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Urine Crystals in Dogs

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Image via iStock.com/RyanJLane

 

Updated on February 25, 2019

 

Crystalluria is the presence of crystals in the urine. The detection of crystals in dog urine is not synonymous with bladder or kidney stones nor the clinical signs associated with them.

 

Dog Urine Crystals vs. Bladder or Kidney Stones

 

Detection of urine crystals in dogs is not irrefutable evidence of a stone-forming tendency. However, there is some association of an increased risk for bladder or kidney stones for animals that are afflicted with crystalluria. Crystals in dog urine can also be an indication of bladder or kidney infection.

 

Crystalluria in individuals with anatomically and functionally normal urinary tracts may be harmless because the crystals are eliminated before they grow large enough to interfere with normal urinary function. However, they still represent a risk factor for bladder and kidney stones, and they may cause discomfort or may promote bladder infections.

 

Different types of stones also have different causes and treatments. Some stones can be dissolved through diet change, while others require surgical removal.

 

Types of Urine Crystals in Dogs

 

Proper identification and interpretation of dog urine crystals is important in determining a medical strategy for treating the condition. Different types of crystals require different treatment strategies. Certain crystal types indicate an underlying disease or genetic condition.

 

Breeds that are prone to calcium oxalate crystals in the urine are Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos and Miniature Poodles.

 

Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, Mastiffs and Newfoundlands are prone to cystine crystals in the urine.

 

Dalmatians and English bulldogs tend to have ammonium crystals in the urine, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to crystallized xanthine stones.

 

Symptoms of Dog Urine Crystals

 

  • Pain on urination

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Frequent urination

  • Blood in urine

  • Lethargy

  • Inappetence or anorexia

  • Sometimes no symptoms at all

 

Causes of Urine Crystals in Dogs

 

  • Concentration of crystallogenic substances in urine, partially influenced by:

    • Genetics

    • Diet

    • Kidney function

    • Environment

    • Urine concentration of water

  • Urine pH is off-balance (acidic or alkaline levels need to be balanced)

  • Solubility of crystallogenic substances in urine

 

Diagnosis

 

Urinalysis will be the major tool for analysis of crystalluria. An X-ray or ultrasound may be able to detect some stones.

 

The timing of sample collection (fasting versus postprandial [after a meal]) may influence evidence of crystalluria.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment will involve managing clinically important crystalluria by eliminating or controlling the underlying cause(s) or associated risk factors.

 

Treatment will also work to minimize clinically important crystalluria by increasing urine volume, encouraging complete and frequent voiding, modifying the diet, and in some instances, by appropriate drug therapy.

 

Living and Management

 

Your veterinarian will want to analyze the urine again to determine if crystalluria is still present, since persistent crystalluria may contribute to formation and growth of bladder or kidney stones.

 

In addition, chronic crystalluria may solidify crystalline-matrix plugs, resulting in a urethral obstruction. The best way to manage crystalluria is to prevent it by following your veterinarian’s instructions and returning regularly for urine testing.