How Can I Prevent Canine Struvite Stones?
photo 2009 anthony kelly | more info (via: Wylio)
What is the treatment for prevention of struvite crystals? My brother's chihuahua has had emergency surgery twice, once in September and yesterday Dec 26th, to flush out his bladder. The dog has been on a Science Diet dog food since the first surgery. On Christmas day he was unable to pass urine. An ultra sound showed struvite crystals backed up like billard balls in his urethra.
Central Jersey Or Nyc
Struvite is also known as ammonium magnesium phospate, or triple phosphate. It is a mineral compound that can crystallize in the urine. In some individuals the microscopic crystals can coalesce into macroscopic stones. These stones can cause irritation in the bladder, and they can pass into the urethra and plug it--thereby making it impossible to urinate.
In cats, struvites are very common. They are linked to a syndrome called FLUTD, and to a catastrophic form of urinary obstruction (different from the one that occurs in dogs). Struvites in cats typically form due to bodily chemical imbalances.
In dogs, chemical imbalances cause some cases of struvite crystals and stones. However, a very large proportion of canine struvite cases is linked to bladder infections. Jeanann, you should try to address both of these potential issues.
The first step is to deal with the imminent crisis of urinary obstruction. A veterinarian probably can pass a urinary catheter to push the stones back into the bladder. At that point, there are two choices. Another surgery probably is the best option if the stones are as big as you say. That will eliminate all of the stones immediately.
However, struvite stones can be dissolved in some cases with special diets and dietary supplements, available through veterinarians, that acidify the urine. If you choose to try to dissolve the stones, you and your brother should put your dog on antibiotics until they're gone. The process could take months and your brother's dog will be at risk of recurrent urinary obstruction until it's done.
One way or the other, once your brother's dog is free of stones then the priority needs to be on preventing their return. Your brother's dog should eat a special diet (there are a few different varieties, all available only through veterinarians) that prevents struvites. And you should regularly (every few weeks at first) submit urine samples for microscopic analysis (to check for microscopic struvite crystals) and culture (to check for bladder infections that are linked to struvites).
If you and your brother are aggressive about preventing recurrent stones, you have a good chance of keeping the dog safe from another crisis.