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Updated on February 25, 2019
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.
Symptoms of Dog Urine Crystals
Pain on urination
Blood in urine
Inappetence or anorexia
Sometimes no symptoms at all
Causes of Urine Crystals in Dogs
Concentration of crystallogenic substances in urine, partially influenced by:
Urine concentration of water
Urine pH is off-balance (acidic or alkaline levels need to be balanced)
Solubility of crystallogenic substances in urine
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 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.