Managing struvite infections

Your pet suffers from struvite crystals. These small crystals form a sand-like substance which irritates the urinary tract. In which case your pet will exhibit one or more of the following symptoms: frequent urination with very little urine production, painful urination associated with vocalization, urinating outside of the litter box (because the pain is associated with the litter box), bloody urine and excessive licking of the penis. In males especially, crystals can even cause urinary plugs, making it impossible to urinate. In the event of a blockage, there is no urine production. Since the metabolic waste that is normally eliminated by the kidneys cannot be evacuated, it therefore accumulates in the blood, poisoning the animal. The animal will progressively worsen. Your pet will become weak and dehydrated, he will refuse to eat and walk, he will start to vomit and have a painful abdomen. If nothing is done, he will die within 24 to 48 hours. However if we intervene before death, it is possible that there will still be permanent damage to the bladder and the kidneys.

Struvite crystals have a tendency of forming when urine is basic rather than acidic (urine’s PH of more than 7). This happens especially if your pet has a predisposition and is fed a bad quality pet food. Furthermore, if he does not drink enough water to keep his urine diluted, crystals will form more easily. In the case of a dog, the presence of a bacterial urine infection also promotes the development of struvite crystals. To be able to detect their presence in urine and to eliminate other conditions that may display the same symptoms (ex.: inflammation of the bladder, urinary infection, bladder/kidney stones, tumor in the urinary tract, etc.), an urinalysis and X-Rays are recommended.

To eliminate the crystals, we suggest you follow these recommendations.

Feed your pet Hill’s Prescription Diet S/D. This diet was formulated to melt the crystals by lowering urine PH among other things. It is important to know that it takes three (3) weeks for crystals to melt. During this period, your male pet may still block at any time. You must therefore be attentive when he tries to urinate. If he does not urinate at all, you must consult a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. It is quite rare that a female will have a urinary blockage since the urethra is shorter and larger than that of a male which is long and narrow.

It is preferable to give only wet food the first month to increase water consumption. By doing so, urine will be more diluted, helping in the elimination of crystals. After the first month, you may introduce a mix of dry and wet food if you prefer not to continue with the wet food only. However, you will need to try other ways to help increase water consumption (see annex). It is extremely important that you continue with the new diet that the veterinarian has prescribed. It will prevent the recurrence of these crystals because since your pet has already suffered from this type of problem, he is now predisposed to have recurrences. PLEASE AVOID pet diets sold in supermarkets, grocery stores and pet stores, even if they claim to promote a healthy urinary tract.

The veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory and possibly a muscle relaxant during the course of treatment. Follow-ups may be recommended to do control urine tests to make sure that the crystals have disappeared and to verify urine PH. The objective is to maintain PH urine levels between 6,0 and 6,3 in order to prevent recurrences. The morning urine following 12 hours without food and water is the best.