Showing struvite crystals in the urine of a 3.5 year old dog. The photograph is published with the kind permission of Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic. It is published on their Flickr website page.
VAC hospitals tells me that struvite crystals can form in a dog’s urinary tract (bladder) if the urine is exceptionally alkaline (high pH) or concentrated. Struvite bladder stones ‘usually form as a complication of a bladder infection caused by bacteria that produce an enzyme known as urease’.
Urinary tract problems can be painful for a dog and there might be a need to constantly go to the toilet. Cystitis causes this.
Foods high in magnesium, protein, calcium and phosphorus have been linked to stone formation in a dog’s urinary tract. Some vets believe that if these minerals are restricted in a dog’s diet it helps to dissolve some types of stones.
Stones can be removed (1) surgically – cystotomy – bladder opened and stones removed (2) using a method called ‘voiding urohydropropulsion’ (3) with a cystoscope when they are small enough and (4) dissolved as mentioned with a change in diet. It takes about 6 weeks on average for crystals to dissolve if that route has been taken. Surgery can be elected if they don’t dissolve in that time.
Most Google searches are for ‘how to get rid of struvite crystals in dogs?’. Clearly this disease is a major concern for many dog owners.
Is there a problem with some dog foods? Apparently struvite crystals are more common in female dogs while calcium oxalate crystals are more common in males. Dog breeds most susceptible include: Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, and Yorkshire Terrier.
Sources: various on internet. Always discuss canine health problems with a veterinarian, please. This article is here to show the photo which I think is educational.