How to Stop Your Dog from Getting Kidney Stones

Has your dog suffered from kidney stones before? Do you own a breed that's predisposed to kidney stones, such as a bulldog or a shih tzu? Whatever the case, taking the necessary precautions to prevent kidney stones is an important part of keeping your pooch healthy. These stones can cause a variety of problems, ranging from pain and weight loss to a fatal urinary obstruction, so it's crucial that you keep them at bay. Thankfully, there are several ways to prevent kidney stones from developing or coming back. Here are some of the most helpful.

Keep Your Dog Well Hydrated

Kidney stones develop when crystal-forming minerals like calcium and oxalate build up to high levels in your dog's urinary system. One of the most common causes of this is dehydration; if you don't have enough fluid in your urine, the minerals won't be diluted to safe levels. As a result, keeping your dog well hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stone formation. Your furry friend needs access to fresh water at all times when you're at home, and you should carry a doggy water bottle with a water dish attachment when you're out and about on walks.

As a general rule, each day your dog should drink around 30ml (1 US fluid ounce) of water per 0.5kg (1 pound) of body weight. A 30kg Labrador, for example, should drink 1.8 litres of water per day. If your pooch tends not to drink enough, you can encourage hydration by getting a doggy drinking fountain or adding a small amount of gravy to make the water more enticing.

Feed Your Dog a Healthy Diet

Another major cause of canine kidney stones is poor nutrition. While some (struvite) stones can be caused by infection, the more common type (calcium oxalate) is often caused by nutritional imbalances. Above all else, the best thing you can do is feed your dog a high-quality kibble made from good-quality meat or fish, whole grains and vegetables. Look for reputable brands that use premium ingredients and put effort into getting the balance of minerals right.

If you want to go one step further for the utmost protection, ask your vet to recommend a therapeutic diet recommended specifically to prevent kidney stones. Feed made to prevent urate stones will have lower protein levels. Those made to prevent oxalate stones will have moderate protein levels as well as moderate amounts of calcium and phosphorus, plus an increase in sodium chlorine for better urine dilution.

Respond Quickly to Symptoms

It's important to remember that while you can reduce your dog's risk of kidney stones, you can't eliminate the risk completely. That's why it's so important that you know the signs and symptoms of kidney stones. If you catch the stones early, they'll be smaller and easier to treat (using dissolving medications or surgery), and they're less likely to cause serious complications.

Some of the most common and noticeable symptoms are blood in your dog's urine, painful urination, frequent urination and repeated urinary tract infections. If you notice any of these signs, call your vet immediately for diagnosis.