Struvite Crystals In Urine

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ckirsch
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Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Mon Nov 07, 2022 4:35 pm

My three year old pointer (Blackhawk/Elhew/Guard Rail) has had dark, thick urine for a month or so. I took him to the vet a few weeks ago, and found he had a UTI. Antibiotics for ten days. Took him back today for another urine test and learned he has struvite crystals, which apparently is a permanent problem requiring expensive and very low-protein Science Diet food and bottled, filtered water for the remainder of his life.

I had another pointer a few years back, completely different breeding (Crow's Little Joe) who had the same issue. He never took to the Science Diet food, requiring a daily battle of doctoring it up with bacon drippings or whatever else was handy. I could also tell that he never felt good, not sure whether that was the crystals or the food.

I'm not sure it makes sense for me to feed and vet this dog for another eight or nine years when, when based on the other dog, he'll not enjoy life nor be able to hunt much.

Anyone out there had experience with struvite crystals? I have a good vet and trust him. He says there is no treatment for him other than the food and bottled water.

I put my other dog down three weeks ago, abdominal tumors at age eight. Now this. Thinking about throwing in the towel with bird dogs. Hurts too much

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by shags » Tue Nov 08, 2022 5:10 am

I'm sorry you're dealing with this especially so soon after losing your other dog. It just stinks.

If it were my dog, I'd give treatment a chance and see what happens before making any big decisions about the dog's future. Struvite is commonly thought to be a by product of UTI, specifically two different bacteria. So by keeping infection under control, you might be able to get rid of the crystals.
Did you know that Purina makes prescription diets? The urinary one is cheaper than Hill's. My vet has had good success with Purina products and has switched over to prescribing Purina over Hill's.

Your dog might not have to be on the diet for life, depending on why he has crystals, if it's because of UTI, or some hereditary factor.

When feeding prescription foods, you jave to stay with the program, so adding table scraps etc isn't good. Try the canned version of the prescription to top dress.

You can buy a water filter for your house or kennel building as a one time expense (except for filter inserts) and avoid buying bottled water. On the road, a couple of gallons of bottled water for the dog isn't much expense.

Be vigilant about watching for signs of a UTI in your dog. Get him on the appropriate antibiotic quickly. I would spring for a culture and sensitivity test next time, to be certain the meds will be effective. This from my experience, I had a dog that we just couldn't clear an infection for months, and finally did the c&s which showed a weird bacteria that only one antibiotic would kill. So although paying for the test might pinch, in the long run it saves time and trouble.

Did your vet give you instructions about managing crystals day to day? Like, keeping the dog well hydrated with warm water on the food, that sort of thing? Most of the management is pretty simple once you get a routine going.

I had a dog that got clogged up with bladder stones in his urethra . That was life threatening. The vet removed them, we stayed on top of infections, I learned to watch for the beginnings of trouble, and jumped on it at first signs, and the dog had no more problems with stones, ever.
So you see, it can be not all doom and gloom.

Best wishes for you and your dog getting through this rough patch. If you check in with Dr. Google, my advice is to be careful of the info sources. Stick with sources like Tufts, other vet schools, scientific research papers. A lot of times the furbabies type sites are misleading or downright wrong.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by art hubbard » Tue Nov 08, 2022 10:44 am

I had a GSP years ago that had those crystals problem. I noticed he was straining to pee. Long story short, Took him to my vet and they Rotor Rootered him up his penis, got a ton of crystals out and he was good the rest of his life.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Tue Nov 08, 2022 1:01 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll look into the Purina. We have a Kangen water system in our home that will produce water with increased acidity. Wondering if that might help. Also read online that a little apple cider vinegar can help.

This dog is probably the best canine friend I’ve had, even if he hasn’t been my best in the field. I decided last night that I’ll take a run at salvaging him. picking up more antibiotics and the hills food today. The purina prescription sounds much better. Long term it appears that I should find a grain-free 20/20 food?

Again, I appreciate the information.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by shags » Tue Nov 08, 2022 1:14 pm

Why grain free? The Purina Urinary health diet has corn and corn gluten meal.
Watch out for other ingredients in grain free foods, a while back there was talk of potatoes and peas inhibiting uptake of l-carnitine which lead to major heart problems.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Garrison » Tue Nov 08, 2022 1:35 pm

Ckirsch,

Best of luck with the dog, I hope it works out for both of you. All that comes with them can be a real pain, but the loyalty and enjoyment they give back always puts us on the winning side of the ledger in the end.

Shags always amazes me with the depth and breadth of knowledge that has been accumulated and shared. Always great advice and information.

Garrison
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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Tue Nov 08, 2022 2:27 pm

Thanks Garrison.

Shags - I was up late last night doing exactly what you warned me not to do, and researched online. One of those sites stated that grains caused the urine to be more alkaline. I noticed (after reading your post) that the Purina food had a high grain content.

I’ll visit the sites you recommended……

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Steve007 » Tue Nov 08, 2022 3:22 pm

shags wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2022 5:10 am
Best wishes for you and your dog getting through this rough patch. If you check in with Dr. Google, my advice is to be careful of the info sources. Stick with sources like Tufts, other vet schools, scientific research papers. A lot of times the furbabies type sites are misleading or downright wrong.
Good advice. My brother is a vet, and he has a mug on his desk that says " Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My veterinary Degree."

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Garrison » Tue Nov 08, 2022 4:57 pm

Steve007 wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2022 3:22 pm
shags wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2022 5:10 am
Best wishes for you and your dog getting through this rough patch. If you check in with Dr. Google, my advice is to be careful of the info sources. Stick with sources like Tufts, other vet schools, scientific research papers. A lot of times the furbabies type sites are misleading or downright wrong.
Good advice. My brother is a vet, and he has a mug on his desk that says " Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My veterinary Degree."
👍🏻
“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
- Mark Twain-

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Sharon » Tue Nov 08, 2022 9:10 pm

kirsch:

Sorry to hear about your difficult time. Shags has posted an excellent post as usual. I hope you will follow her advice.
We all go through these difficult time with dogs. I had a 5 year old GSP get cataracts in both eyes ( no sign of this in his breeding line); he was running into fences /trees etc. He had been doing really well in AF trials. It was going to cost $3000.00 x 2 for surgery. I didn't have that kind of money at the time, so had to put him down.
Also had a great dog stolen.

So as you wondered, is the emotional pain worth it? All I need is a dog I love to last 14 years , great hunter or not, and I believe it is worth it.
" We are more than our gender, skin color, class, sexuality or age; we are unlimited potential, and can not be defined by one label." quote A. Bartlett

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Tue Nov 08, 2022 9:55 pm

Thanks for all the perspectives. Much appreciated.

Part of my concern is financial. I’ll admit it. Eight or nine years of feeding food that runs close to five bucks per pound is not much fun to think about. Also, I don’t think a dog can hunt anywhere near potential on 15% protein. My other struvite dog always appeared to be miserable. Refused to eat the food. Looking back I probably should have put him down much earlier than I did. I think I let him suffer too long.

My vet is a good one, and tells me this is a lifetime sentence for the dog. Others seems to indicate it may not be. Hoping I can find out for sure.

I’m 62, and may not have time for another dog if I wait years on this one as I have progressive neuropathy In my feet and am running out of time. Not having a viable dog would pretty much be the end of my hunting. Hard for me to accept that
right now. I’ve had to give up other lifetime hobbies recently and following my dogs in the field is one of the only ones I have left.

Tough situation…..

Lots of decisions to make, but I’ll take my time.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Steve007 » Wed Nov 09, 2022 1:53 pm

ckirsch wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2022 9:55 pm
I’m 62, and may not have time for another dog if I wait years on this one as I have progressive neuropathy In my feet and am running out of time. Not having a viable dog would pretty much be the end of my hunting. Hard for me to accept that
right now. I’ve had to give up other lifetime hobbies recently and following my dogs in the field is one of the only ones I have left.
You may wish to consider that there are other dog sports besides bird hunting, and as unlikely as it may seem, they are just as rewarding in their own way. And learning new stuff about dog training is very interesting. Some people have to make adjustments over time and at some point, I suppose we all do. Living without dogs is not a good option, in my opinion. There are definitely choices that are extremely worthwhile and involve dogs. Worth considering..

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Wed Nov 09, 2022 5:42 pm

Just reread one of my previous posts and thought I should clarify that my foot troubles are not life threatening. When I said I was running out of time I was referring to being able to get around well enough to still enjoy hunting. I didn’t word that post very well….

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Sharon » Thu Nov 10, 2022 8:50 am

Seems strange to have had two dogs with struvite crystals problems from 2 different breedings.
Do you have a well?
" We are more than our gender, skin color, class, sexuality or age; we are unlimited potential, and can not be defined by one label." quote A. Bartlett

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Thu Nov 10, 2022 10:32 am

Thanks for the thought, Sharon, but we are on city water which is pretty good here. I also have an in-home system that is supposed to dissolve minerals in it. Not sure how effective that is. Apparently not enough to prevent the problem.

Hard to tell what to believe, but some information I've accessed indicates struvite is a pretty common problem, but in varying degrees. Both of my affected dogs were/are very clean in their kennels, preferring not to pee in them. I'm able to let them out 5-6 times per day, when they can run down the hill and empty out. I'm wondering if that could be a factor. It sounds as if hydration and frequent urination are critical, maybe my dogs weren't peeing often enough to prevent the crystal buildup? I'm not sure how many times a day a dog should be peeing. (This dog can pee at will in the outdoor run of his kennel, he just evidently prefers not to mess it up.) Additionally, I never had to refill the struvite dogs' water bowls as frequently as other dogs who didn't have struvite issues. Not sure how to handle that - you can lead a dog to water but can't make it drink. I've been putting a little chicken broth in as of late and that seems to help a little.

My hope is that the problem can be cleared up with antibiotics and a month stint on the prescription food, then managed beyond that with filtered water, getting him to drink and pee more, and going to a quality 20% protein content food. That may or may not be realistic. Will discuss that with my vet.

I greatly appreciate the ideas that have been shared and will welcome more. This dog has become a good friend and I hope to continue hunting him at close to his full capacity.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by shags » Thu Nov 10, 2022 11:31 am

It's easy to increase water consumption by wetting kibble with warm water. You can get it pretty soupy. Splitting the ration into morning and afternoon/evening meals gives X2 the opportunity.
My big dog won't necessarily go to his water bowl after exercise, but he'll happily glug down water poured from a jug for him.
He can also hold it for a long long time, and I have to watch that he empties when he gets preoccupied with messing around on pee breaks. Making sure he moves to a favorite marking spot helps.
Ask your vet about salting his food to get him to drink more. It works with horses, IDK about dogs.

Did you ever think in all the world, you'd get so involved with dog pee? :| Keep up the good work.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Max2 » Sun Jan 29, 2023 7:12 am

My last Shorthair had this issue and we tried a couple non-surgical procedures with different vets. When nothing seemed to remedy his situation and feeling low myself after trying so many thing's with no results except for being light in the wallet. Took him to yet another vet . A husband & wife team. Husband found the stone and the wife performed surgery a couple days later to remove it. He was good as new in a short period of time. They claimed yes you can try different non surgical things but surgery might be the best option. In our case.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Sun Jan 29, 2023 12:11 pm

Update - my wife is a nurse and brought home some testing strips. Switched him back to a 24/20 food. I've been watering the food down, and adding a little apple cider vinegar and a cranberry supplement. Also letting him out to pee more often. He currently shows no sign of infection but urine shows slightly high protein and a PH of just under 9. Tossing a few ice cubes in his drinking water seems to get his interest. Thanks to all for sharing good ideas.

We have a Kangen home water system to provide us with alkaline drinking water. It also has a setting to produce slightly acidic water. Wondering if that might help drop the PH in his urine. My vet did not mention surgery being necessary, or an option at this point. I'll ask him about that when I talk to him next. Hoping we can find a way to get the dog back on the right path without resorting to the special food. Seems like it would be tough for a dog to perform on 14% protein and 8% fat.

My neighbors have probably reported me for following my dog around the back yards trying to capture his urine in a plastic container. I suspect there will be few if any invitations to backyard barbecues this summer.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Sharon » Sun Jan 29, 2023 1:01 pm

LOL Now what you do without a woman's help? :)
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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Max2 » Mon Jan 30, 2023 6:40 am

Glad to hear things are looking up. In our case the struvite had become a stone. The Dr. that found it took an ultra sound of the dog standing up and it showed up in the bottom of his bladder. The other vets were taking the ultra sound with the dog on his back and from that view it was not as/visable as it was explained to me.

Prior to finding real answer the crystals would show in blood test .Dog was given anti-biotics .Once anti-biotics were done blood would show in urine. A stone was growing all the while. My heart goes out to you folks as I can remember the toll it took on us.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:10 pm

In the event that any of you find yourselves with a dog bothered by struvite crystals, I'll update the situation with mine.....

I switched him from 30/20 food to 24/20. (I'd like to find a 20/20 food but so far, no luck) Have been using water from my fridge, which has a filter. Putting about three cups of water in with his three cups of food each day. Adding some cranberry supplement and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

Over the past few weeks the ph in his urine has dropped from around 9 to 6. No sign of the infection for which my vet prescribed antibiotics a month or so back. Slightly less protein showing up in the urine.

I understand that ph levels can vary from sample to sample, and at different times of the day, but at this point I feel like I've got a shot at keeping the crystals at bay without resorting to the Science Diet food. I suspect the biggest factor in his improvement is that he's drinking more and keeping himself flushed out a little better than before.

Always open to ideas and suggestions from those better informed on this than I am......

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Chemist » Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:21 pm

I am glad that your dog is doing better.

I know magnesium and phosphate are essential nutrients but could he be getting to much from somewhere? Especially considering you have had another dog with this issue. Mainly I am thinking fertilizer either from lawns or this time of year fertilizer being used to thaw ice and the dog licking it off his paws.

I am not a vet or doctor, nor have I delt with the issue before and it certainly does not have to be environmental. That is just the thought that popped in my mind.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by ckirsch » Mon Feb 06, 2023 8:38 am

I appreciate that information. My lawn get fertilized once or twice a year, but the dogs really don't spend much time on it. No use of fertilizer to thaw ice that I'm aware of. Are there other potential sources of magnesium and phosphate?

The one common denominator between my two affected dogs is that neither consumed much water. I'd find myself refilling their water bowls much less frequently than their kennel mates. Both were also very clean dogs who seemed to prefer not to pee in their kennel runs, waiting instead for me to let them out so they could run down the hill behind my house and empty out. I typically do that five or six times per day, but that may not be often enough. I have to wonder if that combination might be contributing to the problem.

Again, I appreciate the advice.

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Re: Struvite Crystals In Urine

Post by Chemist » Mon Feb 06, 2023 9:28 pm

There actually is a fair bit of magnesium and phosphate in the environment in general. Both are essential nutrients and not something to worry too much about in a normally functioning organism. There are biological disposal pathways as long as the uptake is not ridiculously high. The cause is more likely to be a health issue of some sort that is manifesting in the formation of the struvite. Whether that is a one off urinary tract infection causing a temporary increase in alkalinity which promotes precipitation of struvite crystals, or a longer term problem is something better answered by a vet. Biochemistry is a complex subject and outside of my expertise.

I was throwing environmental factors out there because it can be something that is easy to overlook for a vet that can't observe the environmental factors. And being a chemist by trade, I am biased to think about chemicals first.

Most fertilizers don't actually contain large amounts of magnesium, but do contain a lot of ammonia and phosphate. Mineral blocks for cattle and wildlife can contain a lot of magnesium and phosphate but unless your dog is chewing them aren't likely to be the problem.

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