy science-y lingo for crystals in your dog’s urinary tract. These nasty beasties tend to form whenever Rover’s urine becomes too concentrated or unbalancedly acidic/alkaline. Crystals are mostly of two kinds – Calcium Oxalate and Struvite stones. Both can be a source of pain, irritation or complete urinary blockage. The last is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary treatment.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection
- General lifestyle factors like reduced water intake, lack of exercise or inability to urinate whenever necessary (as in the case of an apartment dwelling dog).
- An over-mineralized diet is the most common cause of Urinary Tract Infection. While magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium are essential (in moderate quantities) for bone and coat health, extra minerals are extruded from urine, where they can condense into painful stones.
- Bacterial infections are another leading cause of Urinary Tract Infection and bladder stones. More than just a therapeutic diet, this requires a full course of antibiotics.
- Miniature breed dogs are more susceptible to Urinary Tract Infection. Plus, a narrower urethra means that they are more likely to suffer from dangerous complications related to bladder stones. Among larger breeds, Bulldogs, Dalmatians and Yorkshire Terriers are reported to have a higher propensity for developing Urinary Tract Infection.
- While both male and female canines may get urinary stones, males are rather more likely to suffer from painful or life-threatening urethral obstructions – thanks to a longer urethra. Females (especially those who have recently whelped) may develop temporary urinary incontinence.
Common symptoms of canine Urinary Tract Infection
- Excessive straining while urinating.
- Decreased urine flow.
- Frequent attempts to urinate.
- Urinating in unusual places.
- Incontinence – an inability to hold their urine for any length of time.
- Licking the genital area. While dogs normally lick their external genitalia while grooming themselves, constant licking should be noted by an alert owner.
- Foul smelling, cloudy or discoloured urine – indicating an infection.
- Blood in urine. This one in particular means that your pet has abrasive urinary stones. Make an appointment with your vet immediately.
- Lack of appetite or interest should be seen as a sign of general discomfort or illness.
What’s so special about dog foods that are created especially to address canine Urinary Tract Infection?
These formulated foods contain a highly controlled quantity of minerals. Enough, so as not to disrupt regular bodily functions. Not too much, or it might condense and form bladder stones. Many brands combine healthy ingredients (such as whole vegetables and boneless meats) in ideal proportions for maximum urinary health. Medicated foods can dissolve existing Struvite stones and keep urine at the ideal pH level to prevent formation of new stones.
We believe that canned wet foods are better than dry foods because of the higher moisture content. But depending on your pet’s needs and on your budget; your vet might recommend wet food, dry food or a mixture of the two.
What else do I need to know about dog foods for urinary health?
Firstly, these dog food varieties must only be taken under a qualified veterinarian’s prescription. So don’t let Guru Google be your only source of information… and DO NOT self-medicate! Many foods formulated to address specific health issues can have serious side effects if taken regularly by dogs that don’t have those very health concerns. Other questions you need to ask your vet are – how long a particular variety of dog food for urinary health must be taken, and in what proportion wet and dry foods are to be blended. Don’t forget the course of antibiotics, especially if an initial check-up reveals non-sterile stones.
Secondly, do your research. Read labels, ingredients and product reviews. Oh… Scratch that out! We’ve already compiled the best rated prescription dog foods to keep Rover healthy and spunky!
Are there any home remedies for canine Urinary Tract Infection?
You bet! While we’d never suggest giving vet-recommended dog food a pass, there are several things you can do at home to ease symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection and prevent relapses.
- Ensure all-day availability of clean, fresh water for your pet. Food and water bowls should be washed after each use.
- Arrange frequent pee-breaks distributed evenly through the day. This is especially true if you live in a relatively confined indoor space, like a high-rise apartment.
- Ignore the puppy-dog eyes and avoid giving Fido table scraps! They’re usually high in salt, sugar or fats – the perfect formula for a number of urinary health issues including Urinary Tract Infection.
- For snacking in-between meals, pick high-quality whole foods, especially raw foods. They should also be low in inflammatory ingredients like refined carbohydrates and starches. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory. Plus, natural fiber and probiotics are great for digestive health. Crunchy carrot sticks, anybody? Woof woof!