Kidney – Urine Stones & Crystals

Bladder stones start out small but over time can grow in number and/or size. Dogs or cats with bladder stones can typically have some or all of the following symptoms: Urinary accidents, Frequent attempts to urinate without producing much urine, Straining to urinate, Discoloured urine, Licking around the urinary opening, Bladder stones can cause a lot of discomfort and pain in animals. Diagnosis of bladder stones should be confirmed with either an X-ray or ultrasound.
Normal dog’s or cat’s urine is slightly acidic and contains waste products from metabolism including dissolved mineral salts and other compounds. Struvite is a normal component of an animal’s urine and will remain dissolved as long as the urine is acidic and is not too concentrated. In animals struvite bladder stones usually form as a complication of a bladder infection caused by bacteria that produce an enzyme known as urease.  This enzyme breaks down the urea that is normally present in the urine causing an excess production of ammonia which can cause the urine to become alkaline. Ammonia in the urine also causes bladder inflammation. Female dogs tend to get these types of bladder infections and stones much more frequently than males, probably because their shorter, wider urethra makes it easier for bacteria to pass up the urethra into the bladder. In some studies, up to 85% of dogs with struvite bladder stones were female. Other causes of alkaline urine such as certain kidney diseases, long-term use of diuretic drugs or antacids and other conditions that cause elevated urine pH or elevated levels of urinary phosphorus.
There are a number of conventional treatments bladder stones: feeding a special diet to dissolve the stone’s, Diet & medication, Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion, Surgical removal.
Feeding a special diet. The use of special therapeutic diets to dissolve struvite bladder stones is often recommended in cases where the risk of a urinary tract obstruction is relatively low.  These diets typically are restricted in protein, phosphorus and magnesium and are formulated to promote formation of acidic urine (with a pH less than 6.5). This formulation helps dissolve struvite stones that are already present in the urine, and prevents formation of further stones. Dissolution of the stones is further enhanced by increased water intake, which will serve to dilute the urine.  Several 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 protein-restricted, phosphate-restricted, magnesium-restricted, highly acidifying, and supplemented with salt to increase the patient’s thirst and fluid consumption. While a low-protein diet is not required to dissolve struvite stones, it can speed their dissolution (when accompanied by appropriate antibiotic treatment). Protein provides urea, which bacteria convert or ammonia, one of the struvite building blocks. This approach is not a long-term solution and will not prevent the formation of infection-induced stones. Since most animals with struvite bladder stones developed them as a result of a bladder infection, they are usually placed on antibiotic therapy while the stones are being dissolved.  Antibiotics kill the bacteria that have become trapped in the bladder, left untreated these bacteria can develop into another infection.  
Non-surgical removal. If the bladder stones are very small it may be possible to pass a special catheter into the bladder and flush the stones out. In some cases, this procedure may be performed with the animal under heavy sedation, although general anaesthesia is often necessary
Surgical removal. If there are a large number of stones in the bladder or if there is an increased risk that the animal may develop an obstruction in the urinary tract surgery is performed. Male dogs have a higher risk of developing an obstruction in the urinary tract as a result of bladder stones, so when bladder stones are diagnosed in a male dog surgery is usually the recommended option.
Natural management & prevention
The holistic approach to treat bladder stones in dogs is to first change the diet. A well-balanced low protein raw feeding should be considered if possible or a wet food as it naturally contains moisture or a wet food such as Rinti. Alongside this herbs are used to assist in the removal of the stones, moderate PH of urine and reduce inflammation.
A mixture of marshmallow to protect and soothe inflamed tissues and also has slight astringent and antimicrobial properties that can help reduce inflammation and prevent bacterial growth. Couch grass is used as a urinary tract tonic, disinfectant, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties it can help eliminate stones and crystals.
Juniper is used for its diuretic properties and can help stimulate the kidneys to increase the flow of urine assisting in the elimination of waste materials.
Goldenseal to help fight bacteria and reduce or prevent infection.
Dandelion to also help eliminate stones and bacteria from the urinary tract.
Monitoring your dog’s urinary pH at home will alert you to any recurring bladder infection. The numbers refer to acidity and alkalinity, with 7 considered neutral (neither acid nor alkaline). Numbers less than 7 indicate acidity, and the lower the number, the more acid the urine. Numbers greater than 7 indicate alkalinity, and the higher the number, the more alkaline the urine. Most healthy dogs have a neutral to slightly acid urinary pH between 5.5 and 7.0.Because urine pH varies throughout the day, test your dog’s urine at the same time each day to determine a normal pH. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning before eating.  Collecting in a jar or paper cup will allow you to also check for blood, cloudiness or other indications of infection. If your dog’s urinary pH jumps from acid to alkaline, contact your vet. Probiotics are the body’s first line of defence against infection, and the more beneficial bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract, the better. Antibiotics destroy beneficial as well as harmful bacteria, the use of probiotic supplements after treatment with antibiotics helps restore the body’s population of beneficial bacteria. BB Herbal Bladder support added to food daily along with a suitable diet and probiotics can help reduce the symptoms and maintain healthy kidney function.

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