What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones in dogs and cats are caused by the accumulation of minerals and proteins in the urine. These stones can range from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball and can become lodged in the kidneys or travel through the urinary tract.
How Do Kidney Stones Develop in Dogs And Cats?
There are a few different types of ‘stones’ that can be diagnosed, but the most common stone, and the one we are talking about in this article, are ‘calcium oxalate stones.’
Calcium oxalate stones are formed when there is too much oxalate in a pet's diet and not enough water consumption, which creates far more concentrated urine.
Put simply, oxalates are found in all foods, but it has no known function in animals. As such, oxalate needs to be filtered by the kidney (along with other impurities) to be expelled via urination. It is here that calcium oxalate stones can form.
Essentially, the oxalate ‘sticks’ to calcium in the kidney and begins to form crystals. If untreated, this process continues and the crystals can grow bigger over time to the point where they are too large to expel (thus the term stones) via the urinary tract and will need medical intervention. These stones roll around inside the kidney and cause horrendous pain.
What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Stones?
Symptoms of kidney stones in pets can include frequent or painful urination, an inability to urinate, vomiting or diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain. Without treatment, kidney stones can cause urinary tract infections, blockages, and even kidney failure.
How To Treat Kidney Stones In Pets?
Treatment for kidney stones depends on the type and size of the stones. In some cases, the stones can be dissolved with medications or dietary changes. Other treatments include surgical removal of the stones, shock wave lithotripsy, and laser therapy.
Many vets will offer a specific kibble product to help slow the stone growth in your pet, but remember even the highest grade kibbles generally only contain 30% protein, next to no moisture, and can still be full of grains, wheat, and corn.
How To Prevent Kidney Stones
The best thing you can do for your pet is to help prevent kidney stones in the first place.
To prevent kidney stones, it is important to feed your pet a balanced diet that is low in calcium and phosphorus. If your pet is prone to developing kidney stones, your veterinarian may recommend special diets or supplements to help reduce the risk. Additionally, keep your pet well-hydrated by providing plenty of fresh, clean water at all times.
One of the best ways to avoid your pet having to endure painful kidney stones is to increase fluid consumption. You cannot make them drink more water, but you can give them a moisture-rich diet. Raw beef and other meats along with bones (like brisket bones for dogs), offal, and some fruit and veg served fresh and raw is best. Even serving them cooled bone broth can be a good way to encourage them to drink more fluids. Ensure there are no preservatives, salts, sulfur dioxide or other chemicals that have been added to their food.