Urinary tract disorders are just another one of the disorders/diseases/illnesses, which affect more than half of America’s pet population these days. Today more than ever before is known about urinary tract disorders in dogs and cats. The possible causes, treatment and prevention regimes now consider diet, feeding, and environmental issues. Common clinical signs include urinating with greater frequency, straining or urinating outside the litter box. If a total urinary tract blockage occurs, seek immediate veterinary attention. There are several different types of disorders that can affect the urinary tract, and these fall into two primary categories: Crystals or stones and infections. The crystals or stones category breaks down into 2 variations: Struvites are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate. These thrive in a urinary tract which is too alkaline or not sufficiently acidic. The other type are Calcium Oxalates, which are crystals formed when the urinary tract environment is too acidic or not sufficiently alkaline. Struvite crystals were formerly the most prevalent type to affect cats in particular and, in response, many manufacturers developed "acidifying" diets designed to dissolve the struvite crystals and discourage their future development. However, this change in many diet formulations is thought to be partly responsible for the recent increase in the development of calcium oxalate. The two types of crystals now occur with almost equal frequency. More recent research indicates that strongly acidic diets may actually do more harm than good, particularly if fed to cats who are not actually affected by struvite formation, as they are then at greater risk of developing calcium oxalate. The only way to be certain which type of crystal is affecting a cat or dog is veterinary examination or testing. Treatment and prevention should be planned accordingly. Since acidifying the pH of the food, and hence, urinary tract, is no longer thought to be the optimal strategy, a moderate or very slightly acidic food pH is now indicated, to give a urine pH of just below neutral, which should not affect or encourage the formation of either type of crystals.
Reduced magnesium levels are also indicated for animals prone to crystals, although this mineral should never be eliminated completely from the diet.
The Calcium to Phosphorus ratios should be balanced.
Increased water intake is recommended, particularly for the prevention of future crystals. Canned food is a good option as it contains up to 78% moisture, as opposed to the 10% moisture found in most dry foods. Other treatment should be geared to the exact type of crystals or stones that are present. Cranberry extract or vitamin C is often recommended for struvite, as these substances are acidic. We found that many companies use vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate. We recommend foods which do not add sodium or salt as dogs and cats do not require an excess of this mineral in their diets. For calcium oxalate crystals, other veterinary treatments are available.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in dogs and cats may result from insufficient water intake and are most commonly caused by the bacteria, E. coli. There is a substance in cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and blueberries (Vaccinium myrtilus) that has been shown in a number of clinical trials to prevent the adhesion of E. coli to the bladder wall and Urethra. If the bacteria are unable to attach, they are washed out of the urinary tract during urination and an infection cannot develop. Increased water intake will assist in flushing out infections and can be achieved by feeding a canned food that can contain up to 78% moisture. A good idea is to look for foods containing either blueberries or cranberries. Of course you don’t have to look for those in the shelves of your mass merchandise or grocery super market, you are wasting your time looking for something they don’t have. Typically those ingredients are only contained in high quality foods starting at the upper midrange. Extra cranberry juice may be added to the food or drinking water as an additional aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections and struvite crystals. However beware of and avoid products with added sugar, corn syrup, or other fruit juices that can negate the cranberry's acidic and beneficial effects. The best is to go with supplements specifically made for our companions.
Urinary Tract Disorders are a very serious problem and I strongly recommend to seek veterinarian advice and help. Be open minded. In most cases the vet will prescribe some scientific diet. This, based on what many of my customers reported to me does not mean the problem is being taken care of. Only problem it seems to solve is the vet’s need for an improved bottom line through the sale of pet food. There are non prescription high quality food brands available to you. They cost way less and, based on the feedback I got from my customers, do a much better job at a way lower price. If you want more info on those, e-mail me.