Our experts discuss everything you needs to know about kidney stones in dogs. We cover what they are, what causes them, which dogs are prone to kidney stones and what is the best dog food for kidney stones.
Bladder and Kidney Stones In Dogs, and the Purine Problem
Dogs have a urinary system relatively similar to humans. According to petplace.com, “The dog’s urinary tract is a system made up of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra.
These organs work together to produce, transport, store and excrete urine. The urinary tract also rids the body of many fluid waste materials and products and has other vitally important functions, including controlling the volume and composition of the body fluids”. Perhaps surprisingly, dogs are often afflicted by the same kind of disorders surrounding their urinary systems, bladders, and kidneys as humans. Bladder and kidney stones in dogs are one of these relatively common disorders.
If you have a Dalmatian, Beagle, Bulldog, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzer, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Yorkshire Terrier, Dachshund, Newfoundland, Irish Terrier, Scottish Terrier or Irish Setter then you are probably only too aware that these breeds can have purine metabolism problems.
Some breeds of dog are more susceptible to certain types of kidney stones than others.
For example, kidney stones containing calcium and oxalic acid (known as calcium oxalate nephroliths) are more likely to be found in Lhasa Apsos, Yorkshire Terriers, and Miniature Poodles.
Kidney stones containing uric acid (known as urate nephroliths), on the other hand, typically affect Dalmatians, Yorkshire Terriers, and English Bulldogs.
What are Purines and how do they cause kidney stones in dogs?
Purines can be found in the nucleus of any plant or animal cell. The name “purines” refers to a specific type of molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen atoms, and these molecules are found in cells’ DNA and RNA.
High levels of purine can be found in any food group (i.e. vegetables, fruit, meat and fish). Certain foods, such as kidneys, game, yeast, mackerel, herring, sardines and mussels have particularly high levels of purine. Others, such as chicken, beef, lamb and non-acidic fruit contain lower levels.
Once the cells in the body die, these purines are broken down and metabolized by the body, specifically the liver, the liver breaks down the purines and produces a waste product called uric acid. The uric acid is released into the bloodstream and is eventually filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.
The kidney is composed of thousands of nephrons, each consisting of blood capillaries and a series of tubes through which filtered fluid flows as urine is produced.
Nephrolithiasis is the medical term for the condition in which clusters of crystals or stones — known as nephroliths or, more commonly, “kidney stones” — develop in the kidneys or urinary tract.
Preventing Bladder and Kidney Stones is Key
In humans and dogs, bladder and kidney stones are rock-like mineral formations that develop on the bladder and kidney. While these stones’ causes are complex, a simple explanation of why they form is due to natural build-ups of the chemical compounds present in urine, which subsequently develop into physical growths.
As with humans, these bladder and kidney stones are extremely painful, and both hard and expensive to treat. Preventing them should be a primary concern with regards to promoting your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
Regulate a Dog’s Diet
As with a number of other health conditions, though, bladder and kidney stones are somewhat preventable, as long as a dog’s diet is carefully regulated. This is largely due to a group of proteins called purines, and the manner in which a dog processes them.
When broken down by mammals (including humans and dogs), purines are converted into uric acid, which is a key component of urine. In turn, a build-up of purine-derived uric acid is a major cause of bladder and kidney stones in dogs.
Certain breeds are more susceptible to stones than others (The Pet Health Network lists the Basset Hound, Beagle, Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Dalmatian, Miniature Schnauzer, Pekingese, Pug, and Welsh Corgi as particularly vulnerable breeds), and as such you may need to take measures to restrict dietary purine intake. Common sources of purine dogs may eat include some types of fish, bacon, game, veal, and offal (i.e. hearts, livers, and kidneys).
The Best Dog Food To Help With Kidney Stones
To this end, one of the most effective ways dog owners can restrict purine intake yet maintain optimum nutrition is by only purchasing foodstuffs which contain a low amount of the protein.
Overall, the best way to achieve this outcome is to feed a natural raw dog food diet with little or no organ meat. Not only will this allow you, as an owner, to have better control over what your dog is eating, but quality raw dog foods also tend to be labelled significantly more accurately than processed foods. This is a highly effective way of ensuring that your dog is able to benefit from the healthiest species appropriate diet possible, while also solving the purine metabolism problem.
ProDog Raw – Flexible and Inclusive
ProDog Raw is acutely aware of the problems posed by purine, and committed to offering dog owners a multitude of options around this particular issue. Given that certain breeds are more susceptible to health problems stemming from it (especially Dalmatians), an integral company policy is offering customers a range of raw food products both with and without offal. This means ProDog Raw is a flexible and inclusive diet utilising raw dog food for all dogs, even those canines with such health concerns.