How do you dissolve struvite crystals in dogs with a homemade diet?
Original Question: Good morning Dr. Greenway, back in the fall my then 10 month old male Cocker Spaniel had a high urine pH which caused struvite crystals to form in the urine. My vet recommended a medical diet to acidify the urine and dissolve the crystals. We retested his urine again after 4 - 6 weeks and all was good, the crystals were gone. I then started him on a different commercial diet and the crystals returned. His breeder and I don't wish for him to be on an expensive medical or commercial food and we're wondering what other type of food he could be on? We'd prefer making a homemade diet. Recently we have made a home-made "stew" of meat and vegetables. I've been testing his urine several times a day for the last week and the pH is 6.2 during the day and 7 - 8 in the evenings. I add water to his two meals a day so that he is getting liquid. He has also been getting 1 Cranberry pill a day since last fall. Appreciate any help that you could give me. Thank you - Virginia
Its fine to create your own diet. What you need to do is start feeding a diet that typically creates acidic urine (a low pH) so struvite crystals in dogs don’t form. You should be very consistent with the diet over the course of 4 weeks and then test the urine for crystals. If there are none, then continue with that diet and continue to be consistent.
A diet that will acidify urine will be high in protein and low in vegetables. Raw food diets are commonly used for this but you could make any diet that follows this general trend. I think the hardest thing is the consistency. I’m assuming that you may be adding different vegetables into the food based on what you have in your fridge making the diet inconsistent but if you work at it, you can avoid this.
It’s always a great idea to find a book created by a veterinary nutritionist who has recipes for homemade diets. If the author is reputable, then the recipes suggested will likely be well balanced.
There are no supplements that you can add that will acidify the diet. The cranberry doesn’t acidify it. Cranberry is really about infections – it will limit bacteria’s ability to cling to the bladder wall. The whole idea is to create a diet, keep it consistent for 4 weeks, then test the urine. If there are no crystals, keep feeding that diet. The minute you change the diet, like adding totally different vegetables, even though you’re adding the same amount, it is no longer consistent and is unreliable.
I hope this helps!
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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