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10 Best Dog Foods for Bladder Stones in 2019

If you’ve ever had the experience of passing a bladder stone, you know that it can be pretty unpleasant. Whether you have or not, however, you can imagine that it would be painful. What you may not realize is that bladder stones can affect your dog just as much (or perhaps more) than they can affect you.

Bladder stones may not be a life-threatening condition in most cases, but it can lead to some pretty unpleasant symptoms. It is your job as a dog owner to protect your dog’s health and that means understanding the risks for certain health problems. If you are feeding your dog a diet too high in protein or certain minerals, it could increase his risk for stone formation. On the other side of the coin, choosing a certain diet for your dog can reduce his risk of developing bladder stones.

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of bladder stones in dogs, including their symptoms, causes, and treatment options. We’ll also talk about the link between diet and stone formation to help you learn how to prevent bladder stones by choosing the right dog food.

What Causes Bladder Stones in Dogs?

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Bladder stones are just what they sound like, generally speaking – they are small stones that form in the urinary bladder. These stones are made up of various minerals and can range in size from sand-like grains to gravel-sized stones. In dogs who have bladder stones, it is common for them to have stones of varying sizes all at the same time.

Stones in the bladder begin as microscopic crystals that aggregate into stones over time. Bladder stones are typically made up of struvite, calcium oxalate, urate, or cystine crystals. Stones can also form in the gall bladder or kidneys, though they are most commonly seen in the urinary bladder. Gall stones that form in the gall bladder typically contain bile salts while kidney stones are often made up of calcium and oxalate. You should also know that even though the kidneys and bladder are part of the urinary system, kidney stones and bladder stones from independently.

Here are some of the most common bladder stones in dogs symptoms:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Lower urine output
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Any dog can develop bladder stones and there is no real understanding of why some dogs develop them and others don’t. Researchers have, however, identified certain breeds which seem to be more susceptible to stones, whether due to genetics, abnormal urine pH, diet, or frequent urinary tract infections. Here are some of the breeds most prone to bladder stones:

  • Beagle
  • Basset Hound
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Bulldog
  • Dachshund
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Dalmatian
  • Pekingese
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Pug

Because not all dogs show signs of bladder stones in the early stages, you may not even know your dog has them until his next vet appointment. Even so, it is important to understand your dog’s risk for developing bladder stones and to keep an eye out for symptoms.

What Role Does Diet Play in Treatment?

If you notice any of the bladder stones in dogs symptoms listed in the previous section, don’t delay in talking to your veterinarian. Bladder stones are generally not life-threatening, but they can be very painful for your dog if they continue to develop. Some stones develop very quickly, over the course of weeks rather than months, so try to see your veterinarian sooner rather than later.

When it comes to diagnosing your dog with bladder stones, there are several things your veterinarian will do. As always, your vet will start with a physical exam and a review of your dog’s medical history. He will also palpate the dog’s abdomen to feel for stones in the urethra or bladder.

Your veterinarian may also recommend the following tests:

  • A urinalysis and urine culture to rule out infection
  • Chemistry tests to evaluate organ function
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to check hydration and fluid balance
  • Thyroid test to check hormone production
  • X-rays of the urinary tract to identify stones
  • Abdominal ultrasound to identify stones, if present

Additionally, your vet may perform a stone analysis on any stones you are able to collect. If your veterinarian confirms a diagnosis of bladder stones, then you’ll start talking about treatment option. Untreated bladder stones in dogs can lead to a worsening of symptoms and may trigger other complications, so don’t delay in treating your dog.

Here are the main options for treating bladder stones:

  • Surgical removal. Typically the quickest treatment method for bladder stones is surgical removal. In dogs that have other health concerns, however, it may not be the treatment of choice – this is true for dogs with bleeding disorders and those who are sensitive to anesthesia. To surgically remove bladder stones, your vet will open the bladder to remove the stones.
  • Non-surgical removal. If your dog’s bladder stones are very small, it may be possible to flush them out by inserting a catheter into the bladder in a technique called urohydropropulsion. Your vet could also use a cystoscope to remove stones from the bladder – this technique can also be used to obtain stones for a stone analysis.
  • Dietary dissolution. To avoid surgery, some veterinarians recommend a therapeutic dog bladder stones diet. These diets are catered to the specific type of stone your dog has, so it is necessary to perform a stone analysis first. Keep in mind that it may take weeks or months to work and some dogs simply don’t like therapeutic diets.
  • Ultrasonic dissolution. The final option to remove bladder stones is a technique using high-frequency ultrasound waves to disrupt or break up the stones into particles that can then be flushed out of the bladder.

Dietary dissolution is the preferred treatment for many veterinarians because it is non-invasive and it can help prevent stones from reforming in the future. Keep in mind that not all stones can be dissolved through dietary changes – you’ll need to ask your vet if it is possible. Dietary dissolution can also be a fairly slow process, taking weeks or months to dissolve a large stone. If your dog is at risk for urethral obstruction during this time, you may want to take a more direct approach to treatment.

What to Look for in a Good Dog Food for Bladder Stones

When choosing a dog bladder stones diet, there are two primary goals to focus on. The first is to dilute the urine with an increase in moisture intake. Diluting the urine helps prevent stones from forming. The second goal is to reduce the intake of compounds which make up bladder stones. To choose the best dog food for bladder stones, you may need your veterinarian to perform tests to identify the type of stone so you know what foods your dog should avoid.

If your veterinarian is able to identify which type of stone your dog has, he may recommend a therapeutic diet. If you’re simply looking to reduce stone formation or prevent bladder stones, however, there are a few things to look for in a dog bladder stones diet:

  • Natural ingredients. Every dog deserves a high-quality diet made from natural ingredients. The more natural your dog’s diet, the easier it will be for his body to digest which means that there are less “leftover” substances to be filtered out which can accumulate in organs like the bladder or kidneys. Natural ingredients are also higher in nutrients your dog needs to thrive.
  • High moisture content. Diluting the urine is one of the best ways to dissolve existing stones and prevent future stones from forming. If your dog currently eats kibble, consider switching to a canned food, semi-moist food, or rehydrated food.
  • Moderate protein levels. Your dog requires a certain amount of protein in his diet for balanced nutrition, but diets that are too high in protein can lead to stone formation (particularly calcium oxalate and urate stones). Look for a recipe made with moderate amounts of high-quality animal protein. Dogs with urate and cysteine stones should avoid seafood and organ meats.
  • Complete and balanced. Balanced nutrition is still important for your dog, no matter what kind of diet you’re feeding him. Keep in mind that certain nutrients like calcium can increase the risk for bladder stones, so avoid recipes that are over-supplemented.

Remember, there is a difference between diets made to dissolve bladder stones and diets made to prevent them. If your veterinarian recommends a therapeutic diet for a specific type of stone, that is your best bet. Keep in mind that, in order for dietary dissolution of bladder stones to work, you need to feed your dog the special diet exclusively. This means no treats and no supplements while your dog is on the diet unless they are approved by your vet.

If you are simply feeding your dog a new food designed to help prevent crystals and stone formation, you have a little more leeway when it comes to feeding. Refer to the recommendations in this section to help you shop for the best natural dog food for bladder stones.

The 10 Best Dog Foods for Bladder Stones

As you can now see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bladder stones when it comes to dog food. The best dog food for bladder stones depends on the type of stone your dog has and whether he has any underlying health conditions. If your vet is able to identify the type of stone, he may recommend a therapeutic diet designed to dissolve that type of stone. If you’re simply trying to prevent stone formation, there may be an over-the-counter dog food that can help.

Here’s our top pick for the best dog food for bladder stones:

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe

Overall Best Dog Food for Bladder Stones: If you’re looking for a dog food that will provide for your dog’s nutritional needs while also supporting his urinary health, consider this Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Food. This recipe is made from premium-quality, whole-food ingredients in a holistic formula designed to support balanced health and wellness. The product itself is a dehydrated dog food which means that it isn’t subjected to high heat processing and the ingredients retain more of their original nutritional content. Dehydrated dog food may cost more than kibble, but it is more affordable than fresh food and raw food while providing similar nutritional benefit. This is also a great choice for dogs at risk for bladder stones because the food needs to be rehydrated before feeding which means your dog is getting more moisture than he would by eating kibble. This particular recipe is made with chicken which has a lower risk for contributing to bladder stones than red meat and seafood.

  • Pros: Rehydrated food increases moisture intake, whole-some natural ingredients, supports total body health and wellness, real chicken main ingredient, high nutritional integrity
  • Cons: More expensive than most kibble, some dogs dislike the rehydrated texture

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Grain-Free Canned Food

The Best Wet Dog Food for Bladder Stones: You’ve already learned that wet food is a good choice for dogs at risk for bladder stones because it is higher in moisture than kibble. Increasing the moisture content of your dog’s food is a simple way to dilute his urine and remove some of the acidity in his urine pH to help reduce the risk of stone formation. If your dog already has bladder stones or has had them before, however, you need more than just a typical canned food – you need one designed for urinary health. This Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Grain-Free Canned Food is a great choice because it is veterinary formula but made with high-quality, natural ingredients. It features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with both chicken broth and water for added moisture. You’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables which provide natural sources for key nutrients with vitamins and chelated mineral supplements to ensure balanced nutrition and optimal nutrient absorption. It may cost more than your average canned food, but it is veterinarian-recommended and proven to support urinary health.

  • Pros: Veterinary diet for urinary health, real chicken main ingredient, controlled levels of magnesium and sodium, wholesome natural ingredients, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Requires a veterinary authorization to purchase, significantly more expensive than average canned food

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Grain-Free Dry Food

The Best Dry Dog Food for Bladder Stones: Some dogs simply prefer kibble over canned food which is not a problem if you know how to handle it. The first step is to choose a high-quality, nutritionally balanced dry food that will provide for your dog’s unique nutritional requirements. From there, you follow the feeding instructions but add water or broth to moisten the food and increase your dog’s moisture intake – this is key for preventing bladder stones. Our top pick for the best dry food to prevent bladder stones is this Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care Grain-Free Dry Food. It features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with chicken meal as a supplemental source of protein. It is entirely grain-free, made with digestible carbohydrates like peas and tapioca starch. You’ll find that this recipe is uniquely formulated to support urinary health and it contains no artificial additives or low-quality fillers like many veterinary diets. This formula is a great choice if your dog currently has or is at risk for bladder stones.

  • Pros: Formulated for urinary health, real chicken main ingredient, controlled levels of stone-causing minerals, grain-free for easy digestion, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Requires a veterinary authorization to purchase, significantly more expensive than average canned food

Ollie Fresh Food Delivery

The Best Fresh Dog Food for Bladder Stones: When it comes to your dog’s nutrition, fresh food is one of the best options out there. Fresh dog food is typically prepared in small batches which means that more of the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved for your dog’s benefit. It isn’t subjected to high-heat processing and doesn’t contain artificial preservatives which can trigger a negative reaction. Plus, it is higher in moisture than the average kibble which is great for dogs at risk for bladder stones. Our top pick for the best fresh dog food company is Ollie Fresh Food Delivery. Ollies enables you to cater your dog’s diet to his specific nutritional needs after choosing from four different recipes. Simply provide some basic information about your dog’s breed, size, and age as well as any dietary restrictions and you’ll start receiving shipments of fresh dog food sent right to your door. It may be pricy, but your dog’s health is worth it.

  • Pros: Catered to your dog’s specific needs, prepared fresh to preserve nutritional integrity, sent right to your door, choose from four different protein options
  • Cons: Significantly more expensive than kibble, not specifically formulated for urinary health

FirstMate Australian Lamb Meal Formula

Best Dog Food for Bladder Stones and Sensitive Stomach: If your dog struggles with bladder stones, you need to provide him with a high-quality diet that is very digestible and unlikely to trigger a negative reaction. Dog foods that contain too many additives can actually increase the risk for stone formation, so a limited ingredient diet like this FirstMate Australian Lamb Meal Formula is a great choice. It may not be formulated specifically for urinary health, but it is designed to support optimal digestion which means better health overall, including better urinary health. This recipe features lamb meal as the primary ingredient with digestible carbohydrates like potatoes. It features fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients, with supplements to ensure nutritional balance. This recipe is highly digestible and contains a moderate amount of protein and fat with plenty of fiber to support healthy and regular digestion.

  • Pros: Limited number of main ingredients, single source of animal protein, highly digestible recipe, fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritionally complete and balanced, moderate protein
  • Cons: Fairly expensive compared to other kibbles, may be too high in fiber or starch for some dogs

5 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Bladder Stones

The dog foods above are made from wholesome, natural ingredients and formulated for total health and wellness in addition to urinary support. Aside from the two Blue Buffalo recipes, however, they are not formulated to help dissolve bladder stones. If your veterinarian recommends a prescription diet for stone dissolution, there are a number of options to choose from.

Keep in mind when shopping for veterinary diets that many companies use ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy. Some of these recipes even list corn or another carbohydrate as the first ingredient over an animal source of protein. For these reasons, we cannot fully recommend these recipes as long-term staple diets. With your vet’s recommendation, however, they may help dissolve stones and, after your dog has recovered, you can switch back to a higher quality diet.

Here are five choices in prescription diets for bladder stones in dogs. Check them out!

Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew

Easily one of the most popular brands of prescription pet food, Hill’s is a company that many veterinarians trust. If you’re looking for a prescription canned food that is formulated to support your dog’s urinary health, consider this Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew. This recipe features chicken as the main source of protein with controlled levels of fat and sodium to support your dog’s ideal body weight. It contains controlled levels of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus to reduce stone formation with plenty of antioxidants for balanced nutrition. This recipe does require a prescription to purchase but you can find it in many veterinarian offices or online.

  • Pros: Formulated specifically for urinary health, controlled levels of stone-causing minerals, low levels of fat and sodium for weight control, enriched with antioxidants
  • Cons: Requires a veterinarian prescription to purchase, protein is not the first ingredient, contains wheat and soy ingredients

Hill’s Prescription Diet u/d Urinary Care Chicken Flavor Canned Food

Another option in prescription diets for urinary care from Hill’s is this Hill’s Prescription Diet u/d Urinary Care Chicken Flavor Canned Food. This canned food consists of clinical nutrition uniquely formulated to support your dog’s bladder health. It contains reduced levels of calcium and protein to limit bladder stone formation with added taurine and L-carnitine to support heart health and healthy circulation. This dog food is supplemented with antioxidants to help reduce cell oxidation and to support your dog’s healthy immune system. It is a complete and balanced diet designed for all life stages. It does require a prescription to purchase but, similar to the previous recipe, is easy to find in stores and online.

  • Pros: Uniquely formulated for bladder health, controlled levels of minerals associated with stone formation, reduced protein and calcium levels, added taurine and L-carnitine for heart health
  • Cons: Requires a veterinarian prescription to purchase, protein is not the first ingredient, contains wheat and soy ingredients

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Moderate Calorie Morsels

Moisture is a key element in the prevention of bladder stones, so a wet food like this Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Moderate Calorie Morsels could be a good choice for your dog. This recipe comes from Royal Canin’s Veterinary Diet line, so you will need a prescription to purchase it, but you’ll find it easy to buy online. This recipe is formulated specifically for dogs with urinary health issues, designed to dissolve pure struvite stones and to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones. This recipe uses Relative Super Saturation (RSS) technology to lower the ion concentration in your dog’s urine, further reducing stone formation. This formula contains 26% fewer calories than the dry dog food version as well and is supplemented for complete and balanced nutrition.

  • Pros: Formulated to dissolve bladder stones and support urinary health, controlled levels of minerals, fewer calories than the dry food version, reduces ion concentration in urine to prevent stones
  • Cons: Requires a veterinary prescription to purchase, contains by-products and wheat

ProPlan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary Ox/St Canned Food

If you’re looking for a therapeutic diet to help reduce your dog’s risk of developing bladder stones, consider this ProPlan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary Ox/St Canned Food. This formula is designed to dissolve struvite stones while also reducing the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. It is specifically designed to support urinary health by promoting an environment that is unfavorable for crystal formation. It also helps dilute urine to prevent crystal saturation. This recipe contains higher levels of protein than some urinary health formulas, though it is still low in carbohydrates with moderate fat content. It contains chicken as the main ingredient with a limited number of ingredients aside from vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

  • Pros: Real chicken main ingredient, higher protein than many urinary formulas, designed to dissolve struvite and prevent calcium oxalate stones, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Contains meat by-products, requires a veterinary prescription to purchase

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Canned Food

Kidney health is closely related to urinary health and many dogs who develop bladder stones are also at risk for kidney stones. If you’re concerned about your dog’s kidney health and want to reduce the risk of formation for any kind of stone, consider this Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Canned Food. This recipe is formulated to support your dog’s kidneys by restricting phosphorus levels and limiting protein content – both of these things are beneficial for urinary health as well. It contains a unique formulation that is highly palatable for dogs and the recipe maximizes energy density to keep your dog going. Keep in mind that this recipe is not complete and balanced, however – it is intended for supplemental or intermittent feeding only. You can use it as a meal topper to boost your dog’s urinary health as well as his moisture intake when feeding dry food.

  • Pros: Low protein levels to reduce stone formation, restricted phosphorus levels, high in moisture, maximized energy density, highly palatable for dogs
  • Cons: Requires a veterinary prescription to purchase, not complete and balanced

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What do you feed a dog with bladder stones? If your dog has severe bladder stones, he may require surgical removal to prevent an obstruction. After the stones have been removed, you may want to switch to a diet higher in moisture and lower in protein, phosphorus, and magnesium to prevent stone formation in the future. If you’re trying to dissolve bladder stones through diet, you’ll probably need a prescription diet designed for the type of stone your dog has. If you simply want to prevent your dog from developing bladder stones in the future, a natural dog food made with wholesome ingredients or one formulated to support urinary health could be a good choice.
  2. What food causes bladder stones in dogs? Different types of stones are caused by different things. Urate stones, for example, are made up of compounds called purines which can be found in meat, organs, fish, and seafood. Calcium oxalate stones can be worsened by high intake of calcium as well as oxalate ingredients like spinach. Cysteine stones are similar to urate stones and dogs with them should avoid seafood and organ meats.
  3. Can a dog diet from bladder stones? Bladder stones in and of themselves are not life-threatening but there are a few complications to be aware of. In some cases, bladder stones can cause an obstruction in the urethra which prevents the dog from urinating. You may notice signs such as straining to urinate, producing very little urine, or blood in the urine. An obstruction, if not relieved, can eventually cause the bladder to rupture and a complete obstruction is considered a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.
  4. What are the complications of untreated bladder stones in dogs? In the case of small stones, many dogs are able to pass the stones without surgery or dietary intervention. When the stones are large, however, there are certain risks associated with untreated bladder stones in dogs. If your dog has blood in his urine or he is straining to urinate, it is often a sign that the stone is causing an obstruction and there is a risk that the bladder could rupture if left untreated. Bladder stones are usually not dangerous, but a complete obstruction caused by stones could become life-threatening and requires emergency treatment.
  5. How do you prevent bladder stones in dogs? Dietary management is one of the best options for preventing bladder stones in dogs. By diluting the urine with an increase in moisture intake and reducing the amount of compounds that make up bladder stones, you can prevent them from forming or at least slow them down. Keep in mind that struvite stones are usually caused by urinary tract infections, so a special diet is generally not required. Calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved and require surgery and urate stones are sometimes caused by genetic conditions.

Now that you have a better understanding of bladder stones in dogs and what causes them, you’re ready to start shopping for a dog bladder stones diet! Take what you’ve learned here to start shopping around or simply choose one of our top dog food picks above. Best of luck to you and your dog!

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