Crystals and Diet

Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 11:38 am

So right before I went on vacation, Robin was diagnosed with a UTI, yeast infection, and urinary crystals (as well as a broken toe nail, a foxtail between her toes and fire ant bite on her lady bits :o ). She had a round of antibiotics, antifungals and a couple of bags of Royal Canin SO. I took in a sample this week and she was crystal free. I assume that means it's not stones. And now the vet says I need to stay on the food.

While RC is a little better than HIll's and certainly isn't the worst thing she's ever eaten, I'm not happy about it. Three of the 5 cats are on the feline version. I'm kind of thinking this vet (there are 3 in our clinic) is a little slap-happy about Rx diets-- this is the FIRST UTI Robin's had in the 18 months we've had her. I really like this vet when I have a kitty who needs attention, but for the dogs, I like the other vets. For my male cat, I'm unfortunately going to keep him on the SO. He blocked completely before, and that's something I decided I'm not willing to experiment with.

Robin, however, would be easy to collect a urine sample from; I can try another diet for a month, say, and then take in a sample to see how she's doing-- more crystals or infection, back to the SO. Right before this UTI, we had recently changed to Taste of the Wild after using almost exclusively Nature's Variety since we got her. Robin was having some general allergy issues and even the grain free NV has a ton of ingredients, so we switched to something a little more limited. River didn't have any crystals in her urine, so it's not the food per se that's causing the crystals, but it might be Robin's reaction to it.

We're thinking of making the switch to raw or homecooked, at least in part. I'm thinking of giving them raw/homecooked in the morning and floating kibble and veggies in the evening. I'd like to keep them eating kibble at least part time so that I can board them or travel with them more easily. Now NV has a limited ingredient line, so we might start there with the kibble.

That was the long way round to my question-- I know I've heard from many of you that raw alleviated a lot of allergy problems. I'm also wondering if any of you have seen it prevent recurring UTIs. I'll do a site search, too, but there's a lot of newer members since I've joined and I thought I'd see if anyone had thoughts about this...
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Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 1:11 pm

Liz mentioned cranberry supplements... wondered if anyone knew anything about this supplement:

http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/ ... 01086.aspx

or any others, for that matter...
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Postby mnp13 » June 22nd, 2011, 1:17 pm

The question is WHY does the food work, and once you know that, you can look for a better food with the same characteristics.
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Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 1:26 pm

That makes sense. From what I've read, a lot of these foods work because they increase the thirst drive, often by adding salt. That's one reason I've been floating their kibble, and I know that in cats, the switch to a raw or canned diet increases water intake-- that's especially important because cats have a very limited inclination to drink water. It's looking less and less like the whole magnesium/phosphorus/ash content premise that these Rx foods are based on is not as solid as was previously thought, and that it may very well be mostly about water intake; also, raw meat also promotes the correct pH. I know a fair amount about this stuff with respect to cats, but dogs are a different deal, and most of the research out there is cat-based.

I'm also seeing things that say that crystals happen, sometimes as a result of the infection, not always the other way around, and so that's yet one more reason I think the whole immediate switch to Rx food forever and ever amen is a bit premature.

I guess I'm just looking for some anecdotal reports of others who might have had pups with UT problems and made the switch to a more moisture rich diet and saw results. I know much of the science suggests that the diets I'm looking at would be good, I'm just wondering if others had any first hand experience. :|
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 22nd, 2011, 2:29 pm

Inara is prone to UTI's and bladder issues. She's on Proin for her spay incontinence and cranberry supplements for the UTI's. I really want to start weaning her off the Proin since she's on raw now, but last time I tried weaning her she got a RAGING UTI that required meds. But the cranberry supplements seem to be working for her UTI issues. Right now I'm using some from the vet, but I already purchased some Cranimals ( http://cranimal.com/original.html ) to start when the pills run out.
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Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 3:25 pm

Thanks, Liz! Keep us posted on the UTIs and the Proin now that you've gone back to raw. I've been out of town since all this started, and I completely forgot about the cranberries until I started writing this post.

The vet wanted to put Simon on Proin, but as old as he was, I was nervous about it. If he'd been a younger, fitter dog, I'd have tried it. I looked into that Wysong supplement for either Simon or Chester a while back, but I never really followed up on it...Simon used to eat a handful of craisins during a flare up and apple cider vinegar with his kibble. He had so many problems, though, that I have no idea if it helped at all.
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Postby plebayo » June 22nd, 2011, 4:00 pm

The prescription diets work because they change the urine ph. Certain diets cover certain crystals.

As far as the cats go, my cat has food allergies and crystals so he can't eat the prescription food. I feed him canned only and he seems to be doing fine. All of the cat people recommend feeding raw or wet food only.

Also things to look into that are urine acidifyers:
Vitamin C
DL-Methionine

I did have my cat on vitamin c for a while but since he's living with my parents I don't want them to get bit on accident when they are pilling him [although he's a champ to pill!]

One of our clients has a dog with calcium oxylate crystals. She gives him filtered/bottled water only because the minerals in tap water or well water can cause crystals, he's on potassium citrate, and I think eats u/d but he might be on something else. It really depends on the crystals but there's just some ideas of things to look into. Plus I think lots of fresh water, or water added to food helps.
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Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 9:40 pm

Thanks Suzanne!

I think the DL-methionine is what's in the Wysong powder. Gonna keep researching and go from there!!
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Postby plebayo » June 22nd, 2011, 11:56 pm

Keep us posted on what you use. It's all good info. Do you have a link to the wysong supplement? Is it for dogs only?
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Postby amalie79 » June 23rd, 2011, 12:12 am

I keep reading things that suggest that the crystals can be a result of the infection, not always the other way around. I just can't believe that one-- ONE-- UTI and crystals in 18 months instantly relegates her to Rx food for life.

It's so much info. Right now I'm leaning toward either raw or homecooked and kibble-- some of the homecooked recipes have the right %s of minerals, though most of the recent literature suggests it's just pH and moisture content that matter-- and cranberry and something like Wysong:

http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/ ... 01086.aspx

But I don't know which kibble. I'm a little irritated that this vet literally came back from their lab and said, "She's got an infection. And there were some crystals...which means Rx food." Then she suggested we check River's urine to make sure it's not strictly diet. But that was the extent of the discussion. So yeah. If this was a recurring problem, I'd say ok.

But there are other reasons to go more toward raw-- River had her anal glands done about 3 or 4 weeks ago and she's already scooting again. I try not to have them done until she's clearly not able to express them on her own and it's making her miserable. And I add pumpkin and other high-fiber veggies to bulk things up. I'm wondering if raw would give her firmer stools...

Sigh. I think it might be bed time.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 23rd, 2011, 5:29 am

The beauty of raw is that YOU decide what kind of stools you want her to have. Normally Inara has pretty firm, small poos, but after her butt surgery I softened them up a bit by adding extra salmon oil and meat. Now that she's healed, she's back to her normal meals so she has firm poos again.
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Postby amalie79 » June 23rd, 2011, 10:34 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:The beauty of raw is that YOU decide what kind of stools you want her to have. Normally Inara has pretty firm, small poos, but after her butt surgery I softened them up a bit by adding extra salmon oil and meat. Now that she's healed, she's back to her normal meals so she has firm poos again.


As a complete control freak, I love these kinds of things about raw... As a germaphobe who lives with someone who is far, far less than a germaphobe, I am, ashamed to say, still hesitant. Embarrassingly, convincing Adam to stop letting the dogs lick all over his face will be a difficult task...My grandparents were hospitalized with salmonella when I was a kid, and I'm terrified of it now. I never wanted to do it with the cats because (one more confession) the dogs are bad about getting into the snack bar :puke: and I'm constantly having to brush their teeth-- I've read that animals can shed the salmonella in their feces, and I didn't want the dogs to get into it in the litter boxes, though, erm... the logic behind this all seems completely flawed. And yet my fear persists. Ah, the illogical confessions of a crazy person... :oops:

But I'm reading up on it now and trying to figure out the logistics of it and sort through what is and isn't good information. I also have dogs that gulp their treats and food-- it's one of many reasons I gave up giving rawhides-- so it would be either grinding or a learning curve to teach them to chew.

It just seems like the best, cheapest (in the long term) way forward for us. :|
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Postby amalie79 » June 30th, 2011, 10:44 am

Well, I've weaned her off of the prescription food. I started feeding her Eagle Pack Holistic Select's anchovy blend, as it was recommended several places as having lower mineral content for struvite. However, it smells like fish food, which no one is happy about. I did a little digging and found that Castor and Pollux's weight management blends have a mineral content much closer to the prescription foods. Most weight formulas have lower protein, but this has ~24%, which is about what Taste of the Wild has, at least in the formula we were feeding, as well as a similar caloric content. The Rx food only had 14% protein and about 275 calories/cup. So anything's better, really.

I'm now adding fresh cooked foods to replace about 1/4 of the meals-- this week it's turkey, eggs, and peas. Robin is happy about this turn of events.

Image

Also adding water to their kibble. I will probably also start including some raw meals to see how we all do with it. I know that most people who feed raw will tell me to just make the switch, but... yeah. This is the way we're going for the time being. They love to work for their meals (they hardly even want to eat the food in the bowls knowing that a genius is stuffed a ready to go!), and while I know that a chicken quarter requires some work, it's going to require a lot of supervision at the moment that I don't have the time in my day right now. We'll see how they handle the raw meals and how I handle the supervision and clean-up. :D

The girls will continue to get their yogurt (homemade-- I'm a sucker for homemade yogurt. SOOO much cheaper) and kibble frozen kongs (with a touch of peanut butter and duck jerky) a few days a week. They will also continue to get part of their evening meals in the geniuses. I'm ordering some Berry Balance; I'm in the market for a new probiotic. We've used the "In Clover" brand, but it's a bit pricey (I bought huge bottles for $5 on clearance, but now I'm out), and now we're using PetCo's brand until I get something else. I also bought a roll of litmus paper and I'm checking their first morning urine periodically. (I got a baseline before switching Robin off of the Rx food).

Whole Dog Journal had some good articles about crystals and how diet doesn't necessarily play a role in the creation of struvite; I'm also reading Lew Olson's book and will probably pick up one called Unlocking the Ancestral Canine Diet. Both have guidelines for raw, cooked, kibble, and combinations of the above.

Here we go!
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Postby amalie79 » August 17th, 2011, 1:53 pm

Well, the crystals are back. We switched to California Naturals Low Fat since it had the right mineral profile, but I fell off the home-cooked wagon. :oops: I'll get back on it asap, I guess. I was still adding a lot of water, but Robin hated it. She got where each food she didn't like, especially with added water, made her tuck tail and hide in the corner like the food was beating her. :rolleyes2:

I'm just so frustrated with the vets at this clinic. The one we saw yesterday is amazing with the cats and went so above and beyond with Bella, and the others were so great about Simon, that I have a hard time wanting to switch. I like the other 2 vets in the clinic better when it comes to dog stuff, and one of them is new, so I haven't yet sussed out how much he knows about nutrition... but the main vet and the vet we saw yesterday don't know much about it-- I need to start going on her day off...

I went back in the lab and looked at the slide. There were a couple of crystals that she had to really look for, so it's not like her urine was overrun. I said I thought that the crystals were generally a result of the infection, but she said it was the other way round... Then when I got home, I looked through the articles produced by University of Minnesota's College of Vet Medicine Urolithiasis Center (a whole center for pee problems!!! :shock: ) and they say that it IS almost always infection-induced and that sterile crystals are rare in dogs. I don't want to be a know-it-all with her, but part of me wants to take that article in and show her that I don't just read forums-- I have access to pubmed, I read all the clinical trial results that I can find. I'm not just a Google idiot. And that Center is funded by Hill's, so it'a also not crazy new age BS. I'm certainly no vet, so what do I know... and I'm sure that sometimes the crystals do cause an infection. But these were legit sources I was reading. It makes me worry that there's other developments in other areas that she's not keeping up with.

We're doing 2 weeks of antibiotics to clear up the infection... 2 weeks of Hill's SD canned to clear up the crystals (BTW, that sh*t is nasty-- like scooping crisco into her bowl) and I've added the Nutramax cranberry supplement. I'll probably switch to Berry Balance after that's gone... and I'm still considering Wysong's Biotic ph-. I stressed to the vet that I wanted the Rx food to be a last resort and that I was considering raw-- she of course didn't know anything about raw being helpful for urinary problems. BUt he RC has 14% protein and it's almost all corn-- I really worry about muscle wasting. Just since she's been on the foods in the very low 20%'s it seems like she's lost some mass. :(

Afterward, I'll probably find a food that Robin likes, decide on one or two supplements, and start adding cooked food again-- then maybe start making the switch to raw. I think I'll also see if one of the couple of holistic vets in the area (they're about 30 minutes away, a couple of towns over, but that's ok if I'm only using them for one animal) would do a nutritional consult with us. One is a homeopathic vet, and one is just more holistic-- sells Nature's Variety in the waiting room instead of Hills, that kind of thing. I know some of their patients who feed raw, so I'm finding out how much role those vets played in that decision.

After I saw a bag of chicken quarters for 55¢ per pound at Walmart, raw started looking even better. I need to just quick talking about it and do it.

Sigh.
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Postby amalie79 » August 17th, 2011, 3:07 pm

I really didn't mean for any of that to sound snarky about the vet-- for all I know she's dead on and I like her for so many things... but I'm worried about my own mistrust of what she's telling me, and the discrepancies between what she says and what most recent "literature" (not just anecdotal evidence, but the RECENT real-deal stuff) says.

I should have gone for a DVM and saved myself money in the long run. :(
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Postby plebayo » August 18th, 2011, 1:12 pm

Crystals can cause infection if there is enough of them because they make the bladder angry. However, crystals can also be caused by infection. It really comes down to your dog's bladder PH.

Are there so many crystals that there is a concern for stones to form? Sofie had crystals, every time I sent a full panel in [once a year or so] they always found crystals in her urine - she never developed stones, never had a peeing issue, and I didn't feed her a diet to make them go away. I think her PH was always pretty high too. :|
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2011, 1:32 pm

plebayo wrote:Crystals can cause infection if there is enough of them because they make the bladder angry. However, crystals can also be caused by infection. It really comes down to your dog's bladder PH.

Are there so many crystals that there is a concern for stones to form? Sofie had crystals, every time I sent a full panel in [once a year or so] they always found crystals in her urine - she never developed stones, never had a peeing issue, and I didn't feed her a diet to make them go away. I think her PH was always pretty high too. :|


At first the vet didn't even think there were crystals at all. Then she found about 2. I saw them on the slide. I had also been in the vet's waiting room for around an hour, so crystals could have started to form in that time.

And the crystals making the bladder angry makes sense-- it's what the vet told me. But there weren't that many. And what I gather is that there are 2 main conditions that can facilitate the crystals (not the only conditions, I know, but the most common). One is too high a concentration (ie, not drinking enough or peeing often enough); the other is excess bacteria that causes a high pH (ie, an infection). My problem with this vet is that she acts like any crystals at all with infection means Rx food for life, when I know there are a million reasons to have crystals in perfectly healthy urine. I just cannot believe that she needs that sh*tty food for life. Robin's pH had started drifting into 7-8 territory after staying around 6.5 for a long time. I think Robin was just developing an infection from A) stress with the new dog and B) holding it for too long. We realized at some point that she was going outside for long periods of time-- sometimes 30-45 minutes and not peeing after having been inside for 6-8 hours during the day (she's only crated a couple of days during the week); then she'd go back inside for another hour or two. She is obsessed with a tree that sometimes harbors squirrels. And I had stopped floating her kibble because she acted like the water was beating her, too.

I tried to explain this all to the vet, but she just kind of rolls her eyes at me like I'm just some idiot who doesn't want to pay the money for the Rx food. And that's not it AT ALL. I pay more for their food than my own! At least she's humoring me for now. From what I've read, between Whole Dog Journal and the Minnesota Urolithiasis Center, the mineral content is not that important with dogs. For them, it's keeping them infection free (which in turn keeps the pH pretty normal) and hydrated so urine doesn't sit too long in the bladder. I think between Berry Balance, and maybe Vitamin C or the Wysong supplement, and a more moisture rich diet (as well as making sure to encourage her to drink more and pee more), I can create those conditions.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2011, 1:34 pm

Oh yeah-- and none of these samples have been sterile samples taken in the office. I've brought them all from home.

Just strikes me as a bit of a cop out-- like, "oh, we know the food works, so just use it and then neither of us has to worry about it any more. Doesn't matter if there's a healthier, but more thought/time-consuming solution. We'll just worry about the symptoms and not so much the cause."
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Postby plebayo » August 18th, 2011, 2:54 pm

I understand where you're coming from.. I don't think 1-2 crystals means you should have to us RX food. I get frustrated with vets over nutrition too, some if them can be so closed minded. My cat used to have tons of issues with crystals ( I think I mentioned it) he even got blocked but he can't eat the food because of food allergies so RX food was no help to us.
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Postby amalie79 » August 18th, 2011, 3:05 pm

plebayo wrote:I understand where you're coming from.. I don't think 1-2 crystals means you should have to us RX food. I get frustrated with vets over nutrition too, some if them can be so closed minded. My cat used to have tons of issues with crystals ( I think I mentioned it) he even got blocked but he can't eat the food because of food allergies so RX food was no help to us.


At first, I was excited about this vet and nutrition-- she talked about cats being obligate carnivores and suggested Wellness Core for Bella and her feeding tube... and then I mentioned that I also had some canned EVO to use, and she stared at me blankly and said she'd never heard of it. :neutral:

I've fed my cats some obscure foods-- Weruva and Pinnacle aren't exactly household names. But that one's pretty common if you know about grain free foods at all. I just find it odd. And frustrating.

Then again, it probably doesn't help that I have an extreme interest in nutrition. :|

I also reminded her that Robin is a pit with sensitive skin, so that extreme level of corn is just not on as far as I'm concerned. I'm also definitely worried about muscle loss with 14% protein in a dry food.

And after Simon had some bad reactions to meds, I research all meds before I give them to any of my animals-- the anecdotal and the clinical stuff. I'd say it was the nerd in me, but I think it's more that I'm a control freak.
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