The Role of Nutrition in the Treatment of Dog’s Lower Urinary Problems

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The Role of Nutrition in the Treatment of Dog’s Lower Urinary Problems

There are numerous problems that can affect a dog’s lower urinary system:

  • Incontinence
  • Bladder stones
  • Urinary crystals
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cancer
  • Trauma
  • Obstruction of the urethra
Nutrition can be very helpful in the treatment of the problems listed above.

For example, special formulated diets can help to dissolve urinary crystals.

dogs and bladder crystals


Urolithiasis is a urinary tract disorder characterized by the accumulations of crystals or stones within the urinary tract.

These crystals cause irritation, pain and maybe urethral blockage.

Urinary bladder stones

Urinary bladder stones (uroliths/calculli) are agglomerates of mineral crystals that join together to form a stone in the urinary bladder.

Seldom, stones may form in the kidneys.

The urinary pH influences the growth of the crystals that lead to urinary bladder stones.

The most common type of stone/crystal is struvite, and these have a propensity to form in alkaline urine.

Other types of crystals (calcium oxalate, ammonium urate, and cystine crystals) build up in more acidic urine.

Risk Factors for urinary bladder stones

Veterinarians identified features that increase dog’s likelihood of developing urinary bladder stones.

These features include:

  • Age (2 – 10 years )
  • Gender:  Males have a superior risk of urethral obstruction from the crystals or stones; and older female dogs and diabetic dogs are especially prone to urinary tract problems
  • Urinary Infections:  Cause alkaline urine, is the major cause of struvite crystal development
  • Food: Food containing high levels of certain minerals in dog food can increase the chance of crystal formation in urine.
  • Little water intake
  • Breed Predisposition: small breed dogs are more susceptible and some dog breeds are more prone to develop urinary bladder stones, such as Miniature Schnauzers, dalmatians, yorkshire terriers and bulldogs
  • Lack of exercise
  • Inability to urinate frequently (indoor dogs)

Clinical signs related with urinary problems

If your dog presents urinary problems, he may be very painful and uncomfortable.

In my opinion in these situations it is vital to get in touch with your veterinarian straight away for a complete examination.

Thus if you notice any of the following common signs below you should contact your veterinarian assistant.

Clinical signs related with urinary problems

The role of nutrition

When your dog suffer from urinary bladder stones, it is very important to feed the accurate dog food.

Foods high in magnesium, phosphorus, protein and calcium have been linked to stone formation.

Veterinary nutritionist’s advice for treatment of urinary crystals or stones is feeding your dog a food with restricted amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, protein and calcium.

The controlled and reduces amounts of these minerals can assist in the dissolution of some types of stones that have formed in his urinary tract.

Special formulated foods for urinary tract disease are classically targeted at keeping the urine pH at optimal levels because deviations in urine pH is one of the most common causes of urinary crystal/stone development.

You should keep in your mind that any dog that has been treated for urinary tract disease runs the risk of contracting it again.

As a result, it’s important to carry on with the nutritional program appropriate to the disease and watch closely for the recurring symptoms.


About the Author:

Hi! I'm Dora Mancha, DVM. I am graduated for the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Lisbon (2009). My degree is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). I completed my degree in Veterinary Medicine in July, 2009. Over the first years as a veterinarian my work was closely related to the animal health field. I have gained some average experience having worked in Barcelona University (UAB) Equine Hospital and by working with veterinarians in Portugal. In addition, in 2009 - 2010 I was in Madrid at the University Alfonso X el Sábio doing an internship in the equine service. I am also very interested in small animal medicine and surgery. In fact I worked in several small animals clinics in Portugal improving my knowledge about small animal behavior and health. Dogs always have been present in my life, since I was a child. At the present moment I have four dogs a Labrador, a Epagnheul Breton, a Whippet and a mixed breed dog.

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