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Dog with struvite crystals in the urine

Our customer asked:

My vet has advised me that my dog has Struvite Crystals in his urine. He previously had an infection which was treated with antibiotics and his symptoms (licking his nether regions, taking a long time to wee) have all but gone.
However, I don't know if changing his diet would help, he has Burns Chicken and Rice at the moment, or the fact that we live in a hard water area could be exacerbating the problem? He has only had these symptoms since I moved to a Hard Water area in August.
I look forward to your advice!

Our reply:

Struvite crystal formation in the urine does happen in dogs and can cause serious problems on occasions, so it is worth taking seriously. I wonder if your vet is sure about the crystals, or just thinks it is possible. Your vet could have offered advice on diet as there are a number of things which can help.

In the past some diets were particularly prone to causing problems due to their mineral content, but now that this is known about, the manufacturers have corrected the problem generally. Some individual dogs are more prone to trouble than others however. The hard water is probably coincidental, as this is mostly caused by calcium, whereas the problem in the diets was mostly down to their magnesium content.

If your dog is still considered to be at risk, then you could consider changing the diet to one such as Hills s/d, which is known to reduce struvite crystal formation. This is available from the website but I would recommend talking to your own vet about it first to be sure that it is appropriate. We do usually find that antibiotics are not needed when the diet is controlling the problem, so it is worth asking. The diet usually works very well in fact.

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Sunday 20th January 2013