Here’s all the latest research on canine calcium oxalate stones, I’ve condensed into this article so you can get the best understanding of what calcium oxalate stones are, how they form, why they form and how to use nutrition to help treat them.
What are Calcium Oxalate Stones?
Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone. Kidney stones are solid masses of calcium and oxalate that form in the kidney. During their journey out of the urinary tract, they can cause significant pain and discomfort to your dog.
They are not simply caused by too much calcium in the diet, it’s a little more complete.
What does the urinary tract do?
The urinary tract is a waste removal system. When your dog eats, the body takes nutrients from the food and it goes into the blood. Not everything taken into the blood is needed or in fact healthy, it’s waste. The kidneys and urinary system help the body to eliminate the waste.
Sometimes there’s too much waste or not enough of a key component of health, which is when the urinary tract will begin to encounter issues, like infections or types of stones.
What are the symptoms of a Calcium Oxalate Stones in dogs?
- Bloody and/or cloudy urine
- Straining or whimpering during urination
- Accidents in the house
- Needing to be let outside more frequently
- Licking around the urinary opening
What causes Calcium Oxalate Stones? (Too much calcium in the urine)
There are factors that increase the probability, like disease factors (diet, body condition score (BCS), urine pH, and urine specific gravity). Certain breeds are more predisposed, Crain Terrier, Jack Russell’s Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Papillon, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terriers.
However, the following are the causes of Calcium oxalate stones in dogs.
- Urine microbiome imbalance – Incorrect diet
- Calcium homeostasis – Incorrect balance of calcium, can be too high or too low
- Insufficient or unbalanced phosphorus and Vitamin D
- Urine supersaturation – too many minerals in urine causing crystallisation
- Hypoparathyroidism – too little parathyroid hormone
- Kidney disease
How to treat?
Treatment of calcium oxalate stone should be aimed at eliminating the underlying causes, to make sure to minimize further damage.
The most important part of ensuring there’s no recurrence, is going to be a move to a fresh food diet. A diverse, balanced and healthy microbiome, both in the gut and the urine, comes from having a range of natural fresh foods in the diet (1).
The bacterial urinary microbiome in healthy has a greater taxonomic richness, meaning it’s a clear indicator of health. (6)
Secondly, you’ll need to review the balance of the current diet, what are the calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D levels, are they sufficient? Too much or too little can contribute to calcium oxalate stones. (2)
Try to increase fluid intake with bone broth and watermelon.
A study on increasing salt levels to help alleviate calcium oxalate stones, found that by adding 2-3g per 1kg of food, it increased water intake by around 50%. (5) This should be a short term solution, only do this in the first week when your dog is clearly experiencing pain. Prolonged salt intake would not be healthy.
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- Rodríguez, F.M., Rubio, L.S., Nanne, I.G., Martín, F.S., Emiliani, E. and Feu, O.A., 2020. The relationship between calcium oxalate lithiasis and chronic proinflammatory intestinal dysbiosis pattern: a prospective study. Urolithiasis, 48(4), pp.321-328.
- Hunprasit, V., 2017. Epidemiologic Evaluation of Risk Factors for Calcium Oxalate Urolith Formation and Recurrence in Dogs
- Stevenson, A.E., Blackburn, J.M., Markwell, P.J. and Robertson, W.G., 2004. Nutrient intake and urine composition in calcium oxalate stone-forming dogs: comparison with healthy dogs and impact of dietary modification. Veterinary therapeutics: research in applied veterinary medicine, 5(3), pp.218-231.
- Luskin, A.C., Lulich, J.P., Gresch, S.C. and Furrow, E., 2019. Bone resorption in dogs with calcium oxalate urolithiasis and idiopathic hypercalciuria. Research in veterinary science, 123, pp.129-134.
- Queau, Y., Bijsmans, E.S., Feugier, A. and Biourge, V.C., 2020. Increasing dietary sodium chloride promotes urine dilution and decreases struvite and calcium oxalate relative supersaturation in healthy dogs and cats. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition, 104(5), pp.1524-1530.
- Melgarejo, T., Oakley, B.B., Krumbeck, J.A., Tang, S., Krantz, A. and Linde, A., 2021. Assessment of bacterial and fungal populations in urine from clinically healthy dogs using next‐generation sequencing. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 35(3), pp.1416-1426.