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Treating and Preventing Calcium Oxalate Stones in Dogs

Treating and Preventing Calcium Oxalate Stones in Dogs

If a dog develops calcium oxalate stones, there is a very high chance of recurrence. Approximately 50% of dogs will experience recurrence of calcium oxalate stones within 2 years. Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to identify effective methods to consistently prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones. However, there are ways to help reduce the risk of recurrence.

What Dogs Are Predisposed to Calcium Oxalate Stones?

Although calcium oxalate stones may develop in any dog, there are several dog breeds that are predisposed to developing them. Certain breeds like Bichon Frises, Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, Dalmatians, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Keeshonds, Cairn Terriers, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, and Toy and Miniature Poodles have an increased risk of developing bladder stones. Male dogs are also at a higher risk of developing bladder stones.

Treating Calcium Oxalate Stones in Dogs

Treatment often involves costly surgical removal, but veterinarians may occasionally try other treatment options. In some cases, small stones can be removed with urohydropropulsion, which flushes the stones out of the bladder. Other possible treatment options include ultrasonic dissolution or laser lithotripsy, which are processes that break stones into small pieces so they can be flushed out of the bladder.

Preventing Calcium Oxalate Stones in Dogs

Because calcium oxalate stone formation is complex and not fully understood, it can be a challenge to prevent recurrence. According to current research, preventive dieting is the most useful method of reducing the recurrence rate of stone formation in dogs.

Successful management of the disease requires education for pet owners. In addition to understanding how to treat, prevent, and manage the disease, pet owners should understand what risk factors can increase the chance of calcium oxalate stones in dogs.

Dietary Goals for Preventing Stone Formation

There are a few different goals when attempting to prevent stone formation and the discomfort caused by calcium oxalate stones. The key is to ensure a dog's diet is low in the particular compounds that contribute to stone formation. Although diet can't dissolve existing calcium oxalate stones, it can help minimize the chance of stone formation. With that in mind, a preventative diet is designed to help:

  • Decrease calcium and oxalate concentration in the urine
  • Promote neutral or alkaline urine (pH 6.8 to 7.0)
  • Promote a high concentration of crystal formation inhibitors in the urine
  • Decrease urine concentration
  • Promote less acidic, more dilute urine while maintaining a low urine specific gravity (less than 1.020)

Tips for Preventing Stones

  • Hydration is key to minimizing kidney stone formation. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Dogs should be encouraged to drink to help promote hydration. You can also offer canned dog food to help increase water consumption and decrease urine concentration.
  • Giving your dog plenty of opportunities to urinate is important, as urine becomes concentrated when dogs hold their urine for long periods of time.
  • Regular exercise is essential because being overweight is a risk factor for stone formation.
  • Avoid giving your dog high-oxalate foods, such as nuts, chocolate, rhubarb, and spinach.
  • Dogs that have had calcium oxalate stones will often be fed a therapeutic diet for life. There are a few commercial diets that are designed to help prevent calcium oxalate stone formation. Otherwise, an appropriate home-cooked diet can be formulated with the help of a veterinary nutritionist.
  • The most effective crystal formation inhibitor for calcium oxalate stones is citrate because it attaches to calcium in the urine, preventing the formation of mineral crystals that can develop into stones. Potassium citrate is often used to help prevent calcium oxalate stones. In addition to attaching itself to calcium, it acts as an alkaline agent to prevent the urine from being too acidic.
  • Supplements that either break down oxalates or help reduce oxalate formation might help reduce stone formation. Many veterinarians will also suggest supplementing with vitamin B6, as a deficiency in vitamin B6 can contribute to increased oxalate production.
  • Supplements that contain vitamin D or vitamin C should be avoided as they can increase the potential of stone formation.
  • Table food and treats can interfere with a preventative diet and decrease its effectiveness.

How Cal Ox Can Help

Cal Ox from Thomas Labs® is formulated to support urinary tract health in dogs that have had or are predisposed to calcium oxalate stone formation. Cal Ox helps diminish the likelihood of bladder stone development by minimizing available oxalates, limiting crystallization, and supporting ideal urine pH and flow.

Learn what key ingredients Cal Ox contains and how those ingredients help minimize the formation of calcium oxalate stones in dogs!

The Importance of Monitoring

Monitoring is an important step in preventing recurrent calcium oxalate stones. All pet owners should work closely with their veterinarian to develop a regular monitoring plan. Urinalysis should be performed every 3 to 6 months to adjust urine pH and urine specific gravity. Medical imaging should also be performed to detect recurrent stones. If stones can be detected early, less invasive treatment methods may be an option to remove them while they are still small.

You should contact your veterinarian right away if you start to notice questionable symptoms, such as frequent urination, blood in the urine, or pain while urinating.

The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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