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Struvite stones and diet

Updated: Nov 21, 2023


struvite stones cat

Among the many waste products which make up urine there is a magnesium phosphate compound commonly called ‘Struvite’. Under normal healthy conditions Struvite remains dissolved within the urine and is excreted with all the other wastes it contains. If the urine becomes overly concentrated or the PH level rises causing the urine to become alkaline the Struvite crystallises and settles out of the urine solution, often settling in the bladder. If conditions continue, crystals continue to form and if small enough to be excreted can cause irritation of the urinary tract. The settled crystals bond together at the base of the bladder to form struvite stones, sharp little mineralized rocks which can cause life threatening blockages of the bladder and urinary tract [1].


Cats being obligate carnivores, and dogs meso-carnivores, they both have adapted evolutionarily to eat and thrive on a raw meat-protein based diet which supports a naturally acidic gut environment and carries through to produce naturally acidic urine. Commercial pet foods such as kibble are high in cheaply sourced plant proteins and carbohydrates. Eating this type of food does not stimulate the stomach cells to release hydrochloric acid and lower gut Ph ready for digestion of the meal which means the gut environment becomes unnaturally alkaline. The commercial food is also much drier than raw food which means the pet must drink additional water to remain hydrated. The commercial kibble diet, with its propensity to create an alkaline gut environment and overly concentrated urine is the perfect recipe for creating Struvite stones in pets, especially cats who do not naturally seek out water to drink [2].


Once any initial blockage or buildup of Struvite has been resolved by a vet, dietary management to prevent a recurrence in the future is required. Transitioning the pet to a raw species appropriate diet which will naturally support healthy digestion, with adjustments to aid the production of acidic urine is recommended. Red meat is the preferred meat source as it produces greater acidity than white meats. Supplementing the diet with Vitamin C also supports urine acidity, In his text “Scientific guide to natural nutrition” [2] Dr Syme recommends supplementing the diet with ascorbic acid, however there are also many pet friendly vitamin C rich foods which provide a natural alternative and may be appropriate depending on the pet. Cranberry tablets are also a recommended addition to the diet, in addition to the vitamin C, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients they contain there are compounds called proanthocyanins which have both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial functions. They reduce any inflammation in the bladder and coat the surface which prevents any harmful bacteria present from attaching itself to the bladder wall, without attachment any harmful bacteria are simply excreted with normal urination [2].



Sources

[1] Hunter, T. H. 2020. Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs. Retrieved December 28th, 2020, from VCA hospitals web site: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/struvite-bladder-stones-in-dogs [2] Syme, B. 2011. Scientific Guide to Natural Nutrition. Southbank, Australia: Vets All Natural Pty Ltd.

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