Does Your Pet Have Kidney Or Bladder Stones??
More and more dogs (and cats) are being diagnosed with bladder or kidney stones. What many of us do not yet understand is that diets high in grains and vegetables (YES, vegetables!) produce alkaline urine, which allows certain stones to form. Magnesium reacts with alkaline urine to cause crystals to be formed.
Most “Prescription/dissolution/preventative” veterinary clinic diets take out the magnesium to "prevent" this reaction, even though magnesium is essential, especially for the nervous system. Reducing magnesium may cause a host of other negative health issues.
It is far more important and beneficial to prevent alkaline urine by feeding a high protein/grain-free/low carbohydrate (very little to NO veggies) diet in order to minimize the risk of crystals.
It has also been found that grain- based foods may also lead to kidney failure, which often cannot be detected until there is over 75% damage done.
Protein from muscle meat creates an optimal acid urine. Magnesium does not react in acid urine, thereby significantly reducing the risk of crystal formation. PLEASE, don’t be fooled into thinking that "prescription/low magnesium" diets are the solution, they are NOT healthy. High protein/low carbohydrate/grain free foods are the optimum diet for dogs and cats with or without crystals, for both prevention of, and recovery from, crystals.
Urinary PH levels are optimized by avoiding grains and most vegetables, (our dogs and cats are carnivores, they were not designed to eat grains and vegetables nor can they properly digest and utilize them) therefore preventing the risk of alkaline/magnesium reactions.
Grain-free/low carb diets will also support healthy kidney function, along with the many other health benefits of feeding a high protein diet to your pet.
Types of Stones
Struvite stones (Magnesium ammonium phosphate( are the most common type. Experimental and clinical studies have provided convincing evidence that the vast majority of Struvite stones occur following infection of the urinary tract with urease producing bacteria (especially staphylococci.) This infection results in the urine becoming more alkaline. Mineral crystals are less soluble in the alkaline environment and tend to clump together, forming stones. Studies at the University of Minnesota revealed that Struvite stones can form within 2 to 8 weeks following an infection. Some have been detected in puppies as young as 5 weeks.
As the stones form, they can lead to irritation of the urinary tract, making bacterial infection more difficult to treat. A vicious cycle begins. Untreated, bladder stones can lead to blockage of the urethra (particularly in male dogs) serious illness and death. This is a medical emergency.
Bladder stones are often a chronic problem in both dogs and cats. It is an accumulation of magnesium amonium phosphate in their uninary tracts. This mineral compound is the cause of bladder disease and urethral obstructions in cats and dogs. Approximately 2% of the American cat population is affected. This same mineral is also often found as bladder stones in dogs. The symptoms can vary from slight to severe. Its presence is characterized by frequent urination of small amounts of urine to complete cessation of urine flow. The lack of urine flow can initiate dehydration, acidosis, and uremic poisoning ultimately leading to death. Sometimes there is blood in the urine.
There is a general consensus among the veterinary profession that the cause of the accumulation of magnesium ammonium phosphate in cats is diet (i.e. consuming the mineral compound). Cat food manufacturers report the amount of this mineral as the "ash content" on their labels. In the late 1980's, researchers at the University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine tested cats' ability to dispel the "ash" by feeding two magnesium compounds, magnesium chloride (an acid) and magnesium oxide (an alkali), to two groups of cats. Those cats fed the alkaline magnesium developed magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals. Those fed the acid form did not develop the crystals. In fact, some crystals dissolved in the acid form of the compound. The conclusion is that the pH of the urine influences the formation of magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals in cats and stones in dogs.
Some cat food manufactures have increased the acidity of their products to prevent the formation of magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals. As previously noted, only 2% of the American cat population has this urinary problem and feeding an acidic diet to the other 98% can cause the formation of calcium oxalate crystals, which is just as catastrophic. Only those cats affected should be targeted for treatment and prevention. As many pet owners know, the treatment of obstructive urinary tract disease is extensive and expensive to the pet owner. Therapeutically, ammonium chloride and methionine have been administered orally as urinary acidifiers but one must use caution with their long term use do to their potential toxic effects.
In a healthy dog the urinary tract has natural defense mechanisms to resist such infections. While these defenses may be altered as a result of trauma, there is strong evidence that some dogs have inherited abnormal defense mechanisms, allowing bacterial colonization to occur. This is especially suspicious in dogs with a chronic history of urinary tract infections.
Determining the type of crystal or stone is important, as this knowledge is crucial as to which treatment modalities will work best. Always seek a veterinarian's examination and diagnosis for the correct type of crystal or stone before beginning any treatment.
If your dog has struvite bladder stones, then acidifying the diet, along with treating the infection, can help dissolve the stones. Ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C), and distilled water can help with this. Acidic foods include chicken, beef, eggs, fish, pork, cottage cheese, yogurt (be careful with the dairy products though as dogs and cats have problems digesting casine and lactose) and all seafood, Cranberry Extract, Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey (the honey pushes things in a more basic direction, apple cider vinegar to more acid, and a combination will allow the body to find its own balance ).
If your dog has been diagnosed with Oxalate crystals, know that there has been some success with reducing the oxalate rich foods in the diet for a period of time and working to alkalize the urine pH. Alkalizing foods acceptable for healing in our carnivorous pets include ripe apples, bananas, pumpkin, raw honey, alfalfa sprouts and non-distilled vinegar (organic apple cider vinegar).
Note: If you choose to feed the fruits referred to above, make sure they are pulverized in a blender or food processor as dogs (and cats) lack the enzymes to break down these foods for the nutritional benefits and note that they should not be made a part of the pet's forever diet, only use during treatment.
Tips in Treatment
Keep fresh water available for the dog at all times, and encourage consumption of water. Keeping the kidneys and bladder flushed out is of paramount importance to help prevent crystals and stone formation. Water consumption is very, very important!
Try and feed moist diets, such as fresh, raw meat or broths. If you must feed a processed food, try to stay clear of dry kibble. Especailly for cats, use canned diets with no grains or vegetables added and add extra water to foods served.
Do not keep your dog confined, but allow access for urination at all times or as frequently as possible. Holding the urine can cause concentrations that encourage crystal and stone formation.
Distilled water may be helpful in averting some cases of stone and crystal formation. Be sure to check your own water supply for minerals if possible, especially if you have hard water in your area.
Giving a B vitamin supplement may be helpful and has been indicated in use for humans with these problems.
See our supplement recommendations below
There is also some question that high calcium, rather than causing stones, may in reality help dissolve them. This is also true of vitamin C
The administering of a botanical vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry extract), in tablet, capsule or powder form has been known
to attain the necessary acid pH to dissolve and prevent the formation of magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals and bladder
stones. Your Animal's Health Vol 4 Wendell O. Belfield DVM.
Cranberry Extract has proven by many to be what they call the "magic bullet" needed to treat, prevent, and control the
formation of struvite crystals in cats and bladder stones in dogs. This Cranberry and its extract or concentrated form in
products is toxic free and will dissolve struvite crystals sometimes within a few hours.
Not until 1984 did dr. Anthony Sobota and his staff succeed in showing that cranberry extract works by preventing the
rod-shaped bacteria fron sticking to mucosa of the urinary tracts. In this way they were flushed out with the urine.
Cranberry contains - among other things - the sugar substance D-mannose which has the special ability of being able to
prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the walls of the mucosal wall without harming the friendly-minded bacteria. They
also contain the substance arbutin which is effective against certain bacteria and fungi, among others the Candida fungus.
If your dog is already affected with stones too large to be disolved naturally with time, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove these larger stones. Cranberry Extract can then be
administered as a safeguard against the return of the stones. As in the cat, crystals can be detected on routine urinalysis
in the dog and a preventive protocol with Cranberry extract will prevent the formation of larger stones.
How does it work?
Cranberries and cranberry juice have been proven effective for treatment of urinary tract infections in humans (e.g.
cystitis)and bladder stones in animals in a number of clinical trials. Researchers used to believe the action of cranberry
juice is due to acidifying the urine and the antibacterial effects of a cranberry component, hippuric acid however, in recent
studies, it has been shown that components in cranberry juice reduce the ability of bacteria to adhere to the lining of the bladder
and urethra. In order for bacteria to infect, they must first adhere to the mucosa. Thus, taking cranberry products, the
causative bacteria are flushed, preventing their colonization of the urinary tract. The more the patients drinks liquid or
takes the extract of concentrated juice, the more effectively the bacteria are flushed out from the urinary bladder.
While cranberry juice/extract is indicated as an effective treatment for urinary tract infections in pets, most cranberry
juices on the market contain one-third cranberry juice mixed with water and sugar (or other juices). Since sugar has such a
detrimental effect on the immune system, sweetened cranberry juice cannot be recommended. For obvious reasons that most dogs (or cats) do not normally drink juice, patient compliance may be very poor. Giving unsweetened cranberry juice may be even less appealing to the pet. Therefore, Cranberry Extract (Capsules, tablets or powder) give your dog (or cat)
the benefits of cranberry juice in easy to swallow forms, without added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Cranberry supplements can provide you with an exact, pharmacologically effective daily dose with natural biologically active
substances against urinary tract bacterial infections. Cranberry extract is high in natural vitamin C and other natural
antioxidants (proanthocyanidines) and tannins that keep bacteria (E. coli) from clinging to the walls of the urinary
bladder and the urinary tract.
Cranberry is used to prevent kidney stones and “bladder gravel” as well as to
remove toxins from the blood. Cranberry has long been recommended for pets and persons with recurrent urinary tract
Cranberry prevents E. coli, the most common cause of UTIs and recurrent UTIs, from adhering to the cells lining the wall of
the bladder. Cranberry's antiadherence action renders the bacteria harmless in the urinary tract. Cranberry has been shown
to reduce bacteria levels in the urinary bladders of older women, which may help to prevent future infections. Cranberry
can help people with urostomies and enterocystoplasties to keep them clear of mucus buildup.
The Whole Dog is proud to carry Cranberry extract products.
To view or order Cranberry Extract Click Here
Herbs For Stones and Urinary Tract
The following herbs, either used alone or in combination will work to synergisticly soothe, lubricate, strengthen and protect urinary tract tissues of dogs and cats; as well as aid in disloving the stones and work as natural antibiotics.
Couchgrass, Hydrangea Root, Uva Ursi, Golden Seal, Echinacea purpurea root, Dandelion, Marshmallow, and Horsetail.
Couchgrass: considered a diuretic demulcent. Much used in cystitis and the treatment of catarrhal diseases of the
bladder, Couchgrass palliates irritation of the urinary passages and gives relief in cases of gravel. Couchgrass is also
called Dog Grass because dogs will eat it as an emetic when they are sick. The plant is a native of Europe, Asia and North
Hydrangea Root- Kidney support, urinary diuretic, eliminates swelling and fluid retention, increases the flow of urine. Will dissolve/remove bladder/struvite & kidney stones and relieve the pain they cause Relieves pain caused by formations from the kidneys, alleviates backache due to kidney distress. Hydrangea contains chromium, manganese and silicon, and its solvent properties nutritionally
support the urinary system. In herbology, will increase the flow of urine and help remove bladder stones
Goldenseal root has acquired a considerable reputation as a natural antibiotic and as a remedy for various gastric and genitourinary disorders. Goldenseal is used in many combination formulas and is reported to enhance the potency of other herbs. Preparations have been marketed for the treatment of menstrual disorders, urinary infections, rheumatic and muscular pain and as an antispasmodic. The active ingredients in Goldenseal are the alkaloids hydrastine and berberine. Similar in action, they destroy many types of bacterial and viral infections.
Uva ursi - is able to dissolve kidney stones, healing to the genitourinary organs, treats bladder infections
Echinacea: used to increase general immune system function and to treat vaginal candidiasis.
Dandelion: Diuretic, tonic and slightly aperient. It is a general stimulant to the system, but especially to the
urinary organs, and is chiefly used in kidney and liver disorders.
Marshmallow: used to soothe and protect inflamed mucous membranes and other tissues. Marshmallow also contains
rich stores of various vitamins and minerals, including key immune-system boosters such as vitamins A and C.
Horsetail:the most notable use for horsetail is as a mild diuretic ("water pill") to increase urination and lessen
swelling, and as a remedy for various bladder and kidney problems (including kidney stones and bladder infections).
An herbal tincture composed of a combination of these herbs is frequently used as a remedy in the treatment of various
forms of urinary tract inflammations and aiding in the disolving of crystals is Tinkle Tonic To learn more or to order
this product, Click Here
Another herbal tincture found to be very benifical in the treatment of crystals and kidney/bladder ailments is:K&B™
This tincture formulated by Young Living contains herbs that have been studied for their effects in supporting the kidneys
and bladder.* Ingredients: Contains extracts of juniper berries, parsley, uva ursi, dandelion root, German chamomile, royal
jelly, and the essential oils of clove (Syzygium aromaticum), juniper (Juniperus osteosperma and J. scopulorum), sage
(Salvia officinalis), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum
For more information or to order K&B™,
Go Here and then click on "Herbal Tinctures".
Alma Hutchens, in Indian Herbology of North America, says it is "an old and admirable remedy for gravel [the old-fashioned
name for stones]
In another old and trusted herbal volume, Back to Eden, Kloss wrote that hydrangea is "an old
remedy. . . .will remove . . .stones and will remove the pains caused by the stones, brick and dust in the bladder."
In one of the first volumes written by a medical doctor for physicians wishing to study herbs, Dr. Edward Shook wrote a
great deal about hydrangea. In short, he wrote: "So far as we know, this herb is the most powerful solvent of stone and
calculous deposits, not only in the renal [kidney] organs, but in every part of the organism, wherever they may be located.
In more modern times, noted Israeli herbalist, Juliette de Bairacli Levy wrote that hydrangea is used for "all bladder and
kidney disorders, including stones, inflammation, backache from kidney trouble."
Salmon Oil is also helpful for fighting inflammation and regulating the immune system during stressful times of ill health.
For more information on Bladder Stones, visit
An Online Resource Directory on Animal Bladder
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