Bladder crystals and bladder stones are a common problem in cats and dogs. Crystals that form in the urine can eventually form into stones which can cause your pet to experience symptoms such as inappropriate urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and pain. Crystal and stone formation can occur for many reasons including incorrect diet, certain medical problems, and heredity since certain breeds of cats and dogs can be more prone to this problem than others. Veterinary diets for urinary tract disease are typically targeted at keeping the urine pH at optimal levels since abnormalities in urine pH is one of the most common causes of urinary crystal/stone formation. There are different types of crystals/stones that can form in the bladder. The most common types of crystals/stones are struvite and calcium oxalate.
Since struvite crystals are typically made of magnesium, phosphate, and ammonium which typically form when the pH of the urine is alkaline (pH>7), diets to help prevent struvite crystal formation typically dilute the urine and promote the formation of acidic urine (pH<7). By promoting increased acidity of the urine, struvite crystals are less likely to form. There are also special foods that, in certain cases, can actually dissolve struvite stones and prevent your pet from undergoing surgery to remove them. These types of foods are not recommended for long term use and are only useful in certain cases.
Calcium oxalate crystals commonly occur in the urine of cats and dogs that have acidic urine (pH<7). There are also certain medical disorders such as cancer and Cushing’s disease that can cause calcium oxalate stone formation. Typically, the only way to remove calcium oxalate stones is with surgery. However, there are certain veterinary diets that can reduce calcium, phosphorus, and sodium levels and can help promote more alkaline (pH>7) urine which can assist in prevention of these types of stones in the future.
There are also urate stones that are stones that form specifically in Dalmatians. These stones can be prevented and, in some cases dissolved, with medication and a diet that is specially formulated for this problem. Diets that can help with this problem are typically lower in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Many veterinary diets that are available for urinary problems can help prevent the future formation of urinary crystals/stones. In some cases, the right food can also help to avoid surgery for stone removal. In many cases, canned food is preferred over dry food for urinary problems as canned foods contain more moisture to help promote optimal urinary tract health. Consult your veterinarian for the best dietary recommendation for your pet’s urinary issues as they will know which food will be best for your pet.
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