Urinary problems can affect dogs at any time in their life, caused by a combination of predispositions, lifestyle and factors like bacterial infection. Their diet plays an important role in maintaining good urinary health, and can be used as an aid to combat potential problems.
Why is my dog’s urinary health important?
A healthy urinary system is crucial to your dog’s internal functions. The urinary system processes and removes waste products which could otherwise have a negative impact on your dog’s wellbeing through chemical build up.
What problems can dogs have with their urinary system?
Like humans, dogs can be prone to developing urinary ‘stones’. These occur when the concentration of certain chemicals or minerals in your dog’s urine becomes too high, and their body can’t fully process or remove it. The minerals build up, forming crystals which can irritate, inflame or block parts of the dog’s urinary system. Dogs are most likely to suffer from these stones in their bladder, rather than their kidneys (which is where they’re commonly found in humans).
There are different types of stone generated by different chemicals: struvite, calcium oxalate, urate and cystine. These develop in urine of different pH ratings; although your dog naturally has urine which has an acidic pH, certain foods can create an alkali environment which can encourage some of these stones to form.
Dogs can also suffer from bacterial infection in their urinary system.
Which dogs are at risk of urinary problems?
Although all dogs have the potential to develop urinary problems, some breeds and types are predisposed to these problems. Smaller breeds can be more at risk, often because they drink less water and urinate less frequently. Dalmatians and English Bulldogs also have a unique issue which affects protein processing in their body, putting strain on their urinary system. Alongside this, if your dog is overweight, it’s more likely to develop calcium oxalate stones.
How can my dog’s diet support their urinary health?
Your dog’s diet plays a useful role in maintaining a healthy urinary environment; however, if they have a block or infection, this must be treated medically through surgery or antibiotics.
A well-balanced food which supports your dog’s urinary health works by encouraging the right pH in their urine and preventing certain mineral deposits from crystallising. It also includes less of the minerals which can build up in your dog’s system (such as magnesium and sodium) thereby creating ‘undersaturated’ urine – an environment in which stones are less likely to spontaneously form.
Importantly, providing your dog with plenty of water encourages them to urinate, therefore flushing out their system regularly and diluting the concentration of minerals in their urine. You can add water to their dry diet, feed them canned food which contains a high water percentage, and make sure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
If you notice your dog’s behaviour when it comes to urinating has changed, make sure to visit your vet who will be able to conduct a full examination and help you choose the right diet to support your dog’s urinary health.