Bladder Stones Holistic Protocol for Dogs and Cats has been developed by a certified Master Herbalist and certified Canine Nutritionist with The Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Our Bladder Stone Protocol is the finest coordination of science and research-based recommendations that include diet, supplementation and herbal remedies to help support your dog or cat with bladder stones. Everyone here at The Pet Health and Nutrition Center truly cares and wants to help your pet get better, so give our suggestions a try because we are confident you will be pleased with the results.
1. What are Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats?
Bladder stones (aka urinary stones, urolith, calculus (plural is calculi)) are a collection of minerals and other materials. The two most common uroliths (about 80%) in dogs and cats are made from struvites and calcium oxalate. Others include ammonium urate (also called urate, purine, uric acid), cystine crystals, calcium phosphate and silica. The specific type of crystal involved can usually be determined by viewing a sample of urine under a microscope, though ultrasound, contrast dye X-rays, and analysis of urinary crystals or stones that were collected or removed are also methods of identification of bladders stones in canines and felines.
Types of Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats
Struvite Stones - Struvites contain magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate and are most frequently found in small-breed females. Struvite uroliths almost always form in the bladder when large amounts of crystals are present in combination with a urinary tract infection from urease-producing bacteria such as Staphylococcus or Proteus. Urease is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea, forming ammonia and carbon dioxide. It contributes to struvite stone formation as well as raising urinary pH to as much as 8.0 or 8.5. Keep in mind that between 1 and 2 percent of struvites are called sterile (metabolic struvites) because they do not involve an infection.
The presence of urinary struvite crystals alone does not represent disease and does not require treatment. These crystals can be found in the urine of an estimated 40 to 44 percent of all healthy dogs and are not a cause for concern unless accompanied by signs of a urinary tract infection.
Calcium Oxalate Stones - These stones occur in both the bladder and kidneys of male and female dogs and cats. Most calcium oxalate uroliths are found in the kidneys. Animals most affected are small-breed males that are overweight, under-exercised, neutered, and eating a kibble pet food diet. Dry pet food can contribute to more concentrated urine and small dogs are thought to be more susceptible because they drink less water relative to their size. These stones are radiopaque and most are easily seen on X-rays. Certain prescription drugs contribute to the formation of these uroliths like steroids and certain diuretics.
Urate or Purine Stones - Of the remaining types of stones urate are the most common coming in at about 6 - 8% of all uroliths. Purines that are found in plant and animal tissue are the primary culprit. As dietary purines degrade, they form uric acid, which is best known in human medicine for its connection to gout, a sharply painful form of arthritis that affects joints, and in susceptible dogs trigger the formation of urate stones. These uroliths are radiolucent (can't be seen by X‑rays) so they must be identified by other means. Male Dalmatians are most adversely affected by this type of urolith, but they can form in dogs of any breed and age, most commonly in younger dogs 1 to 4 years of age.
- Cystine Stones - Cystine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is normally filtered by the kidneys so that it doesn’t enter the urine. However, certain dogs are born with an inherited metabolic disorder, called cystinuria, that prevents this filtering action. When cystine passes into the urine, it can form crystals. Cystine stones are rare, representing 1 percent or less of uroliths, and although any breed can develop cystinuria, certain breeds are most affected. An estimated 10 percent of male Mastiffs have cystinuria. It is also common in Newfoundlands, English Bulldogs, Scottish Deerhounds, Dachshunds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Chihuahuas. Because cystine stones are faintly radiopaque they are more difficult to see on standard X-rays.
- Calcium Phosphate - These stones often develop when the urine is over-alkalized (at a pH greater than 7.5), in an effort to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate, urate, or cystine stones. They can be found in dogs of all ages with the average age of onset being 7 to 8 years. Calcium phosphate stones can easily be seen on X-rays. These uroliths are rare, being associated with metabolic disorders such as hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), hypercalcemia and renal tubular acidosis, or excessive calcium and phosphorus in the diet.
- Silica - These uroliths are most common in male German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. More than 95 percent of silica stones occur in males. Most silica stones occur in dogs aged 6 to 9 years and can be seen on X-rays. No relationship has been found between urinary pH and silicate urolith formation. The formation of silica stones is associated with diets containing excessive levels of cereal grains that are high in silicates, like corn gluten and soy bean hulls, both common ingredients in low-quality prescription diets and dog foods.
2. Causes and Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats
Causes of Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats
Bladder stones form when minerals precipitate out in urine as microscopic crystals. Under the right conditions these crystals form small grains of sand-like material commonly called urinary calculi. Once grains develop, additional precipitation can lead the crystals to adhere together, creating stones. These larger stones can cause discomfort and possibly interfere with urination. Causes of bladder stones include:
- Dehydration/not drinking enough water
- Depending on stone type - overly alkaline or acidic urine
- High carbohydrate diet
Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats
- Unusual urinary accidents
- Frequent attempts to urinate without producing much urine
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Straining to urinate
- Cloudy or strong smelling urine
- Licking around the urinary opening
- Tenderness in the bladder area
- Pain in the lower back
3. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach for Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats
Since there are a variety of urinary calculi that can form in our canine or feline companions, the approach to an animal's particular type of bladder stone will vary. Having said this, the approach is always allopathic in nature, meaning that the current symptoms are addressed but not the underlying health of the dog or cat. Depending on your particular animal's situation, veterinarians will primarily recommend the following:
- Surgery (cystotomy)
- Lithotripsy (breaking up the stones with ultrasonic shock waves)
- Urohydropropulsion (expelling stones through the urethra)
- Prescription pet food
4. Holistic Bladder Stone Protocol for Dogs and Cats
The goal of our Holistic Bladder Stone Protocol for dogs and cats is to support the bladder and kidneys by providing easily assimilated, whole food nutrients that increase the health of these important organs, encouraging efficient waste removal through urination and safely and naturally dissolving urinary calculi.*
Bladder Stones Therapy for Dogs and Cats Testimonial
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Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Holistic Bladder Stone Protocol. They consist of the supplement recommendations we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for their blader stone problem. Natural supplements are displayed individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products for your canine's or feline's urinary calculi issues from which you may make additional selections.
A complimentary Bladder Stone Help Sheet is included with every core bladder stone package purchase. If you require more direction please feel free to use our Email Consultation Form.
Core Recommendation #1 - Daily Multi Plus
Our Daily Multi Plus is formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to an animal's nutritional needs but are often missing from the majority of canine and feline diets. This special formula provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for a healthy urinary system - only in an organic, whole food form! Feeding a dog or cat organic, whole foods is holistic therapy for bladder stones at its best.
Core Recommendation #2 - Antilithic
This herbal remedy contains the herb hydrangea root that has the tremendous ability to dissolve stones of all types. In addition, the other organic herbs in this formula help to soothe and gently cleanse the urinary tract. We have had tremendous success with this formula and highly recommend you give this a try before surgery or other drastic measures.
Core Recommendation #3 - Kidney Tonic
Our Kidney Tonic is formulated by a certified Master Herbalist to strengthen kidney function and support the health of the entire urinary system. While Antilithic is formulated to handle the specific issue of urinary calculi and used until the stones are gone and then perhaps once monthly after that, our Kidney Tonic is used for the life of your animal to maintain the continued health of the urinary system and the efficient elimination of metabolic waste.
Core Recommendation #4 - Nat Phos #10 Cell Salt
This is a cell salt found naturally in the body. The role of Nat Phos is as an acid balancer. This is important as overly acidic conditions can promote the creation of bladder stones in dogs and cats so Nat Phos is a good, safe choice for this condition
Whole Food Nutrition
With a serious condition like bladder stones, in which the body needs the highest value nutrition possible for maintenance and repair of damaged tissue, we highly recommend a raw food diet for your dog or cat. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a quality protein, low carbohydrate diet. They also thrive on a diet with sufficient moisture, especially since dehydration can contribute to the formation of urinary calculi. This is, unfortunately, the opposite of how most pets are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates and only a 5-10% moisture content (compared to 75% found in a carnivores' ancestral diet).
In addition, kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing canines and felines struggling with urinary tract issues need at this point. Since renal function declines naturally as part of the aging process (not even mentioning damage from poor diet, over-vaccination, medications, topical pesticide products etc...) without the right nutrition that is easily digested, absorbed and metabolized your animal will have a more difficult time maintaining healthy bladder and kidney function. If a raw food diet is not your cup of tea, the next best thing for animals with bladder stones would be a cooked, whole food diet. There are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat.
If you decide to make a homemade diet for your dog or cat with bladder stones please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source. For a quick and easy way to add high-quality protein to your pet's diet with bladder or kidneys problems that is low in phosphorous take a look at our Whey Protein Isolate. For more information and some diet recommendations that can be beneficial for canines and felines with urinary tract issues read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.
This is a very effective formula against uropathogenic bacteria. It doesn't only contain antimicrobial herbs like other products. Instead, it is also formulated to strengthen the immune system and support the delicate tissue of the urinary tract itself. Trying this formula as an alternative to antibiotics can help to make your dog or cat more resistant to UTIs in the future. Using this formula one week a month or so as a preventative will also help to prevent future infections. Please be aware that it is important to catch UTIs early for best treatment with an herbal remedy. If your dog or cat has a current urinary tract infection, depending on the severity, they may need a course of antibiotics.
This special blend of four unique algae was developed by a Russian Scientist, Dr. Michael Kiriac after decades of research. It is grown in controlled hydroponic conditions so it is the purest microalgae supplement on the planet. Its thousand of nutrients are so bioavailable they do not have to be digested, they easily pass through the digestive tract and cells on a cellular level. BioPreparation can cross the blood brain barrier to feed the brain, support the hypothalamus to help balance the entire endocrine system and even cross the blood retinal barrier to nurture the eyes. We have had outstanding success with this product for bladder and kidney disease so it is highly recommended. Select either the F2 Core or F3 Forte (stronger/more concentrated) for your dog or cat with bladder stones.
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