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Urinary stones in dogs

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What exactly are urinary stones?

Urinary stones, also known as urolithiasis or urinary tract stones, are crystalline deposits that can form in the urinary tract of dogs. These stones can occur in different parts of the urinary system, including the bladder, ureters, or urethra. There is also a distinction between urinary stones, urinary crystals and urinary grit. Urine crystals, urine grit and urinary stones are products of urinary substances, especially minerals, that could not be excreted. They consist of different compositions such as: Struvite stones, calcium oxolate stones, uric acid-urate stones or cystine stones. Every urinary crystal, urinary grit or urinary stone problem is caused by kidney dysfunction. For this reason, a kidney diet is recommended in any case. Regardless of what type of stone was formed by the body, there should be a general relief from the kidneys.

Differences between urinary stones, urinary crystals and urinary grit

Urinary crystals in the urine are the first signs of the formation of urinary grit and urinary stones, which can be detected early through a microscopic examination of the urine. As a rule, crystals do not cause any symptoms.

Urine semolina consists of small stones, which can usually be excreted naturally. Urine semolina often leads to bladder infections.

Urinary stones usually consist of different minerals or other inorganic substances. Larger urinary stones can block the urinary tract or remain in the bladder, causing acute and serious symptoms.

Which urinary stones are common in dogs?

Urinary stones can take a variety of forms in dogs, with certain types being more common than others. The most common types of urinary stones that can occur in dogs are:

  1. Struvite stones (triple phosphate): Composition:
    Magnesium ammonium phosphate = struvite: These stones are made up mainly of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate. They can be caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract and are more common in female dogs than male dogs.

  2. Oxalic stones: Composition: Calcium oxalate: Oxalic stones are solid, hard stones that consist of calcium oxalate crystals. They can form when the pH of urine is too acidic. Certain dog breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos and Yorkshire Terriers are more prone to forming calcium oxalate stones.

  3. Urate stones: Composition: Ammonium urate: These stones are made of ammonium urate and occur in dogs whose urine is more alkaline. They can also occur due to a genetic predisposition or a special diet. Due to an enzyme deficiency, they occur more frequently in certain breeds such as Dalmatians, as there is a lack of breakdown of uric acid, which can lead to the formation of urate stones. The conventional treatment here takes place with allopurinol and a diet low in purines and protein .

  4. Cystine stones: Composition: Cystine: These stones form due to a lack of reabsorption of cystine in the kidneys. Cystine stones are relatively rare (approx. 1%) and usually occur in predisposed breeds such as dachshunds, basset hounds or English bulldogs. There is an increased risk when treated with allopurinol (for leishmaniasis). Conventional treatment involves medication and a special diet.

The propensity to form certain types of urinary stones can be influenced by various factors such as diet, genetics, hydration and health status of the dog.

Causes of urinary stones in dogs

The formation of urinary stones in dogs can be due to various causes. Some of the most common causes are:

  1. Diet: An unbalanced diet can lead to increased levels of certain minerals in the urine, which can contribute to the formation of urinary stones. Excessive amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus or magnesium in the diet can increase the risk.

  2. Water intake: Insufficient fluid intake can cause urine to become too concentrated, which promotes the formation of urinary stones. Dogs that don't drink enough are at a higher risk of developing urinary stones.

  3. Genetics: Certain dog breeds are more prone to forming certain types of urinary stones due to genetic predispositions. For example, Dalmatians have an increased risk of uric acid stones.

  4. Urinary tract infections: Bacterial infections in the urinary tract can promote the development of struvite stones, which are one of the most common types of urinary stones in dogs.

  5. Urinary tract abnormalities or blockages: Abnormalities in the urinary tract or blockages can impede the normal flow of urine and contribute to crystals and stones forming in the urinary tract.

  6. Decreased exercise or inactivity: A lack of physical activity can slow metabolism and increase the risk of urinary stone formation.

Symptoms of urinary stones

Urinary stones in dogs can cause different symptoms depending on their size, location, and whether they obstruct the flow of urine. Some common symptoms that may indicate the presence of urinary stones include:

Painful Urination: Your dog may show pain, discomfort, or signs of pain when he urinates. This can be expressed by whining, yelping or frequent licking of the genitals.

Changes in Urination Behavior: Observe changes in your dog's urination behavior, such as increased urination (polyuria), difficulty urinating, repeated attempts to urinate, or the presence of blood in the urine (hematuria).

Changes in behavior: A dog with urinary stones may be restless, urinate more in the house, lick his genital area, or show signs of discomfort.

Changes in Appetite and Weight Loss: In some cases, dogs with urinary stones may show a decrease in appetite, weight loss, or even vomiting.

Lethargy and malaise: Your dog may feel tired, be less active, or show signs of general malaise.

It is important to note that symptoms can vary and not all dogs exhibit all signs. Sometimes dogs don't show any external signs, even if they have urinary stones. However, if you notice changes in your dog's behavior or urinary pattern or suspect that your dog is experiencing pain while urinating, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment for urinary stones in dogs depends on several factors, including the type of stones, their size, location, and the dog's health. Treatment methods can vary, but here are some common approaches:

  1. Diet changes: Changing your diet can help prevent or control the formation of urinary stones. Special diets recommended by the veterinarian can help change the pH of the urine and modify the composition of the urine to reduce the formation of stones. This can vary depending on the type of stones (e.g. for struvite stones or calcium oxalate stones).

  2. Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help dissolve or reduce the size of the urinary stones. This can be helpful with certain types of stones such as struvite stones.

  3. Surgical removal: If the stones are too large or blocking the flow of urine, surgical removal may be necessary. This can be done using endoscopic procedures or through open surgery to remove the stones from the urinary tract.

  4. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT): This non-invasive treatment method is sometimes used to break up urinary stones without having to undergo surgery. Shock waves from outside the body can be used to break up the stones so they can be more easily eliminated.

  5. Hydration: Increasing fluid intake can help reduce the concentration of urine and reduce the formation of stones. This can be achieved by drinking more or adding water to food.

Treating urinary stones in dogs requires an accurate diagnosis by a veterinarian. The best treatment option is determined based on the type of stones, the dog's health and other factors.

How to prevent urinary stones?

Preventing urinary stones in dogs can be done through various measures to reduce the risk of stone formation.

A balanced diet tailored to your dog's needs can help reduce the risk of urinary stones. Veterinarians may recommend special diets that affect urine pH and prevent certain types of stones from forming.

Make sure your dog drinks enough water. Adequate fluid intake can help dilute urine and prevent crystals from forming. Always have fresh water available and encourage your dog to drink regularly.

Being overweight can increase the risk of urinary stones. A balanced diet and adequate exercise are crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.

Additionally, adequate physical activity is important to regulate the dog's metabolism and maintain overall health. Active dogs often have healthier urinary tracts.

What role does the pH value of urine play?

The pH of urine plays an important role in the formation of urinary stones in dogs. pH indicates whether urine is acidic, neutral or alkaline, and it affects the solubility of minerals in urine. There are special micronutrients that have an influence on the pH value:

Effects on pH




















Different types of urinary stones have different pH requirements for their formation:

  1. Struvite stones: These stones tend to form in an alkaline urine environment. A high pH value (alkaline urine > 6.5 pH) promotes the formation of struvite stones. In order to dissolve struvite stones, the Dietary Feed Act stipulates that the urine pH value is below 6.5 and stipulates a maximum magnesium content.

  2. Oxalic stones: In contrast, calcium oxalate stones tend to form in a more acidic urine environment. A lower pH value (acidic urine < 6.5 pH) can promote the formation of oxalone stones. To reduce oxalone stones, the Dietary Feed Act requires urinary alkalinizing properties and a low calcium and vitamin D content.

Controlling urine pH can therefore help reduce the risk of certain types of urinary stones forming. This is often achieved through nutrition, using special diets aimed at modifying the pH of urine.

Which food for urinary stones?

For dogs prone to urinary stones, a special diet can help reduce the risk of stone formation. The right food can help regulate urine pH and influence the composition of urine to minimize the formation of certain types of urinary stones. However, it is important to always choose the diet in consultation with a veterinarian, as it depends on various factors such as the type of stones and the health of the dog.

Special therapeutic diets may be recommended for dogs with urinary stones. Here are some general principles when choosing a food for dogs with urinary stones:

  1. Lower protein: Some therapeutic diets to prevent urinary stones may contain moderate to low protein to influence metabolism and reduce certain minerals in urine.

  2. Controlled mineral levels: The food may be specially formulated to control levels of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus or magnesium, which can contribute to the formation of urinary stones.

  3. pH regulation: Special diets may be designed to regulate the pH of urine. For dogs prone to struvite stones, a diet that acidifies the urine may be recommended, while for dogs with oxalone stones, a diet with a more neutral or slightly alkaline pH may be appropriate.

  4. Increased fluid intake: Some diets may have higher moisture content to promote fluid intake and dilute urine, which may reduce the risk of stone formation.

  5. Individually tailored diet: Choosing the right food depends on the type of urinary stones, the pH value of the urine and other individual needs of the dog. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis and advice from a veterinarian is required to determine the most suitable diet for your dog.

Hence BugBell

Diet plays a crucial role in preventing urinary stones in dogs. Regardless of the type of stone that has formed in the body, it is important to ensure a sparing diet to reduce the load on the kidneys. BugBell may not be a specific dog food for urinary stones, but it offers an optimal solution for preventive measures.

One of the basic preventive measures is regulating the mineral balance . BugBell contains low calcium and phosphorus content of less than 1%, which helps minimize the risk of stone formation. Furthermore, the content of high-quality proteins is reduced to a maximum of 25% . This helps to reduce toxic protein breakdown products in the blood while meeting the dog's daily protein needs without burdening him with excessive protein. Basically, the aim is to achieve a neutral pH value, with insects as a protein source making a significant contribution to making this possible.

Another advantage of our products is the use of important omega-3 fatty acids . These have an anti-inflammatory effect and can contribute to the overall health of the urinary tract.


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