Nutrition plays a vital role in the life of your canine. It can change the way her coat looks and feels, and help alleviate the symptoms of certain health issues. Many dogs suffer from bladder issues and foods formulated for urinary health management can assist in alleviating this ongoing health problem.
Many dogs, especially older females and those suffering from diabetes, are prone to bladder problems, and one of the most common bladder issues is the formation of stones. When urine crystallizes, struvite stones may form. A natural component of your dog's urine, struvite is passed easily if the concentration of urine remains normal. If the urine becomes too concentrated and alkaline, the struvite is not passed and the formation of painful stones may result. Difficulty urinating and blood in the urine are both symptomatic of the presence of struvite bladder stones.
When the pH level in your dog's urine becomes compromised, bladder issues often result. Urine is sterile if the pH level remains normal, which for dogs, is a range of 6 to 6.5. Normal pH level is 7, but dogs, as carnivores, have a slightly acidic urine, redefining their "normal," to range slightly below the typical 7. Dogs suffering from poor nutrition, or dogs fed a primarily grain-based diet, may develop an alkaline urine, which occurs when pH becomes too high. Proper nutrition can help manage pH levels, reducing the risk of bladder disease and infection, as well as the formation of stones.
Pet owners often turn to foods labeled "natural," and prescription diets to help with urinary health. According to veterinarian Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York, foods labeled "natural," or "gourmet," mean little to the content of the kibble, as there is no standard for foods with such labels. "Diet should be based on a dog's condition, and it should be very tailored to the dog," Murray says. The same holds true for a dog suffering from bladder issues due to compromised pH levels.
A trip through the dog kibble aisle can create more confusion than results, prompting some owners to run for the kitchen. Natural food, when referred to what's prepared at home, can play a role in managing urinary health. A well-balanced diet is key in controlling pH and urinary health, and when you're at the helm, you know what's going into the food. Adding a little unrefined sea salt can prompt your dog to increase his trips to the water bowl, and increased hydration will assist in controlling the concentration of his urine. Essential fatty acids and necessary vitamins and minerals are often present in commercial kibble, so a supplement may be recommended to be sure your canine pal is getting what he needs from your self-made offerings.
The decision to change your dog's diet for any reason should be discussed with his veterinarian, as there is no one more highly qualified to help you manage your pal's urinary health through nutrition. Veterinarians often prescribe pet food available at their clinics, but it's not always an affordable option. When prescription diet isn't an option, your veterinarian can assist you to choose the optimum retail kibble for your dog's good urinary health, or guide you in your quest to be your dog's personal chef.
- Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images