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 1 year, 9 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.
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