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Part 1: All About the Crystals...not Diamonds, but Crystals in Dog Urine.

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


Let's talk about it!!!

Part 1: All about crystals...not diamonds, but crystals in dog urine, and what they can cause.


Let's lay out some facts first: Every dog's urine contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. When their concentration increases, not always, but sometimes they can combine with other minerals, and thus form so-called crystals. Although dogs can be perfectly healthy when they have crystals in their urine, they can be at risk of developing bladder and kidney stones.


What are urine crystals in dogs?

A stone in the urinary system is painful and can be dangerous – imagine a small stone with rough edges making its way through those narrow and fragile urinary tubes. Not only is it an eyesore, but it can also damage the urinary tract as it passes through. Just to make things more complicated, there are several different types of stones, each with their own causes and treatments.


The most common stones are made of struvite and calcium oxalate. Dogs can also get stones made of uric acid, calcium phosphate, silica and cysteine. Small dogs seem to be most susceptible to urinary crystals and stones. One of the reasons for this is thought to be their lower desire for water compared to larger dogs. Drinking plenty of water helps the crystals pass easily through the urinary system, so a dog that doesn't drink enough fluids is at greater risk of infections. Crystals in the urine can also cause irritation and lead to a urinary tract infection, meaning infection anywhere from the kidneys to the bladder.


What causes a urinary tract infection (UTI)/urine crystals in dogs? Sometimes bacteria (which can be from faeces) can accidentally enter the urinary tract (this is more common in female dogs, due to their anatomy) where they can cause a urinary tract infection. Another trigger for a UTI can be when the dog has to cross its legs for too long: putting off going to the toilet for long periods can concentrate the urine and increase the risk of UTIs as well as crystal formation. Anything that irritates the urinary system, including crystals, can trigger a UTI. This also has a bit of a genetic element, some breeds are just at a higher risk of urinary problems than others. For example, it is a fact that a number of small dog breeds, including miniature schnauzers, shih tzus, yorkshire terriers and dachshunds, are more susceptible to struvite crystals.


Urine pH is also important in determining urinary tract health. A dog's urine should be slightly acidic, so with a pH of about 6.5 to 7. If it goes above neutral (pH 7), it increases the chance of struvite crystals forming. Specific ingredients in the diet such as grains and certain groups of vegetables can raise pH.


Signs and Symptoms of UTI/Urine Crystals in Dogs: A few crystals in the urine usually stay completely under the radar. If you are wondering if you can see crystals in dog urine, then the answer is yes, but not with the naked eye. However, there are other signs you can look out for. A dog with urinary problems such as a urinary tract infection or stones will have trouble going to the toilet. They may cry often (although not much is produced), appear strained, and feel pain when trying to urinate. They may also lick their urethra excessively. Watch out for blood in the urine as this is a sign of infection. Cloudy urine is another indicator that something is wrong, as is drinking more fluids than usual.


If your dog starts having unusual accidents around the house, such as passing urine, it could be due to an STI. Just like when people have a urinary tract infection, the dog may show signs and possibly not want to go for a walk or eat. If something just doesn't seem right with the drinking and eating, take them to a vet who will test the dog's urine and find the root cause.


What is the best dog food for dogs with urine crystals? The ingredients play a key role in preventing urinary crystals and urinary tract infections in dogs. Dog food for dogs with urinary crystals should avoid certain ingredients that raise the Ph of the dog's urine, putting him at risk of infection. A grain-free food that contains selected fresh vegetables that will provide your dog with plenty of vitamins and minerals can provide good Ph balance.


Another factor in dog food for preventing PPIs is that it will help hydrate your dog.Increased water consumption helps flush out existing crystals and prevents new crystals from forming.Proper hydration will also reduce the risk of urinary tract infections

Dry dog food has very little water content, and if your dog is not very thirsty, he will take in less water and not be able to expel those pesky crystals, putting him at a higher risk of a urinary tract infection. You can add more water to their food to encourage your dog to take in more fluids while eating, which is certainly more palatable than a bowl of plain water.


Also, high levels of certain minerals in dog food can increase the chance of crystals forming in the urine. Magnesium and phosphate are mineral components of the most common struvite crystal type. Do not feed the dog excessive amounts of these minerals.


Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, when you'll learn more about the types of urinary and kidney stones in dogs and cats, exactly how they form, and what to look out for.

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