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Canine Urinary Struvite Crystals

by Jackie H.
(San Diego, CA. USA)

My 7yo spayed Shih Tzu/Poodle (otherwise healthy) was treated for a UTI (urinary tract infection) in September. At Thanksgiving, I brought her in suspecting she had another UTI.

A urine sample was not retrieved because Ultrasound showed a suspicious mass that the vet suspected was TCC. Attempts at a traumatic catheterization were unsuccessful when attempted by all three vets in the clinic.

Upon consultation with an oncologist, he was easily successful with a catheterization. There was a large body of tissue, bladder stones & 'sludge' removed. All biopsies came back negative. The oncologist said there was no mass/tumor, the diagnosis is not TCC, and we are dealing with struvite crystals that are likely to recur.

He recommended either Hills or Royal Canin urinary formulas for a diet, Dha 300 mg daily as a prophylactic , and Crananidin (essentially 45mg cranberry extract daily).

Currently, she is eating the Hills u/d and taking both supplements (I intend to put her on a cranberry supplement without sugar and food coloring).

My question: I am horrified by the ingredients in the prescription diet. Is there a more holistic food I can offer her? I am not likely to prepare dog food by hand.

Is there anything else I can/should do to keep her healthy? Is this really always a chronic condition?

Thanks so much-
Jackie Houtz

Comments for Canine Urinary Struvite Crystals

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Jan 08, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Canine Urinary Struvite Crystals
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

January 7, 2014

Hi Jackie,

Regarding diets for dissolving struvite crystals and bladder stones, the best recommendation I can give you is to try her on a RAW diet. NO dry food.

You do not have to make her food, there are many commercial raw diets available. See our page on 10 Best Dog Food Options,

Primal, Nature's Variety, Aunt Jeni's, BRAVO! are a few. You will find them in the freezer section of specialty pet food stores.

You wrote that she is on Hill's U/D. Basically, these prescription diets are made up so that the resulting urine pH will be 6.5 - 7.0. A raw diet will maintain the correct urine pH. Of course, since each dog has a unique way of processing nutrients, you will need to monitor her urine pH. It will take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to dissolve a stone that is 1- 1 1/2" in diameter.

Using 'litmus' pH paper which comes in a strip, you pull off a 1"-2" section and holding it by one end, place the other end under her stream of of urine when she urinates first thing in the morning. The paper will change color according to the pH, and you match it to the color on the box to find out her urine pH. Once she is on an all raw diet, the pH should be more consistently 'acidic', (meaning LESS than 7). Meat maintains an acid pH. More vegetables in the diet will alter the pH to be more alkaline. (Alkaline urine OVER 8-8.5 will contribute to the formation of struvite crystals. If the pH becomes TOO acidic, LESS than 5.5-6, she will form calcium oxalate crystals.)

Therefore, you can see it is rather critical that you maintain her urine pH at 6.5-7, this will dissolve struvite crystals, but will not lead to calcium oxalate crystals.

If she is on an all raw diet, but her pH stays above 8, she may need to have some apple cider vinegar added to the food. This will help to make it more acidic. But you must make sure it is NOT too acidic.


Jan 08, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Canine Urinary Struvite Crystals PART TWO
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

January 7, 2014

Hi Jackie,
Here is the rest of my response.

Continue the cranberry concentrate and the DHA.

You wrote,
"Is there anything else I can/should do to keep her healthy?"

NO more conventional vaccinations. At 7 years of age, she has enough antibodies to keep her protected from Distemper, Parvo, Rabies, Kennel Cough, etc. for the rest of her life. Seek the help of a holistic veterinarian for an exemption from vaccinations.

You wrote,
"Is this really always a chronic condition?"
Yes, in some cases there is a hereditary predisposition toward the formation of crystals in toy breeds including the Shih Tzu and Poodle breeds. And vaccinations can 'trigger' these symptoms to appear. Treating her with homeopathic remedies, for any future UTI that may occur, keep her on a raw diet, NO MORE vaccinations, is the best you can do!

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

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