Why do dogs get crystals in their urine and why is it bad?

Why do dogs get crystals in their urine and why is it bad?

Crystals. They sound pretty but that’s not the case for dogs and their urinary tract. This isn’t about crystals you don as jewelry or crystals you use chakra realignment. Heaven forbid your dog ends up with jewelry in their system like that, but no; these crystals are known as crystalluria

Crystalluria is solids that form from minerals in their urine. 

These crystals pose a risk to your dog when it comes to kidney stones and bladder stones; neither of which are pleasant experiences. There are various crystal (and stone) types to be aware of, too:

  • Silica
  • Struvite
  • Calcium
  • Xanthine
  • Cystine

There’s more you should know about crystals in your dog’s urinary tract. There’s so much to cover, so let’s talk about the pressing questions: Why does it happen? How does it harm your dog? What signs should you look out for and what should you do next?

Why Crystals Form in Urine

There are several factors that can influence the formation of crystals in your dog’s urine. Crystallogenic substances in the urine can be due to genetics, the dog’s diet, their environment, and their hydration. For the latter, when your dog’s urine is lacking in water concentration, they may be prone to minerals in the urine compacting and forming the solid crystals that pose health problems for many fur babies daily. 

That’s right.

This is common. Think of it like plaque buildup in your teeth but instead...this is happening in your dog’s urinary tract.

According to veterinary news and veterinarian insights website, “Struvite crystalluria occurs in greater than 50% of healthy dogs, including animals without urinary tract infections; these crystals are also common in healthy cats. Incidental struvite crystalluria occurs because the mineral components of these crystals (magnesium, ammonia, phosphate) are normally excreted in large amounts into urine, and supersaturation leads to precipitation.”

It’s important to keep your dog’s pH balance maintained, provide them nutritional food, and monitor their water intake because their hydration has a strong effect on the solubility of the crystals, and minerals close to forming as crystals, in the urine.

Symptoms To Watch For

Crystal formation in the urinary tract can occur for many fur babies; not just dogs. Typically, the symptoms to keep a lookout for include (but are not limited to):

  • Frequent urinating
  • Pain while urinating and/or straining to urinate
  • Blood or signs of blood in the urine
  • Changes in eating habits; indifferent with food
  • An upset stomach
  • Irregular urine stream
  • An increased intake of water; your dog is more thirsty than usual

How It’s Diagnosed

If you suspect your dog is struggling or up against crystals in their urine, bring them to your trusted, local veterinarian as soon as possible.

When you bring your dog in, they’ll conduct an examination of a fresh urine sample, aided by a microscope of sorts, to look for signs of crystals. Not only that but they can determine what type of crystals are in your dog’s urine.

From that point, a urinalysis is done to ensure your dog is not at risk for an infection or experiencing an infection. With suspicions of an infection, they will collect a culture sample for analysis and observation before determining the appropriate antibiotic medications to prescribe.

Depending on the severity or suspicions of it being bladder stones, you might anticipate the need for an x-ray or ultrasound for a firm diagnosis.

Pro-tip: If your dog isn’t drinking enough water, try running a water fountain. Some fur babies get picky with their water and will protest, especially if still water has been sitting out.

This is just a sampling of tips and informational posts we offer at Joyride Harness. You can find more content including tips and tricks and how-tos for caring for your dog on our blog in this section.

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