Struvite bladder stones or crystals (also known as Triple Phosphate) are the most common type of bladder stones seen in dogs and cats. At least half of all bladder stones in cats are Struvite, and they’re to blame for more than 30% of stones in dogs. Some dog breeds are more prone to this malady than others, including the Shih Tzu, Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Fris, Lhaso Apso, Schnauzers and miniature Poodles (or mixes of these breeds). The condition often starts with a bladder infection in dogs, but not in cats.
Thankfully, there are proven, natural ways to treat and prevent Struvite bladder stones in pets.
First and foremost, a Veterinarian (holistic or standard) must diagnose the issue and identify the type of stone. They will also need to identify and address any underlying causes, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or genetic predisposition. It’s important that they also guide you in natural treatments, and be made aware of any herbs or extracts being administered at all times.
The first step in treating Struvite bladder stones is to evaluate your pet’s diet. It must be balanced (and homemade if at all possible), and lower or moderate pH levels.
Then, you will want to focus on using herbs to assist your pet in removing the stones. Herbs with diuretic and demulcent properties will be used to help moderate urine pH. However, diuretics should only be used if there are no obstructions. Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory herbs will help to reduce pain and infections often associated with Struvite bladder stones.
Dietary Considerations for Cats or Dogs Suffering from Struvite Bladder Stones
Most experts recommend a homemade diet for dogs or cats with Struvite bladder stones so you can have full control over the ingredients. Dry food isn’t recommended, but if you must feed manufactured food you can choose from suitable wet, canned options. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see a prescription diet that impressed me. In either case, you must educate yourself about nutrition through reliable sources of information, then tailor the diet to address the condition.
Your primary goal is to acidify and stabilize the urine to a point of neutral (7) or slightly acidic pH (as low as 5.5 is considered normal). Moderating pH is the goal, not lowering it as far as you can, because an acidic environment can cause its own health problems. Your vet can supply pH testing kits, although you may find they’re cheaper online.
Basically, dogs or cats with Struvite bladder stones should be on a high protein diet with minimal carbohydrates (especially starches and sugars). It’s important that this diet include Omega 3 fatty acids, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Glucosamine, and probiotics. You should also ensure cats are getting enough Taurine. Fresh water should always be available, preferably without chlorine or fluoride. Avoid inflammatory foods (see Foods in Homemade Pet Diets That Cause Inflammation).
Treating Struvite Bladder Stones with Natural Supplements
The type of herbs, extracts or nutraceuticals you’ll need depends on if there is an infection behind the stone formation or not. If so, select the herbs listed below that offer antibacterial properties. You’ll also need to consider the severity of the condition, including blockages or if the kidneys have been compromised. Again, the guidance of your veterinarian is critical.
When it comes to administering herbs to pets, we’ve found powders, extracts and teas are the easiest for pet parents. Powders are easy to combine and add to wet food. For tea, you can mix fresh herb plants together, pour boiling water over them, let them steep, cool, and strain through cheesecloth. Most use high quality dried herbs in a reusable tea bag, adding about two cups of water for every teaspoon. We rely on Starwest Botanicals for high quality medicinal dried herbs. Administer a teaspoon of tea brew once or twice per day for each 30 pounds of body weight for dogs, or half a teaspoon for cats.
The problem with these methods is dosage. The concentration is highly variable and it’s tough to know how much of each herb to use. If you prefer a convenient combination treatment in a liquid form that’s more readily accepted by cats and dogs, holistic vet’s often recommend Urinary Gold for Dogs and Urinary Gold for Cats. Dosage is clear and both have natural bacon flavor that my cat likes.
The following herbs or their extracts are commonly recommended for the natural treatment of Struvite bladder stones in pets. Your veterinarian should guide you in which herbs to use, as well as dosage. You don’t have to use all of the herbs to see positive results.
Marshmallow root is most commonly recommended as a natural treatment for bladder stones, because it soothes and lubricates mucous membranes to help pass stones and reduce irritation. Marshmallow also helps to reduce inflammation and inhibits bacterial growth.
Hydrangea root soothes the urinary tract and has antimicrobial properties that extends to the bladder and kidneys.
Stoneroot soothes mucous membranes and helps to clean the urinary tract.
Dandelion leaf offers both a mild diuretic effect and antimicrobial properties.
Couch Grass has mild diuretic properties, and is also used as an anti-microbial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory.
Horsetail balances bodily fluids and supports the urinary system. It should only be used if the kidneys are working well and are not inflamed.
Hops strobiles helps to reduce painful muscle spasms in the urinary tract and soothes the nervous system overall.
Goldenrod may prevent stones as well as treat them. It also reduces inflammation and muscle spasms.
Echinacea is a well known immune stimulant that extends specifically to the urinary tract.
Oregon Grape root is often recommended as an antibacterial.
Cornsilk is commonly recommended for chronic inflammation of the kidneys or urinary tract. It reduces inflammation without causing kidney irritation.
Yarrow boosts immunity, “disinfects” the urinary tract and may reduce bleeding in the bladder. It should only be used if the kidneys are working well and are not inflamed.
Mullein leaf will help lower pH.
Coenzyme Q10 supports the immune system and acts as an antioxidant.
Cranberry is every bit as effective for treating bladder and urinary tract infections as your Grandmother says it is. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and it increases urine acidity. Cranberry will also prevent bacterial adhesion to the walls of the bladder, which makes it easier to eliminate naturally. If your pet won’t drink pure, unsweetened cranberry juice or eat fresh cranberries (most won’t), you should be able to find cranberry extract capsules at your local pharmacy. We just open the capsules and mix the powder into wet food.
Freeze-Dried Krill is a source of Omega 3, 6 and 9, Vitamins A and E, and Astaxanthin. It supports the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Maitake mushrooms have mild diuretic properties, stimulate the immune system, and are often recommended to those with bladder disease (cystitis).
Struvite bladder stones can be managed and prevented. Your pet should be back to his old self eventually and he’ll enjoy a high quality of life.
Have you had a dog or cat that suffers from Struvite bladder stones? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. 2009.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements. 2001.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Natural Treatment and Prevention of Chronic Bladder Infections in Pets
Natural Support for Feline Chronic Kidney Disease / Renal Failure
Natural Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs & Cats
Top 5 Sources of Antioxidants for Cats & Other Carnivores (With Infographic)
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