Different breeds of dogs often have a tendency to develop distinctive health issues. For schnauzers, the problem is likely to be kidney stones. The chance of your pet developing kidney stones is even higher when the dog in question happens to be a mini-schnauzer. Scientists believe that there is a genetic link that causes this medical problem to occur with such frequency. However, this has not yet been proven.
What Causes Kidney Stones in Dogs
Kidney stones are actually made of tiny crystallized particles. The crystalline structure may appear smooth, but these stones have sharp, jagged edges. These sharp points cause severe pain, interfere with normal urination and may cause potentially life-threatening infections. Urinary stones in Schnauzers are often composed of either struvite or calcium oxalate crystals.
Struvite responds well to standard (non-invasive) treatments. Calcium oxalate stones are extremely difficult to dissolve with traditional drugs and medications. If your schnauzer were a human patient the physician would use a laser to shatter the kidney stones. The resulting pieces of calcium oxalate would then be tiny enough so that they could pass through the urinary tract. At this time there are only two university affiliated veterinarian schools that offer this type of procedure for animals.
If your Schnauzer has developed kidney stones that are formed from urate, cystine or struvite than there are more medical options available. These substances are weaker than calcium oxalate and can be shattered or dissolved more easily. The veterinarian community is hard at work developing new screening procedures that hopefully will identify what causes kidney stones in dogs. Grants are also being awarded to veterinarians who want to try and find better ways of treating dogs with kidney stones.
In normal situations your dog will eliminate excess waste products such as minerals, salts and toxins. The kidneys are the organs that handle this filtration process. The clean urine will be released from the kidneys, flow into the bladder and be emptied through the urethra. When there is a filtration problem the minerals are not able to be eliminated and they collect within the kidneys. Tiny stones could be released through the small ureters that lead to the bladder. This will usually still cause pain for the dog due to the sharp, irregular shape of the kidney stones.
If the problem is not addressed and the stones are unable to be passed through the urinary system the medical condition will only worsen. Those stones will become larger in size because the kidneys are still trying to process waste products from the bloodstream.
Symptoms and Signs to Look for Kidney Stones
When a miniature schnauzer has a kidney stone, the first warning of a problem may include whimpering, inability to void, a swollen abdomen, blood in the urine (or drops of blood at the opening of the dog’s urethra), multiple attempts to void without much success, pain when the abdominal area is touched, or palpated, generalized weakness, staggering/uneven gait, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Your dog may have a strong urge to urinate but the crystals that are being trapped in the kidneys will keep the urine from flowing in a normal manner.
What to Do and What to Expect
Because of the intense pain for the animal, you need to call your vet and get your schnauzer in for an emergency visit immediately. The larger the stones become the more difficult the treatment becomes. At a veterinary clinic your schnauzer will be examined. The doctor will order a urinalysis and a CBC (complete blood count). Additional blood tests may be necessary. You can also expect an X-ray and ultrasound to be performed.
These procedures will help your veterinarian identify the exact location, shape, size and mineral content of those kidney stones.
Treatment for Kidney Stones in Dogs
Standard treatment for kidney stones in dogs will usually include these protocols: IV fluids, antibiotic medications, and a special restricted diet designed to prevent the formation of additional kidney stones. After several weeks the kidney stones may respond to these minimally invasive treatment protocols.
If the kidney stones are still present, the vet may recommend surgery. There are some natural ways for you to help prevent kidney stones from ever becoming a problem for your dog. Even if your dog has developed kidney stones these suggestions can still be of use.
If the kidney stones are formed from struvite you should make sure that your dog is given an acidifying diet. Food choices would include brown rice, meats, eggs, yogurt, beans and cottage cheese. Your dog does not need to eat veggies (high alkaline content).
If your schnauzer has calcium oxalate kidney stones, he will need a change of diet. Try to avoid foods that contain high levels of calcium and oxalate. These include blueberries, beets, carrots, peanut products, spinach, soy and sweet potatoes. Give your dog distilled/filtered water to drink to limit the possibility of mineral contamination.
Some vets will even suggest adding cranberry juice, apple juice or lemon juice to your pet’s diet. There are products like Cranberry Comfort that you can find online to add to his food. One simple natural supplement that may help with acidifying the urine is Cranberry Comfort. This natural remedy comes in either powder form to sprinkle on food or chewable treats.
Make sure that you provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to urinate outdoors. Dogs that have to “hold” their urine for long hours at a time are more likely to develop issues with their kidneys and bladders.
Kidney stones are something that miniature schnauzers and several other breeds can develop. There are things to do to prevent and treat these unpleasant health problems. Talk with your veterinarian and develop a reasonable plan.