My mini Aussie has been diagnosed with struvite crystals. She is 9 months old. Vet prescribed Royan Canin Urinary SO dry dog food and my dog only ate it for a few days and then refused to eat it. Vet then gave me the canned dog food and she does like it much better. However, I’m struggling with the fact that she’s on canned dog food and the only alternative dry food I know of is Hills Science Diet urinary food. I’ve heard that just increasing water intake and occasionally feeding canned food is acceptable. My only worry is if she does develop stones, this will require surgery. I’m avoiding this at ALL costs even if it does mean feeding her a lower quality of food. I’m at a loss and don’t know what to believe. The vet says one thing and many internet forums say other things. I want to listen to my vet, but does my dog REALLY need to be on prescription dog food forever to avoid further bladder issues. Help! Thanks in advance.
Hound Dog MomParticipant
Hi Srmeadow –
Does your dog currently have stuvites or have they been dissolved? Does your dog currently have a urinary tract infection? Stuvites only require treatment if the dog has a UTI and having stuvites does not require being on a prescription food or low protein diet for life.
From Merck’s Veterinary Manual:
“Struvite crystals are commonly observed in canine and feline urine. Struvite crystalluria in dogs is not a problem unless there is a concurrent bacterial urinary tract infection with a urease-producing microbe. Without an infection, struvite crystals in dogs will not be associated with struvite urolith formation.”
An article on Struvites written by CJ Puotinen and Mary Straus published in Whole Dog Journal states:
“Struvite crystals do not require a change in diet. Because struvite crystals do not pose a problem unless the dog has a urinary tract infection, there is no required treatment for crystals, including dietary changes. If the dog does have a urinary tract infection, a prescription dog food will not cure it.”
“If your veterinarian finds struvite crystals in the urine and suggests a diet change, you’d be well advised to find a new vet. You have to wonder how many other things he or she is misinformed about. It isn’t just a case of not keeping up with newer research; this recommendation is just plain wrong.”
“Dogs prone to forming struvite stones should not be kept on a special diet for life. Struvites almost always form because of infections, for which dogs with a history of stones should be closely monitored and properly treated. No long-term dietary change is required, nor will a special diet prevent the formation of infection-induced struvites. However, short-term changes may help speed the dissolution of stones.”
“Low-protein diets do not prevent stone formation. A low-protein diet can speed the dissolution of struvite stones — when accompanied by appropriate antibiotic treatment — but it is not necessary for the prevention of struvite formation in dogs who are prone to this problem. For almost all dogs, controlling infections will prevent more stones from forming.”
To prevent the re-occurrence of struvites it’s recommended to do the following:
-Closely monitor your dog’s urinary pH to detect UTIs (dogs should have a pH of between 5.5 and 7.0).
-Supplement with cranberry capsules. Compounds found in cranberries help to prevent bacteria from attaching to the tissue that lines the bladder and urinary tract.
-Supplement with probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. A healthy population of beneficial bacteria in the dog’s system will help to combat any unhealthy bacteria (such as the bacteria that causes UTIs).
-Vitamin C is often recommended for dogs prone to UTIs due to its antiiinflammatory properties.
-Uva Ursi is an herb often used to treat UTIs due to its anti-bacteria properties. It should only be used intermittently for short periods of time.
All my dogs have struvite in their urine but no infection and they are 5, 5 and 9 yrs old. I give vitamin C (recc’ by my vet) and d-mannose almost daily. My vet is more holistic. She even sells raw foods in her clinic and didn’t even mention any Rx foods. They have never had a UTI. That is not to say that some dogs aren’t more prone to get UTI’s and then have problems with stones.
Thank you pugmomsandy and Hound Dog Mom. I’m new to all of this and it’s been a rollercoaster. The vet treated my dog with antibiotics for a “possible infection”. So, I’m guessing the treatment was more for a precaution rather than full-blown UTI. She goes back to vet on Friday (May 17) for a urine re-check! So, I’m hopeful and praying that her crystals will be better… I’m not sure how long it takes to get rid of them. It’s only been two weeks.
I’m going to talk to my vet about Vitamin C and cranberry. I’m curious as to what she recommends and tells me based on Friday’s urine sample. I will update! Thank you! 🙂
This video and article by Dr. Becker may help you.
A prior dog of mine had these crystals. My vet did not mention a diet change, thankfully. She prescribed one 500 mg of Vitamin C daily and to up his water intake. Wht I did was add canned & warm water to his kibble and we then switched to The Honest Kitchen, a dehydrated. Make sure your dog has ample fluid and ample opportunity to urinate.
Thank you, Shelties mom for the video. It gave a lot of helpful info.
Thanks, InkedMarie. I’m definitely trying to up her water intake.
So, as for an update… Her urine was clear! So, vet told me she can go back to regular kibble and to just watch her for any urinating problems and up her water intake. Hopefully, she won’t have any more problems! I prayed so hard for this to be the case. Prayer works, people! :O) Have a great weekend and I appreciate all of your helpful insight.
I’ve been reading these posts – could I get some info? I have a 3.5 year old dane mix who is a rescue. He has some pretty severe anxiety issues that are the worst in July with all of the firework activity. Two years in a row now he has developed severe UTI’s in July. These have become noticeable to me by seeing pure blood when he urinates. He has been carrying struvite crystals now since 2012. My vet suggested either an ultrasound to ensure no stones, (but with his anxiety issues is very concerned that this would be a huge ordeal for him) or a food change to the Hill’s U/D. He is a very large dog and eats at least 5 cups of food per day. His reasoning for the food change is the continued crystal readings and that they go up and down. He said that when the lab number decreases, it can either be because they have dissolved or that they have formed stones. I am very hesitant to put this dog through the ultrasound procedure at this point but he is showing a pattern of issues. What are thoughts on the food change for this situation? I think if I’m reading right, you guys do not agree for crystals alone but along with infection maybe a different story?
A little more info. I found out that to feed this boy the prescription food would cost me $30 every 3-4 days because of his size. I hate to say but unless no other option I just cannot afford to do this. I have other pets with issues that also cost money and have to consider everything. Spoke again to my vet and he is going to put him on a medication to do what the food would do – said wasn’t his first choice but totally agrees not to spend that much for food change. He also suggested switching to a non-prescription lower protein food – any suggestions?
Hi Corey K,
I had my dog on the Royal Canin SO food for 2 weeks after she was diagnosed with struvite crystals, then once we had a urine check and found that her urine was clear, I asked the vet if I could change her back to a “regular” food that was not prescription. She said, yes. I asked her what food she recommended, because obviously I could not put her back on Blue Buffalo (the original food I was feeding her). The vet told me that many times certain foods do not work for your pet and I believe this to be the case with my dog. My vet said honestly whatever food your dog will eat is what you should feed them as long as it is a name brand food. I hesitantly put my dog on Iams and it has been over a year now and we have had ZERO issues with bladder problems. My dog does have some separation anxiety and even being boarded a few times over the last year has had no issues with her bladder as far as crystals or UTI’s which can be brought on during stressful situations. I don’t believe your dog needs to be on prescription dog food long term. Perhaps keep your dog on the prescription food for a short term, then once all seems to be good, try going to a different food. I was such a firm believer in expensive and more natural dog foods until all of this happened with my dog. Now, I’m a firm believer in whatever food works with your dog’s system is best and Iams has truly made my dog a different dog. 🙂 As a side note, my dog was also experiencing high levels in her liver and once I made the switch to Iams, it has all disappeared. Coincidence? Maybe.. but, I will be feeding her Iams from now on. Good luck with your pup! I know how stressful medical issues are with pets! Try Iams if you feel comfortable and see if it helps your dog. 🙂
Corey: dry food is the worst thing you can feed a dog with crystals. Best is raw, dehydrated or canned. I had a dog with struvite crystals & he did not go on a script diet. If you must feed dry, please add some canned to it plus warm water to make a stew. It’s very important that you make sure he gets enough liquid & ample opportunity to urinate. Do you give a urinary supplement or cranberry? Ask your vet if vitamin C would help.
thank you for the feedback. I actually tried the raw diet, and the highest end foods with him prior to the issues and he will not touch them. He seems very picky and also will not eat canned food. I was just reading about the cranberry supplements and may give them a try. He eats IAMs large breed for ages 1-5 now because it’s the only thing he will consistently eat. I am confused about one thing I’m reading. I keep reading that the struvite crystals do not need treated unless there is an active infection. He does have an active infection and is on an antibiotic. My vet tested his urine a week after the begin of antibiotic and it was back to normal. I plan to keep him on the antibiotic for 4 weeks. Why does it say that the crystals are only dangerous if there is infection – is that simply because the infection needs treated? Or do the crystals behave differently or pose a different threat if accompanied by infection? So confusing!!!
This might help you a bit:
When there is an infection, the bacteria release an enzyme and the pH of urine is changed to where crystals can start coming together into a stone. Crystals normally don’t form a stone in normal urine pH.
I also have dogs with crystals but no infection. I always give some canned food and some urinary health supplements.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by pugmomsandy.
Well back again and more confused than ever! It turns out after all of that, I had the wrong information. Spoke to my vet again and my dog does not have struvite crystals he has urate crystals. Apparenly a different story. Now trying to learn everything I can about purines in protein because I didn’t like the idea of a lower protein food because I know dogs need protein. I spent some time today at my pet health food store and came up with a grain free dog food from nutria source called tru vita turkey. The girl did some research for me and said that turkey’s purine number is 50 and that is in the low range. Also going to mix this with some Canidae ALS which I’m told has high quality protein. From what I am learning these have better ingredients than this hills prescription food that I really cant afford to feed him. My vet also wants to start allopurinol which apparently binds/removes the uric acid. Now that I have my crystals straight any other advice?
Corey my dog had sturvites without the infection. The diet is what got rid of mine. I switched to canned with below average carbs and plenty of water and it took care of them. I even added water to the canned. It flushes them out.
I’m interested in the dosage of daily D-Mannose to prevent crystals in a 30 pound pug. Any help would be appreciated.
I give one scoop of Mercola Bladder Support which has 75 mg of d-mannose and 75 mg of cranberry and other supplements. I’ve also given a 250 mg capsule of just d-mannose a couple times a week.
How can I increase my pups water intake? I already leave water out all day??
Barbara: that’s easy! Feed a raw diet, a canned diet or, if you must feed dry, add canned and warm water to the dry.
Looking for some advice. Just had my 11 year old weim through surgery about a month ago dealing with stones. He had a blockage that is how we found out he had them. After a month of waiting on the results of stone diagnosis, he was put on Royal Canin Urinary SO dog food. I am looking for a natural approach to avoid the ridiculous cost of the food. I read your article above about the vet needing to learn more which now has me more concerned. Both of my boys have been on Alpo dry and split a can of wet alpo for years(11 and 13), now using Purina One because vet initially wanted him on that until we got results of stones. His surgery removed a bunch of stones which we never knew he had and didn’t have any issue with urinating, ever. He is a couch potato and doesn’t get over fed. He enjoys his treats but now not allowed to give him anything per vet. Reading all the articles over the last few weeks, sounds like he only needs additional water, maybe vitamin c and cranberries added to his diet. I just ordered the ph strips to stay on that but I cannot afford the food. Any recs will help. If I get him to pee more and watch ph should I be good or do I have to keep him on this outrageously priced food? Please help.
One of my cats urine samples recently showed some Struvite crystals. The vet recommended that I give him some cosequin for cats. This is a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. She explained why it helped, but I can’t remember exactly how. Something about it protecting the lining of the bladder. I bought some, but it is difficult giving cats any kind of medicine or supplement. Do some research and see what you think. It probably would help with your guys joints as well! Take care. 🙂
thanks for the advice. my guys are on the G&C already as well they don’t even have any issue with taking it right in their food. reading what I said before leads me to believe I can maintain current foods and what water intake and ph for the one. just looking for justification and don’t want to have more problems with the food script like some of the other people’s stories/nightmares. thanks again!
Thanks. I also ordered a fountain hoping the water noise will increase her intake.
Barb: are you giving your dog wet food and/or adding wet and water to his dry?
My vet also made the recommendation of Royal Canin SO, but after looking at the ingredients, there was no way I was going to feed that! So I switched to a kibble with a higher protein, gave a vitamin C supplement, and D-Mannose. My dog’s urine pH went down to normal levels within a week. The kind of levels where the crystals won’t form (about 5.5.) a friend switched her dog to raw for the same reason, high pH and struvites. Crystals gone, pH normal, within two weeks. Neither case had a UTI present.
Boy was I ticked when I got my Mercola Bladder Support this week. It has a manufacture date of February, 2013. There’s no expiration date on the package and I can’t find any information about it on their site. I originally figured the three containers would last me a year, but they’re already almost two years old now. Very annoyed…
Where did you get it from? Did you buy it recently? That sounds annoying.
I ordered it from Mercola. I received it this week. This isn’t the first time I’ve received old products from them either. I ordered a three pack of krill oil that was old when I got it and I wasn’t going to be able to use it before it expired so I gave one away. I still ended up throwing some away. The krill is in a pump so you don’t smell it until you dispense it, but I don’t gamble when it comes to expiration dates on oils so I didn’t use it for very long past the expiration date.
I was giving the prescription wet food AND adding water to it to insure increase water intake. I also now make her bone broth I add to every meal (dry kibble and boiled chicken. She also get her cranberry supplement twice a day in her meals.
@DogFoodie Thanks, I’ll remember they’ve had that issue.
I finally heard back from Mercola this week about the products I ordered; here’s what they had to say:
“We do appreciate your business. I am sorry to say that is the only lot that is available to us at this time. I will however give you a refund for all 3 jars of the bladder support for Pets. The Bladder support for pets does have a 2 year shelf life so it is good until February of 2015.”
So, as expected, it appears as though the product they just send me expires in February. At least they’re giving me a refund. Good will gestures go a long way with me, but still, that’s shameful that they would ship out such old product. I don’t plan to order from them again.
These posts were really informational, but I don’t see anyone who mentioned our particular struvite issue. My 5yr old golden mix has started to leak in her sleep, anywhere from small puddle to lake, not great when you let you pup sleep on the bed! She had this problem about a year ago and the vet checked her urine: the ph was high and it was full of crystals but no UTI. A couple of months of the prescription SO food and the problem was alleviated. The vet made no mention of alternative supplements or options. Do you think the cranberry, vit c, or low protein foods might help her? She already drinks a lot of water every day and has access to the yard fairly often but I’ll make a point to take her out even more now that the leaks are back.
Hi Michelle. My vet didn’t recommend supplements but I believe in doing my own researcher. Just like our human doctor practice western medicine and will treat you differently than a holistic doctor. So sometimes I do my own thing based on research and a holistic approach.
I haved used the solid gold cranberry powder. I used the SO food with my beagle and I finally got her crystals to go away (this was after 4 UTIs/crystal episdodes. We fed her that for a few years and then changed her to a grain free diet. We figured IF the crystals came back, we would know she needs to be back on the SO food. So far, 6 years later, we are still UTI/crystal free!
I had another beagle who had a UTI and she wanted to prescribe him the urinary SO food. I really didn’t want to do that because it was one UTI. I asked her if she had heard of solid gold and she said she had and that if I wanted to try that, she would support it. So, he’s going on two years now…no problems.
Maybe talk to your vet…there are other powders as well, but I don’t know the name of them. Good luck to you!
Hey Sarah. I use the same
Powder. My vet doesn’t believe in supplements and things of that nature. So there is when I’m on my own to do research and make the decisions I feel are best for me and my dog. So cool that your vet is on board! Love that.
Hopefully some of you folks could provide me input.
My dog has a UTI and struvite crystals. He was prescribed Baytril then Simplicef. His urine results just came back and has a high pH and bacteria – cocci and rods.
The culture sensitivity is quite pricey and I wanted to know if that is really what I need to do next. The vet wanted to continue another round of baytril and have him neutered. From reading this thread, it seems like vitamin C and the cranberry supplement are primarily for the decrease of struvites.
I believe the focus is to rid of the UTI. Am I on the right track? I am trying to make sure we are going in the right path and that my vet is not leading me astray.
Cranberry supplement we are all speaking of is for overall unrinary health. I would never advise against your vet but I happen to trust my vet completely. But you would be on the right track to start a supplement. I use Solid Gold Berry Balance
Thank you barbara! Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Also thank you for the tip on the solid gold. The reviews for that product look vrey solid.
Hi Michelle T-
Have you taken your dog to the vet to make sure that she doesn’t have an infection or that the crystals have not returned? I don’t believe that any of the supplements that have been mentioned in the above posts will actually dissolve crystals or cure infections. I do think that they are great preventatives of these conditions. Also adding moisture to their diets is very important, either by feeding canned or raw or adding as much of it as possible to their kibble is very helpful. Plenty of opportunities to go potty is another important preventative measure. I have also read that stress and anxiety can lead to these issues as well. Have you had any big changes in your household lately?
I wish you luck on your quest to help your doggy!
My yorkie had sturvite crystals but no uti’s so I switched him to low carb canned food with water even added to it and we have been clear since. I would think u would have to get rid of the Uti and crystals before the supplements would help.
Yes. Supplements are after the fact and preventative.
I have 5 year old cocker spaniel male named Ozzie. He has been diagnosed with struvite crystale fo 4 years. There is protein in his urine from the sloughing away of bladder tissue from the crystals. i am a critical care RN for 33 yrs and have tried everything to get rid of the crystals. I HAVE FINALLY SUCCEEDED. “CRANIMALS” is a company that make a powder like substance to add to any food. Unlike the capsules of cranberry that have only 250 mg of cranberry this product has 2400 mg of cranberry extract with every teaspoon. # month after I had Ozzie on this supplement, the struvite crystals were gone, the PH of the urine was 5.5 which is normal and the urine was negative for protein. Ozzie always ha an elevated urine ph of 7.6. This is where struvite crystals are made. The urine ph has to be acidic My vet is now selling this product to all the cats/dogs with this struvite problem. Ozzie was always having pee accidents in the house. Since the crystals are gone so is the accidents.
which one? several products…I am struggling with the same thing with my 12 year old mixed breed female. thanks.
get “CRANIMALS” powder supplement. It has 2400 mg of cranberry and gets rid of the crystals and gets the urine to a normal ph. my dog had this problem x 4 years and thaen i found this supplement. You then can use any food
Get the CRANIMALS ORIGINAL They just started selling it in large jars.. go to their web site…if any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen I sent you an email. Thanks for all the info
I’m happy to have found this forum. Just found out both of my Dachshunds have high ph. One has 7.5 and the other 8.0. My female has crystals in her urine, not my male, but the vet didn’t say anything about an affection. All he said was to put her on Science Diet prescription for 2 weeks, but as everyone knows it just a bland acidic diet full of junk.
When asked if there’s anything I could do besides the food he just said no.
I asked about vitamin c which he put one of my dogs on before and he not only asked if they were ever on it before (he should know they were as his records/notes were in front of him, but said it wouldn’t help with anything but the ph.
I feed them Fromm Gold Weight Management and am now giving them vitamin c again. I’m also mixing distilled water with the filtered water I get for the house. I use a fountain for them which has a filter in it which does make them drink more. The filtered water I get for the house has a neutral ph of 6.0, but between that, the rich food they are on, and the filter in their water fountain, I wonder if that’s whats causing the high ph levels.
I work from home so letting them out to go to the bathroom isn’t an issue. They get let out a lot.
I see the Solid Gold supplement looks like a great product and something I’m willing to try. The cranimals sounds good as well, but I’m not sure which one would be better.
I’ll try anything besides using Science Diet. That would be my last solution.
I am going to look for a new vet as I’m not happy with him just saying the Science Diet is the only solution.
The good news is that Struvite crystals are dissolvable. The other types are not. The bad news is that Hill’s Science diet has been proven to dissolve them. The Hill’s s/d is to be fed only short term to dissolve them and the c/d can be fed long term to prevent them. My cat had Struvite crystals as well and I wish that I had fed the Hill’s when I suspected a problem. It may have saved him from a blockage.
While that is much less likely to happen to a dog, they still may be painful for him because they are sharp little suckers. You want to feed as much moisture as possible to flush them out, so getting the fountain was a great start. I would also try to feed as much canned or raw food as possible. Dry kibble is not the best option.
Another helpful bit advice that I’ve learned is that feeding smaller meals more often per day helps to keep the pH more steady. I now feed him 3 times per day. Also try to keep the dog’s stress level as low as possible. I think that was one of my cat’s biggest issues. We had a lot of changes in our household. Our son moved home, we stopped kenneling the dogs in the house, his litter boxes got moved and to top it off, I switched brands of litter! Does your dog have anxiety or had some changes lately? Did you have a urinalysis because you suspected something or was it routine?
After my episode, I would definitely follow the vet’s advice and use the Hill’s to dissolve the crystals and then go from there. After using it for a month, Casper’s crystals are gone, there is no blood or infection. It has been four months now and I am slowly weaning him off the prescription food. But I still feed mostly canned. His ordeal almost killed him so I’m being very careful!
So in conclusion, 1. Dissolve the crystals with the Rx food 2. Moisture, moisture, and more moisture, 3. Small frequent meals and 4. Reduce stress as much as possible. Then maybe you can start to use those supplements rather than the yucky food. And I do agree it seems yucky, but it did work for my cat who is lucky to be alive! Anyway, you will get other ideas as well. But that is my two cents. Good luck!
You need to get ur dogs off kibble and onto canned. They need moisture and low carbs. There’s an article from the college in Minnesota that specializes in the stones but I can’t find it. I remember in the article it was all about the diet. My yorkie had the crystals and no infection. I put him on canned food that was low in carbs and it work. I even added water to the canned. They need lots of water to wash them out. I would not use the science diet that my vet recommended. They need a diet with more acidity and less alkalinity.
crazy4cats thanks for the reply to my post. Although I do agree that the Science Diet works for most I can see why because of it’s ingredients which are just fillers. I just don’t believe this is the route to go nor the only solution like my vet said. I think of it more as a temp. solution since Dachshund’s are crystal prone. I haven’t decided if I want to use it for 2 weeks, but corn, wheat, soy, etc. that is in it is imo not healthy at all regardless of it if works or not and I feel I’ll be depriving my dog of other nutrients. I may try the supplements for 2 weeks then retest and go from there. I am however going to be switching to a holistic vet or at least one that doesn’t just push science diet as every solution is just for their profits. I have been to another non holistic vet in the past who didn’t believe in Science Diet at all and said they would never feed it to a pet, but they are a bit of a drive. I am looking into switching to wet food instead of dry, but of course wet food is much more expensive. I think highly of Fromm so I’ll have to look into their wet food selection.
I have been feeding them more frequently lately instead of just twice a day. As far as stress levels nothing different or changes….besides going to the vet. lol
I won’t totally rule out the S.D., but will look at other options before and the S.D. will be last.
We had the urinalysis done along with a blood profile because our male has been on and off of Rovera (Carprofin) for his back so for him it was to mainly to make sure he’s doing ok from having been on NSAID’s. My female didn’t do well on it for her back as she has back issues as well, but do give her aspirin rarely when needed.
Since I was having my male tested I thought I might as well have both tested. I’ve never had a blood profile done on her before anyways, just him so that was another reason to have it done. Over all though the vet said they are both very healthy and am amazed at how well their teeth are, etc…
Just the ph issue and crystals I have to work on which I will.
weezerweeks, also thanks for the reply. I will defiantly look into wet food.
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