A significant number of pet parents at one time or another have to deal with their cat or dog experiencing a Urinary Tract Infection. Frequently the infection is also accompanied by the incidence of struvite stones. So common is this disease that up to 1 in 5 dogs or cats can be affected by this in their lifetime.1
The most common signs of a UTI in cats and dogs is straining during urination, blood in the urine, fever, lethargy, unpleasant smell to urine, incontinence and urinating in inappropriate places, particularly for cats. Among the bacteria responsible for UTIs, E. coli was found to be present in most of the cases followed by Stapylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Klebsiella spp. , Proteus spp. and then Pseudomonas spp.
Usually UTIs clear up after antibiotic therapy, but sometimes they recur, either due to reinfection with the same or another bacterial species. The appropriate antibiotic to be used is identified via a urine culture. Modern medicine is, however, plagued by a rising incidence of antibacterial resistance and comes with additional costs, such as adverse effects on gut microflora increasing the risk of infection with Clostridium difficile and this in turn may lead to serious colon infections in dogs. The use of a natural plant based preventative for UTIs and struvite stones would clearly help to reduce the risk of antibacterial resistance and disturbances in gut microflora.
Most struvite stones in dogs are actually infection-induced and female dogs are at the greatest risk for this. The reason for this is likely due to the anatomy of the female urethra, which is short and wide compared with that of the male. When a UTI is caused by Staphylococcus spp. (less commonly Proteus spp. And Ureaplasma) bacteria, a biochemical reaction is put into play which favors the formation of struvite stones in the pets urine/bladder even if the pet is on an acidifying diet.
Dogs typically develop struvite stones (uroliths) in their lower urinary tracts within 2 weeks of contracting a staphylococcal urinary tract infection. There are, however, other conditions that promote crystallization of magnesium ammonium phosphate (i.e. struvite) including an alkaline urine, diet and genetic predisposition. Breeds especially affected by struvite stones include the Miniature Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, and Yorkshire Terrier. Even factors associated with inbreeding have been reported to increase the frequency of struvite uroliths in Beagles. An increased risk of struvite stones in both sexes of Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers has also been observed. Specific diets high in fat and salt that are given to dogs to help dissolve struvite stones have their own risks. Pathogenic bacteria trapped within the stones are then constantly released and pose a threat for reinfection and a diet high in fat and salt has its own set of health risks. Surgical removal is another option for stone removal. Sometimes stones can become bigger than half a kilo (1 lb).
One of the most effective natural remedies for Urinary tract infections and by association, infection induced struvite stones is cranberries. Cranberries contain tannins called (pro)anthocyanidins or PACs, which are stable plant compounds exhibiting potent in vitro anti-adhesion activity against pathogenic urinary tract bacteria such as both antibiotic-sensitive and -resistant strains of Escherichia coli. While preventing bacteria from sticking to the cell lining of the urinary tract is believed to be the primary mechanism, a direct mild antimicrobial activity against other UTI causing bacteria has also been reported. Pure cranberry extract powders are the most effective way to get the multiple health benefits of cranberries into your pet. Not only is the extract effective for preventing urinary tract infections and by implication infection induced struvite stones, but the phytochemicals in the berries are heart healthy and also good for dental health. Administering cranberry extract in powder form eliminates the excessive sugar found in juices and dried cranberries, as well the powder mixed in food coats the teeth and helps to keep the your pets mouth clean in exactly the same way it keeps their urinary tract “clean”. The powder is also much more palatable to your pet than fresh cranberries and delivers a much more concentrated dose of the needed phytochemicals. Look for a cranberry extract that is not adulterated with fillers, preservatives or colorants and one that is food grade and certified organic.
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