Urinary Tract Infections - Crystals - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Diets
The most basic question is, how do I tell if my dog has UTI? What should I look for?
The most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include: 5
- frequent urination
- dribbling urine
- blood in the urine
- squatting frequently to urinate
- straining to urine
- strong odor to the urine
- inappropriate urination (such as in the house)
- an increase in thirst and drinking.
Ok, If know my pet has UTI, What can I do? Tell me more about it, how does my dog's diet affect things?
We have a lot of customers who come into our store and tell us my cat or my dog has UTI Crystals and the vet put them on a C/D, U/D, K/D, or NF formula. As everyone knows prescription diets are far from Optimal Nutrition for your dog or cat, they exist to treat a specific ailment, but continuation on these diets can lead to other serious issues.1 Prescription diets are made to treat specific conditions; as with most prescription diets, they are meant for short term us, long term use of these diets have the potential to cause adverse side effects.6
Here are some of the potential side effects from long term use of U/D, K/D, and NF formula foods. 6
- Heart Failure
- Liver Failure
- Kidney Failure
Did I get your attention? Good. Now, before we dive deeper into UTI Crystals we need to understand Urine pH. pH is a scale that ranges from 0 to 14, that measures acid bases. A score of 7.0 is considered neutral. Most dogs PH ranges from 5.0 to 9.0.
Got it? Good, now let's talk UTI Crystals.
UTI develops in about 14% of dogs. 2 That's a pretty big number, there are two main forms of UTI Crystals (Struvite and Calcium Oxalate) .
Form when there is a bacterial infection that is capable of breaking down Urea that will otherwise be passed in the urine. Urea is a waste product produced from metabolism of protein. This reaction of breaking down the Urea into Ammonia only happens in Alkaline PH.3
Struvite Crystals are more common in female dogs and there are some breeds that are felt to have an increased risk which include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Scottish Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, Pekingese, Basset Hounds, Springer Spaniels and German Shepherds, and Bichon Frises.
Calcium Oxalate Crystals
Form in acidic to Neutral pH Urine, a few things are said to cause these stones to form, the most common is hereditary. The product of defective nephrocalin is usually the culprit. 4
Unlike, Struvite Crystals, Calcium Oxalate Crystals cannot be dissolved by a diet change; they need to be surgically removed. However, a proper diet can help prevent Calcium Oxalate Crystals from forming.
Calcium Oxalate Crystals are more common in male doges and some of the breeds that are felt to have an increased risk which includes; Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Bichon Frises.
Ok, now that you know the basics, let's talk nutrition!
We learned that you can dissolve Struvite crystals with more acidic foods, so dogs that are prone to Struvite Crystals you will naturally want to keep on a more acidic diet.
Fortunately, most of the good ingredients dogs and cats should be eating are acidic in nature, for example, chicken, beef, eggs, fish, pork, cottage cheese, yogurt, rice (brown and white), beans, nuts and all seafood. Doesn't that sound like the perfect Kibble or Raw food diet?
Berries are acidic in nature and the lower pH levels and prevent bacteria from clinging to the walls of the bladder. Solid Gold Berry Balance is a supplement that's commonly used to lower the Urine pH Levels.
What about Calcium Oxalate Crystals?
The reverse is true, to raise the pH score, you should be feeding foods more alkaline in nature, to include a few squash, beet greens, rhubarb, spinach, beets, raw endive, dandelion greens, okra, kale and sweet potatoes.
It's been recommended the diets should be lower in protein and oxalates, higher in magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. Here's a list of foods and there oxalates level http://www.branwen.com/rowan/oxalate.htm. Beef and Lamb cuts tend to have lower protien levels among other meat likes (Venison, Pheasent, etc)
A commonly used supplement to raise the Urine pH level is Potassium Citrate.
Okay Enough Talk. How do I know if I'm doing the right thing.?
Talk with your vet, ask them what the Target Urine pH should be for your dog. Every dog is different; some dogs might have severe cases, others mild. The dogs breeds will factor in the decision.
OK, I know my Target PH level. How do I know I'm achieving it?
Urine pH Test Strips, you should be able to get these from your vet or a local retailer, or even purchase them on-line.
OK. That sounds simple anything else I should Know?
Yes, water consumption, treats, etc. All factor into the Urine pH levels. You will notice, throughout the day the levels will change. Take multiple Urine PH samples to assure your achieving your goal. Always keep checking.
Sure, you listed out the ingredients, but I don't cook for my dog, I just buy kibble or raw, how do I know what the PH levels are?
Here's a list of some excellent brands and their pH Levels for Dogs and Cat. We called up these companies and spoke to a representative to get the levels.
Canidae Dog - Kibble - pH 7.0
Canidae Dog - Canned - pH 6.0
Felidae Cat - Kibble- pH 6.0
Felidae Cat - Canned - pH 5.5
Fromm 4-star Dog - Kibble - pH 6.2 - 6.4
Fromm 4-Star Cat - Kibble- pH 6.5 - 6.8
Honest Kitchen - pH 7.0
Merrick Before Grain (Dogs and Cats) - pH 6.8
Merrick 5-Star Dry (Dogs and Cats) - pH 6.5 - pH 6.8
Merrick 5-Star Canned(Dogs and Cats) - pH 6.3 - pH 6.5
Orijen (cat and dog) - pH of 5.5
Primal Dog and Cat - pH 6.0 - 7.0
Natura (Evo, Innova, California Natural) (Dogs and Cats) - pH 6.2 - 6.8
Solid Gold - Dog - Dry - pH 6.4 - 6.6
Solid Gold - Dog - Canned - pH 6.0
Solid Gold - Cat - Dry - pH 6.2 - 6.4
Solid Gold - Cat - Canned - pH 6.2
Wellness Dog (Kibble and Canned) - pH 6.5 - 7.5
Wellness Cat - Dry - pH 6.2 - 6.6
Wellness Cat - Canned - pH 6.1 - 6.6
I called other manufacturers to check on their pH Urine, of foods we don't carry, for comparison.
Beneful (Purina) - I spoke with their Nutrionist - I was told they don't have any information on the pH level in their foods.
Science Diet - I talked to their Nutrionist - I was also told they didn't have any information on the pH level in any of their non prescription diets.