Why probiotics and calcium supplements can prevent calcium oxalate crystals in dogs
What I love about holistic medicine is that it allows me to give dog lovers easy-to-implement solutions that make sense. It dispels some of the myths about nutrition, disease treatment and prevention. Calcium oxalate crystals and stones are no exception.
The purpose of this article is to give you a few practical suggestions to prevent stones from forming.
What you need to know about calcium oxalate crystals and stones
There are two types of calcium oxalate crystals:
Calcium Oxalate Dihydrate - These crystals can be found in normal urine; however, in higher-than-normal calcium oxalate concentrations, and especially when urine pH is acidic, they can form bladder and kidney stones.
Calcium Oxalate Monohydrate - These appear in urine only in ethylene glycol, or antifreeze poisoning. These sharp crystals can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys and are one of the main symptoms of antifreeze poisoning.
More about Calcium Oxalate Crystals and Stones
Any breed can be affected by calcium oxalate and stones, but breeds predisposed to calcium oxalate crystals and stones are Shih-Tzu, miniature schnauzer, bichon frisé, Lhasa apso, as well as Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, and Poodle crosses.
In my experience, dogs fed dehydrated processed food are most vulnerable because kibble causes acidic pH. It also causes highly concentrated urine, which further increases the chances of calcium oxalate stones formation.
5 Steps to Prevent Calcium Oxalate Crystals in Your Dog
- No matter your dog's breed or heritage, switching from kibble and other dehydrated foods to a natural raw or cooked diet is the key to reducing the chances of calcium oxalate crystals and stones. I never recommend processed prescription veterinary diets. All you need to do is to read the list of their ingredients to see why.
- Offer your dog plenty of fresh water, and NEVER give demineralized or distilled water to your dog.
- Contrary to belief, research has confirmed that providing high quality, plant-based calcium binds oxalates in food and reduces the absorption of calcium oxalate from the intestinal tract.
- Avoid feeding your dog spinach, wheat and strawberries, as these foods have high oxalate content.
- Offer your dog high-quality, canine-specific probiotics containing a high count of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species. Research has confirmed that this bacteria has the ability to metabolize oxalates and prevent crystal and stone formation.
If your dog has already been diagnosed with calcium oxalate stones, it may be necessary to have them removed. However, the most important part of any treatment plan for oxalate stones is to prevent their reoccurrence and I have used the above approach with repeated success.
While there is a clear breed predisposition to crystal and stone formation, a raw or cooked diet; all-natural essential supplements, and following the above protocol are the keys to keeping your dog healthy and safe.
For more reading about urinary crystals and stones, click here.
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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Jul 14;101(3):161-6. Oxalate degradation by intestinal lactic acid bacteria in dogs and cats. Weese JS1, Weese HE, Yuricek L, Rousseau J.
**Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2015 Jul 7;87(2):105-20. doi: 10.4081/aiua.2015.2.105. Dietary treatment of urinary risk factors for renal stone formation. A review of CLU Working Group. Prezioso D1, Strazzullo P, Lotti T, Bianchi G, Borghi L, Caione P, Carini M, Caudarella R, Gambaro G, Gelosa M, Guttilla A, Illiano E, Martino M, Meschi T, Messa P, Miano R, Napodano G, Nouvenne A, Rendina D, Rocco F, Rosa M, Sanseverino R, Salerno A, Spatafora S, Tasca A, Ticinesi A, Travaglini F, Trinchieri A, Vespasiani G, Zattoni F.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM