There is a concern amongst plant-based feeders that their dogs may develop bladder stones or crystals (typically struvite) when on a plant-based diet as plants in the diet are alkalinising. The normal range for a dog’s urine is pH 5–7.
A pH > 7 indicates alkalinity and < 5 indicates an acidic diet. A diet that is too acidic (high meat diets) predispose dogs to calcium oxalate urinary bladder stone formation.
During my many years as a vet, I have had a few cases of bladder stones in dogs and none of those were fed a plant-based diet, so dogs do get bladder stones – it does not depend on the diet in most cases. Certain breeds are also particularly predisposed such as Dalmatians, Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers, Bichon Frise, Shih-tzu’s, and the little dog I remember surgically removing a handful of stones from her tiny bladder was a Norfolk Terrier.
Bladder stones are more common in female dogs, perhaps because they’re more likely to have urinary tract infections with a wider genital tract so bacteria can enter more easily. Struvite crystals can build up with a urinary tract infection as the bacteria make the pH alkaline and this can result in stones with recurrent infections over time.
To prevent bladder stone formation, especially in animals predisposed by breed or if they have had prior urinary infections or stones, try these –
1) Increase water intake – even consider adding water to food or homecooking to result in wetter food.
2) If you are homecooking, add our JUST BE KIND supplement to the nutrient-rich ‘icing’ that we recommend in our recipes. When choosing vegetables, these are acidifying – asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, corn, brussel sprouts and yeast. Our supplement contains the amino acid methionine that helps to acidify the urinary tract. All the dry premium foods we recommend such as Solo-Vegetal, Hownd, Greta and Green Crunch, contain the addition of methionine so you do not need to be concerned about the urine alkalinity if feeding these diets. There is no indication of the addition of methionine in Benevo dog food so it would be better to check your dog’s urine if feeding Benevo as the main food.
3) If feeding Benevo, buy urine pH strips and test your dog’s urine. Collect the urine in a foil tray Check the urinary pH weekly for the first 3 months, then at least monthly thereafter. You can purchase urine test strips online. Normal dogs typically have a urine pH between 6 – 7 but this can vary. Note that the urine pH also varies throughout the day so do not be alarmed if it keeps changing in a day (if you are collecting over the course of a day:)
3) If the urine pH is consistently alkaline (2 or 3 consecutive readings over 7), see your vet for a full urinalysis and recommendations to add a supplement to acidify the urine.
For further information, this section is taken from the article – Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals by Andrew Knight
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