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) 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.
4) If you are homecooking, add natural cranberry powder to the nutrient-rich ‘icing’ that we recommend in our recipes using the supplements. When choosing vegetables, these are acidifying – asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, corn, brussel sprouts and yeast. The Vegdog All-In-Veluxe supplement as well as the V-Complete supplement contains the amino acid methionine. This too is acidifying so by adding supplement powder, your dog should not be prone to urinary issues. All the dry premium foods we recommend such as Solo-Vegetal, Green Crunch and Greta 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.
Our Umameo treats and protein packs that we sell to make the treats contain cranberry powder as well as Vitamin C and nutritional yeast to be kind to your dog’s urinary health.
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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