By Christina Burns
Much like humans, our pets can get bladder stones. Today’s domesticated animals are often subjected to painful bladder stones. Bladder stones are clumps of mineral crystals, rock-like formations that form in the urinary bladder. They occur for a number of reasons, including genetics, diets, medications, or chronic cystitis and sometimes you are not aware that your pet has a stone – until you know! These bladder stones will cause your furry family member lots of discomfort and often time’s blood in the urine. The stones can vary in size and females can pass many, typically, however, many cannot be passed and can cause blockages this will require lifestyle modification and possibly surgery.
Symptoms of possible stone in your fur kid:
- Frequent urination with minimal outcome
- Lack of exercise
- Blood in the urine
- Excessive vocalization during urination (cats)
- Cloudy urine
- Increased water consumption
Types of stones:
- Struvite stones
- Calcium Oxalate (two types) –
- Calcium Oxalate Dihydrate
- Calcium Oxalate Monohydrate
- Calcium Phosphate
Causes and Preventions:
(*disclaimer – always check with your veterinarian before you use any of the suggested items below to ensure this is appropriate for your pets*)
- Urine pH – a pH level that is not too low or too high can allow crystals to form into stones so its important to keep their pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Your vet can test this and you can purchase pH testing strips or pH litter for cats that will show a change in the urine pH levels. Canine Caviar offers free pH test kits at http://www.caninecaviar.com/
- It’s important to understand that cats and dogs require a different urine pH.
- Diet – a diet high in minerals can cause or worsen stones. Often time’s homemade diets will assist as well. It is important to read ingredients in purchased kibble and understand the specific needs of your pet – mineral and ash cause stone formation so look for a diet low in both. Canine Caviar offers low mineral food.
- Medications – medications can alter the pH levels of your pet’s urine and can increase calcium levels. Be sure to discuss this with your vet to ensure all medications are appropriate and find out what side effects they have. You can also adjust the diet to help balance this out by either making the diet for acidic or alkaline – based off your pet’s needs.
- Cranberry Extract – Since UTI’s are often times the precursor of bladder stones preventing is key. Cranberry extracts or tablets help with urinary tract health just like humans – it ensures that bladder is coated and bacteria will not stick to it.
- Restroom Breaks – for dogs try to take them out often so they do not hold in urine, and for cats ensure they have a few litter boxes to choose from at all times – even invest in the automatic cleaning ones since we all know cats prefer to go when its clean!
- Apple Cider Vinegar – this is one of my favorite items for my fur kids and I always have some in the fridge! Apple Cider Vinegar not only helps with fleas, and tummy health but because it’s a detoxifying agent it helps normalize the pH levels in pets urine – for dogs and cats too which is awesome!
- Coconut Oil – rich in fatty acids which fights bacteria coconut oil aids in the protection of kidneys, and bladders from infections due to antimicrobial benefits, however, I will caution you, don’t use too much otherwise this will cause leaky bowels! Canine Caviar has coconut oil in many of their canine formulas so you might not need to supplement this.
- Rhubarb Root – helps in the rid of waste and boosts bladder health.
- Parsley – is a natural diuretic it can be added to food to help flush the system.
- Probiotics – I give my dog Kefir, a type of yogurt that is rich with probiotics. I have found that it helps balance out digestion and increasing the immune system.
- Water and lots of it – invest in a water fountain for pets! My cats love theirs since cats typically don’t drink a lot of water this encourages them to drink more, however, I will note, this can end up being a play area as well.
If you suspect that your fur kid has bladders stones take them into the veterinarian immediately – especially with males! They will run a few tests: x- ray and or urinalysis are most common. Once you know what type of crystals caused the stone you can begin treatment. Treatment can include: diet change, medication, or last option is surgical removal.
With any health issue, prevention is important, however, it’s also important to be in tune with your pet and be aware of any changes regarding their personality, habits, or overall being. Pets that have previously had bladder stones will often times heal quickly and ensure that you as a parent research ways to keep them healthy so they do not return!
Christina lives in sunny Orange County, CA as a full-time working pet mommy. Her love of animals goes back to her childhood where she used to rescue animals big and small and bring them home to her family. Always an avid pet owner, cats specifically, she adopted her first dog in 2012 where her zest for learning and finding healthy options for her pets has become a passion of hers. She is excited to begin sharing her knowledge with a larger audience.
Her pet mommy mantra: Remember pet parenthood is a privilege and an honor; try to find new ways to share new experiences with your furry family- life is short!