Pets, like humans, can suffer from stone formations along the urinary tract, which can consequently lead to long-term health issues. The formation of these stones, more commonly referred to as Uroliths, can be triggered by dietary factors as well as pre-existing congenital conditions. Urolith formation in pets can be categorized into three general categories based on the precursor components and each can be treated by various modes consisting of diet control, medication and even surgical procedures.
Water intake in animals can be a major contributing factor in minimizing the formation and reoccurrence of Uroliths, specifically Struvite Uroliths. Struvite Urolith formation is generally associated with high pH levels in urine and can be directly correlated with the presence of urinary tract infections. Various methods of increasing the water intake in animals; such as using mechanically controlled water dispensers and adding salt to the pet’s food; can have a dramatic positive impact in reducing the risk of urinary tract infection in both cats and dogs.
High levels of ammonium and phosphate, both of which are direct byproducts of protein metabolism in animals, also categorize Struvite Urolith formation or Struvite Urolithiasis. By placing a pet on a low protein diet, veterinarians can effectively monitor and control the formation of Uroliths. In applying this mechanism as a control method however, veterinarians have to carefully titrate the pH levels of urine by applying acidifiers as low protein diets can lead to high alkaline urine, thus predisposing pets to Struvite Urolith formation.
In other cases of urolith formation, particularly Urate Uroliths, liver shunts can be identified as the main underlying factor. An inherent presence of liver shunt, allows for blood from the intestinal tract to directly flow into the animal’s main blood streams, by passing the liver and exposing the blood stream to the by products resulting from digestion. Intrusion of such byproducts into the systemic blood stream can have damaging effects extending to the neurological system as demonstrated by the onset of hepatic encephalopathy.
Diet control, medication and surgical procedures to remove the liver shunt can all be used as effective tools in controlling and treating urate Urolithiasis. Reduced levels of protein in diet and administration of Allopurinol are both effective methods of reducing purine in the blood stream. The presence of high levels of purine has been identified as the main trigger in Urate Urolith formation.