Perfectly healthy dogs often have struvite crystals in their urine, and under normal conditions, they do not cause any health issues. Sometimes they will form due to the way the urine is handled when doing a urine analysis, but in this case we are speaking of struvite stones as a health issue.
These stone issues in dogs are primarily linked to urinary tract infections (UTI), and are more prevalent in female dogs such as Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos and Pekinese, and male dogs such as German Shepherds and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Symptomatically these dogs appear with straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and frequent urination.
The struvite becomes an issue when the dog gets a urinary tract infection. This changes the Urine PH to allow the Struvite to proliferate, and possibly create a blockage.
Because struvite formation is linked to UTIs, and frequently a Urine Analysis does not show this, it is important to treat the suspected infection. Ideally a culture and sensitivity test must be done to ensure that the correct anti-biotic is prescribed. In many cases, due to owner reluctance or inability to finance these tests, the infection cannot be properly treated and therefore the condition may reappear.
In terms of diet, it is normally recommended that dogs go on a dissolution prescription diet that has a low protein (to reduce urea), reduced calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. These minerals are what comprises the struvite stone. It also has higher sodium to increase water intake. Non-prescription foods are required to meet AAFCO requirements for nutrient levels, while prescription diets may be permitted to deviate for specific conditions. In other words non prescription diets do not meet the requirements of a dissolution diet.
Once the infection clears up, you may speak to your veterinarian about going onto a regular maintenance food, however if the infection has not been cleared up, the incidence of recurrence is high.
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