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Diets for Dog and Cat Urinary Stones

Food Options for Pets with Urinary Stones

By Madeleine Burry. January 11, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Diets for Dog and Cat Urinary Stones

Urinary stones are a painful inconvenience for your dog or cat that makes it difficult to relieve themselves. Minerals collecting in their bladder form stones and make passing fluids a challenge. Learn what you can do to help ease your pal's pain.

Urinary stones are formed by deposits of minerals within your cat or dog’s bladder and can cause your pet to experience trouble with urination and irritate the bladder lining. Some of the common tip-offs that your pet is struggling with urinary stones are a very frequent need to urinate, difficulty urinating, and licking of the genitals.

Depending on which type of stone your pet has been diagnosed with, find out which type of diet can help to treat and prevent the urinary stones.

Hydration:

With pets that suffer from urinary stones, it is particularly important to always have water available -- dehydration can lead to the a more concentrated urine, and in some dogs or cats this can lead to urinary crystals and stone formation. Allowing pets access to lots of fresh water during and after treatment is helpful. In many cases, vets will recommend a switch from dry food to wet food - or at least to a mix of wet and dry food -- since wet food contains more liquid, and can help keep your pet hydrated. This can be especially helpful for cats. 

Tips: Putting a small amount of low sodium broth in your dog’s water bowl can encourage drinking. For cats, ice cubes in the water, chicken broth, or small amounts of tuna juice can make it more appealing.

Treating and Preventing Stones With Diet:

Before trying out a preventative diet for your pet, it is important to know what kind of stones your cat or dog forms. Here are the main types of stones, and the diets associated with them for treatment and prevention:

1. Calcium Oxalate:

These stones are common in both dogs and cats. In dogs, they’re thought to be associated with a genetic predisposition, mostly in small dogs, who do not drink enough water. Dietary trends in cat foods in the 1990’s and early 2000’s to prevent struvite crystals may have actually led to an increase in calcium oxalate.

Unfortunately these stones do not dissolve and surgical removal is often necessary. To prevent these stones from forming, feed pets a diet with lower calcium and oxalate, such as Royal Canin Urinary SO or Purina NF Kidney Function, or IAMs Urinary O-moderate ph/O for cats.

More importantly, watch what snacks and table foods you feed on the side, since some foods like vegetables tend to be high in oxalate.

2. Struvite:

These are stones that form from ammonia magnesium and phosphorus in the urine.They’re the most common variety of stones to form in cats and are often associated with urinary tract infections in dogs. They can be treated with a special diet, such as Hills s/d or Urinary SO, which work by dissolving the stones. 

Once your vet confirms that these stones have dissolved, your dog or cat then needs to be on a maintenance diet for the prevention. Common choices are Hill's c/d, Royal Canin Urinary SO, and IAMs Urinary S-Plus low pH/S for cats. Preventative diets work by making sure the urine acidity is approximately 6.5 pH. In addition, these diets tend to be lower in protein (which reduces ammonia production) phosphorous, and magnesium.

If your dog has struvite stones due to a urinary tract infection, then antibiotic and diet therapy will resolve the problem in many cases, and once the stones have been resolved your dog does not necessarily need a special diet. Your veterinarian will be able to help you make these decisions.

3. Urate:

Urate stones can occur because of a genetic conditions or due to portosystemic shunts, a medical condition. This stone is relatively rare in pets. Dogs that are prone to forming urate stones -- like Dalmatians -- might do well to have a moderate to low protein diet. More importantly, the sources of protein should be low in purines, which form urate. Protein sources such as dairy, egg, and soy are preferred. Some possible foods that your vet may recommend are Hill’s u/d or Royal Canin UC Low Purine.

4. Cystine:

The causes of this particular stone are not known, but might relate to genetics, particularly for Mastiffs and Bulldogs. For dogs that have formed cystine stones, a diet that promotes an alkaline urine can be prescribed preventatively, however, diet cannot be used as a treatment method. Surgical removal or certain drugs can be used to get rid of the stones. Currently, diets such as Hill’s u/d or Royal Canin UC Low Purine are used to help manage this disease.

More on Pet Urinary Health

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

Great Cat Foods

Wellness Chicken Formula Canned Cat Food

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

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