Bladder crystals: we have all heard about or witnessed the excruciating pain that befalls an animal when she or he is suffering from crystallization of the urine. Many of us look to our medical veterinarians for help. All too often our beloved animal companions are unnecessarily euthanized far too early. Many of us feel scared for our animal friends and are unaware of how bladder crystals got there or what to do when they are found. Bladder crystals are frighteningly common in companion animals. But where do they come from? Is there a way to prevent them?
As a matter of fact, in almost all cases (except genetics) there are ways to prevent bladder crystals in cats and dogs. As with all companion animal health imbalances, we will want to first examine what bladder crystals are and how they are formed.
As some of us may remember back to grade 9 science class, we studied the Acids & Bases scale (also known as the PH scale). For those who may not remember what the scale represents, it is quite simple. There is a numerical scale that ranges from 1-14. Number 1 on this scale represents extremely acidic substances (such as battery acid) and number 14 represents the most basic (such as milk of magnesia). The goal of the body, animal or human, is to maintain a neutral 7 on the PH scale. For a reference point, the average human diet is often extremely acidic. When humans regularly consume fast foods, “junk” foods and other excessive amounts of fried foods, salt and sugar, the body’s constitution becomes unhealthily acidic. These body types would register at a 4 or 5 on the PH scale. In some severe cases they may register at a 3. Often when this happens there are severely adverse health effects such as kidney stones, obesity, gall bladder attacks, ailments of the gastrointestinal tract among many other painful diseases. The goal of any human with such an acidic constitution would be to consume basic substances in order to bring their body’s PH system back to a neutral 7. This, should you yet be unaware, is why businesses try so heavily to market alkaline water. Alkaline water is said to have a very strong basic constitution. This is said to be helpful for those with an acidic constitution aiming to bring their PH level back to neutral 7.
Now that is fine and well for humans. However, when we take a closer look at the companion animal diet, we will notice a major variation from the human. Contrary to the average North American human diet, the average North American canine and feline diet are excessively high in magnesium. Magnesium is the polar opposite of acid. This is to say that most feline and canine store bought foods are too basic (remember, leaning towards the ‘14’ on the acids and bases scale as noted above). All commercial cat and dog foods are high in magnesium. In fact, some run so high that they create a build up of magnesium in the urinary tract. Have you ever smelled feline urine? It often smells like ammonia. This ammonia-type smell is a direct result of excessive amounts of magnesium in the diet. Occasionally our canine companions will emit a similar smell for the same reasons. When there is too much ammonia in the urinary tract, it has a strong potential to cause crystallization of the urine in the bladder. This, as many of us know, can and will cause a tremendous amount of pain for our animals. This can also be fatal for our animal friends as often the crystals prevent them from urinating. In these horrific cases, their little bodies become too toxic and they do not make it through.
Prevention and treatment of bladder crystals is a lot easier than you might think. Of course, with any companion animal ailment we must first examine the diet. It is extremely important that you ask your holistic veterinarian what an appropriate level of magnesium is for your animal friend. Many consumers assume that veterinary recommended brands have adequate levels of vitamins and minerals for cat and dog health. However, the FDA approved levels of vitamins and minerals in animal food is so far off from what keeps their bodies regulated that it frequently causes irreversible diseases such as bladder crystals, hyper/hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, diabetes, obesity and early stage organ failure. ALL OF THESE diseases are PREVENTABLE by doing appropriate research into species appropriate diets. Please do not be fooled and take the word of professionals over your own research.
Many human grocery stores carry cat and dog food brands. Most of these brands have a strong imbalance of nutrients to include high levels of magnesium. Once again, researching appropriate levels of magnesium for your individual animals (species, age, environment, etc) is the most efficient way to ensure that they are not ingesting too much of it, running the risk of bladder crystal development.
Excessive sugars, starches and grains can also cause bladder crystals in cats. Cats are not genetically wired to properly digest grains, sugars and starches. In fact they lack the digestive enzyme that is responsible for digesting the above. As a result, the body will try to remove these substances in the urine and stool. Because they are not digestible for cats, they can cause due damage to the elimination system. Ensuring that your cat is eating a grain free diet is the best way to prevent this from happening.
Kibble (dry food) is often the culprit when it comes to bladder crystals. This is because dry food utilizes all of the body’s water in order to process it through the gastrointestinal system. When there is repeat offense in this area, the body becomes to dehydrated and water stagnates in the bladder. This stagnation of water is the sum and parts of urinary crystallization. By adding wet (canned) foods and/or whole foods to the diet, we are diminishing much of the bladder crystal cause. Further, by adding more omegas 3 & 6 to the diet, we are enabling the animal’s body to retain more moisture. This will assist in keeping the body’s fluids moving so that they do not stagnate.
Should we be reading this article too late and have animals who are currently suffering from bladder crystals, or should we even so much as suspect that one of our animals is suffering, we may not need worry. If we refer back to the initial part of this article, we will note that when humans consume too much acid, the solution is to consume enough base to bring the body back to neutral PH 7. Because the vast majority of store bought cat and dog foods are high in magnesium, in other words, high in base, which is often the root of bladder crystals, we will want to bring in a source of acid that will in essence bring their PH levels back to neutral 7. Incidentally, this is exactly why companion animals should never drink alkaline water. Their diets are far too high in magnesium which is precisely what alkaline water will enhance. It renders itself harmful to any animals consuming diets that are far too basic by adding a more basic substance to an already basic diet. This can be terribly harmful and significantly increase the likelihood of bladder crystals and kidney failure.
Concerning cat and dog foods that are high in magnesium, it is crucial to balance out their body’s PH by adding acidic substances to the diet. Of course many sources of acid can also be harmful so finding the right supplement is vital. There are several natural sources of acidic supplements readily available at your local health food store. Before adding any supplements to your animal’s diet it’s important to ask your holistic veterinarian or Animal Communicator.
Before rushing off to your western medical veterinarian, be sure that you understand that you have options. Far too many animals are unnecessarily euthanized due to completely treatable heath imbalances. By taking the time to consult a variety of reliable sources about animal health and wellness, we are able to widen our spectrum of treatment. Often in cases such as bladder crystals there are a variety of holistic treatments that relieve the body of pain and are able to keep our animals healthier for longer.