Struvite Stones

Urolithiasis is the clinical term for disease caused by stones in the bladder. Struvite stones, also called magnesium ammonium phosphate or triple phosphate stones, are the most common stones in dog urine and one of the two most common types of stones in cat urine. This condition frequently occur in healthy pets and are not considered a problem unless they cause symptoms. 

Struvite Stones

How it Affects your pet

Alkaline urine encourages the formation of struvite crystals. Most cases of struvite stones in dogs can be traced to an infection with urease-producing bacteria, and the majority of affected pets are female. The enzyme urease increases the alkalinity of the urine and the concentrations of certain ions. The bacteria also cause inflammation. Combined with a high concentration of ammonium and phosphate ions and increased urine alkalinity, this inflammation creates an ideal environment for struvite crystals to form. In cats, struvite crystals are rarely caused by bacterial infections. Cats with struvite crystals have alkaline urine due to diet, drug therapy, certain systemic diseases or other cat health conditions. While bacterial infection does not trigger the formation of these crystals in most feline cases, the inflammation caused by the crystals can provide an ideal environment for a secondary bacterial infection to develop. Bladder stones in both dogs and cats cause irritation, tissue damage and pain by scraping against the walls of the bladder. They can also move into the urethra and cause partial or complete urinary obstruction, a life-threatening emergency. Obstruction is much more common in males than females due to the fact that males have narrower urethras.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of this pet health condition include the following: Frequent urination, Blood in the urine, Straining to urinate, Cloudy urine, Crying out when urinating and urinating outside the litter box in cats. It is important to note that these symptoms are not specific to struvite crystaluria. The only way to know if symptoms are associated with struvite crystals is to examine a urine sample of your pet under a microscope. 

Treatments

The three types of treatment used in cases of struvite cystaluria are special diets, surgery and nonsurgical stone removal. Special diets are used in cases where there is a low risk of urinary obstruction. If there is a significant risk of obstruction or if an obstruction is already present, the stones must be mechanically removed. This can be done in most cats and some dogs by passing a catheter and flushing the stones out of the bladder and urethra. If the stones are too large to remove through a urinary catheter, surgical removal is indicated. In dogs, treatment for struvite stones also includes the use of an antibiotic since infections are almost always present in these animals. In cats, antibiotics may be used if secondary infections are present or if the veterinarian is concerned that the affected cat might develop an infection.

Breeds Affected

Canine breeds predisposed to this pet health condition include the following: Miniature schnauzer, Bichon frise and Cocker spaniel.

Struvite Stones Affects

  • Alkaline urine encourages the formation of struvite crystals. Most cases of struvite stones in dogs can be traced to an infection with urease-producing bacteria, and the majority of affected pets are female. The enzyme urease increases the alkalinity of the urine and the concentrations of certain ions. The bacteria also cause inflammation. Combined with a high concentration of ammonium and phosphate ions and increased urine alkalinity, this inflammation creates an ideal environment for struvite crystals to form. In cats, struvite crystals are rarely caused by bacterial infections. Cats with struvite crystals have alkaline urine due to diet, drug therapy, certain systemic diseases or other cat health conditions. While bacterial infection does not trigger the formation of these crystals in most feline cases, the inflammation caused by the crystals can provide an ideal environment for a secondary bacterial infection to develop. Bladder stones in both dogs and cats cause irritation, tissue damage and pain by scraping against the walls of the bladder. They can also move into the urethra and cause partial or complete urinary obstruction, a life-threatening emergency. Obstruction is much more common in males than females due to the fact that males have narrower urethras.

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