If your dog has been diagnosed with urinary tract or kidney issues, your veterinarian might recommend a special diet. Dry dog food for urinary tract health helps prevent the formation of kidney or bladder stones. Choosing the right dry dog food depends on whether or not your dog is already suffering from urinary tract problems or you want to prevent them from occurring.
Certain breeds, including the dachshund, beagle, basset hound, bulldog, Dalmatian, bichon frise, miniature schnauzer, miniature poodle, cocker spaniel, Lhasa apso, Scottish terrier, Irish setter, Newfoundland and Yorkshire terrier, are predisposed to developing urolithiasis, or bladder stones. If your dog might have a genetic predisposition toward urinary tract issues, ask your vet about feeding him a food designed for urinary health as a preventive measure. Mixed-breed dogs are commonly diagnosed with urinary tract problems, too -- so any dogs can develop bladder stones. Male dogs are more prone to stone problems than females, because their narrow urethrae are more easily obstructed. Bladder stones affect middle-age dogs more frequently than younger or senior canines.
Dry dog food prescription diets for urinary tract health require a prescription from your vet. These foods contain lower levels of phosphorous, magnesium and protein than standard dry dog foods. The minerals can cause crystals to form in the bladder, leading to possible urethral obstruction and even death. Prescription dry dog food also contains lower amounts of sodium to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The ingredients in Hill's Prescription Diet C/D Canine Urinary Tract Health dry dog food include whole grain corn, pork fat, chicken byproducts and soybean and gluten meal.
If you're concerned that your dog might develop urinary tract issues, you can feed him a nonprescription dry dog food formulated to prevent these problems. Major pet food companies, including Iams, Purina, Flint River Ranch, Hill's Pet Nutrition and Royal Canin, market urinary tract and kidney diets. Expect to pay appreciably more for a nonprescription urinary tract dry dog food than you would for a high-quality dry food that's not formulated for urinary tract benefits. Because the foods are low-protein, they are often less palatable to pets.
Read the Ingredients List
When deciding on a nonprescription dry dog food, check the ingredients list on the bag. A higher price doesn't automatically mean higher-quality ingredients. You also want to check the guaranteed analysis for the content levels of protein, purines, sodium, magnesium and phosphorous. Avoid foods with large amounts of fillers and chemical preservatives. Look for actual meat rather than meat byproducts as the primary ingredients, and for natural preservatives.
Dry Dog Food Versus Canned
Dry dog food is easier to store and the bags don't require recycling. However, wet or canned food does have some benefits for dogs with urinary tract issues. If feeding wet food isn't a problem for you, ask your vet about feeding canned food for at least part of your dog's diet. Urinary tract canned foods are available in both prescription and nonprescription forms. The high water content in wet food helps dilute the urine, which reduces the risk of stone formation.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.